Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation

The important question now is: Can we resolve all lingual non-equivalence representations?! - Superficially, yes - or better say, might be. But only superficially. Many inconsistencies will remain implicit and non-detectable, and some of those might be impossible to resolve. Consider the following scenario:
Say PersonX sees Red as Blue. He will NOT notice the difference between him and regular folks since he will start to refer to what he sees as Blue as "Red", but other people would see it as Red, thus avoiding confusion. Also say that PersonY sees Red as Green.
  • Imagine PersonX and PersonY as a baby brothers (with no knowledge of language).
  • In front of them is a red apple.
  • PersonX sees a blue apple.
  • PersonY sees a green apple.
  • Their parents refer to the apple as "red".
  • PersonX learns that the word "red", represents what he sees as blue color. (Result-1)
  • PersonY learns that the word "red", represents what he sees as green color. (Result-2)
Now, one year later:
  • Imagine PersonX and PersonY having learnt language.
  • PersonX sees a blue car.
  • The car is actually red. (Since PersonX sees red as blue)
  • PersonX says: "This red car looks amazing". (He says "red" because of Result-1)
  • When PersonY hears the term "red car", he visualizes a green car. (Because of Result-2)
  • PersonY agrees that the "red car" is amazing. (Result-3)
From Result-3, notice that both PersonX and PersonY refer to the car as "red", while each one of them sees a different color. They superficially agree about the color of the car being refer to as "red", while to each one of them the word "red" refers to different visual experiences (blue for Person X, and green for PersonY).

The above mentioned scenario reveals the shocking possibility that we might use consistent notation to represent our ideas, but those representations are not the same for all people. More importantly, there is a good chance that we superficially agree!! How can anyone be sure that when they refer to a certain experience by a certain word that others actually use the same word to represent that same experience?! I guess, we cannot!

Now assume that the visual experience of the color Blue is good, and that the visual experience of the color Red is ugly.
  • PersonX sees blue color as a good experience.
  • Regular people see red color as an ugly experience.
  • When presented by a red object, PersonX argues that its "red" color looks good. (Since he sees blue color)
  • Other people disagree with PersonX stating that the "red" color looks ugly. (Result-4)
In this scenario, using Result-4, disagreement is only superficial, because they disagree about what the term "red" refers to, not the visual experience itself, as PersonX and other people have different visual experiences.

So when we study Wittgenstein's quote:
"If a lion could talk, we could not understand him." (source)
We realize that the "understanding" that Wittgenstein refers to deals with deep meaning, not superficial meaning.

Communication in any form -or any language- is a communication of representations. We communicate representations of our feelings and ideas NOT the ideas and feelings themselves. It is impossible to communicate ideas, only representations of those ideas. This problem of representation is the basis of Representational Skepticism. Representationalism (study of the relation between reality and representations) is the main concern of cognitive sciences in general.

In this series:
Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion
Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation
Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities
Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation
Language Acquisition - Part 6: Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 7: Possible Applications For The Investigation

Monday, February 26, 2007

Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities

Lingual ambiguities have lead to numerous paradoxes; One of the more famous of these paradox is the Heap paradox that states: When one considers a heap of sand, from which grains are individually removed. Is it still a "heap" when only one grain remains?

A similar paradox arises if we ask this question: Imagine a tall man - say, 2.5 meters. If we take a millimeter of his height he'd still be a tall man; If we take another millimeter, he'd also still be tall... If we continue the process of taking one millimeter at a time, after which millimeter the man becomes no longer tall?!

The above two paradoxes emphasize the inconsistency of vague (unquantified) terms in our everyday language, such as "big", "a lot", "tall", "short", "medium" ...etc. We have generally accepted ranges of say, how tall is tall, but a lot of complexities still arise.

Other ambiguities also arise from incompatible definitions. For example, is Atheism a religion or anti-religion?! Does an atheist have a religion or lack one?! People can give different interpretations to the word religion. Personally, I would argue that Atheism is in fact a religion, consider:
According to Babylon: Religion: collection of beliefs concerning the origin of man and the universe.
According to Religion: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.

Following the above definitions we can say that Atheism is a collection of (non-theistic) beliefs, and thus is a religion. Some might disagree.

Can we resolve all lingually ambiguous representations?! My personal conviction is: NOT REALLY!! - The reason for this conviction follows in Part 5.

In this series:
Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion
Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation
Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities
Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation
Language Acquisition - Part 6: Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 7: Possible Applications For The Investigation

Friday, February 23, 2007

Emotional Rape: What Is It?

