Crossing the symbolic threshold: A critical review of Terrence Deacon's the symbolic species [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Psychology 15 (2):155 – 171 (2002)
Terrence Deacon's views about the origin of language are based on a particular notion of a symbol. While the notion is derived from Peirce's semiotics, it diverges from that source and needs to be investigated on its own terms in order to evaluate the idea that the human species has crossed the symbolic threshold. Deacon's view is defended from the view that symbols in the animal world are widespread and from the extreme connectionist view that they are not even to be found in humans. Deacon's treatment of symbols involves a form of holism, as a symbol needs to be part of a system of symbols. He also appears to take a realist view of symbols. That combination of holism and realism makes the threshold a sharp threshold, which makes it hard to explain how the threshold was crossed. This difficulty is overcome if we take a mild realist position towards symbols, in the style of Dennett. Mild realism allows intermediate stages in the crossing but does not undermine Deacon's claim that the threshold is difficult to cross or the claim that it needs to be crossed quickly.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
David Lumsden (2005). How Can a Symbol System Come Into Being? Dialogue 44 (1):87-96.
Similar books and articles
Gregory M. Nixon (2010). Myth and Mind: The Origin of Consciousness in the Discovery of the Sacred. Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research 1 (3):289-337.
Darrell P. Rowbottom (2007). Demystifying Threshold Concepts. Journal of Philosophy of Education 41 (2):263–270.
Ursula Goodenough & Terrence W. Deacon (2003). From Biology to Consciousness to Morality. Zygon 38 (4):801-819.
Kalevi Kull, Terrence Deacon, Claus Emmeche, Jesper Hoffmeyer & Frederik Stjernfelt (2009). Theses on Biosemiotics: Prolegomena to a Theoretical Biology. Biological Theory 4 (2):167-173.
Terrence W. Deacon (2005). Language as an Emergent Function. Theoria 20 (3):269-286.
Terrence W. Deacon (1996). Why a Brain Capable of Language Evolved Only Once: Prefrontal Cortex and Symbol Learning. Zygon 31 (4):635-670.
Gregory M. Nixon (1999). A 'Hermeneutic Objection': Language and the Inner View. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (2-3):257-269.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads4 ( #237,322 of 1,096,452 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #231,754 of 1,096,452 )
How can I increase my downloads?