Topic: 45. AGREEMENTS, CONTRACTS AND THE DIALECTIC OF LANGUAGE

Humans, through language, may understand one another much better than animals can; but humans also may misunderstand one another.  Animals at any rate cannot very well dupe and manipulate one another.  They lounge about in their respective lairs in dull indifference to one another.  This is what we are saying.  The human capacity for speech that allows communication also brings with it miscommunication--or simply lying.    As anthropologists we stress the value of language in bringing people together.  As dialectical philosophers we point out the fact, often unnoticed, that humans mislead as often as they enlighten one another.  For every positive instance of speech and language there opens a possibility for negative interaction.  Language itself is neutral as to the "truth" or "falsehood" of statements that are made.  Therefore language does not by itself evaluate its own assertions.  Where humans evaluate the assertions of language is through the natural or instinctive mistrust that humans have for one another.   In other words, assertions through language are rejected by an inate or instinctive negativism humans have about one another.  We can see the consequences of a utopian world in which people always trusted one another.  Animals trust one another because they cannot talk; and if they can't talk, neither can they lie.  Humans on the other hand have developed in their instincts of mistrust precisely in the measure that they have evolved in their capacity for speech--and lying.  Let us put the issue this way:  there is certainly an ambiguity over the issue whether one's thoughts are one's own or someone else's.  This is because the thoughts we have are framed or reduced to the symbols that we acquire from our community and culture.  What we are saying at this point is that there is a certain SUSPICION humans have in regard to language in general.  This distrust is a general one that humans have towards the realm of communication in which individual thoughts that are otherwise private come to be, on the other hand, public knowledge.  Language allows a person in effect to invade his own privacy.  Culture moreover offers material incentives for this invasion.  The essential issue at this point is the ambiguity and suspicion that a person has regarding the language upon which he depends.  We may see this suspicion and ambiguity  in more everyday situations.   I have presently launched into an area that could best be called legal theory.  I am talking about agreements and contracts.  But I am also talking about these things in their broadest contexts.  These considerations arise out of anthropology and especially Philosophical Anthropology.  These major philosophical issues are raised here; and we are tempted to treat them without any reference to legal theory.  But there is more.   Philosophical Anthropology has been heir, in fact, to a rich German tradition of philosophy.  Flaws in the entire American anthropological program seemed to well up as a great abyss. I must have been impatient for results, when anthropology as I first learned it seemed to demand endless patience.  The "facts" of anthropology appeared outright tedious.   If anthropology proclaims itself to be general, I thought, that is what it should be.  Yet simultaneously anthropology wants to be "scientific."  The goals of empiricism and generality are incompatible in the short time.  Such research moves slowly and gives every indication of being tired and lifeless.   In the short term, anthropology's drive to become "empirical" has caused anthropology to drastically restrict itself.  Thinking itself too general to be meaningful or amenable to focused research, this discipline divides itself into Physical Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology.  Split into these two sections what was a general study becomes in fact quite limited.  What restricts anthropology is not the subject matter--which generally is man and all man is or does--but its range of research.  Anthropology has become a "thing of shreds and tatters," to quote Malinowski.  Philosophical Anthropology in these terms is an attempt to carry out the original mission of anthropology as a general study. Again, PA, heir to German philosophy, intersects strongly with the legal philosophy of Gierke and the Social Contract thinkers.   The new but also very old area of research--or more correctly, this area of "just thinking"--runs head on into the prevailing scientific bias of our age toward so-called hard (but small) facts.  Indeed, PA seems to throw all caution aside and indulge in "wild speculation."  This abandon is only apparent.  The discipline in PA, which may be called "a discipline," restrains itself in its focus on the agreements--and contracts--that humans had in the early period of hunting and gathering.  We now return to the general topic of language.  Many matters are private matters and would remain private, too, were it not for language and the alienability and share-ability of thoughts.  We are saying that this ambiguity becomes an issue of culture, continually, in every human interaction that can be called important in any sense.  Where something is at stake, some material consideration, there is a certain care in the use of language.  It is not merely that humans are suspicious of one another, but they are suspicious, too--and regard as alien and potentially hostile--the very medium these humans use to communicate with one another.

