The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Who Invented Language?

Linguists, geneticists and anthropologists have explored the genealogical tree of human languages to determine where human language was invented. Was it invented in one place and then spread around the globe (why then so many languages rather than just one?) or was it invented in different places around the same time? (What a coincidence that would be).

The meta-issue with this quest is the role of free will, i.e. whether we humans have free will and decide what happens to us. We often assume that somebody “invented” something and then everybody started using it. The truth could be humbler: all humans share pretty much the same brain, and that brain determines our behavior. We all sleep, we all care for our children, and we all avoid danger. Not because one human “invented” these behaviors, but because our brains are programmed to direct us to behave that way. Our free will (if indeed we have any) is limited to deciding which woman to marry, but the reason we want a wife is sex and children, a need that is programmed in our brain (and, of course, one could claim that the choice of the specific wife is also driven by our brain’s circuits).

In fact, we consider “sick” or “abnormal” any human being who does not love her/his children, any human who does not like sex, etc.

Asking who invented language could be like asking who invented sex or parenting. It may just come with the race. We humans may be programmed to communicate using the human language. It didn’t take a genius to invent language. We started speaking, worldwide, as soon as the conditions were there (as soon as we started living in groups, more and more heterogeneous groups, more and more collaborative groups).

The mystery may not be who invented language, but why we invented so many and so different languages. There are striking differences between Finnish and Chinese, even though those two peoples share pretty much the same brain. The effect of the environment on the specific language we start speaking must indeed be phenomenal.

 


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