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An early instance of an idea that changed language speech was introduction of the philosophy of mechanism, strongly associated with Descartes and Hobbes. By this view, human motivation was the result of internal mechanistic, or instinctual, urgings rather than the product of will and cognition. Descartes qualified this with dualism positing a physical mechanism but a non-mechanistic cognition, claiming mechanism and cognition to be incompatible. Hobbes posited a singular system of mechanism for both the physical and cognitive aspects of human motivation.
Language speech patterns were effected by this philosophy by the introduction, in formal academic discourse, of a mechanistic vocabulary and, in daily discourse, of metaphors and idioms related to the idea of mechanism. One example is the introduction of mechanistic instinct to the age old discussion of Fate versus Free Will: Fate, Free Will or Mechanism. Another example is the comparison of the human body and mind to a machine (which doesn't seem new now), e.g., biological clock, need driven motivational hierarchy. This led the way for the later comparison of the mind to a computer. Poetic metaphors introduced instinct and machine related imagery, like "a steel driving man" ("Ballad of John Henry"), while idioms developed cultural concepts of mechanism, like "be as regular as clockwork."
Posted by kplhardison on February 10, 2013 at 9:26 PM (Answer #1)
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