Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Getting A Grip

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
You know, don't you, that the word "get" has the same Indo-European root as "comprehend" and "prehensile"?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a question. More of a post of experience, but a puzzling one. Ocassionally, throughout the span of my life that I can effectivly remember, I would have a dream that seemed very realistic. Like many other dreams seem to take after. They are dreams experienced through the first-hand view. Seemingly reality with burst of quick consiousness at the end where I wake up. This is not anything out of the ordinary as far as dreams go. Thats why I don't think of it as anything special at the time. But later in life, maybe a few days or even a year, I will have an experience that duplicates my previous dream exactly. Although I don't really realize it until the set of events is set into motion. Then I will have this sort of "epiphany" feeling and realize that what I had just experienced was the exact same as the dream that I had had earlier. The events don't have to be anything special. i.e- walking through the hall in my house to go watch tv and then have a conversation with someone. It's essentially Deja Vu, but I had the experience in my dream earlier.

I do not know for sure what this is. I have talked to others who say they sometimes have a similiar thing happen to them. It's like the brain is actually sensing the future and portraying it in a dream. Then later I experience it. I would think this was just a coincidence, but it has happened too many times to even consider it.

If anyone has any thoughts on the subject, I would appreciate your thoughts. It really leads me to believe that the human brain actually does have some kind of untapped pre-cognitive ability, that through my dream-state, has come out to some extent. Although it seems irrational, this is indeed the case.

Please post back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hereby call a linguistic showdown! My money's on Odden.
Oh, there really isn't much more than could be said about it -- apart from copying out the various Germanic and Latinate words that the root shows up as in English. There are words in other languages that are from the same root, such as Greek khandano "grab", Albanian gje'ndem "get found", Old Irish ro-geinn "find a place", Old Church Slavic gadati "mean". I was sort of surprised that Pokorny doesn't include Sanskrit hasta "hand", but perhaps there's some detail that suggests that the root of that wors is something else. So really, I don't think there's anywhere else this could go, except here. Still, I think it's a nice phrase.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...