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Cognizability of the world and its patternsK. Y. Andreev
The role of language in cognition
The enormous role of language in the process of cognition is determined by its inseparable connection with thinking. Various idealistic primary and secondary schools often resorted to a distorted, anti-scientific interpretation of the history of the development of language in order to tear it away from thinking, to oppose language and thinking to the social, industrial, and political activities of people, to separate them from the theory of knowledge, from the history of the development of human society. The Marrovites also took the same path. They argued that language was allegedly not connected with thinking, that humanity could supposedly do without language. “... Tearing thinking away from language and “liberating” it from linguistic “natural matter,” writes I. V. Stalin in his work “Marxism and Questions of Linguistics,” N. Ya. Marr falls into the swamp of idealism. (I. Stalin. Marxism and questions of linguistics, p. 39.)
Exposing the Marrovites, I. V. Stalin proved that language is organically connected with thinking, constitutes an inseparable whole with it, that communication between people can be carried out only with the help of thinking, connected with language as with its own form. But if thinking cannot proceed in isolation from its material linguistic form, then it follows that language plays an exceptional role in man's cognition of objective reality, for abstract thinking, as we have seen, is the highest step in the process of cognition.
It is known that even Marx and Engels pointed to the exceptionally important role of language in the development of human thinking, in the formation and improvement of people's cognitive activity. They emphasized that the emergence and development of language has always been closely connected with thinking. The formation and improvement of thinking and language took place simultaneously in the process of social and labor production activities of people.
“First, labor,” wrote F. Engels in his work “The Role of Labor in the Process of the Transformation of Ape into Man,” “and then, together with it, articulate speech were the two most important stimuli, under the influence of which the brain of a monkey gradually turned into a human brain ... ". (Friedrich Engels. Dialectics of Nature, p. 135. Gospolitizdat. 1952.)
Emphasizing the inextricable link between language and thinking, with human consciousness, Marx and Engels wrote in The German Ideology: “Language is as ancient as consciousness; Language is just a practical consciousness that exists also for other people, and only thereby also exists for me, a real consciousness, and, like consciousness, language arises only from a need, from an urgent need to communicate with other people. (K. Marx and F. Engels. Works, vol. IV, pp. 20-21.).
In "Anti-Duhring" F. Engels exposes the metaphysician Dühring, who, separating abstract thinking from speech, argued that "he who is able to think only through speech has never yet experienced what abstract and genuine thinking means." “If so,” Engels replies, “then animals turn out to be the most abstract and genuine thinkers since their thinking is never obscured by the importunate intervention of speech.” (Friedrich Engels. Anti-Dühring, p. 79.)
Following Marx and Engels, V. I. Lenin and I. V. Stalin also highly appreciated the role of language in human cognitive activity. In the "Philosophical Notebooks" V. I. Lenin directly points to the need to study the history of language and thinking in order to learn to better understand the world.
Generalizing the latest achievements of advanced science and revolutionary practice, I. V. Stalin, with the utmost depth and clarity, developed the problem of the relationship between language and thinking in his work “Marxism and Questions of Linguistics”, convincingly proved the decisive role of their unity in the process of cognition.
“They say,” writes I. V. Stalin, “that thoughts arise in a person’s head before they are expressed in speech, they arise without linguistic material, without a linguistic shell, so to speak, in a naked form. But this is completely false. Whatever thoughts arise in a person's head and whenever they arise, they can arise and exist only on the basis of linguistic material, on the basis of linguistic terms and phrases. Bare thoughts, free from linguistic material, free from linguistic "natural matter" - do not exist. "Language is the immediate reality of thought" (Marx). The reality of thought is manifested in language. Only idealists can talk about thinking that is not connected with the "natural matter" of language, about thinking without language. (I. Stalin. Marxism and questions of linguistics, p. 39.)