Emotional rape can be defined as: Emotional abuse characterized by patterned and purposeful behavior which purpose is to undermine and control the victim. It is an attack on the victim's personality rather than their body. The term "emotional rape" implies a horrific crime, and that is exactly what the victim is going through. In sexual rape, the term "without consent" refer to the victim having not agreed to sex. Emotional rape is the abuse of someone's higher emotions -love, self-respect- without consent. Experts agree that emotional rape is far more complex than verbal abuse. While the latter tends to be erratic and direct response to specific situations, emotional rape is, quite simply, a systematic destruction of someone's personality.

source: Cosmopolitan magazine - September 2001 (ZIP/JPG)

Awareness is the fist line of defense for many hazards. For this reason, it is important that people become more educated about issues of psychological and emotional abuse. There are several forms of psychological abuse, like: Brainwashing, emotional blackmailing, emotional exploitation, emotional rape, and sometimes even hurtful verbal insults. I bet that most people don't even know that there is something called "Emotional rape".

The reason that people don't recognize emotional rape is because it is not recognizable under civil laws. No-one has ever been sent to jail because they emotionally abused another! It makes sense, because emotional damage cannot be quantified, and no-one can be held responsible for another's psyche. For this reason, it is important to spot and deal with emotional offenders, because no civil law would help.

Emotional rape aims to undermine the victim's self-respect and self-image leaving that person vulnerable to abuse. The victim starts developing a sense of dependence on the abuser, and thus feels incapable of escaping the emotional abuse circle.

I will not go into further details about emotional rape; I recommend that you read the full article issued in Cosmopolitan magazine September 2001.

Brainwashing techniques are widely practiced in cults. Because of lack of awareness about brainwashing, we find that numerous people become victims to cultist organizations. Many other forms of psychological abuse exist and as mentioned above, I believe awareness is the best line of defense.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Devil's Mind The Blog Is Censored On JordanBlogs.Net

Censorship on JordanBlogs.Net has reached intolerable extents. This blog -Devil's Mind- has been suspended from that aggregator. This censorship act follows a series of questionable blog removals from JordanBlogs.Net including -but not limited to- Jordanian Issues which has been censored recently for expressing political views that are not "nice" to the Jordanian regime. Khadder, the maintainer of the blog Jordanian Issues has written a post objecting on that act of censorship.

Other fellow bloggers have also addressed this recurring issue of censorship, you can read some of them here and here.

Regarding the censorship of Devil's Mind Blog, this is the reply I got from JordanBlogs.Net maintainer:
Dear Blogger,

Please refer to our policy, your blog has been suspended till further notice for publishing porn materials.

Publishing porn?! What the fuck?! I think, he is referring to my latest entry on Valentine's Day. First of all, the entry itself contains no pornographic content. Secondly, the entry warns the reader of the explicit sexual content that follows some of the provided links.

But most importantly, this blog has always supported pornography, and will hopefully keep on supporting pornography in all of its legitimate forms. Censorship needs to be abandoned, because once we put limits on the freedom of speech, we become the pathetic nation that we already are!!

Finally, I recommend my readers to visit this blog directly without intermediate services or aggregators because only here you are assured to receive the content I publish as is - without censorship or filtering. Nonetheless, if you want to use aggregators, my blog is currently enlisted on Qwaider Planet (Thank you Qwaider, again!). Please note that Qwaider Planet also does have some policies that support censorship, although I have not noticed them being enforced.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Perfect Valentine's Gift

Disclaimer: Some links include sexually explicit content

Matchbox 20 in "Could I be you":
And I was wondering
Could I just be you tonight (Full lyrics)

On Valentine's Day boys and girls are looking for the perfect gift to give their loved ones. A perfect Valentine's gift should be able to demonstrate the love between the couple and increase their intimacy.

It is understood that many couples fantasize of walking in one another's shoes. Such experience would give intimacy its maximum boost. With that in mind, I have thought of the perfect Valentine's gift to get your loved one: A strap-on dildo.

On this special occasion, you can share with your loved one intimate moments where each one of you walks in the other's shoes - Swapping of souls you may say! For a unique life experience, girls and boys can swap their roles and see life in the eyes of the other person. If you are not sure how to use this unique tool, check this demonstration of the tool being used in action.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis

In Part 2, I asked: How closely related are the physiological and biological formation of a being with the language being used? Some hypothesis in Linguistics try to make a kind of "unified grammar" for all languages known to humankind. I will use such hypothesis to support my confirmative view that language is influenced by physiology.

