Author Topic: Sense of self implicit in language  (Read 354 times)

Offline Bunbury

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Sense of self implicit in language
« on: March 20, 2019, 10:28:35 PM »
Is anyone aware of any language where our experiences are expressed in terms of "what we are" rather than "what we are aware of," or what we perceive.  There are two ways we can think of our experiences -

- as something "not me" that I am "aware of," or that I "perceive,"
- as something "I experience."

In English, for example, we say, "I HAVE and idea," as if it is something that is "not me" that I "have."  Of course, when we stop and think about it we realize that (within the scientific context) our ideas aren't things that exist separate from us, but rather are inseparable from our brains.  In the scientific context, then, I since my brain is inseparable from me, I am whatever happens in it.

Another, and I believe more accurate way of describing such experiences would be to say that "I AM" my thoughts, dreams, emotions, etc.  They aren't "things" that exist independent of me of which I become aware.  They are experiences I have.  I understand that, in English at any rate, it would be clumsy to say, "I was a dream about a lion last night," or "I was being the idea that I might not get to work on time."  I'm not suggesting we try to change the way we talk.  My interest, which is related to our conception of space, is rather from the a personal interest in trying to find ways to think about our experiences of color as they relate to our conception of ourselves as beings, which I won't go into here. 

My particular interest is in whether there are any languages in which color is implicitly conceived, not as being something "things are" - as in "Apples are red" - but rather as something experienced - "I am being the experience of red where I see the apple."  This is obviously very clumsy in English, precisely because we don't have an implicit concept of "being what one experiences." 

Is anyone aware of any language in which color is implicitly conceived of as being something experienced, rather than being something that "things are" that we "perceive."  (I'm not talking about scientists and philosophers here, but rather people in everyday life.)  I seriously doubt it, but I want to be sure.


Offline Daniel

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Re: Sense of self implicit in language
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2019, 10:16:42 AM »
Languages vary in how they express possession. The two most common types are roughly "I have X" and "There is X to me", along with another variant (e.g., in Quechua) "My X exists". But these all seem to fit into the existing-as-separate-entity category you described (even more so than "I have" perhaps).

As for colors, what comes to mind is that in a number of languages, colors (and some or all adjectives in general) are essentially verbs. So you'd have a verb "be happy" or "be green", literally translating to something like "the tree greens" or "the sky blues". I don't know that this represents much more than a grammatical difference (whether there's any philosophical difference for those speakers-- for which see the highly controversial topic of Linguistic Relativity).
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