Kenneth L. Pike (1912–2000)

Talk, Thought, and Thing
The Emic Road Toward Conscious Knowledge

by Kenneth L. Pike

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The person in human nature is beyond logic, whether in life, in language, or in philosophy.

Persons can judge emic 'sameness'—which relates personal knowledge to language and experience. Such judgments link the person (as an observer of himself and of his actions in society) to words, to things, to thoughts, and to other people. Persons understand persons and things and events in relation to their occurrence in a significant structural position, in relation to their membership in a class of substitutable items, in relation to their functional role in a social, physical, economic, psychological, and historical structure, and in relation to the control over them exercised implicitly or explicitly by their background frames of reference.

A person can choose unproven starting presuppositions—and may also choose to view a situation or event or thing as if it were for the moment static, dynamic, or relational (particle, wave, field). Such elements are hierarchically arranged in relation to their physical features, or their sequential 'telling' order, or their referential 'happening' order and structure. A person grows in knowledge through the intersection of networks of patterns of such phonological, grammatical, and referential hierarchies.

A person needs his language to help him know himself in relation to his physical, social, aesthetic, and philosophical environment.

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