named ourselves Homo sapiens—a designation
contingent on word/reason (logos) as
our chosen identifier—recent evidence suggests language is only a small
fraction of the story. Human beings would be more aptly named Homo videns—seeing man—if percentage of
cortex area per modality determined the labeling of an organism. Instead, the
sentential ontology of language philosophers and linguists persists in
spite of the growing body of cognitive research challenging the
language instinct as our most defining characteristic. What is becoming clearer
is that language is palimpsestic. It is like a marked transparency over
visuospatial maps, which are wired to sensorimotor maps. The left lateralized
interpreter uses language to communicably narrativize an apparent unity, but
people are not the only fictionalizing animals. This examination looks to
cognitive and psychological studies to suggest that a prelinguistic instinct to
make sense of unrelated information is a biological consequence of
intersections among pattern matching, symbolic thinking, aesthetics, and
emotive tagging, which is accessible by language, but not a product thereof.
Language, rather, is just an outer surface. Rather than thinking man, playing
man, or tool-making man, we would be better described as storytelling animals
(narrativism). Like other social mammals, we run simulation heuristics to
predict causal chains, object/event frequency, value association, and problem
solving. The post hoc product is episodic fiction. Language merely serves to
magnify what Friederich Nietzsche is rightfully identified as an art of dissimulation—lying. In short,
the moral of the story is that we are making it all up as we go along.
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