Anthropology is the general study of mankind.  Philosophical Anthropology is something else.  We have talked about the history of this rather new discipline, beginning in Germany in the 1930s with the Max Scheler's Stellung des Menschen im Cosmos.  Imersed as I was in graduate studies at Ohio State in anthropology,I have actually forgotten when I first became acquainted with the fact even that there was such a thing as PA.   In any case, upon arriving in Tuebingen in the '60s I decided to give this study, which to my knowledge did not exist elsewhere, my most serious effort.  The course I took was under Otto Friedrich Bullnow, author of Mensch und Raum and other major books.  The direction of my interests started at that point to break away from English and American anthropology and to focus upon the German point of view.  Philosophical Anthropology has been heir, in fact, to a rich German tradition of philosophy.  Flaws in the entire American anthropological program seemed to well up as a great abyss. I must have been impatient for results, when anthropology as I first learned it seemed to demand endless patience.  The "facts" of anthropology appeared outright tedious.   If anthropology proclaims itself to be general, I thought, that is what it should be.  Yet simultaneously anthropology wants to be "scientific."  The goals of empiricism and generality are incompatible in the short time.  Such research moves slowly and gives every indication of being tired and lifeless.   In the short term, anthropology's drive to become "empirical" has caused anthropology to drastically restrict itself.  The necessity of dividing empirical anthropology into specialized studies has had the effect of vasty restricting anthropology's perview.  Split into two major sections what was a general study becomes in fact quite limited.  What restricts anthropology is not the subject matter--which generally is man and all man is or does--but its range of reseach.   Philosophical Anthropology in these terms is an attempt to carry out the original mission of anthropology as a general study.  This new area of research--or more correctly, this area of "just thinking"--runs head on into the prevailing scientific bias of our age toward so-called hard facts.  Indeed, PA seems to throw all caution aside and indulge in "wild speculation."  PA is much more adventurous that the drudgery of anthropology as (especially) Franz Boas taught it to Americans.  Looking at the basic facts, the earth so to speak of reality, conventional anthropology has simply dug its own grave.  Anthropology suffers from what Wilde called "the only vice there is, shallowness"; and also, again Wilde, "an utter lack of imagingation."  In PA on the other hand we are adventurously talking about "essences" and that sort of thing, rather more in line with alchemy than science.  What attracted me to Philosophical Anthropology was precisely this--it's "I don't care!" attitude towards precise empirical observation.   Philosophical Anthropology on the other hand has raised this corpse from the grave and has given it new life.  Here we are awash with pure speculation; we throw patience to the winds.  As I said elsewhere, Philosophical Anthropology has no sense of its own limits.    It was never my intention in this blog to be scientific.  Anthropologists have been inconsistent in their avowal of facts over broad philosophical issues:  they assert some sort of "professional" concern in areas of race particularly, where they have authority, given to them by themselves, to speak of human biology.  The theory of "human equality" is by no means a scientific idea but a moral one.  We must ask "what is a value?" or "what is the Good?"  In Force Theory--an ideological branch of Philosophical Anthropology--the issue of value still appears, if only to decry value-judgements on the part of conventional anthropologists, who swing wildly between fact and value.  In Force Theory we at any rate want to give some discipline to these swings.  We do not deny being value-oriented, even mystical.  In the consciousness of this fact we bring some order to what otherwise is chaos.

