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Thread: litteral vs symbolic

  1. #1 litteral vs symbolic 
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    This is, like many discoveries, based on assumption. I can't help but think this is, at least in part, true.

    Not that I have to ask, but please critique it from a scientific perspective, but also say what you think philosophically.

    Every idea and every stimulus has a symbolic representation in the mind. I don't mean visual symbol, like an image, but any sort of symbol. A sound can be symbolic, for example the sound of "meow" can be symbolic of a cat. A difference in tone can be the difference between the symbol of a cute cuddly kitten or a vicious wild cat.

    A feeling can be symbolic, a taste or smell also. A symbol, more or less, is an illusion. If you smell artificial vanilla flavoring, you think vanilla. If you smell real vanilla, you think the same thing, although a trained nose may be able to tell a difference, a trained master of disguising scents could probably fool the most well trained nose... maybe not. Not important though.

    The point goes without saying. A symbol is not the same as what the symbol represents("the thing" from here on out.)

    A symbol is like a scientific model in the sense that it is limited by what you know about the thing.

    As a symbol becomes better established, that is, you learn more about the thing, it develops a litteral sense. That is, at a point you stop thinking of the word "cat" as a symbol of the thing called "cat" and consider the word to be it's own thing.

    The word develops a literal sense. But language is not limited to words. We use words for most of our language because of their versatility. We could also use pictures, patterns, colors, music, numbers, gestures, etc., as many people do.

    Say you were to start learning a language. As you learn new words, they have symbolic meaning. You start by translating them to your native tongue, which has literal meaning.

    As you learn and use the words more, they become more established in the mind as sounds and images, but also as feelings, such as word and tongue movements, or the motion of the hand in writing.

    So my theory is that symbolic and literal are on some sort of linear scale of comprehension.

    Symbols being the most basic form of understanding things, and as you understand things more, the symbol becomes better defined and it develops a literal meaning.

    Sorry If I repeated myself half a dozen times, I just want to make it as clear as I can.

    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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