One of the Largest and Most Visited Sources of Philosophical Texts on the Internet.

The British Archive of  the Italian Doctor-Writer's  Prose and Political  and  Onto-Philosophical  Critiques

Published by
The British Antonio Rossin Appreciation Society
Preston  England

With the kind permission of the author

Antonio Rossin
Neurologist - Family Doctor
45010, Ca' Vendramin (RO) Italy

Dr. Antonio Rossin is a much respected Italian family practitioner, researcher and campaigner involved in the promotion of a greater public understanding of  the connection between language learning and mind self-framing in children, from which either rigid conservative or autonomous flexible behaviors follow in people. Focusing on an awareness of reification, flexibility, Rossin's educative model prevents the formation of addictions, and thereby from the incipience and internalisation of a fundamentalist attitude.

Linguistics as Speciesist?
Kerry Miller in an online discussion with the well known
Italian Neurologist and Family Doctor Antonio Rossin
on the topic of Linguistics as Speciesist?

Reifications (like biological entozoic infections of the gut) are proto-socio-neurological enculturations and as useful fictions are not necessarily symbiotic with, nor necessarily benignly adjuvant to the welfare of their unwitting and often naive hosts.
Jud Evans. "Reification and the Philosophy of the Unreal"

Freedom in humans consists of the ability to liberate oneself from the tyranny of reificationalist imprinting. Antonio Rossin. "Democracy, Religion, Drugs".

"I remember knowing about racism but not yet knowing about institutionalized racism -- wherein an institution is so permeated with racism that people are not even aware that what they say or do is racist.

But let's change the word 'racist' to 'species-ist', since

1) racist doesn't exactly fit cross-species issues except in the older meaning of "human race",

2) species-ist points more clearly to our anthropocentrism, and

3) I no longer like to use the current concept of race because the history of its use over only the past 100 years with this particular meaning (check the OED) has not proven useful to me for inclusion into any explanations.

... Let's next consider whether linguistics may be guilty of not overt but covert and institutionalized species-ism, embedded so pervasively as to be invisible to some. Moonhawk's Institutionalized Species-ism Hypothesis predicts that unwitting species-ism will be reflected:

a- in textbooks through the positing of such processes as syntax and morphology (which we claim animals don't have) as "universals of language"

b- in the use of metonymy (part for whole) to define "language" in terms of these putative universals, syntax & morphology, processes we claim only humans have, and then in calling everything else without such machinery "communication" (which 'true linguists' don't study or publish on. N. B., it's not like you can go to a School or Department of  *Communication* to study how animals communicate -- so this is terminological limbo: few linguists really care what animals do; it's seen as irrelevant).

c- such truisms as "there are no primitive languages" in our intro classes -- where primitive is tacitly understood to mean "with reduced or without the machinery of morphology & syntax".

(This automatically disallows what apes, cetaceans and others do from being called language, given our other claims above).

d- the omission of "Chimpanzee" in the inventory of world's languages

e- such constructs as LAD (Language Acquisition Device) and "innate predisposition to language" applied uniquely to humans. (Have you ever seen anyone positing either construct for the great apes or cetaceans?)

... Look around with sensitive eyes and you'll see the subtle signs of this species-ism everywhere. No one has to plot or say anything overtly species-ist because, given the totality of our system, animals can never break through our self-imposed cultural DEFINITIONAL language barrier (as Sue Savage-Rumbaugh so aptly notes). If a chimp and a child perform exactly the same behavior, the child's is adjudged *linguistic* and the chimp's is not, because children, unlike chimps, are said to be "on their way to language" (i. e., syntax). " (*)

Dr Rossin tackles an even more subtly embedded linguistic phenomenon: language as literacism -- which we may call, more euphoniously, "writism". 2500 years after Socrates warned Phaedrus of the dangers of technology (in particular, the intervention of writing in human relations), we now begin to see (if we look around with sensitive eyes) what he meant. (**)

i- Education relies primarily on books. "Students" "learn" from "teachers" (each term, of course is book-defined), but what they learn is not what the teacher knows, but what the teacher points to as knowledge.

ii- No school or department of "communication" *communicates* with ordinary people (the "person-in-the-street" or PITS, in R's shorthand). What such people really do is seen as irrelevant except as "data" for "studies" and "research".

iii- Writers routinely say, "hearing" and "saying" when they refer to reading and writing; "speaking" is as likely to refer to scholarly reading from "notes" as face-to-face interacting, while "communicating" includes not only any form (referred to in the literature in terms of its "medium") of signaling process -- pictographic, oral, written, telegraphic, telephonic, or digital -- but any function as well, be it unilateral, bilateral or collective.