The idealistic separation of thinking from language inevitably leads to a perverse, anti-scientific explanation of the very essence of both language and thinking, to the recognition of the so-called "pure thinking", torn off from the material linguistic shell.
JV Stalin showed the importance of language as the most important means of communication between people, showed the enormous role of language in the process of man's cognition of objective reality.“Language is a means,” writes I. V. Stalin, “a tool with which people communicate with each other, exchange thoughts and achieve mutual understanding. Being directly connected with thinking, language registers and consolidates in words and in the combination of words in sentences the results of the work of thinking, the successes of human cognitive work, and thus makes it possible to exchange thoughts in human society. (I. Stalin. Marxism and questions of linguistics, p. 22.)
These instructions of JV Stalin are of exceptional importance for the Marxist-Leninist theory of knowledge. They show that only with the help of language, that is, with the help of words, sentences, terms, etc., is it possible to reflect things and phenomena of the objective world in the human mind. Only with the help of language does a person express and consolidate the results of his cognitive activity, clothing human thoughts in a material linguistic shell. Whatever thought arises in a person's head, it cannot but be formulated in words. When we try to clarify our thoughts even for ourselves, we try in our minds to pick up such words and expressions that would express our thoughts as accurately as possible, the connection of some thoughts with others, the transition from one thought to another, etc. Thoughts become reality as for thinking, and for other people only then, when we clothe the content of our thoughts in a linguistic form, in a material verbal shell. “... A thought only then becomes a thought,” wrote M.I. Kalinin, “when it is expressed in speech, when it comes out through the language, when it—as philosophers would say—is mediated and objectified for others.” (M.I. Kalinin. On communist education, p. 98. Publishing house "Young Guard". 1946) . Therefore, language and thinking are interconnected as form and content, and it is impossible to separate them from each other, just as it is impossible to separate form from content in general, because objective reality does not know formless content, as well as contentless form.
Being a form of expression of our thoughts, language at the same time serves as the most important means of transmitting these thoughts to other people, makes it possible to consolidate and store the knowledge acquired by people. Without speaking, a person would not be able to transfer his thoughts, accumulated knowledge, and practical experience to other people, because the exchange of thoughts between people can occur only with the help of language.
A person could not use the knowledge not only of previous generations, but also of his contemporaries. Each individual would have to begin the knowledge of the objective world from the beginning, and no science would be possible. Only with the help of oral and written speech do people pass on from generation to generation continuously accumulating knowledge and thus move science forward. Thanks to this, as Engels pointed out, people do not need “that every single individual should personally experience everything in his own experience; his individual experience may, to a certain extent, be replaced by the results of the experience of a number of his ancestors. If, for example, in our country the mathematical axioms are presented to every eight-year-old child as something taken for granted, not in need of any experimental proof, then this is only the result of "accumulated heredity."(Friedrich Engels. Anti-Dühring, p. 350). And this "accumulated heredity" can be consolidated, developed, and transmitted only with the help of oral and written speech, without which we could not use all the wealth that humanity has developed throughout its history.
“The study of native speech,” wrote M. I. Kalinin, addressing the youth, “is a great thing. The highest achievements of human thought, the deepest knowledge and the most ardent feelings will remain unknown to people if they are not clearly and accurately formulated in words. (M. I. Kalinin. On communist education, p. 98.)
By exchanging thoughts, people not only pass on the knowledge they have achieved to each other, but also get the opportunity to use this knowledge for joint actions in the fight against the forces of nature, for subordinating them to the interests of people, for the collective production of material goods, for the revolutionary transformation of social life.
Language also plays a huge role in the very process of cognition, since only language, with the help of words and sentences, can express and consolidate thoughts in the minds of people, the success of human cognitive activity, because “ideas,” as Marx wrote, “do not exist apart from language.” (Archive of Marx and Engels, vol. IV, p. 99. Partizdat, 1935.)
Therefore, language is a constant companion of man in the entire complex and diverse process of cognition from living contemplation to abstract thinking and from abstract thinking to practice.