Lanaguage is a case in point.  If everything said by one human to another were taken as true, there possibly would be no truth said at all.   This would be a utopian world in the sense that there would be total trust and mutual confidence; but there would also be total chaos.  This would be a sort of "return to nature" not that humans would not talk, but they would totally mislead one another and thus cancel all the benefits of language.  Corresponding to the history of language is an evolving distrust by humans for what humans say to one another.  For this reason--that they may be lied to--humans conversing with one another evaluate, silently and only mentally, each statement made for the possibility that the statement is a lie.    It is evident that if a statement were always accepted as true, just because it was said, humans would mostly lie to one another.  Or the consequences of speech would be disasterous:  humans could manipulate one another in ways animals cannot. As it is, humans police their own conversations and look for falsehoods.   Such self-corrections constitute what we will call the inherent "dialectic" of language.  The very notion of "truth" in speech evokes the negative notion of "falsehood."   That is, in every assertion of truth there is the possibility of falsehood.  Without a statement of truth, there could be no untruth.  The untruth of a statement "balances" its truth.  In this way--in the back and forth assertions and counter-assertions--humans arrive at a modus vivendi.  But not before the entire dialectic of speech has run its full course.  In every conversation this dialectic must play itself out, more or less, to reach a satisfactory "conclusion" for the conversation.  In earlier sections of this blog, where I talked about "agreements" and "contracts," I emphasized the need that human beings have to understand one another "fully"--that the faculty of speech and language does not by itself suffice to bring humans together in cooperative relationships--does not exist simply by virtue of language itself.  As I say, to language there must be a "correction" of language.  This might be called some sort of counter-language that has evolved along with primary language.  It is in the capacity of a correction of language that we find the agreement, as I have defined the term earlier.  We move from a consideration of speech or language in general to the refinements of language in agreements and contracts.  An agreement, we are saying, is "critical" language where each term is examined for its capacity to mislead.  It is because of the misunderstandings, in other words, that more precise understandings, here called agreements, come about. An agreement, we are saying, is an understanding reached through language, but on the other hand an agreement separated from ordinary conversation on account of the seriousness of what is being said, and the harm that would come of misunderstanding.  Each person in an agreement is reminded of the possibility that inhers in every word said of possible mis-statement.  Usually the agreement is outwardly signaled or recognized in some gesture, usually a handshake.  We search at this point for a general principle that will bring together the various threads and tendencies of Force Theory.  We have already said that Hegelian dialectical philosophy could be our unifying principle.  But such a theory is too abstract for our purposes and needs, rather, to be given a specific ground in some actual human behavior.  I have chosen language.  We are saying that society and civilization are the result of a "negative dialectic" of language, wherein language is inherently misleading.  Society in these terms would be the effort of humans to overcome or transcend the untruth that is evoked by language.  Every statement has in it truth and untruth, not actually but as a possibility.  Society mediates between the truth and untruth of any statement. These are not normally the topics of Philosophical Anthropology.  Neither are they "legal theory," precisely.  A survey of google entries leads us to the conclusion that the "theory of contracts" has to do mainly with writing airtight agreements, without consideration for what a contract essentially "is."  Here we mean to go beyond legal theory to the more general issues of humanity.  The goals of empiricism and generality are incompatible in the short time.  Such research moves slowly and gives every indication of being tired and lifeless.   In the short term, anthropology's drive to become "empirical" has caused anthropology to drastically restrict itself.  Thinking itself too general to be meaningful or amenable to focused research, this discipline divides itself into Physical Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology.  Split into these two sections what was a general study becomes in fact quite limited.  What restricts anthropology is not the subject matter--which generally is man and all man is or does--but its range of reseach.


