Monday, 12 May 2014

Former archbishop Rowan Williams' "Material Words: Language as Physicality"

Rev Dr Rowan Williams opens his lecture with reference to the world of experience of an autistic person, and he refers to Phoebe Cauldwell (?) who is someone who helps and manages to communicate with the autistic person with very great sensitivity to what is going on for that person.

The Autism Spectrum has autism at one end, and somewhere on that spectrum is what we sometimes call "Asperger's Syndrome" (with a 'hard' 'g').
My present understanding is that the Asperger's person is similar to the Autistic person in having difficulty seeing beyond the contents of his (or her) own thoughts and feelings, screening-out a great deal which is felt as over-stimulation (as I have put it elsewhere, needing to keep feelings familiar). However, the Asperger's person is functioning in several ways which will enable social life and possibly social thriving. The literature talks about "high" and "low" functioning ASDs (autism spectrum disorders).
So we are talking about a spectrum, no hard boundaries.

"The beginnings of language is learning how not to bump into things"
Rowan williams: material words, language as physicality
He quotes merleau Ponty "language manifests a link between human agents and between human agents and the world"

Language has it's roots in articulating & testing mutual recognition inviting responses of an ever increasing differentiation of kind. Establishing a shared world.
M-P: "language takes on meaning for a child when it establishes a situation"
Language is a modulation of our sound-making parts in the world. Language is something we do with our bodies.
Representation is not substitution or imitation. Semblance.
M-P: The representation (aboriginal songs for e.g.) is "The form that the object takes in human experience"

R-w: Ian McGhilChrist, Phoebe Caldwell and M-P remind us that a philosophical myth of which must be most wary is that which opposes an active subject with inert objects.

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