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This page is subtitled:

"In the Beginning was the (magic) Word...
(Language Development in ancient history)

No, this page is not specifically about religion, even though the title is taken from the gospel of John (1:1) in the Christian Bible. My usage of this phrase is to represent it as an indication that the development of what we call language, came much later in the history of the modern form of humans than we might want to assume.

One taken-for-granted assumption of modern peoples is to accept the general notion that ancient (modern-looking) humans of 2000- 3000+ years ago had the same type of functioning brain that exists today. Whereas many consider that much earlier types of hominids had a different kind of brain as indicated by comparing fossilized and modern skulls, the so-called modern form of human in centuries past is thought to have had a brain similarly functioning to brains that exist today. And with this consideration, it is customarily accepted that these first modern types of humans spoke in much the same manner as we of today do, even though we may call their verbal expressions an ancient language.

However, before continuing let me comment on the foregoing by assisting the reader in at least acknowledging for consideration, a circumstance which has promoted a false appreciation in how ancient peoples thought. When an ancient artifact, particularly some text is discovered, it is frequently translated into ideas according to the interpretations of the translator. Frequently, the translator/interpreter wants to provide the discovered item as a representation of an idea being considered in a modern context to make the item more understandable. Hence, in short, the truth of the interpretation can be influenced by an ulterior motive to support a reigning theory or perspective, be it for a political, religious or business venture. Their interpretation may thus become further interpreted by later translators, whereby the content of the original artifact has become modernized,... giving a false impression of how an ancient person or people actually thought. It's like defining a pile of manure a work of art and influencing everyone else to accept this interpretation.

In an attempt to understand so-called modern humanity, with respect to its past and possible future, I would like to propose another interpretation of the phrase:

"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was (a) God."

To me, this phrase represents:
  • An historical reference to the beginning of language in "modern" humans of ancient times, (or at least an indication of a cognitive change in interpreting language as something more than mere sounds);

  • That its appearance was intermittent and happened gradually amongst a very few people;

  • And that its emergence in a social setting where there existed a dominant right hemisphere brain whose attributes were already interpreted as representing the presence of one or more gods, influenced the people to define the "word" (spoken language) as a (greater?) god, much in the same manner as some are awe-struck upon hearing someone with a beautiful voice sing a song, giving an excellent speech, or dramatize a few lines of a script that others may imitate.

In addition to ancient peoples describing language ("the word") as a god, the placement of god-the-language with varying types of symbols onto a rock, parchment, and later paper, is merely a reinforcing extension of the ancient notion that:

god = language ("the word") = god

Such an interpretation suggests that the brains of the earliest so-called modern humans were not fully developed in the sense that we know today (and many would argue that we, in our present state, in our own way, are just as primitive as were ancient peoples, though some might claim there are exceptions.) It was an immature brain in comparison to today's standards. However, it must be considered that not everyone born today has a brain that develops in a similar sequence to what might be termed a majority standard. There are those whose brains may mature faster, and there are those whose brains may mature slower (and I am not describing those individuals that are labeled as having brain damage). Not only with respect to individual age- appropriately expressed behavior, but also in terms of decade and century appropriate developmental behavior.

For example, we might have one 13- year old with the mental maturity of a 13 year old, another with the maturity of a 10- year old, and another with the maturity of a 17 year old. No less, we might have one 30 year old with the mental maturity (world view) of a 30 year old in their day and age, another 30- year old with the maturity of a 20 year old of a decade ago, and still another 30- year old with the maturity of a 60- year old of a century ago.

Some of us have observed the behavior of one or more others who seems to be more suited for some age in the past, such as a man or woman who moves to Alaska because it affords them an environment which they feel is more appropriate to the (rustic) person they perceive themselves to be. Others may have even thought of themselves as having been born too late or early, because they feel they would be more happier living in a time that they seem better suited for. Such examples are representative of a type of brain maturation that person has. Indeed, it has often been thought that criminals are those who are better suited to live in a primitive past because of the way their brain functions measured by a standard of behavior that is defined as criminal. This view is called atavism. To give another example, such a connection to a past age has also been made between the (assumed) behavior of ancient Vikings, pirates, or nomads, and some motorcycle gang members.

Since adults mature from infants, it is of value to cite a short reference regarding brain hemisphere dominance in infants:

The right brain hemisphere is dominant in human infants

The development of functional brain asymmetry during childhood is confirmed by changes in cerebral blood flow measured at rest using dynamic single photon emission computed tomography. Between 1 and 3 years of age, the blood flow shows a right hemispheric predominance, mainly due to the activity in the posterior associative area. Asymmetry shifts to the left after 3 years. The subsequent time course of changes appear to follow the emergence of functions localized initially on the right, but later on the left hemisphere (i.e. Visuospatial and later language abilities). These findings support the hypothesis that,in man, the right hemisphere develops its functions earlier than the left.

--- Brain Abstracts: Chiron et al. ---

By making some parallel analogy with the brain development of infants and the brain development of early modern humans in centuries past, I am using a type of recapitulation theory of my own by stating that the brain development of infants is a short microcosm "expression" of the (macrocosm) brain development early modern humans experienced as adults. In fact, the brains of early modern human infants may have exhibited a more primitive variation of an even earlier human. In some respects, the brain of an early modern human adult in centuries past may have functioned like that of a very young (pre-3- year old?) child. A limitation which did not provide for the development of a left hemisphere dominant speech region. Such a comparison may well give us some indication of why no early hominids have survived, though some forms of early primates have (in relatively unchanged environments within groups).