Language as a reflex of tools and technology continues the theme of alienation and anders-sein that began with technology, appearing as language does, to be mind itself-- not your mind or mine, but mind "in itself."  There is much to say on this issue and much that we cannot say.    Force Theory asserts that language resolves the contradiction that humans experienced, first, in the tools by which they lived.  I made the general (and still vague) assertion that the tool both is and is not the person using it.  This issue demands more discussion.   I want later to talk about that contradiction and that resolution of the contradiction through language.  For the moment, however, our focus will be the more limited one of language as "the other."   Language could be considered mind as such.  But this is not your language or mine, either one,  but a sort of detached, floating community mind.  As such this mind does not belong to me, it is "other" and "alien."  The paradox of language is that the thoughts you and I have, that we consider individual thoughts, are framed in language.   This is the great paradox that philosophy has faced and yet has not dealt with decisively.   Humans still have thoughts that can only be described as animal thoughts.  I call these thoughts animal-like for the reason that, assuming animals have thoughts, these are not framed or reduced to the symbols and signs of language in the human sense.  A great deal of research has been done on chimpanzees that shows that chimps are capable of learning and using human language, even though, obviously, before being taught this language they still had ideas.  Anthropology has traditionally considered primate behavior as giving insight into human behavior.  We have expressed impatience with this branch of knowledge.  Anthropology has become a "thing of shreds and tatters," to quote Malinowski.  Philosophical Anthropology in these terms is an attempt to carry out the original mission of anthropology as a general study.  This new area of research--or more correctly, this area of "just thinking"--runs head on into the prevailing scientific bias of our age toward so-called hard facts.  Indeed, PA seems to throw all caution aside and indulge in "wild speculation."  PA is much more adventurous that the drudgery of anthropology as (especially) Franz Boas taught it to Americans.  Looking at the basic facts, the earth so to speak of reality, conventional anthropology has simply dug its own grave.  Anthropology suffers from what Wilde called "the only vice there is, shallowness"; and also, again Wilde, "an utter lack of imagingation."  In PA on the other hand we are adventurously talking about "essences" and that sort of thing, rather more in line with alchemy than science.  What attracted me to Philosophical Anthropology was precisely this--it's "I don't care!" attitude towards precise empirical observation.   Without ideas in this "animal" sense they would not be capable of language.  We conclude that thinking is evolutionally prior to language.   And it would be wrong to believe, as positivists have asserted, that it is impossible to think at all without the symbols of language.   We know that, if chimpanzees can think without language, humans must also think at some level without language.  These "non-symbolic" thoughts we may identify as the primal human mentality that both preceeded and now underlies all thinking and to which, later, language has become attached.  In other words, it is still possible to separate the individual mind from the person's language.  At what dark corner of the human mind this separation takes place it is still difficult to ascertain.    It is important for us to move into this dark realm where thoughts, once chimpanzee-like, became connected or reduced to symbolic exchange which humans have and is so important to human life.  Here we are saying that animals do think, and that, moreoever, humans also think in an animal way not different than the ways chimps think.

The fact that a tool or artifact or any item of culture can be alienated, transferred and shared gives to the individual artifact--the favorite tool of a man with which he hoped one day to be bured--a certain collective aspect.  This very alienability of the tool carried the tool into a general sphere we now, with Force Theory and Hegelianism, call "alienation."  But there is more.  We can propose, too, that certain symbols were a natural outcome--given a certain level also of what we have called "animal" intelligence or thinking--that defined "ownership" of an item; and also defined a "legal transfer" of a thing.  Also defined was criminal conduct.  It is not difficult or unreasonable to trace the origins of language out of problems--of alienation of physical things--material culture.  "Mine" versus "yours" were possibly the first words of language.  But there is more.  Once established as a way to resolve problems of ownership of things, language itself became a new entity in human life and one that demanded, as well, some new relationship.  The the thoughts of a human being as any advanced animal, even on the level of a chimpanzee, seemed to that person to belong to him alone.  They were thoughts somehow inside his head as opposed to someone else's heads; ergo they were his own thoughts.  (This can be seriously questioned, however; and psychologists might want to question the notion stated here that one's thoughts must always be considered to belong to one.  Ghosts and such populate a person's brain, sometimes, as "alien beings.")  Anyway, the disjunction of a person's thoughts  and the thoughts that are merely in his brain without, however, belonging to this person--this is a phenomenon of language.  A language is "not one's own."  This must be said in agreement with the Logical Positivists.  On the other hand, one's thoughts are still framed in language so that, indeed, the average person in everyday life is not going to distinguish "his" thoughts from the thoughts of other persons and thinking in general.  One's thoughts could theoretically be separated from one's own self.  This is the condition of alienation humans find themselves in in the era of language (that followed the era of mindless tool use).    I have involved this discussion in some things I said earlier about tool use.  I now move forward into another theme of this blog, that of agreements and contracts.   I said earlier that humans, where they have between them an issue that is important, take care to define the words they use.  It is not that they distrust one another, merely, but they regard the language that they use as hostile to both of them.   There is uncertainty over the issue whether one's thoughts as framed in language are one's own or belong, rather, to the person with whom one negotiates.  This is a suspicious mediator, or go-between of uncertain loyalty.  This same mediator could be a living person; but early on, in the pure agreement (as I have defined the agreement as an understanding between just two persons), the mediator is language itself.  Here the thoughts we have are framed or reduced to the symbols that we acquire from our community and culture.  What we are saying at this point is that there is a certain reasonable distrust humans have in regard to language in general.  This distrust is a general one that humans have towards the realm of communication in which individual thoughts that are otherwise private come to be, on the other hand, public knowledge.  Language allows a person in effect to invade his own privacy. 

