Naturalizing language: human appraisal and (quasi) technology

AI and Society 28 (4):443-453 (2013)
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Abstract

Using contemporary science, the paper builds on Wittgenstein’s views of human language. Rather than ascribing reality to inscription-like entities, it links embodiment with distributed cognition. The verbal or (quasi) technological aspect of language is traced to not action, but human specific interactivity. This species-specific form of sense-making sustains, among other things, using texts, making/construing phonetic gestures and thinking. Human action is thus grounded in appraisals or sense-saturated coordination. To illustrate interactivity at work, the paper focuses on a case study. Over 11 s, a crime scene investigator infers that she is probably dealing with an inside job: she uses not words, but intelligent gaze. This connects professional expertise to circumstances and the feeling of thinking. It is suggested that, as for other species, human appraisal is based in synergies. However, since the verbal aspect of language constrains action and thinking, we also develop customary ways of behaving. Humans extend embodiment by linking real-time activity to actions through which the collectivity imposes a variable degree of control over how individuals realise values

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