LANGUAGE & LITERACY AS DISCURSIVE PRACTICE
“As Rhees is quick to remind us, signs get their meaning in ‘intercourse with other people.’” (Minar, 2010, pg 189)
‘A person goes by a signpost [i.e. is able to use a word, understands] only insofar as there exists a regular use of signposts, a custom.” (PI, 198)
“For living culturally is to say that they are the kinds of beings who can learn to produce fluent, conceptually structured, cultural performances, not that they come into the world already explicitly about to produce them.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 167)
“Once we see this - that nothing but the mastery of a technique laid down in common, public practice could enable one to assert, judge or state, or to wish, command, hope, fear, or envy, as opposed to having a life only of mere sensory awareness - then we are, so it seems, to cure ourselves of our temptation to look for a ‘deeper’ quasi-scientific or metaphysical explanation of discursive consciousness.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 164-165)
“The development of explicit linguistic, conceptual and cultural abilities then depends crucially on ontogenetic-developmental processes ‘by which human children actively exploit and make use of both their biological and cultural inheritances.’ (Tomasello, 1999, pg 11).” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 167-168)
“Hence the process of the development of linguistic and cognitive skills on the part of the child is a process of sociogenesis; it requires other havers of points of view.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 168)
“Children engage soon after birth in ‘protoconversations’ with adults, that is, ‘social interactions in which the parent and infant focus their attentions on one another - often in a face-to-face manner involving looking, touching, and vocalising - in ways that serve to express and share basic emotions.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 169)
“Within these joint attentional behaviours, a ‘referential triangle of child, adult, and the object or event to which they share attention’ is set up.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 169)
- TLP 2.0123: If I know an object (word) I also know all its possible occurrences in states of affairs. (Every one of these possibilities must be part of the nature of the object/word.)
“One comes - all at once - to be able to use words to refer to things, and distinctly and self-consciously to conceive of things in particular ways, in and through participation in joint attentional behaviours and referential triangles. Hence ‘linguistic reference is a social act in which one person attempts to get another person to focus her attention on something in the world’ that has been construed in a certain way within the context of the scene.” (Tomasello, 1999, pg 97, quoted in Eldridge, 2010, pg 169)
"The child becomes aware that this object can be construed- or conceived-as this or that, in this or that changing context of goals, aims, and emotions, and so she comes to be aware both of the multiple kinds of things object are, and of herself as a construer and conceiver." (Eldridge, 2010, pg 170)
“What Tomasello calls the internalisation of a linguistic symbol, which is initially used by the adult within a joint attentional interaction, as a symbol involves the learning all at once of words, concepts (construals of the way things are), [and] point[s] of view.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 170)
“Genuine symbolic representations or linguistic symbols (as opposed to perceptual representations only) are, then, all at once public, intersubjectively shared, and perspectival, i.e saturated with ‘embodied construals’ of how things are, which are salient in relation to certain goals, purposes and contexts of joint attention.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 171)
“But the difference in the structure of awareness - the emergence of the very life of a person - is brought about neither by the agency of nous, nor by biology plus causal conditioning alone, but instead by a sociogenetic process involving the development from mimicry to participation in joint attentional interaction.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 171)
“What we do in learning language is neither reduced to, nor explained by, purely material processes ... What we do involves the development and exercise of an ability (based on a prior innate capacity) in actual practice. Nothing is hidden, one might say.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 172)
“The fluent ability that one acquires through such acceptance, achieved via participation in joint attentional interactions, confer on the thus emergent subject of experience (in a new sense of ‘experience’) a kind of power. Wittgenstein’s image is that of being able to move along a path, ... or of knowing how to go on. One becomes a subject of experience rather than only passively subject to experience. One is able to notice , actively the aspect of things.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 177-178)
“In developing this redescription, which includes attention to the roles of agency and interaction with other persons, Wittgenstein places the idea of a person as an agent among agents - with all the anxieties, wishes, fears, desires, moods, and possibilities of felt satisfaction that come with coming to be an explicit participant in conceptual practice - at the centre of thinking about discursive consciousness.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 179)
References (back to top)
- Eldridge, R. (2010). Wittgenstein and aspect-seeing, the nature of discursive consciousness, and the experience of agency. In W. Day and V. Krebs (Eds), Seeing Wittgenstein anew. (pp. 162 - 179). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Minar, E. (2010). The philosophical significance of meaning-blindness. In W. Day and V. Krebs (Eds), Seeing Wittgenstein anew. (pp. 183 - 203). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Tomasello, M. (1999). The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Wittgenstein, L. (2001). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness. London: Routledge.
- _____________ (2001). Philosophical Investigations. 3rd Edition. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.