<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
I’m fascinated by how different languages privilege different senses in common and metaphorical use. For example, English often privileges the visual in talking about abstract ideas (the Greek root of the word 'idea' is itself visually based). We say, “I see what you mean.” or, “That’s a great insight.” We talk about “shedding light” on an issue. Even “to speculate” is visually based. It’s fun to think about how and why these usages take hold. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
My guess would be that it is not that visual is privileged in English but, rather, the aural has been left behind. I did not do a complete survey but I’d venture to say that most if not all the examples you listed can find their counterpart in Chinese. There is even this ‘ting ting kan’ – literally ‘listen and see (what you are going to hear)’. Visual is such a powerful tool it can’t help but to impact all people groups more or less the same. Even powerful thinkers in science would like to have visual models if possible.
Society and its culture is molded or heavily influenced by tools made available through its environment. Listening including use of language is more a contemplative tool while visual always involves matter/things and is more a investigation/analytical tool. In the West, first logic was developed and then scientific method followed. Logic may not have a preference for aural or visual as its venue but the scientific method, particularly the experimental sciences, could never come to being without the visual ability of humans. With these powerful tools to address our daily problem the need for contemplation is greatly reduced in most people’s consciousness. In the East, at least in China, logic was never developed or used and the scientific method was not introduced until very recently. Contemplation is the major and perhaps the only means of generating solutions for problems big or small. I don’t believe Chinese is going to hang onto it simply because it is historically so. When they’ve gotten used to the power of the visual analytical tools I’d bet they will similarly leave behind the more contemplative aural tool.
A year or so ago I met a psychologist who had traveled quite a bit to other parts of the world particularly the 3rd world countries. He mad a remark that he found people in less developed countries were more spiritual than people in the States. He thought that was due to their culture. But I’d rather think that it is simply human nature to be more spiritual or reliant on faith when people are short in resources and means to address their problems. When they have acquired the means and resources to improve their lot, given sufficient time and material success, their spirituality is going to wane. When they can only be at the mercy of the nature they have to learn to live with the nature and to be part of the nature. When they become capable, human beings would try to become independent of nature and would even try to be the master of nature.
So if you think that Chinese culture gave more emphasis on the aural, just wait and I am sure it will change.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It is not only an issue of direction, but also of initiation. In daily life, you direct vision and follow sound. If you instead direct hearing and follow images, you will not be able to move. </font>
Yes. Listening is kind of passive action while looking is a more active action. So listening’s nature is closer to Taichi’s approach and in Taichi practice we try to exercise vision in a similar way – to look without looking at.