Neurosemantic constructs

“The final percept in humans is always verbal or symbolic and hence coded into the pre-existing structure of whatever language or systems the brain has been taught. The process is not one of linear reaction but synergetic transaction. This finished product is thus a neurosemantic construct, a kind of metaphor.”
RAW, The New Inquisition

The “final percept” that RAW is talking about here is the last stage in the “representative realism” model of human perception. This model is often shown in a five-stage diagrammatic form – the fifth stage is typically described as the “object in the mind”, which is supposed to “represent” the external object.

RAW goes on to talk about common words such as “the”, “is”, “up” – and how they program our realities with divisions, distinctions, boundaries, identities, locations, etc, which we reflexively hold to already exist in the world, separate and independent from the words and language structures that supposedly represent them. Hypnotised by this semantic “representationalism”, we overlook that this abstract structuring of our reality is composed not of representations, but of (as RAW puts it) “neurosemantic constructs”.

And even if we do have gaps in the perceptual and semantic “hypnosis” (a term used a lot by RAW here), we probably don’t fully appreciate the difference between “represent” and “construct” in this context. After all, it’s external reality, not dreams! (“External” to what? Where’s the boundary?). I’ll be revisiting representationalism throughout this blog, and looking at increasingly non-referential approaches to the ways we can see language as not “representing” the world.

I really like RAW’s remarks about the etymology of “to be” – he says it comes from an Indo-European root which evidently meant “becoming lost in the woods” (I can’t find a reference to this in etymology books, but I hope it’s true):

“That was as abstract, I guess, as an early human could feel; when no longer lost, when other people were found again, he or she would no longer simply ‘be’ abstractly but become embroiled again in a more complex state, namely social existence and its Game rules.”RAW, The New Inquisition

I picture a New Age teacher instructing students: “Don’t think; just be“. And the student thinks: “Am I doing this right? How the hell do I just be? Maybe I don’t understand what being really means”.


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