Culture moreover offers material incentives for this invasion.  The essential issue at this point is the ambiguity and suspicion that a person has regarding the language upon which he depends.  We may see this suspicion and ambiguity  in more everyday situations.   Many matters are private matters and would remain private, too, were it not for language and the alienability and share-ability of thoughts.  We are saying that this ambiguity becomes an issue of culture, continually, in every human interaction that can be called important in any sense.  Where something is at stake, some material consideration, there is a certain care in the use of language.  It is not merely that humans are suspicious of one another, but they are suspicious, too--and regard as alien and potentially hostile--the very medium these humans use to communicate with one another.  Finally we move to the conclusion regarding agreements, contracts and the difference between them.  An agreement is more than an ordinary conversation but is a conversation about something that is of mutual concern, whether this something is a complex or simple matter.  An agreement defines an issue as an issue common to at least two persons.  And the agreement refines the language of that understanding, so that not only is the ambiguity that exists naturally between the two persons resolved, but also resolved is the ambiguity of the language itself in relation to both parties.  When such problems are addressed, we may speak of a complete agreement.  But the agreement may still not be enough.  There is still ambiguity that inheres in the structure of the agreement as simply bilateral.  The other party is still "other."  And what is equally important is that the language between them is still other.  Can anthropology, but specifically Philosophical Anthropology, shed light on any of these issues.  I have spoken of Philosophical Anthropology as theory not only in the widest sense possible but in the most adventurous sense.  Philosophical  Anthropology is heir, we are saying, to the great tradition of legal theory from Gierke to the German Social Contract thinkers.  My thesis here is that PA not only can but must take up these issues.  We are speaking of a world that existed long before there were courts of law, precisely, but when there were issues between humans and ways of settling them.  What happens in an agreement, often, is that the ambiguity or potential confusion of the language as mediator in this situation is resolved, finally, by bringing into the relation an actual human being as mediator. What we have said is that humans, distrusting their language, resort to another "outside or third party," which is a human being.  The man and what he has created as an extension of himself--language--have fallen into a relationship of alienation and opposition.  The human decides now, even while language is supposed to resolve the distrust humans have for one another as human beings, there is a distrust now between the man and his language.  To resolve this alienation he calls upon the being he first distrusted as mediator in the relation between man and language.  The man is called "the third" party. Government, which is a mediating entity consisting, precisely, of human beings is the likely third party.  Government enforces the agreement that the principle parties have been them.  I have raised the issue already of the relation between the third party and the principals. Is this an agreement or a "contract"?

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-10-11 14:42:58)

Re: 45. AGREEMENTS, CONTRACTS AND THE DIALECTIC OF LANGUAGE

Logical Positivists have equated language with thinking; they have said that language is already thinking.  In short, it is said that language is mind, and mind is language.  These theorists have said that it would be impossible to think without language.  So long have humans thought with the symbols of language, the two realities have more or less merged and are seen as one and the same thing.   This is an entirely reasonable and understandable conclusion.   We can learn from the Logical Positivists; but what we learn is simply what everyone else already believes--that thought needs language.  Our position under Force Theory differs by a nuance.  Psychology today points to experiments  wherein children seem to invent their own languages.  In any case, they invent phrases having to do with past tense and other forms of speech.  We are left with the conclusion, however, not so much that children think only with language the language they are given but with symbols.   Force Theory again takes a stand here.  Since ideas cannot be communicated from one person to another without language, we cannot say that the thoughts that happen are not connected more or less spontaneously and automatically with symbols that are basic to language.  Where Force Theory departs from Logical Positivism, on the other hand, is our assertion that symbols and signs as such are prior to, and can exist without, a finished expression in language.  Thus humans may still invent their own symbols, individually, to articulate--meaning, to adjust in a relationship--these symbols as they occur together.   The human being is first and foremost a creature of symbolic thinking and secondarily of language as  group behavior.  I say the human is capable first of symbolic behavior, or thinking, on an individual basis; I have not yet committed myself on the issue of whether it is still possible for humans to think without symbols.  Obviously, they do commonly think with symbols.  Language is something more that is added to human behavior as social beings.   We may at this point allow ourself a certain suspicion--something like a conspiracy theory--that the assertion that humans can not think without possessing a fully developed, sharable set of symbols known as language is some sort of program to actually usurp human thinking.   Or at any rate, humans are reminded that in order to think at all, they are regimented in their thinking by the very symbols they think with.  Force Theory reverts back to a sort of individualism of thinking.  But philosophical individualism opens a whole new avenue of speculation on the question of human group life.  It is uncommon, but not unknown, for Philosophical Anthropologists to extend theory to include these arcane metaphysical and epistomological issues.  This very fact--that there is a thinking outside of language, that is in a close relation with language but is not language itself--sets the stage for a possible CONFLICT between thinking and language.  It is on this conflict, which amounts off and on to an outright contradiction, that we now focus attention.

