on being heard
expression and language
We talk, and we want to be heard; speaking as well as listening become hard when we're not. As I develop, connecting to everyone I hear and talk to, the briefest conversation lingers in me, framed in place and time. reality is a social medium.
Meaning-making is inseparable from survival; life and semiosis are co-extensive. Every being is an element in an environment, and each recognizes and understands others as its signs. conversations, in whatever manner, unavoidably then follow and communities of dependency and mutual interest are gathered together. Billions of years ago the conversations of two different beings fused, and from the cells that resulted our species evolved. Today, we still rise or fall through the conversations that made our primate tribes the world for us.
The key element of the environment, for beings in our kingdom, is the frame of meaning that its societies provide —the full potential of our ontogenies is only developed in response to this. Constructed by both allies and predators, society is the builder of complex organisms and their means of survival. Sociality is fundamental. Rather than the often conceived dictatorship of the brain, even our own bodies are an evolving co-operative of cells. Only half of me actually has My DNA; stripped of my bacteria i would struggle to survive. i, in effect, is a kind of illusion, an emergent quality of this social alliance of animal and bacterial cells.
Despite our awareness, and the self-interest this has in survival, from our very first moment like birds in the trees we have called out. Even though being heard —except by our mothers— as often summons diners as dinner, calling out exposes what is good for us as well as who is not. Communicating is not just in our genes it's their function. Life innately is about connecting, not codes. Physically, culturally, and psychologically, it drives our evolution.
Like those of other animals, our young too are driven to assume the powers of adults; in striving to do this they compete and co-operate with them, as well as with each other. Whatever they may be taught at home they mimic what they see and experience in their environment —trying it on for size. Communicating within the environments of their ontogeny, their experiences aggregate into a cultural framework that constrains as well as supports the totality of their development. Dependant upon this, they learn to recognize those they are related to —with whom it's easy to feel empathy— and to identify others —groups and species with whom this feels impossibly hard.
Across evolutionary time, society has proved to be life's best defence. The fears of exclusion and the comforts of inclusion drive beings to find ways to accommodate their differences and engage with others. Value and place in society, however, are not determined by a being's intentions but by the interpretations others make of its conscious and unconscious expression. In our society we develop this accordingly, so that others will see us in their worlds as we need them to. Our thoughts and feelings, and even our most elementary perceptual skills of sound and taste and sight, are developed through communicating with the social environment we are conceived in.
Meaning is not intrinsic to words, they're only its midwives; although conceived in our intentions it is only in the interpretations of others that it comes to life. In light, in sound, in shape and form, in every kind of sign, ambiguity is intrinsic to natural language — it only kills machine code. Over the millions of years, if it were otherwise it would have vanished along with our tails. Contrarily, communication provides the opportunity for deceit, yet by flushing out lies its interrogation also provides the best defence against them. By requiring the resolution of doubt, ambiguity serves in multiple ways to shepherd us closer together.
As our species has focused on signs and symbols we have developed new media, from handprints on cave walls, to theatre, text, and photography, and an industry of broadcasting has evolved. The conversations of this, by filtering information and mediating individual choice, have increasingly orchestrated social communication and transformed social intercourse. Adapting to new social-media, individuals now gather behind screens, interacting with one another as nodes in neural networks. The propaganda of the everyday, provided by the ecosystems of their virtual societies, now constitutes the infosphere in which the real cognition and behaviours of individuals and societies develop.
Conversations gather us together, constructing not only virtual environments but also real ones. They create the common-sense, in which we feel safe and at home, and we grow and develop, incrementally, inside the frame this provides. Assembling us in cultures and building our societies, it is by means of the conversations we have that not only our physical needs but also then our psychological needs are met.
Every being makes its signs, and these signs, in whatever manner, are understood — life and semiosis are co-extensive.
Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle and Plato referred to signs, in the world of nature, and to symbols in human culture — both semiosis and its study, semiotics, come from the Ancient Greek: semeion - 'a sign, mark, or token'. A thousand years ago, symbols were understood to be a type of sign. Now semiosis is understood as an fundamental process, in which a word, an object, a symbol, or a nonverbal cue, is recognized as a sign.
Despite its ancient roots, Nazi eugenics took semiotics to justify their xenophobic ideology. This association still clouds the science, but the science did not underpin the xenophobia the xenophobia corrupted the science. Semiotics is elementary, ubiquitous and inescapable. Xenophobia is a sickness. More ancient than semiotics it infects people just as easily today, and independent of their other beliefs.
Nazi scientists believed there was a simple, one-to-one and fixed relationship between the biological characteristics of individuals and their emergent characteristics. The idea is merely false, for several reasons. Most obviously, organisms are not simple machines; emergent qualities, by definition, exist as a consequence of interactions with the environment. Ontogeny also proceeds, from conception, through interaction with the environment. Elemental biological components, including DNA, only statistically approximate physical traits and racial origins. Race is simply a category of convenience. It's nothing more than that; it isn't an absolute class containing sets of individuals that are discrete.
In classifying organisms, biology often identifies patterns that seem to indicate that a common underlying characteristic is present when in fact it is not - and vice-versa. Science can only address the behaviour of reality, especially in regard to multicellular organisms, such as human beings, through probabilistic explanations - the inferences that are made from statistical relationships that are deduced from data that has been observed.
Reality is dynamic, every moment a new beginning, a new set of initial conditions. The infinitesimal differences between this one and that which preceded it, transforms its 'final' outcomes - as chaos theory demonstrates. The future evolves through probabilistic states; deterministic approaches have no ability to predict or define it. Our choices emerge from a system of inheritance but this system is made up of cultural as well as genetic components, between which information is exchanged via complex and diverse pathways. The Nazi's simplistic belief, that race could be an absolute measure of behaviour and preference, was merely incorrect.
Science is simple and absolute, neither human nor divine. It has no need or place for faith. Faith corrupts it.
see e.g: Hypotheses of the evolution of eukaryote cells, Wikipedia.