Culture and Consciousness

Some classical statements about the limits of human consciousness about humanity


Kluckhohn 1949

"It would hardly be fish who discovered the existence of water" (p. 11)

Silverstein 1981

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to make a native speaker take account of those readily-discernible facts of speech as action that he has no ability to describe for us in his own language. (p. 1)

What can native speakers (of Wasco- Wishram Chinookan) do when asked about these linguistics forms? ... Many attempts at direct systemic elicitation proved, ultimately, to be unsuccessful. ... This failure of metapragmatic elicitation is quite telling. (p. 8-9)

this statement about success/failure is, of course, fully dependent on the relationship Silverstein had established with his informants. Their inability-with-him does not say much about their ability-with-others. Interestingly, this may be a failure on Silverstein's part to teach the informants what he wanted (while Dixon) may have done so. So we have to sort out:

The central manifestation of maeaning is pragmatic and metapragmatic speech (p. 21)

Bourdieu & Passeron 1970

the ES produces and reproduces the conditions for the performance of institutionalized PW since the fact of institutionalization is capable of setting up PW as such without either those who carry it out or those who undergo it ever ceasing to misrecognize its objective truth, i.e. to remain unaware of the ultimate basis of the delegated authority which makes the WSg possible. the objective truth of his task

technically, if we follow Silverstein, "those who misrecognize" can be said so to misrecognize because of their absolute (though perhaps transformable) inability to produce metapragmatic accounts of their situation.

October 18, 2006