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Meanings at the Text Level: A Co-Evolutionary Approach

A Co-Evolutionary Approach


Thanh Nyan

If language and the brain are co-evolved and language as a latecomer can avail itself of pre-existing means to solve its own problems, then it should be possible to describe it in terms of processing strategies and constraints arising from brain systems. This is precisely what this study attempts to do with respect to the emergence of three types of higher-level meanings: direct speech acts, built-in conditions for their success and non-defective performance and constraints on sequencing of an argumentational kind. In so doing there are three main issues it needs to address. What types of problem arise at the text level that could have led to the emergence in question? Is there a clear parallel between these problems and those faced by brain systems? What solutions have been evolved to cater for the latter, which could have been co-opted by language? Finally there is the question of the extent to which such an account is compatible with a global theory of brain function such as Edelman’s Theory of Neuronal Group Selection.
Contents: Meanings at the text level – Co-evolution of language and the brain – Deacon’s perspective – Speech acts and divergent thinking – Conditions for the success and non-defective performance of speech acts – Internalization of environmental factors – Argumentational meaning – Searle’s theory of background knowledge – Damasio’s model of decision making – Argumentation, categorization and divergent thinking – Processing problems arising at the text level and underlying means – Edelman’s biological theory of consciousness.