Publication 6973

Nixon G. M. (1999) A “hermeneutic objection”: Language and the inner view. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6(2-3): 257–267. Fulltext at
In the worlds of philosophy, linguistics, and communications theory, a view has developed which understands conscious experience as experience that is “reflected” back upon itself through language. This indicates that the consciousness we experience is possible only because we have culturally invented language and subsequently evolved to accommodate it. This accords with the conclusions of Daniel Dennett (1991), but the “hermeneutic objection” would go further and deny that the objective sciences themselves have escaped the hermeneutic circle. The consciousness we humans experience is developed only within the context of crossing the “symbolic threshold” into language (Percy 1975; Deacon 1997) and one of the earliest and most important symbols we acquire is that of the self, or “the subject of experience.” It is only when we achieve self-awareness that the world, as such, comes to exist for us as an object (which contains categories and sub-categories of objects). Any consciousness imputed to prelinguistic stages of development is based on projection and guesswork, since we can know nothing directly of it. It can be said that any experience which does not separate an inner subject from an outer world is probably a continuum of sensation in which environmental stimulus and instinctive response are experienced as a unity; it may be “lived experience” but it is experience “lived” non-consciously. Relevance: Language as a cultural creation, thus human consciousness is culturally constructed.



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