C-106. Cognition, communication and language

Natural languages, a community-serving secondary and tertiary Read and Tell technology (App. II; C-8), may not make evident the full contribution that cognition makes to minding, and thus to potential message realization ( App. XX) via an improved linguistic technology. Cognigraphics research offers a telling case….

One might reasonably expect, given the adjective-noun structural feature in the English language, that when research subjects are asked, first, for a word associated with a given topic, and then asked to describe that relationship by choosing from among six diagrams involving the topic and word associate (using the cognitive relations of =, =/=, inside-outside and before-after) … one might expect that the linguistic structure’s adjective-noun feature could influence, if not dictate, the choice. That feature suggests an inside-outside choice if the word associate is commonly used (on the inside) to indicate an attribute of the topic (on the outside).

However, in a 1982 political campaign Cognigraphics study, cognition did not follow that expectation. When Ss offered “president” as the word associate for then-candidate — and incumbent — George H. W. Bush, some assigned Bush the inside position instead of the outside position. Further, some assigned him the before position; others assigned him the after position; still others assigned them either an = relation or an =/= relation. While it is possible with additional content to represent all these possibilities linguistically, thereby to give each cognition an interpretation, this assortment of choices suggests a less-than-optimal linguistic capacity for cognitive realization. This when the before-after relation clearly needs elaboration to fully and accuately represent consequentiality (X).

The relative emphasis on communication development over cognitive development in linguistic technology, beginning with names for objects and then with the noun-verb and adjective-noun/adverb-verb accommodations for relationships (not to mention many adjunct forms [e.g., prepositions and conjunctions,, seems to have taken cognition pretty much for granted – as though cognition were a matter of image more than one of impression and imagining, of pure perception and not of minded consequentiality. Language, it seems, could not readily get much beyond its identificatory function. But consider:

P1: OgC&C Od => MgC&C => OnC&C;
P1: OnC&C => P2

Where: a person, P1, utilizes communication and cognition, C&C, together (App. III) in minding an observed condition, Od (a focus of attention); then makes a move to give expression via language using C&C together; resulting in an “observation, “ On, that contains both C&C; and then sends the observation to another person, P2.

It’s easy to see in just this behavioral excerpt some of the multi-faceted functionality of communication: as symbol (surrogate object for minding’s focal attention and cognition [VII]), as a least effort move (in a medium or not), as an observational outcome (to be remembered and/or transmitted, in a medium or not), and as a (more or less) transitory inter-agent connector needed for a viable individual <=> individual and/or individual <=> community interdependency.

The multi-faceted functionality of cognition too … a multi-facetedness of functionality to be expected for both, given the course of, the realization of, developing capabilities (App. XIX). William James, interestingly, even defined “communication” in terms of a mind-to-mind (body-to-body) relationship. Although here we prefer to see communicators together in a step making and taking perspective (i.e., Realization mode: C-107, C-111), as evident in their Involve <=> Grasp work (C-105) of sending and receiving, rather than in a body-body relationship.

Much of communication’s functionality depends on its “symbiotic” interdependence with cognitive functionality. Both utilize relating, for both minding and moving, to produce relationships, cognition using relations to relate with to give us a point ABOUT as well as a point AT capability (App. XX). The step’s minding and moving structure (as above) must be distinguished molecularly (III) to bring out the functionality of both. If we are to respect the Nature of Things and our incompletely instructed condition, if we are to be progressive … our step making and taking cannot neglect developing the cognition contributions to Realization.

Minding is now not well served, especially if we note that cognition’s before-after relation encompasses a vast , various and neglected domain of consequentiality between simple sequence and the special case of logical causation’s necessary and sufficient conditions. (See X; App. XXI, C-111.)

Nor is community well served if, after Dewey, we credit its viability solely to communication without the contribution – albeit yet underdeveloped – of cognition. The interdependence of community and language is considerable (e.g., the laments for lost languages), and can be strengthened via the leverage of an improved language technology to further the communication-cognition interdependence and its contributions.

(c) R.F. Carter