[lit-ideas] Re: The Three Grices -- or Grice's Adventures in Popperland

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 18:24:12 +0000 (GMT)


"Even if we accept phonemes have an “emotional quality” “separate from  
[their] word meaning or the tone or volume of [their] utterance”, that would 
not  mean the explanation for that “emotional quality” was a purely W1 level 
of  explanation [“conveyed purely by…sound frequencies”]: where a ‘
nail-scraping  sound’ is merely a W1 entity, it does not follow that the “
emotional meaning” of  that sound is also merely a W1 entity – it may depend on 
and W3 factors. It  would not mean that the “emotional quality” was “of 
their own” in the sense that  it was inherent or intrinsic to that W1 entity 
qua merely that W1 entity –  rather than as an entity with W2 and W3 ‘
effects and affects’, where those  ‘effects and affects’ may not be explained 
purely in terms of W1."

Emotional surely belongs in W2.>

An "emotional" state may well be a W2 state: however, the above is about the 
explanation of an "emotional quality":- even if we convert this to mean a W2 
"emotional state", it is open to explain this in any one or other of W1, W2 or 
W3 terms. So my "emotional state" given my toothache may be explained using a 
W1 level of explanation referring to the caries in my tooth and its 
physiological affect on my central nervous system etc., at a W2 level given my 
W2 consciousness of this pain, and at a W3 level given my W2 awareness of my 
W3-dependent situation in so far as this might include the likelihood of my 
seeing a dentist etc. and how this awareness may impact on my "emotional 
state". So a W2 "emotional state" may be explained in terms involving W1, W2 
and W3.

We could upbraid the authors for some kind of 'category mistake' in speaking of 
a merely W1 entity like wave-frequencies as if these have some "emotional 
meaning" in themselves as wave-frequencies - and it may be fair to do so. 
However, my focus was not so much on locating "emotional meaning" ontologically 
(say within a W2, W1 or W3) but on the extent to which "emotional meaning" is 
explicable in merely W1, W2 or W3 terms - and implicitly I am defending an 
interactionist position where W12&3 may all play a part in the explanation of 
"emotional meaning" just as all may play a part in the explanation of a W2 
"emotional state". There may well be a kind of 'category mistake' at work in 
how the authors talk of the "emotional quality" of wave-frequencies, but this 
'category mistake' is perhaps due to their obliviousness to W123 distinctions - 
and it is this obliviousness that is the fundamental flaw in their paper. Once 
this flaw is seen, the limits of their
 results becomes apparent - and it is apparent how problematic it is to think 
that they are anywhere near to demonstrating that the "emotional meaning" or 
"emotional quality" of wave-frequencies is a purely W1 affair (in terms of 
explanation), though they seem to think they are well on the road to showing 


W3 is a different 'world' and some say that in fact qualia -- e.g. the  
sense datum of perceiving a different 'tone' to the utterance of 'thonner' --  
can only be 'reduced' (via supervenience) to a world-3 concoction, in a  
somewhat artificial way. As the poet say,

"a kiss is just a kiss"

--- but a world-3 description of the emotional impact of the 'noise'  
(phone?) in kissing is "not just a kiss". Or not.

On Tuesday, 29 October 2013, 15:49, "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> 
My last post today. 

For the record, the Borges quote:


‘The roots of language are irrational and of a magical satire. The  Dane 
who pronounced the name of Thor or the Saxon who uttered the name of Thunor  
did not know whether these words represented the god of thunder or the 
rumble  that is beard after the lightning flash. Poetry wants to return to that 
ancient  magic. Without fixed rules, it progresses in a hesitant, daring way, 
as if  moving in darkness. Poetry is a mysterious chess, whose chessboard 
and whose  pieces change as in a dream and over which I shall be gazing after 
I am dead.’ 

-- which may relate to this experimental study referred to by T. Fjeld that 
McEvoy was commenting on.




_torgeir_fjeld@yahoo.no_ (mailto:torgeir_fjeld@xxxxxxxx) ,  in "Language 
isn't arbitrary, convention based after all". "A bit of  numerological 
mysticism can do wonders for the academic branch known as  Linguistic 
innit?" phatic muttered. It was a dark and gloomy night at  the No Holds 
Barred cafe in uptown Florida. "You've been reading the Digest  again, 'aven't 
ya," responded Beanieman despondently. phatic nodded,  hesitantly.  "Why it's 
apt - psycho-acoustically speaking - that Darth  Vader wasn't called Barth 

"The relationship between the meaning of a word and the letter strings of  
which it is comprised is usually thought to be arbitrary. That is, the 
meaning  of a word is dictated by convention and the emotional tone of the 
speaker. Strip  these away and the sounds of the letter groupings themselves - 
known as phonemes  - are generally considered meaningless. At least that's been 
a popular view for  some time. But now a study has been published that 
challenges this account.  Blake Myers-Schulz and his colleagues show that the 
shift in sound from some  phonemes to others carries emotional meaning of its 
own, quite independent from  word meanings or tone of voice."

"Human speech creates sound at different frequencies. Myers-Schulz and  his 
team focused on the changes in certain frequency peaks in speech - known as 
formants - as nonsense words were spoken. Specifically, they divided 
nonsense  words into those in which the first two formants went from low to 
(e.g.  bupaba, pafabi, mipaba) and those in which this sound shift was 
reversed, going  high to low (e.g. dugada, tatoku, gadigu). They were matched 
many other sound  features, such as plosives, nasality, intonation and 
volume. Thirty-two adult  participants were shown pairs of these nonsense words 
on a computer screen, one  of which always went low to high, the other high 
to low (in terms of formant  shifts). Together with the words, two pictures 
were shown, one positive, one  negative (e.g. a cute puppy and a snarling 
dog). The participants' job was to  allocate the two nonsense words to the two 
pictures in the way that seemed most  appropriate. The key finding was that 
80 per cent of the time, they matched the  word that had the low-high sound 
shift with the positive picture and the  high-to-low word with the negative 

"It was a similar story when 20 more adult participants performed the  same 
task but with the words spoken by a computer programme rather than shown  
visually. In this case, they matched the low-to-high nonsense words with the  
positive pictures on 65 per cent of occasions - still far more often than 
you'd  expect based on chance alone. The findings suggest that strings of 
phonemes (the  sounds that comprise words) have an emotional quality of their 
own, quite  separate from any word meaning or the tone or volume of an 
utterance. This  emotional meaning is conveyed purely by the acoustic 
of the word as  the sound frequencies change from one phoneme to the next. 
There could be  intriguing real-life applications for this research in terms 
of marketing and PR  because the implication is that some words convey 
positive emotion simply by  virtue of their acoustic properties, above and 
any literal word meaning.  "Even in artistic contexts, such as film and 
literature, these acoustic  principles could be applied to evoke a particular 
emotional subtext," the  researchers said. "Indeed our data suggest that 
'Darth Vader' is an acoustically  more appropriate name for an intergalactic 
miscreant than 'Barth Vaber'."

Reference: Myers-Schulz B, Pujara M, Wolf RC and Koenigs M (2013). Inherent 
emotional quality of human speech sounds. Cognition and emotion, 27 (6), 
1105-13  PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23286242 
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