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Old 03-30-2009, 07:37 AM   #19
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 12

Hello Steve,

From your post, copied below, I see that perhaps reification was not a wise choice of words. Personification might be more appropriate. More comments below.

Steve Earle wrote: View Post
Reification: Your critique of the paragraph concerning word-sounds is well taken. In context, the paragraph in question was not meant to summarize Odano's work so much as to partially describe what it was about her work that had caught my interest many years a go when I first encountered it.
PAG. Understood. It was the phrasing of that paragraph that caught my eye, since it nicely summarized the view of language that you go on to explain later in the book.

Steve Earle wrote: View Post
That said, by focusing on who is doing the speaking, aren't you also introducing a reification? Of course we can't talk about language as a phenomenon separate from humanity, but that was also part of my point: Does language communicate because humans are doing the speaking, or do humans communicate because they are endowed with the capacity for language?
PAG. When you state that 'this was part of my point', your point seems to have become more obscure and this is not helped by the second question, which, I assume, is rhetorical (though, from what I understand from your book, I cannot be sure).

I myself do not believe that language, in itself, does anything at all and certainly does not, itself, communicate. Plato struggled with this type of question in his middle and later dialogues (especially the Parmenides and Sophist), when he tried to explain how the Forms actually related to the changeable items that were supposedly instances of the Forms. So he asked if the Form of Justice was itself actually just, or the Form of Equality was actually equal. If the answer was Yes, there was a logical category mistake.

The thought that 'language communicates because humans are doing the speaking', seems to me to make Language an entity, a Platonic Form, just like the Form of Justice and the Form of Equality. So one can respond that language does not itself communicate: humans do, when they use language. Maybe other animals, too (though, without the general non-instinctual sophistication of humans).

If one believes that language is indeed a Form--the Form of Language, then the same question arises here as it did for Plato: what is the ontological relationship between the Form of Language and the individual languages / instances of language(s) spoken by you and I and the other members of this and other discussion forums?

I think Kukai, and Onisaburo Deguchi / Morihei Ueshiba after him, were either very cunning, or knew nothing about linguistics. Kukai used the Sanskrit notions of seed syllables, not seed sentences or seed propositions. Why? Why should the syllable be the basic unit of reality, rather than the complete sentence? Odano Sensei also appears to rely on single words, compounds of Chinese characters that rely on the homonyms uniquely created by the Japanese language. Her entire ontological structure relies on the exploitation of the meanings afforded by Japanese kanji compounds. But why should this be the archetype of the language of kotodama?

Anyway, as I stated in my earlier post, I look forward to more discussions.

Best wishes,


Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 03-30-2009 at 07:39 AM.

P A Goldsbury
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