With the idea of a right-hemisphere-dominant brain functioning in adult humans of past centuries, and the acknowledgement that the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, does this give an indication that most people of the very distant past were left-handed, or did the right/left, left/right asymmetry that exists today, not exist in past ages? If there was a preference for left-handed usage by ancient "modern" humans, is this reflected in fossils? Did ancient humans prefer one side of the mouth over the other for chewing? One eye over the other? Did they step with the left foot as the lead? Do joints of ancient peoples show more wear and tear on the left side?

We should also consider that since the attributes of the left hemisphere in days of old were either non-existent or minimally expressed in comparison with today's level of function, that the attributes of the right hemisphere may have also been different than today's forms, in the sense of being minimal, non-existent, or even more developed (expressive).

While some may not agree with the William James' comment that is construed to represent the world of infants as a Blooming, Buzzing Confusion, (which Jean Piaget is said to have agreed with), and prefer to view this from the perspective of Elizabeth Spelke in the sense that the phrase represent the world of the new parents, the fact remains that most of us consider an infant to be in a highly vulnerable state of ongoing development, which involves most of the body except for the three bones of the ear which are said to be full size upon birth.

One particular oft' cited reference to an infants state of physical immaturity is the condition of limited vision that is commonly said to be the result of blurred vision instead of limited vision to within a foot or two. By acknowledging the existence of limitations due to physical immaturity in the infant, I want to make it easier for the reader to associate the idea of incomplete or immature development in the growth of infants observed in our present day and age, with the physical (mental) maturation of so-called modern human adults in centuries past.

In developing a new theory of language development, I am presenting my views from the perspective that:

  • The state of modern human adult brain development may be in a stage of immaturity and will not grow beyond this condition until several thousand years from now, even though some individuals (groups) may experience such a change at a much earlier time (resulting in conflicts with those who are not progressing, just as might have been the case with the advent of Cro-Magnon man during the reign of Neanderthals.)

  • Comparison of vocal behavior between primates and humans may be interesting, but has little relevance to human brain maturity beyond its present growth experiences.

  • No matter how advanced we claim early hominids were with respect, for example, to tool construction and usage, the adoption of sophisticated terms such as "superior technology" as labels of distinction do not necessarily equate with the development of verbal language.

Many researchers generally consider that modern forms of human language began somewhere in the vicinity of 50,000 years ago because it is language which helps them to explain an increase in tool development and usage. Thus far, I have not encountered any supplemental references to this idea which suggest that language may have stopped, started, or been intermittent at anytime. In other words, it is generally considered that once language began, it only continued to improve.

While, philosophically, we might want to suppose that language came by some way of numerous fits and starts, I want to offer the consideration that:

  • The beginnings of language are not 50,000 years old and may be much less than 15,000;
  • So called "sophisticated" tool development and usage could have been developed by a vocally muted (in the sense of having no words but each individual may have had specific-to-them vocal utterances) form of hominid which utilized a highly "sophisticated" form of "manual" (expressive body/facial) language;
  • There was an increase in the intensity of right-hemisphere attribute dominance that began to deteriorate in "levels and types of expression" as the left-hemisphere developed its own forms of attributes.

By saying that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God, does this mean someone who is deaf, mute, and blind can never know god? Do we wish to argue that the so-called inherent development of speech justifies the rationality for the existence of a God, yet the inherent development of breathing and a heart beat are not the "Word" of God because "Word" explicitly refers to vocal or written language (sound) that was identified by ancient peoples and accepted as such by modern peoples, but not the language (sound) of breathing, heart beats, blood surging, stomach growling, burps, farts, etc...?

What about other sounds such as bird chirps, buzzing bees, tornadoes, waves, snapping turtles, barking dogs, hissing snakes, mooing cows, snorting bulls, urinating elephants, giraffes giving birth, bellowing moose, etc...? Why is it only the sounds of speech connected with humans that are described as having a direct connection with a God? Is this same arrogance of self-importance that which influences are interpretation of tool usage expansion amongst earlier hominids an indication of some superior personal quality called language development? And what if such "technological sophistication" amongst the early hominids had nothing at all to do with vocal language, but a more refined (commonly understood) form of manual gesturing? Will we then start a world religion that claims its members are closest to God as indicated by some measured form of manual expressiveness?

And even though I have focused primarily on a reinterpretation of the phrase from John 1:1, there are other examples that might also be offered as historical references to the development of the human brain with respect to language and hemispheric dominance of function:

  • The tower of babble
  • Speaking in tongues

and if we enlarge our perspective of the overall mechanics related to the philosophy of language development...

A Bicameral God?

Assuming that "God" is an actual entity that can be conceptualized in a type of reverse-order anthropomorphism, to the extent we can attribute God as having a brain, is it possible that God is experiencing a form of Bicameral development in terms of a Julian Jaynes formula? If God is a creature that develops in a maturational sense akin to our own biological stages of growth, turnabout seems fair play by considering that we humans may be the "voices" God hears.

Imagine being a God who hears millions/billions of prayers, whispers, pleadings, curses, condemnations, accusations, queries, admonishments, praises, promises, confessions, etc., in so many different languages. Just think of the memory base and cataloguing system used to try to keep everything in order! Is God selective, or merely focuses on that which is most repetitive? Or do we simply wish to dismiss such conjecturing by saying God is perfect and therefore has no human type of memory problems? In any respect, does biological life on Earth represent primitive realizations in the development of God's brain?

Page Created: Thursday, 13-November-2014... 5:42:19 AM
Former Update: Wednesday, 19-July-2017... 6:51 AM
Latest Update: Tuesday, 3rd December, 2019... 2:49 AM
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Herb O. Buckland