Check out Mark Pagel’s fascinating speech on how language transformed humanity: (Cut and paste into your browser)
After you watch and process the ideas, consider this talk in relation to the following quotation:
“Language as a supposed science.–The significance of language for the development of culture lies in the fact that human beings used it to set up a world of their own beside the other one, a place they deemed solid enough that from there they could lift the rest of the world from its hinges and make themselves its master. Insofar as people believed for long stretches of time in the concepts for and names of things as if they were aeternae veritates, they appropriated for themselves the pride with which they raised themselves above the animals: they really believed that in language they had knowledge of the world. The shapers of language were not so modest as to believe that they expressed with words the highest knowledge about things; language is in fact the first step of the struggle of science. Here, too, it is the belief in having found truth from which the most powerful sources of energy flowed. Long afterward–only just now–is it dawning on people that they have propagated a colossal error with their belief in language. Luckily, it is too late for the development of reason, which rests upon the belief, to be reversed. —Logic also rests upon presuppositions to which nothing in the real world corresponds; for example, upon the presupposition of the likeness of things, of the identity of the same thing at different points of time: but this science arose out of the opposite belief (that such things do indeed obtain in the real world). It is the same in mathematics, which certainly would not have come into being if one had known that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no real circle, no absolute magnitude.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (I)
How does Pagel’s talk compare and contrast with Nietzsche’s view? How does Richard Wright’s text support Pagel’s case and perhaps undermine Nietzsche’s?