Why do human beings need language?

Why do human beings need language?
destiny
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Posted Nov 10, 2005 - 12:26 AM:
Subject: Why do human beings need language?
Why do we need language and why is it necessary for us?
Isn't body language enough?
softtarget
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Posted Nov 10, 2005 - 1:40 AM:

That's a hard question to answer, considering that the spoken language is at the root of human culture. I guess if body language were enough, then we would use it in place of language (written and spoken). But it isn't.

I could go on for days about the tongue, the thumb, the social instincts of mammals, etc. But I suppose it is enough to say that spoken language, and body language perform different, but overlapping, functions. Our need for body language (such as facial expression) exists on a far more intimate, primal level. ...Mother to child; love. Anger. But language, written or spoken, has evolved to be the basis of cultural thought, and intellectual concencus. Both are important, both represent our humanity. Neither can function in the others place.
180 Proof
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Posted Nov 10, 2005 - 3:05 AM:

destiny wrote:
Why do we need language and why is it necessary for us?


perhaps we need language just to amuse ourselves (and occasionally others) with silly why-questions like these ... rolling eyes

Isn't body language enough?


isn't "body language" also, well, language? and since when are "words" ever really separate from "gestures"? confused





Edited by 180 Proof on Nov 10, 2005 - 3:11 AM. Reason: why?
rabeldin
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Posted Nov 10, 2005 - 7:18 AM:

destiny wrote:
Why do we need language and why is it necessary for us?
Isn't body language enough?

Language permits us to make promises. That we cannot do with gestures. See The Symbolic Species by Terrence Deacon.
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Posted Nov 10, 2005 - 8:30 PM:

destiny wrote:
Why do we need language and why is it necessary for us?
Isn't body language enough?

What do you mean by body language? Do you mean sign language? To rely on sign language exclusively is to neglect one of the most powerful parts of our brain, and consequently, our humanity. Language is what makes us human, but speech is also a uniquely human ability. Humans are, in fact, designed for speech, with the most complicated and subtle series of muscles in the face, mouth, throat and neck, and a very responsive tongue, and the world's most complex voice box. Without it, we would simply be animals that make enough variance of sounds to say "here's food," "watch out there's danger," and "I'm available; let's mate."






Edited by Starbuck on Nov 11, 2005 - 6:19 PM
Timothy
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Posted Nov 10, 2005 - 8:36 PM:

Language (probably body language was the most popular at the time) helped proto-men to make fun from each other. Ocasionally, it proved useful to inform about the location of food sources; however, it was difficult, for they couldn't tell when a proto-man was joking and when he was informing.
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Posted Nov 10, 2005 - 8:43 PM:

destiny wrote:
Why do we need language and why is it necessary for us?
Isn't body language enough?


I do not know how you are defining language, but there are many common ways of transmitting and processing knowledge. At the beginning of this page you will find a chart that lists the most important of these.

http://www.futureknowledge.biz/KnowledgeEngrng.htm

If you have questions about specific kinds of knowledge tools, I would be pleased to help with them…as best I can.

Bst
mike
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Posted Nov 11, 2005 - 3:16 PM:

Well...
What is it that we are doing on this site?

It is highly unprobable that we could explore idea, meaning, worth, and exchange these things without some form of structure & sign.

Language is a form or means of exchange, required by us, to create truth. What is our logic built upon but language and mathmatics? We discover truth only through inductive or deductive reasoning; by a priori or a posteriori, and these can only be explored through language. Sign and representation is not only how we come to truth, but relate and explain it to others.


I would love to watch someone try to explain Kant's Trancendental Idealism through body language. I would think it near impossible to do so without an established system of bodily movements which would represent a structure known to the person/people they would communicate it to. This would just be a stifled form of language anyway.
It is for the limitations of our physical body's ability to emote that we create language. While a human can only move in so many ways, the pitch, fidelity, resonance, volume, and tone would have an immense array of variation. So why wouldn't it be used?

Like Starbuck has said: we can survive in our most basic forms without language; we can do so by simply following behavioral conditioning. However, with language, we can not-only survive, but we can explore whether survival is even worth its tribulations.

After all, why else would we be on Philosophyforums.com?
armchairphilosopher
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Posted Nov 12, 2005 - 4:55 AM:

destiny wrote:
Why do we need language and why is it necessary for us?
Isn't body language enough?


We don't NEED language (assuming that by language you mean the spoken and written words that we have today).

Body language is enough for many evolved animals to survive and thrive, and humans could get by that way, but we have 'evolved' to be beings that are interested in more than just eating, sleeping, procreating and generally surviving as a species.

I put evolved in that sentence in quote marks because of what it may imply.
It may imply that through Darwinian natural selection Humans evolved to be arguable the most intelligent animals to have ever lived on this planet, this may or may not be the case for how we came to be what we are.

Putting evolution aside, we are curious, social, inventive animals. We have brains that can interpret and decipher what we see and hear to amazing levels. We can tell the difference between a fake smile and a real one, the difference between a good note (musical) and a bad one, the difference between genuine and fake emotion in an actor's voice etc. We are currently animals that are built for complex exchanges, therefore 'language'.

Humans migrated and populated the planet, some groups existing isolated from one another for many thosands of years, but all have been found to have 'language' - complex means of communicating and describing everything about their environment and lives. Simply put - if we were born and raised as a group of humans by beings without language, we would be 'destined' or more aptly 'designed' to develop complex language.
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Posted Nov 12, 2005 - 8:49 AM:

armchairphilosopher wrote:

We don't NEED language (assuming that by language you mean the spoken and written words that we have today).


You should clarify. I assume you are suggesting humans don't need language to survive as another animal. In this case, our large, complex brains would be a tremendous waste since without language, our minds would atrophy, and we would cease, in every way that we understand, to be "human."

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