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Academic Paper

Title: Modern Linguistics: An Obituary
Paper URL:
Author: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Indian Statistical Institute
Linguistic Field: Discipline of Linguistics; Philosophy of Language
Abstract: It is obvious enough as per title of the paper, it may be assumed that I am going to write a paper not to praise "modern" linguistics but to bury it. However, in my culture, to which I once belonged to, there is no concept of burial of a deceased body, instead it is being burnt after the death with a belief that though the corporal body has been destroyed, the trace of the soul remains and the "soul" is constructed by the internalization of others’ threat and violence. On the other hand, in case of burial, the concept of which I have colonially derived from other cultures, body and soul both remain, though the body is gradually decaying under the closed universe of the coffin. That is, though the body is put under erasure, the trace must be out there in the physical world. However, in our culture, the body is erased totally and the trace of the soul remains. Instigated by modern science, I do not venture into these types of cultural discourses as I have pledged my body so that it can be utilized for humankind after my death. So, I will leave my physical trace1 in this world, though there will be no trace of my soul, the concept of which is “unscientific”. With this new scientific culture, I am supposed to help “truth-seekers” (doctors, who will dissect my body) to investigate on my body for developing the future healing system for the humankind as well as to help handicapped human beings. According to the “modern” scientific method, formal inquiry begins when the human subject is dead. Though in the modern system of pathological investigation, human subject in a laboratory is thoroughly and formally investigated to understand the distortion in the body, the modern lab-system has metamorphosed the human as a de-human by objectifying “it." This technological control over the body under the purview of modern science creates a “Ulysses Syndrome”, in which the human subject like Ulysses, does not return to the position, after pathological test, from where s/he has started. In this connection, I cannot help but quote Lakatos (1976:3).We the pupils of Vesalius, as modern scientists follow the same footsteps by analyzing formally as well as metamathematically the human corporeal by treating them as dead bodies. This paper is not an exception — it also FORMALizes the concept of context-free creative speaking subject by making “it” context-sensitive. Thus, one of the goals of “modern” reductionist science that reduces human to a de-human will be problematized in this paper. This paper switches over to the third revolution in linguistics: Grammatology./L/Keywords: speaking subject in a laboratory-state, crippled creativity, Psi-properties
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Linguistics Today, Vol. III, No.1, pp. 57-81, 1999

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