We do not talk here about what is within an agreement.  As Philosophical Anthropologists and proponents of Force Theory (an ideology of PA) we talk, rather, about what impacts the agreement from outside it.  In general terms this means enforcement.  What is inside the agreement is an issue for legal and political theorists.  That is, as I said earlier, an agreement is called "agreement" because it can be understood by all parties who also express their intentions truthfully.  Truth in an agreement means essentially the same thing as truth in language, or what Logical Positivists would call "truth."  Whatever is a part of an agreement, that is to say, whether a "utopian" agreement (an agreement in trust) or a contractual (enforced) one, the issue is the same:  if the language is understood commonly or bilaterally, the agreement is a "good" one.  There are experts in matters of law who could say, one way or another, that the terms are understandable.  That is within the authority of these experts.  So, when I submit some document to them, they can say that there is a good understanding, so far as the words go, by all parties of the terms of the agreement.   Contract theory, as it is called and identified on google, has the sole rationale of defining such a "good" agreement.  On the other hand, these same authorities or trained legalists have nothing to say, at least nothing that goes to the issue of the agreement per se, about enforcement of the agreement.  The issue of the security of an agreement is a great and vague one.  There are innumerable imponderables.  We can identify a "good" agreement, where the terms are clear and the parties truthful, without knowing precisely the fate of these persons if their agreement somehow fails.  The problem of security--of holding the parties to their understanding--evokes the great spectre of society in general and all that society entails.  That spectre also includes unpredictable and arbitrary forces and powers.  One can come into court with a good agreement to document his cause.  But the judge still can be arbitrary.  But more than that, there are forces acting upon the judge that even he does not understand.  When the judge enters his opinion it is not arbitary in the sense of "uncaused"; rather the causes of his decision are simply beyond comprehension.  We must resort--as Force Theory tries to do--to some broader theory of not only present society but universal mankind.  It was in the spirit of this wider understanding--and a willingness to leave so-called contract theory to the narrowly trained experts--that I undertook to study Philosophical Anthropology, which I suggest is the widest study of human beings.  Thus if we want to understand what an agreement is, we should look back to human beginnings.  At this early time there were simple hunters and gatherers--but they were men and women who still were capable of agreements in our sense of the word.  To meet, to form a hunting party, to work toward a common end or goal--these were the issues there were then.  These are the issues today.  Again, however, the terms of these early agreements would be easy to understand were we present at that time.  In fact, we do not really care, or think about, these common conversations even if they were refined into agreement, unless, that is, the problem is the enforcement of the agreement.  Then, when a misunderstanding or dis-agreement arises, there are forces present to exert pressure of some kind or other on the parties.  And, if no prospect of enforcement or security emerges presently, then such a force might be simply invented.  Where there are agreements, and agreements may go wrong, there is a "need" for government.  It is not the trust that humans have for one another that causes them to come together to invent government, it is their distrust.  Hegel regarded his German government as the highest order of human agreement, or a manifestation of "the Idea."  This from our standpoint here would be a false assumption.  It is not trust but distrust that produces government.  It is not because humans agree that they have government, it is because they disagree.  And the agreements that there are are essentially disagreements about language and the meaning of words.  It is this "negativism" of language--plus a basic animal instinct wherein all beings distrust one another more or less--that, in stages and by degrees, results in the orders of mediation and "third party politics" that we call government.