The effect is to disallow what PITS "do" from being meaningfully "called" communicating -- everybody does it, from cetaceans and chimpanzees to the "high-definition" rasters of one's video terminal -- while the only purposes for human interaction that are identifiable will be those of the communicating "subject," i. e. the individual organism. Collective, cultural, social reasons ("values") are "bracketed out."

Writing, as Socrates foresaw, separates content from container (conduit, context), information from insight, and experience from behaviour (conduct, no?). Writism -- the idea that people are no longer aware that their mediated actions are only an "alterity", makes the separation "inevitable" or "paradigmatic". Literacy becomes the frame of reference within which any discussion is foregrounded, and thus "discussion" cannot question the mechanism of literacy itself without being 'prima facie' absurd.

Why, then, does Dr R suppose that Yet Another Book (YAB) is appropriate? * What has changed in two thousand-odd years? For one thing, the Internet -- and I would leave it at that, except that I'm a writer, too, and must obey syntactical and morphological demands:

( *Editor's note: see Dr. Antonio Rossin's many writings in this Athenaeum Library.)

For one thing, the Internet put 6 or 60 million people in one place: idiots and savants, tinkers and thinkers, are tossed together like flotsam on the tide -- and since no writist conceived of the possibility, the defences were down. PITS began to talk with one another, entirely ignoring the protocols and decorums and the rest of the (metonymic) machinery of being a writer, of being "literate". The evidence (and it's out there, in the lists and archives and IRC transcripts, for anyone who cares to read) reveals, however, that PITS no longer remember (in Socrates' sense) how to talk; instead, they have writist ideas of talking. The best they can do is to write "as if" they are talking, but with none of the collective values that used to inform talking. (This view is supported by the fact that too many people offline speak - not as if they are writers, for that would be presumptuous - but as if their listeners are readers ; that is, "disembodied," disaffected, remote observers rather than involved, immediate actors..)

The same dedication to cultural integrity and societal functionality that took Dr R into family medicine brought him to see the opportunity, really the necessity, for "reinventing" a socially coherent ethos. Regardless of their numbers, those who are online are not an *abnormal percentage of the population at large. The absence of an Internet culture is merely a symptom of a general malaise, and (by poking and prodding the communicative corpus in a number of ways), he has isolated a syndrome; that is, a collection of related phenomena which suggest a common etiology or vector of propagation. If, he reasons, the syndrome presents as writism, perhaps the prime causative agent is "educationism" -- the idea that fashioning children into human beings can safely be left to institutions. Certainly, nowhere within the social system does he find natural resistance [antibodies?] to this meme.

I am afraid it is a true pandemic, and Dr R's warning may be too late to be heard correctly. That parents are educators, that education should inform parenting from ones earliest days on the receiving end right through to propagation, parturition and beyond, that academia has social responsibilities, that drug addiction in youth and stress-induced disease in adults are not isolated malfunctions or idiopathies but systemic patterns -- most likely, none of these indicators will be seen by those who can take action on them. You have in your hands a poor imitation of, but as ironic a record as, Plato's writing down Socrates' wisdom, doomed to be preserved for posterity.

As a writer, of course, I am familiar with that outcome. As writists, of course, you doubtless appreciate how effectively "publication" channels large amounts of human motivation and energy into harmless, ersatz, bookish "containers". Who could predict (that is, control) what would happen if PITS *realised their potential?

(*). Found at www. emich. edu/~linguist/issues/6/6-61. htm , 13 Jan 2000.

(**). Socrates ascribes his concerns to Tut-ankh-amun, when Thoth reported his discovery of writing:

"Theuth, my paragon of inventors,"- replied the king, -"the discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practise it. So it is in this case; you, who are the father of writing, have out of fondness for your offspring attributed to it quite the opposite of its real function. Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of on their own internal resources. What you have discovered is a receipt for recollection, not for memory. And as for wisdom, your pupils will have the reputation for it without the reality: they will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction, and in consequence be thought very knowledgeable when they are for the most part quite ignorant. And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society".

(From Walter Hamilton, (trans.), _Plato: Phaedrus & Letters Vii And Viii_. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973.)