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thoreauback

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  1. In her essay "The Missing Link" from THE AYN RAND LETTER, May 21, 1973, Miss Rand ended her discussion of "the concrete-bound, anti-conceptual mentality" with the following paragraph: "I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent. But a certain hypothesis has haunted me for years; I want to stress that it is only a hypothesis. There is an enormous breach of continuity between man and all other living species. The difference lies in the nature of man's consciousness, in its distinctive characteristic: his conceptual faculty. It is as if, after aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies. But the development of a man's consciousness is volitional: no matter what the innate degree of his intelligence, HE must develop it, HE must learn how to use it, HE must become a human being by choice. What if he does not choose to do so? Then he becomes a transitional phenomenon - a desperate creature that struggles frantically against his own nature, longing for the effortless "safety" of an animal's consciousness, which he cannot recapture, and rebelling against a human consciouness, which he is afraid to achieve. For years, scientists have been looking for a "missing link" between man and animals. Perhaps that missing link is the anti-conceptual mentality." ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Personally, I have always been fascinated by this hypothesis and the possibility that we are an "epistemological species" rather than a biological one. Comments anyone?
  2. Yes, I believe it is "ghend".... to get hold of, seize or grasp.
  3. As a history teacher once told me…”The Greeks had a word for everything.” And, thank Zeus, they did. I became interested in word origins when I first began to try and understand “Intro. to Objectivist Epistemology”. I started with "epistemology" and found the Greek root "episteme", which my dictionary said meant "knowledge, understanding, from epistanai 'to stand upon', understand.": epi- 'upon' + histanai- 'to stand' + logy. Okay, but they also had another word for knowledge: "gnosis". Picking up the thread with the Romans, the Latin put co- in front of gnosis and it became “cognition”…to get to know or learn. But, the most fascinating for me was when I started tracing the origin of “comprehend”, yet another word for knowing and understanding. The “prehend” part comes from the Latin root prehensus…to seize or grasp. The prefix “com” is used to convey “with, together, jointly”, so the COMbination(!) becomes a word that means grasped “together in the mind”. And here is where it gets interesting. You know that family of monkeys (apes?) that can swing from branches with not only their hands and feet but also their tails? They are described as having “prehensile" tails. They can "grasp" or wrap their tails around an exterior object. So, couldn't it be said that we humans have “prehensile brains” because, with the invention of language, we “grasp” reality, the exterior world, with our brain/mind. Think of all the expressions we have for "understanding" something: get a grip, grasp this, get it?, forget it (lose of ability to recall what you formerly "got"), "getting a handle" on something, or giving yourself a "handle" so someone can "reach" you. The only way we can grasp the random flux and flow of experience is to give a particular aspect of it a word and "fix" it in our brain/mind. Then the non-linear operations of our sub-conscious can become conscious and linear by fetching and grasping the concept equivalents of our previous experience or thinking. We grasp reality with our brain/mind by using language(concepts), and if we store them logically we can later retrieve them quickly by "re-grasping", "re-cognizing" and "re-lating" them the way we originally did. And guess what the root of "relate" is: re- "back" + latus "carried" ! And how do you carry something? Well, after you've got a "grip" on it, you store it way with "handles"(concepts) so you can "carry it back!" Therefore, I propose a new concept for our conceptual faculty: the prehensile brain.
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