Spirituality Science – The Origin of Man:
The problem of the origin of man is connected with the problem of the origin of Language. The Theory of Evolution proposed by Charles Darwin believes that man has descended from other forms of life such as apes. It must be noted that Language is one of the principal characteristics of the specifically human world. Human Speech, both spoken and written is the criteria by which we can recognize the difference that exists between man and other species. Language is the means by which human beings communicate as members of a social group and as participants in its Culture. Language is the peculiar possession of human beings. No other species has conventionalized its cries and utterances to constitute a systematic symbolism in the same manner as human Language. Man may be described as the talking and writing animal.
Language represents a complex series of events. These events are on many planes of experience; 1. Physical, that involves the ability to generate sound waves, the propagation of sound waves, and the reception of sound waves or the perception called hearing. The physical capacity for the use of Language requires the physical capacity called ‘Precision Grip’ which gives the ability to write using a writing instrument, 2. Chemical, that involves body chemistry and its ability to generate the energy needed for performing the functions associated with the use of Language, 3. Physiological, that involves the transmission of nerve impulses and the movements of muscles used in speech or writing, 4. Psychological, that involves a generation of thoughts and feelings and the reaction to such stimuli, 5. Cultural, that pertains to the situation of the speaker or writer in respect to the cultural system of his society, 6. Linguistic, that involves the specific Language that is spoken or used for communication, and 7. Semantics, that involves the ability to convey and grasp the meaning of the Language used in communication.
The Tower of Babel – The Confusion of Tongues:
If human beings constitute members of a single species which share certain common characteristics of both anatomical structures and physiological functions, Language must be the same for all the members of this given species. Like human society, human Language seem to be partly natural, and partly conventional. All conventional languages have certain features of structure which indicate their natural basis in the physical and mental constitution of man. All conventional languages have a common, natural basis, and the confusion of tongues is explained in Bible. The Old Testament Book of Genesis, Chapter 11, verses 1-9 tells us that “The whole earth was of one language and one speech,” but at the time when men began to build ” a tower whose top may reach into heaven,” the LORD said, ” Behold, the people is one, and they all have one language; and this they begin to do and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” At the Tower of Babel (“The Gate of God”), the structure that was built-in the plain of Shinar, by the hand of God every man was stricken for his rebellion, with an oblivion of his former language. God frustrated human plans by confusing their Language and scattered them over all the earth.
The Art and the History of Writing:
Writing is the visible recording of Language that is peculiar to the human species. Writing is not the mere transmission of ideas for it uses a medium that can be used as a historical record. The first known writing dates from 6,000 B.C. Ancient languages like Sanskrit developed alphabet where one letter symbolizes one phoneme or a significant sound. The major non-alphabetic forms of writing are Chinese, in which each character represents a word or concept, and Japanese, in which each character represents a syllable. It appears that writing arose independently in different parts of the world.
Seven original systems of writing that can be recognized are, 1. Sumerian in Mesopotamia, 3100 B.C. to A.D. 75, 2. Proto-Elamite in Elam, 3000 B.C. to A.D. 400, 3. Egyptian in Egypt, 3000 B.C. to A.D. 400, 4. Proto-Indic in the Indus Valley around 2200 B.C., 5. Cretan in Crete and Greece, 2000 to 1200 B.C., 6. Chinese in China, 1300 B.C. to the present, and 7. Hittite in Anatolia and Syria, 1500 B.C. to 700 B.C. The original, ideographic, writing system of Maya tribes of Central America developed independently in their Pre-Classic Period (1500 B.C. ? – A.D. 300).
Writing serves the purpose of communication and the written shapes become signs for elements of linguistic value. However, it must be noted that painting pictures on the walls of caves or on the rocks may not fall in the category of writing. Aristotle says that man is the only animal whom nature “has endowed with the gift of speech.” The origin of human Speech cannot be explained in evolutionary terms. Human Speech is a creative phenomenon and it uses a creative mechanism to generate variations while the humans are endowed with the same kind of gift. Human Language is the instrument by which the thoughts of men’s minds are conveyed from one to another. Language expresses thought, diverse languages are different mediums of the same thing. Aristotle declares, “All men may not have the same speech sounds, but the mental experiences which these directly symbolize, are the same for all.” The human community when conceived in terms of the communication of thought is not limited by political boundaries. Man overcomes the barriers set up by a diversity of tongues by using a tool called translation.
Human Language has the Spiritual attribute called Immortality for it includes the thoughts shared by the living and the dead and extends to those as yet unborn. Human Civilization can be described as the Civilization of Dialogue and the conversation continues from one generation to the next as if man is not a perishable creature. Plato observes, “thought and speech are the same, with this exception, that which is called thought is the unuttered conversation of the Soul with itself.”