Funky shit

In the debate about the ability of language to adequately describe conscious experience, jazzed-out rappers The Jungle Brothers came out firmly behind the skeptical position of philosopher of mind Eric Schwitzgebel with their 1997 track ‘Brain’.

In the 2007 book Describing Inner Experience? Proponent Meets Skeptic psychologist Russell Hurlburt argued that modern research methods make accurate accounts of inner experience possible whereas Schwitzgebel, a philosopher, disagreed saying that language simply cannot match our rich subjective experience and is prone to error.

However, a decade earlier The Jungle Brothers had strongly supported the idea that language is simply not up to the job of capturing our conscious experience.

I got so much funky shit inside my brain
I couldn’t explain, couldn’t explain
You wouldn’t understand, I couldn’t explain

Explanation of the funk essential trapped in my brain
Couldn’t do it, make me wonder how a world maintain
Got emcees frontin’ total masquerade
Screamin’ toast had to touch them up with my blade

Although their general theory now has a number of proponents, as far as I know, they are unique in proposing that “Screamin’ toast had to touch them up with my blade”.
 

Link to video of The Jungle Brothers’ ‘Brain’.

2 Comments

  1. Posted February 20, 2011 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    I believe that language is for shared experience. Often enough, I have mental states which are very hard or impossible to describe– they aren’t pathological and I’m pretty good with words. It’s just that, as far as I can tell, sometimes the words I need don’t exist, at least not in English.

  2. Posted February 21, 2011 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    I have to agree that language is prone to error. It only takes a generation for a word to take on a whole new meaning. Think of “gay”, “to know” “sweet” to name a few. As we evolve, I’m guessing the evolution of terms will only speed up.


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