Becoming Human: The Development of Language, Self and Self-Consciousness

Hardcover | November 15, 2007

byJohn V. Canfield

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This book is a philosophical examination of the main stages in our journey from hominid to human. It deals with the nature and origin of language, the self, self-consciousness, and the religious ideal of a return to Eden. It approaches these topics through a philosophical anthropology derived from the later writings of Wittgenstein. The result is an account of our place in nature consistent with both a hard-headed empiricism and a this-worldy but religiously significant mysticism.

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This book is a philosophical examination of the main stages in our journey from hominid to human. It deals with the nature and origin of language, the self, self-consciousness, and the religious ideal of a return to Eden. It approaches these topics through a philosophical anthropology derived from the later writings of Wittgenstein. Th...

JOHN V. CANFIELD is Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, author of Wittgenstein: Language and World and The Looking-Glass Self, and editor of The Philosophy of Wittgenstein (in fifteen volumes) and Philosophy of Meaning, Knowledge and Value in the Twentieth Century.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.89 × 5.81 × 0.7 inPublished:November 15, 2007Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230552935

ISBN - 13:9780230552937

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Table of Contents

Setting out * What Language Is Not * Language-Games * Learning to Talk * How the Human Got Its Words * Self Portrait, Ink on Paper * The Further Adventures of Nobody * Consciousness * Self Consciousness * Back to Eden * Index

Editorial Reviews

"In this book, John Canfield tackles one of our long standing cultural myths, the duality of subject and object, the self and the other. The idea of speech as a cluster of practices and customs allows him to offer a more convincing account of the origins of language than any of the current orthodoxies. The core of his argument is an exploration of the consequences for our idea of what it is we are that come from deep misunderstandings of the grammar of the first person, the frame of our personal narratives. From that basis Canfield moves boldly from this Wittgensteinian perspective to a thrilling transcendence of the grip of language towards a Zen like perspective on what it is to be human."--Professor Horace Romano Harré, Oxford University, UK, and Georgetown University, USA "Canfield's book is a well-informed and highly creative work by a leading philosopher. It is a polished, sophisticated work, but accessible to the intelligent layperson. It illuminates what it is to be human in an original, readable and highly satisfying manner. It is genuinely eclectic, displaying an impressive command of a range of different approaches to its subject. In short, a profound account of our march toward a full humanity, written with great clarity and verve."--William DeAngelis, Northeastern University "This is a brilliant book!  It presents a highly plausible view of the nature and origin of language, consciousness and self-consciousness and goes on, in what is the heart of the book, to give a novel and compelling treatment of the self or ego - the I.  Finally, in a stimulating and controversial way Canfield connects  these notions to Buddhist ideas about the illusion of the self. The implications of his analysis are enormous."--Robert Arrington, Georgia State University "The critique of the concept of self in our understanding of our humanity is a formidable topic, which is here handled with boldness and subtlety.  The result is nothing less than a radical and compelling revision of that understanding."--Danièle Moyal-Sharrock, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London