Chimpanzees and other primates are capable of duplicity and deception.  They may signal one thing and actively plan, mentally, something else.  This makes them dangerous.  These animals function without language, as we know speech to be, but can signal intentions--and signal them truthfully or deceptively--among themselves and to humans.  Humans are certainly capable of deception; they are better at it than chimpanzees.  Language creates a huge breeding ground for lies.  What we are saying in speaking of lies is that a person can, simply, say one thing and think another.  Were the person only to say what he thinks, then we would have to agree entirely with the Logical Positivists--that thinking and language are identical.  We would have to agree that mind and language are the same thing.  But obviously thoughts can depart from symbolic communication, all the more with the evolution of complex languages.  In this total environment of potential deception the phenomeon of "agreement" emerges.  An agreement is essentially a negative or critical addition--a super-language of symbols and rituals--designed to purify a given avowal by one person to another of the deceptive content of such an avowal.  The agreement is a sort of hyper-language of "truth" as opposed to the "normal" language of duplicity. The type of speech on television is compressed "normal" speech with no standards at all of truth and falsity.  In an agreement, on the other hand, parties enter into a whole different mode of language and communication wherein each word is subject to critical scrutiny.  Earlier I spent a great deal of time talking about the handshake, which signals "no weapon" or what is the same, "no harmfull intention."  The handshake expresses between persons the knowledge of the possibility of deception.   The agreement, with its handshake ritual separation from ordinary conversation, stresses that both parties in the agreement are together in a state of clear understanding.  Humanity did not await modern civilization and legal theory for agreements to come about; they were present among the earliest hunters of the African plains.  Undoubtedly these hunters also used the simple handshake to signal that the understanding was mutual. Philosophical Anthropology has not made its primary goal an understanding of language. Plessner and Gehlen have said something; but they have largely left that issue to modern philosophy and Logical Positivists.  This error should be corrected.  All aspects of the human life, and especially so important an issue as language, should be tightly incorporated into one theory. Again, for Philosophical Anthropology what went on among the earliest hunters three million years ago is as important as today's culture, or more so, because what early man did prefigures and shows in clearest simple outlines what determines modern life.   We are moving now toward a point that is a major consideration of Force Theory.   The more mutual the language, the more alien and "other" that language is from primal or "animal" or "individual" thoughts are that the person may have.    Therefore, through the very clarification of the symbols of language--wherein they are understandable and clear to more than one person--the more removed language is from "actual" or individual human life.  Of course the issue of the relationships that a person has with his own family, which are largely instinctive.  What we are saying is, if language is a relationship humans have with one another, then to clarify the symbols of language, and thus make them "mutual," to use such communication as opposed to instinctive contact is to separate the human, essentially, from his own family.  Language is essentially programmed alienation.  And as language is clarified through agreement, that alienation becomes more radical.  It is at a certain point in this encroaching separation and division with the human society and psyche that the human being decides, reasonably, to re-introduce human beings themselves into the social equasion.  Humans are invited or commissioned to intercede precisely in language, or what is the same, between the human and his own shared language.  The schism that has opened between the human being and his cultural extension, whether simple tools or the complexities of language, is filled with human intercessors we now call government.  Government is an institution like language, but one intentially comprised of human beings themselves.  It is believed that human beings could not be "alien" in the same way that the human institution of language is alien.  That is a mistaken idea.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-10-12 15:36:18)

Re: 45. AGREEMENTS, CONTRACTS AND THE DIALECTIC OF LANGUAGE

For german Social Contract thinkers I should have said German Natural Law thinkers.  These seem to be in response to Rousseau's Social Contract idea...

