Showing posts with label C.R. Hallpike. Show all posts
Showing posts with label C.R. Hallpike. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Language and Thought Complexity

When not writing up the results of his research for publication, anthropologist Christopher Hallpike lived among the mountain tribes of Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea for a period of ten years studying every facet of two very different primitive cultures. His latest anthology, Ship of Fools, includes a fascinating chapter entitled “So all languages aren’t equally complex after all”, in which he thoroughly debunks the conventional wisdom about the relative complexity of languages, namely the uniformitarian belief that All Languages are Equally Complex (ALEC).

ALEC is a relatively modern invention popularized by linguists like Noam Chomsky and evolutionary psychologists like Steven Pinker, wholly ideological rather than a product of actual boots-on-the-ground research. It is the undemonstrated and undemonstratable conviction that “There are no simple or primitive cultures: all cultures are equally complex and equally modern.” Or again, “People think the same thoughts, no matter what kind of grammatical system they use.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Quote of the Day (39)

In his book Do We Need God to be Good? anthropologist C.R. Hallpike quotes mathematician Kevin Devlin:

“Whatever features of our brain enable (some of) us to do mathematics must have been present long before we had any mathematics. Those crucial features, therefore, must have evolved to fulfil some other purpose.”

This sort of statement is incredibly common among evolutionary psychologists and biologists, but “some other [undefined] purpose” is pretty much the best they have to offer the world. The gaping holes in their theoretical framework are orders of magnitude larger than the frame itself, calling their entire dubious intellectual structure into question.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Quote of the Day (34)

The late Christopher Hitchens famously claimed men can be good without God. To prove his case he challenged his detractors to name even one moral action performed by a believer that could not equally have been performed by a nonbeliever.

Hitchens is dead and gone, but his claim is not. Others continue to advance it in different ways. Stefan Molyneux explores the subject in Universally Preferable Behaviour: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics. Dr. Jordan Peterson, notably coy about his belief in the existence of an actual Supreme Being, lays down a rationalistic scenario in a series of recent lectures in which the Bible, though apparently the product of naturally evolving morality rather than divine revelation, still serves a vital purpose in civilizing man, providing an irreplaceable basis for social interaction and transforming the individual.

Goodness without an actual God. Hmm. Does that work for you?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Quote of the Day (19)

I find the following paragraph from C.R. Hallpike’s Do We Need God to be Good? An Anthropologist Considers the Evidence rather striking:

“This powerful and important doctrine for right living was worked out in great philosophical detail in Greece, India, and China; we do not find it in explicit form in the Old Testament which was not philosophically minded, but in the New Testament St. Paul added the religious virtues of faith, hope, and charity to the classical virtues of justice, reasonableness, courage, and self-control.”

I’m far from agreeing with Hallpike on everything, but he’s got me thinking with that line. The Old Testament, he says, was “not philosophically minded”.