Re: future language

From: Trupeljak Ozren (
Date: Tue Apr 30 2002 - 23:15:29 BST

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    Subject: Re: future language
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    --- Grant Callaghan <> wrote:
    > >The only case when we have reverse of the Babel syndrome is when
    > >cultures associated with languages start to die out. IMO, that's
    > bad.
    > >As simple as that....
    > >
    > Cultures the world over are dying out. It's only "bad" because you
    > don't like it. Words like "good" and "bad" only mean anything when
    > they are used to mean good or bad for some purpose.

    Of course I don't like the fact that different culture all over the
    world are dying out. If you think a bit about it, you will also realize
    *why* is such a thing bad.
    When we talk about the culutres and their "fitness" for survival, we
    are assuming a case where evolutionary forces are at work on this
    abstract concept of "culture". In such a case, we can make direct
    analogies with the biology (I am not going into whether this is true in
    an aboslute sense or not). If we make analogies with biology, anything
    that reduces diversity indiscriminently across the board, is "bad" and
    is called a "mass extinction". Of course, it is not "bad" or "good" in
    any absolute sense - but from the point of view of individuals or
    species caught in that process, it *is* undeniably a "bad" thing.
    By reducing the cultural diversity of the world, you are doing exactly
    what exclusive agriculturalists are doing all over the world: you are
    crashing a working ecosystem. This, IMO, is "bad".

    > A butter knife is bad for cutting
    > steak but good for spreading butter. It's not inerently good or bad.

    If you declare that butter knives are obviously more useful than steak
    ones, simply because they get used so much more often all over the
    world, and then go about actively destroying/banning the use of steak
    knives, can you then make a judgement whether something is "bad" or

    > That
    > analogy applies equally well to all cultural tools. They are good as
    > long
    > as they help us do what we need to do and bad when they no longer
    > fulfill a
    > purpose. Outside of that, good and bad just communicate how we feel
    > about something.

    I agree. This is exactly why I said 1) IMO, 2) how do you know that all
    of these other "cultural tools" (which I understand to mean "other
    not-so-useful-cultures") that you are destroying are actually useless?
    How do you know that all of these ways of life that have been pruned
    through thousands of years of culutral evolution, are useless in the
    world of today? Do you measure their worthiness in purely (western)
    economic model terms? Or how?

    > A good movie is one you enjoyed. A bad movie is one you
    > didn't.
    > Used in this way, good and bad only express information about your
    > feelings, not about the movie itself.

    THere is an assumption there that what a person feels does not have any
    connection with the truth of the matter. I strongly disagree with that
    implication (if indeed, it was - I might be reading meaning where there
    is none). Our emotions are fine-tuned mechanisms for survival - without
    them we would not be able to make (statisticaly) accurate and fast
    decisions. If my feelings tell me that something is wrong, chances are
    very good that something actually *is* wrong. If whole culutures
    "sense" that something is get the picture.

    > I'm sorry if I sound pedantic here. It's one of my pet peeves that
    > people
    > use words in an absolute sense which only have any meaning when used
    > in a
    > realative sense. Feel free to ignore my outburst.

    No problem. Clarifying obscure personal statements is always good - and
    we can't do it without feeedback, right? :)
    And anyway, all that I said is purely IMO and does not necesarily
    represent the "real" truth of the matter. >;>

    There are very few men - and they are exceptions - who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.

    Carl von Clausewitz

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