Logical Positivists say that truth comes through the clarification of language.  This is a statement about truth; it is also a statement about language.  We don't regard ourselves as competent, here, to talk about truth; we want only to discuss language.    A reasonable conclusion drawn from Logical Positivism is that, as truth comes closer, language moves further from primal "animal" thinking.  This is thinking that humans still have and forms the basis of individual personality.   This is not unconscious thought, as psychiatry refers to, but pre-symbolic thinking.  Or it is thinking when the Logical Positivism says that truth is obtained through symbols of thinking are identical to individual thougths; as such such symbols are not shared or sharable.  Such symbols must be translated from individual symbols to ones shared by more than one person.   Translating individual symbols into shared symbols is much like translating one language into another, as English can be translated into Russian.   But by language we mean symbols that are shared; an individual language would be a contradiction in terms.  What we are saying, however, is that symbols probably originate in the individual psyche, somehow, but then are subject to a certain standardization.  This makes the thoughts of one person comprehensible to another.   This is a great advantage for human beings in competition with other animals.  Again, when we talk about "truth" we are saying simply that what one man thinks, another man understands.  This is basically the point of view of Logical Positivism.  This is why they say that truth consists solely in the clarification of language.  What is the same we can say reasonably that if  there is truth outside of language, this truth is impossible to talk about.  For Force Theory this consideration would be a disasster were it not for the fact that here we do not make truth, so-called, a priority.  For Force Theory truth, indeed, is tantamount to, or synonymous with, alienation from language.  Language can contrain and express truth, we are saying, only so far as truth purifies itself of individual contents.  This quality of language as a shared reality--shared by virtue of membership in a group of humans--is precisely the source of alienation.  The human being, in having language in the first place, becomes--because a shared world is now not his own world--"alienated from himself."  We resort to this old Hegelian cliche but one that still serves us well.  The Force Theory formulation is that truth is alienation in the only sense that alienation is a meaningful word, as self-estrangement.  There are a number of ways we can express this idea.   One thing remains clear:  what is shared is not individual.  Individual and shared mean categorically opposite things.  But the fact emerges as central to what we are talking about in the observation, simply, that in becoming "truth" language distills or rejects from itself any contents that are not general, and therefore, logically, are individual.  Through language we become the "truth" that is generality itself in a philosophical sense as "truth."   To connect with oneself, on the other hand, the person must get beyond language.  And in these terms this "whole" self is not something that can be communicated through language.  If there is to be commuication--and therefore community--at all it must be in some instinctive way other than language. 

The classical communist position, cast in Hegelian terms by Engels in his great work Socialism:  Utopian and Scientific (the work here considered the authority on communism), is this:   the human being is separated from himself inasmuch as the objects of his life--his tools and culture--are separated from him through the terms of capitalism and commercial exchange.  We need not now go into the details of this alienation.   But there is a happy solution to this problem under communism.   This  human may logically become united with these same objects insofar as he becomes united with other human beings.  The solution to alienation is not, in the communist view, a return to a simpler economy and mode of life where people take a personal, rather than a commercial, interest in their possessions and mode of life.    In other words, the transcendence (aufhebung, or rising above) of alienation would be accomplished through group life on a higher level of unity.  Putting this another way:  humans are disunited from themselves by being disuited from other persons.  Engels solution is that men have become separated from the goods of their lives through trade and particularly the commerce of capitalism which isolates humans.  Capitalism compartmentalizes and regiments men for the good of someone other than the workers themselves.  This is stated clearly by Engels.  But Engels would have us accomplish the reunion of men with their goods--and with themselves--by uniting in one final entity called communist society.  An individuality of ownership would be brought about by a mutuality of human beings, or unity under the concept Man and Mankind.  Force Theory again takes a different view.  Mutuality, we are saying here, is tantamount to alienation.  The terms by which humans come together in a society or a union of mutual interest are possible only so far as humans translate what is personal in themselves so that this personality may be "shared" by other persons.  It is in sharing with people that one becomes separated from himself.  And conversely the obstacle to such sharing is the individual self.  All theory, with the exceptions of some of the writers referred to in earlier sections of this blog--Stirner and Nietzsche would be two--decries the individual self for what it is--self-ish.  We are led to draw strong parallels between language and general human social mutuality as by being anti-individual.  Therefore Engels' conclusion is false:  one does not overcome self-alienation (the alienation of the self by the self itself) through mutuality; rather mutuality carries self-alienation to its logical conclusion.  Communism translates the terms of language as a purely logical and impersonal infrastructure into terms of practical everyday life.  Such a life contradicts the individual.  Under Force Theory we mean to do the opposite:  we mean to reunite the human with himself where, whether under capitalism or communism, he has become separated from himself.

We now turn to the notion of contract.  Does just the very use of language, when it draws humans into a relationship, lock one person or both into a definite course of action?  Do humans, just by talking, enter an agreement?   We have already said no.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-10-12 15:37:34)