A particularly important role belongs to language in the transition of human cognition from direct perceptions, sensations, ideas to abstract thinking in the form of logical categories and in the process of abstract thinking itself. It is at this stage of the process of cognition of the objective world that new thoughts, ideas, discoveries arise in the human mind, which are clothed in the appropriate linguistic form. Only a highly developed flexible language with a rich vocabulary can ensure the flexibility of thinking, enable it to reflect the diversity of the world, the most complex relationships and connections between things and phenomena of reality.
A completely opposite point of view on this issue is preached by modern American-English idealist philosophers. In an effort to "substantiate" the idealistic interpretation of the essence of thinking at all costs, such philosophizing obscurantists as Russell, Carnap, Whitehead, and others declare without proof that language is allegedly incapable of correctly conveying human thoughts, that speech can allegedly only distort the true content of thoughts. They therefore propose to reform language, free it from the material shell of language, or, as they say, from "false metaphysics", that is, from materialism, and consider "pure" thinking, without the intervention of language. “Logic,” says Russell, “that trusts language in the slightest degree, leads to false metaphysics.” Eaton, professor at Harvard University, echoes him: “Whoever follows the mere grammar of a language, ” he says, “will not come from the correct premises to the correct conclusions.”
The class-political essence of modern idealistic distortions in the grammar of language and the logic of thought is especially clearly visible in the reactionary, so-called semantic bourgeois philosophy.
The "imperfection of the language", "the insufficiency of its syntactic structure", says the representative of this trend in bourgeois philosophy, Carnap, is the cause of all earthly evils, social unrest and scientific errors.
If people could establish the correct construction of speech, eliminate the "inaccuracy" of words and expressions, then in the world, in his opinion, universal peace and harmony would reign. He proposes, therefore, to restructure both the form of language and the form of thought.
Throwing dust in the eyes with "democratic" phraseology about freedom, Carnap proclaims the "principle of tolerance", according to which there is no morality in logic and language, there are no laws and forms binding on all people; everyone is free to create for himself his own language, his own logic, in which he can "arbitrarily choose any axioms and rules of inference."
“The reason why people still do not dare to go further from the classical form,” states Carnap, “lies, of course, in the widespread point of view that deviations must be “justified”, i.e., to prove that the new form of language “ correct" that it conveys "true logic".
And Carnap laments that “the first attempts to free the ship of logic from the solid shore of the classical form were crushed by the desire for “truth”. Now, at last, this obstacle has been overcome: before us lies an open ocean of free possibilities.
Assessing the verbiage of American semantics, one Dutch progressive wrote in the journal Politics and Culture: “The purpose of all these 'theories' is clear. This is a desire to destroy national languages, to inspire the idea of the inevitability of the gradual replacement of national languages by English, of the inevitability of the transformation of the Yankee language into a world language. ("Literaturnaya Gazeta" dated June 21, 1952.27)
The true meaning of all linguistic and logical tricks of the Anglo-American semantics is quite obvious. In every possible way belittling the importance of language, they treat first of all the languages of freedom-loving peoples. They needed this in order to “prove” the superiority of the English language over all other languages of the world, the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race over other races, in order to destroy national languages, to impose the English language, the Anglo-American “way of life” on other peoples.
Thus, the American-English reactionary semantic philosophy, preaching the need for a reform of the language, the liberation of words from their true content, thereby creates a "theoretical" basis for the subjective-idealistic interpretation of phenomena, events occurring in nature and society, creates a "philosophical" basis for subjectively -idealistic interpretation and justification of the predatory imperialist policy of the US-British imperialists.
In his brilliant work “Marxism and the Questions of Linguistics”, I. V. Stalin defeated pseudoscientific theories about language, defended and further developed the Marxist-Leninist science of linguistics, armed the communist parties, all progressive mankind with the doctrine of language, which is a powerful weapon in cognition and transformation the world.