Friday, June 5, 2009

Language and Mental Life

Where lives the thought that you didn't know you knew?

You cannot say what is independent of language. There may well be much that is other than language, what Wittgenstein called, the forever unspeakable only showable. But without language you'd be so tethered to the immediate present in an immediate now. As one example, note that Nietzsche writes,
Observe the herd as it grazes past you: it cannot distinguish yesterday from today, leaps about, eats, sleeps, digests, leaps some more, and carries on like this from morning to night and from day to day, tethered by the short leash of its pleasures and displeasures to the stake of the moment, and thus it is neither melancholy nor bored. It is hard on the human being to observe this, because he boasts about the superiority of his humanity over animals and yet looks enviously upon their happiness—for the one and only thing that he desires is to live like an animal, neither bored nor in pain, and yet he desires this in vain, because he does not desire it in the same way as does the animal. The human being might ask the animal: ‘Why do you just look at me like that instead of telling me about your happiness?’ The animal wanted to answer, ‘Because I always immediately forget what I wanted to say’—but it had already forgotten this answer and hence said nothing, so that the human being was left to wonder.' (Unfashionable Observations, 1995, p. 87)

1 comment:

  1. Where lives the thoughts that that I didn't know I knew...I'm not sure...but if I could become absent without leaving, I'm sure I'd have time to track them down.