All languages we learn are based on VERBS, NOUNS, ADJECTIVES, ADVERBS. All languages!! Isn't that a curious observation. So maybe this is just a coincidence?! Can you try making up your own language that defies that trend?! What could be a totally new way of language?! You might be surprised how tough answering the aforementioned question will be!

In the field of Linguistics, the deep structure hypothesis states that all human languages share what is called a "deep structure". It is also stated that human languages only differ in what is called the "surface structure". So somehow, there can be a systematic match-and-replace procedure to translate one language to another. Google Translator provides one such automated translation service.

To illustrate this idea, I have provided an example. Check the picture below:

Notice that once we establish the relative positions of the lexemes (lexeme: basic construct of a language) of any language, we can replace every word with its dictionary translation to provide a whole translation. Say, in the example given below, we replace the verb "eaten" with "thrown". All we need to do is replace the verb with its equivalent verb in other languages to produce a translation.

This striking resemblance between all human languages raises my doubt whether or not, this "deep structure" is actually engraved in our biology and physiology. Could a human mind innovate a totally different method for language construction?! Could we create a language that needs some more elaborate form of processing than match-and-replace?! And the most challenging question is: Could we create a language that is impossible to translate into any of today's known human languages?! - A language that defies the rules of the "deep structure".... If not, does that mean that the "deep structure" is the only way a language can be?!

For this reason, if a professional happens to find an old scripture belonging to an ancient civilization, they naturally start by matching the language lexemes. Its almost the only way we know languages to be. The question that comes to my head, if we happen to come by a scripture made by some aliens (roughly, beings with different biological build than earthlings) would our methods of language analysis still be able to make sense of that scripture found?! Lets face it, scientists have difficulties analyzing animal language - those animals that are anatomically very similar to us. It would be a disaster to meet up with anatomically different beings!

In this series:
Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion
Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation
Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities
Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation
Language Acquisition - Part 6: Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 7: Possible Applications For The Investigation

Friday, February 02, 2007


Linkin Park in "My December":
And I give it all away
Just to have somewhere
To go to
Give it all away
To have someone
To come home to

This is my December
These are my snow-covered trees
This is me pretending
This is all I need

And I
Just wish that
I didn't feel
Like there was
Something I missed (Full lyrics)

I Think Therefore I Exist, Or Do I?

One of the famous quotes in history is the "I think therefore I am" statement by Descartes. But is this statement true?! I think not! At least not objectively. In subjective theories, that assumes cognition at some point, this statement might be justified within that context.

I think therefore I exist, is a complex statement that can be reduced to three simpler statements:
  1. If it thinks then it exists
  2. I think
  3. I exist

This statement is in the logical deductive reasoning form:
  1. p => q
  2. p
  3. q

Here we have two premises (1) and (2), and one conclusion (3). In order to verify the claims of Descartes we have to inquire the validity of its premises. In this post, I will not discuss the first premise, but the second one.

Do Humans have the ability to think?! Some might argue positively... Descartes apparently supports this view. I disagree. Humans cannot think.

To think is to be creative. To think is to be free. Humans are neither creative nor free! We might think we are creative and free - This is the illusion that eluded even the most reputable philosophers. This view is influenced by my pessimistic incompatibilism views.

So how do we explain those illusions?! What most humans fail to see is that our consciousness is merely an advanced form of Artificial Intelligence. Actually, its more like Naturally-Implied Intelligence, but my point is, we are no better than an intelligent machine. If we consider things more deeply, we find that an intelligent machine is not much different from a non-intelligent one. So we're no better than any machine if we consider things at the low level. I already discussed this perspective before. Our survival depends on being self-protective. This recognition of self is the source of our illusion to think and existence. We would not protect what does not exist. If we acknowledge our inexistence, then our survival will be endangered. Nature has its own ways of Natural Selection and survival of the fittest... Its ironical that an illusion is what gives us our strength, but well.. Thats how things work!

So far, I have considered "thinking" in a very strict notion. A notion that requires creativity and freewill. To ease things up, one can consider a less strict concept of thinking. Such model would be even more tolerant, that it might even include machines as being able to think. Personally, I got no problem with this view. If a machine was so sophisticated in a way that is comparable to humans, I guess we have to acknowledge it as a being of worthy existence. If we adopt this view, maybe few years later, we will see "Machine Rights" activists!! Seriously!

Back to the fist premise... Does ability to think imply existence?! I will leave this question open for the time being...