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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 04:37 AM

12. Ollaan luontoa


Last edited Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:10 AM - Edit history (1)


"However, in the middle of the interpretation, I was embarrassed by my inability to provie a translation of a single, apparently harmless expression, "ollaan." In standardized grammatical terms we are expected to say that this is the passive form from the infinite olla, similarly, olla is supposed to be the Finnish counterpart of the English "to be." The problem is that there is no obvious active sentence from which ollaan can be derived; there is no topicalization of the object of a respective active construction; there is neither grammatical nor logical subject in ollaan, there in no person, or number, let alone gender. It would almost completely betray its meaning to offer "one is" as a translation of this kind of amorphously primitive way of being. There is no "one" present in ollaan because being one presupposes unity and identity. Yet there is a vaguely collective sense alluded: whatever is there is not necessarily alone. But it is not quite right to say that there is "one" who shares ollaan with some other "ones." Rather, the impression is that when we are in the mode of Ollaan we are there pre-individually, before the processes of individuation apply.

Untranslatable uniqueness

If I claim that it is impossible to translate ollaan into English, I claim quite a lot. You might protest by saying, for example, that actually I have been quite succesful in explaining what ollaan means [...]. Thanks for the compliment but what I have been developing here is not quite what we mean by "translation." My interpretation is too long and unique to be a translation. Actually, it is indefinitely long because it is unfinished, and will probably always remain so. Unlike a genuine translation, it is also irrepeatable and irreversible. Probably no one else will - or would even like to - produce anything identical, and assuming that the will appeared, there wouldn't be any common method to do that either.
Now you may concede and say: "All right, a good poem can be quite unique and untranlatable. But what is "unique" supposed to mean here? How unique can a poem be? Also a computer program can be unique in the obvious sense that, take any relatively complex program and, most probably, no other program is syntactically or semantically identical with it."
Yes, yes. But that is not what I mean by uniqueness. If we use here the word "program" in the standard way then a finite computer program is never genuinely unique because its semantic content [...] can always be expressed comprehensively in any other programming language whose expressive power is that of a Turing machine. Therefore such uniqueness which a computer program can reach is not what I am looking for.
Unique happens only once. It cannot be repeated and we cannot return to it. No relation of identity, not even self-identity, applies to it. Now the big question is, of course, can meanings ever be that unique - and still, in some sense, be meanings.
Consider native cultures. Native cultures seem to be unique if compared with other cultures, native or not. The uniqueness of native cultures originates form the peculiar gamelike interaction which such cultures are bound to develop with their respective ecological niche. Meaningul social games of a native community, linguistic games included, are saturated with such unique ecological knowledge which makes living in the natural environment feasible. But the uniqueness of the games from where meaning arises doesn't srop at the environmental or communal level. It flows down to the neural events which are active during the games. In other words, also the related brain events of the players are unique. We assume here that, in order to be a member in a community or player in a social game, one (sic) doesn't have to satisfy any classical individuation or separability conditions.
The unique meaning view can be developed to the ultimate stage where we have to say that a player of a communal game can never mean by (what we conventionally call) one "word" one and the same thing twice; actually, he cannot mean one and the same thing even once (I will not attempt to tranlate the preceding idea into an ametaphysical language). Obviously, if this holds then language is not primarily a medium for the transportation of ideas, concepts and propositions form one person to another. Actually, tere is not even much point in saying that language needs persons or subjects to arise, because personhood and subjectivity require processes where persons and subjects are individuated, and individuation requires that identity is available. Therefore, persons or individual are never uniquo or the originators of the unique. Uniqueness precedes personhood and individuality, and originates from native or national experience.

- Pauli Pylkkö in New Directions in Cognitive Science - Proceedings of the International Symposium, Saariselkä, 4-9 August 1995, Lapland, finland

Partitive case of luonto, which is derived from verb luoda, 'to create". Luonto does not refer only to perceptions of external senses, as the traditional canonical beginning of transformative and creative incantations of Finnish "shamans" and "knowers" begins with invocation of luonto: Nouse luontoni lovesta (...).

PS: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11512605#post13

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