Let’s Think About Hominid

Last week’s seminar we talked about the misunderstanding we have and presumptions we take granted for the discipline of Communication. That was very thought provoking to me but at the same time, I am afraid that some “mainstream” research cannot convince me as much as before (Mia’s example in her last week’s blog). However, the curiosity to find the interdisciplinary method also drives me to dig deeper by stepping back to get a broader landscape. The landscape is historical (why and how human became symbolic species) and related to other disciplines (linguistic, communication technologies, media, etc.)

Since I’ve read all the materials for this week in last semester’s, I tried to understand the supplemental reading on mimetic skills, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens. I am not sure if I get the technical part of those explanations on brain structures but the idea of human evolution triggered intense thoughts about the final paper from last semester. I used language models to understand film cognition processes. The only reason for me using language models was that: it makes sense to me. However this week actually gave me a chance to rethink the real and solid reason for me to apply linguistic to filmic cognition.

According to Donald, there are three systems of memory representation: mimetic skill, languages, and external symbols. Each of these three is based on an inventive capacity, which means they are always growing— new lexicons, “new” languages (computer languages), new ways of presenting informations (digital versus old none digital) etc. Mimetic skill is the presumption of human language. We reflect on what we do and think. When we start reflecting, we became a symbolic species. We act and then think and eventually refine our actions. The refined actions are external representation of internal thinking and reflection. This process of converting internal information (meaning or thoughts) to somewhere external or vice versa is fundamental. From this perspective, languages, hunting tools, even just refining actions of grabbing things are essentially the same— something that helps exchanging meanings between the internal and external.

When I rethink of this argument and cognitive basis of language as “technologies”, I start to realize the solid research foundation for my final paper. Borrowing linguistic model to other media forms is not just “useful” but also based on the fact that human beings are fundamentally symbolic species. Cognitive approach is a good way to break the walls between different disciplines as cognition is beyond specificity of cultures and societies.