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Forum on Public Policy Online

Vol 2010 no 5 (Posted December 2010)


Women and Careers || Laws || Early Childhood || Arts and Sciences

Arts and Sciences

The Question whether Emotion and Language are Isogenous in Human Evolution: Darwin’s “Language” problem—the Transition from an ‘Existence Metaphysics’ to a ‘Metaphysics of Experience’
John Roemischer, Adjunct Lecturer (Retired), State University of New York

This paper makes a single claim: that emotion, when structured through projective language, and language, when impassioned and driven by bodily motion, transform static existence into experience, into the qualitative actions and consummations that give an evolving life “meaning.”  The shift from an existence metaphysics to a metaphysics of experience has been the dominant objective in modern American systematic philosophy, a position strongly influenced by Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Its purpose has been the transformation of Classical theories of speciation into progressive evolutionary philosophies of development, into theories of the transmutability of species as a function of evolving transactional relationships.
In his 1872 publication, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin turned to emotion to demonstrate his theory of the continuity of species. Classical psychologies, governed by an existence metaphysics of non-evolving, rigidly fixed species-specific differences, proposed that emotion and reason were antipathetic ‘faculties’; that language, a requirement for human rationality, served to distinguish human faculties as well as human and non-human species. Language further served to distinguish higher-level cultures from those deemed barbaric. For a ‘social democracy’ to evolve, a metaphysics of experience was required in order to drive evolutionary forces in the direction of greater continuity and less violence-driven differences. Emotion and cognition evolved in the drive toward expressible, communal language. The larger effect was the production of the modality of ‘experience’.  
Impacted by Darwin’s interest in biological continuity, the task of evolutionary philosophy was to establish the metaphysical basis for the integration of those aspects of human experience that on the surface seemed either unconnected or antipathetic. Darwin noted that the test for such integration would be the discovery of continuity between such seemingly disparate experiential aspects as language and emotion. The philosophic quest for developmental continuity required a rewriting of the metaphysical underpinning of Classical theories of psychology, biology, science and ethics: gradually formulated were the following critiques of the bases of Classical existence metaphysics: The ‘critique of discontinuity’ (a reaction to surface dualisms); the ‘critique of antecedence’ (a reaction to Classical developmental teleology); the ‘critique of priority’ (an avoidance of a priori categories in the theory of cognitive and moral development); the ‘critique of abstractionism’ (a rejection of the identification of the ‘simple’ with the ‘concrete’—expressed by Whitehead as “the fallacy of simple location” and “the fallacy of misplaced concretion”). The attempt to ‘locate’ emotion in the brain (for example in the prefrontal cortex) is a case in point; emotion as experience, however,is a manifestation of a growing emergence of complexity: in a deeper sense, it is proposed here that emotion is language and language is emotion—that these were isogenous, and still are. The evolving Arts and Literatures of progressive cultures are evidence to that effect.
In essence, the philosophy of evolution is the search for the metaphysical underpinning of selective process—what Darwin identified as ‘Natural Selection’; that underpinning has turned out to be the generative agent of desire, theagent which we identify here as emotion; the agent which is broadly served by, and which in turn serves the directional propensities of language.


The Correlations in Intellectual Activity between the Arts and Sciences:
Creativity, Construction and Communication

Robert A. Spalletta, Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, The University of Scranton

The schism between the arts and the sciences as detailed by C. P. Snow in his 1959 Rede Lecture is based on a perception brought about by the divergence in the intra-practitioner communications methods used by the two categories of intellectual activity, and not on any real differences.  This will be shown by first dividing human activities into three general categories of specialization, showing that the arts and sciences fall into the same broad category of specialization, and finally, outlining how the different sub-specializations within their common specialization remain fluid and interconnected.

The advantage human beings have over other species is not based on their physical nature, but rather their intellectual abilities.  Humans can apply their intellect to solve the problems they face, and to grant them a survival (and ultimately a proliferation) advantage.   Other species must themselves adapt to survive in and exploit the environmental niche in which they exist.  By contrast, mankind has the ability to use his intellect to adapt his environment to meet his needs and physical limitations. 




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