Signal Systems and the Role of Words

‘Word’ is the path-maker for human to human Communication System. Word is deployed in the communication system either through speech or by writing down on material surfaces. These are well-known facts which need no specific mention. However, when it comes to spoken words, there comes something worth noticing: Spoken words entail sound and that makes the difference. Sound cannot be written down in normal, known platforms. Both word written and word sounded are symbols of signals.

Human Brain is capable of handling two Signal Systems through which ideas, information and knowledge are received and conveyed to self and to others respectively. The two signal systems are categorized as the First Signal System and the Second Signal System.

During the course of evolution, Homo sapiens developed an extremely important addition to its nervous activity. In animals reality of the surroundings is signalized by situations and the traces they leave behind in the cerebral hemispheres of brain which come directly to the nerve cells through visual, auditory, olfactory or other receptors. This process belongs to the category of First Signal System which humans too possess by way of impressions, sensations and notions in relation to the world around, – the world that represents both the natural and the social environs. As far as humans are concerned there is a well-laid path of communication system constructed by and through ‘word’ that is heard or ‘word’ that is seen in writing. That path of communication falls within the category of Second Signal System.

The Second Signal System is the special capability of human brain. The special capability of second signal system is of words written and or of words spoken. The knowledge the word conveys may be of impressions, sensations and notions in relation to the world around. Process of understanding the meaning and knowledge that the word conveys, either separately or jointly, depends upon the working condition of the sensory centres in the cerebral cortex of each individual human being: Idiots, imbeciles and morons may not understand the meaning and or knowledge that word represents or conveys. But an intelligent person whose sensory reactions to signals from the environs are sharp, might in all probability, understand the meaning and knowledge a word conveys  with consistency as compared to morons, imbeciles and idiots.

Humans cherish their additional capability facilitated by Second Signal System of communication through spoken words or written words while they overtake animals, birds and every other lower specie to maim them and to succeed. Humans think, evaluate and invent through the magic wand of Second Signal System along with the support or help from First Signal System.

Humanism – A Magic Wand

Humanism is defined as a system of thoughts in which human interests and human values are taken to be of primary importance: The definition reveals that humanism is not an individual human posture because humanism ought to have to be a system. System stands for a group or combination of people forming a unified whole. In that context a person who nurtures human interests and human values and who being a part of the group is bound to be a humanist but the individual cannot itself constitute humanism.

Ancient and modern thinkers had expounded so many explanations for humanism. One of the explanations is that humanism is a branch of philosophical thought. The philosophical thought is based on the concept that humanism is a world view covering a system of beliefs. The main concerns of the beliefs are centered on values, needs, nature and abilities of human beings. Another view which is the latest in the row and which has no takers, is that humanism pertains to a particular branch of psychology directed at the study of human nature and human values. However, many a think tank of the present, takes it for granted that humanism has only two branches, one based on beliefs and the other which belongs to secularism. The theory of psychology lacks credence and it tarnishes the image of humanism.

According to the proponents of the psychological theory, human behaviour is linked to the inner feelings of the mankind. On the basis of that concept, during the latter part of the last century (1970s and 1980s), a set of psychologists came forward with procedures for psycho-analytical studies of humanism. Psychologists of humanism, rather humanistic psychologists, are of firm opinion that in psycho analysis, objective reality is less important than subjective perceptions. They therefore reject scientific methods bracing experiments and researches where their psycho-therapy is concerned.

Humanism based on beliefs aims at understanding human nature, human values and perspectives through supernatural and transcendental domains.  These domains are more important for believers even if they amount to denial of human needs and values here and now for the sake of life after death.

Secular humanism is the most sought after philosophy especially by the self acclaimed intellectuals of the modern age. The track of secular humanism is manifold:  For the intellectuals, secular humanism is the only viable solution to develop knowledge of the living world as opposed to dehumanization tendencies of the belief system; human values, human nature and human experiences can be studied and understood through rationality of materialism and therefore humanism necessarily is atheistic; in fact humanism is the most important principle of Rationalism and Atheism; – thus goes their interpretations.

Humanism means many things according to the fancies of the beholders. The first and foremost among the fancies is that god created the humans in his own image and that therefore humanism embraces the system of beliefs in the supernatural. According to rational beholders, humanism is a system which does not believe in gods and deities or the system does not care for gods and deities. For them, excellent human behaviour is possible by following the path of reason. They propose that humans created thousands of gods, goddesses in their own shapes where the question of supernatural do not arise at all. The pursuers of the latter system confide that they are concerned about human rights and equal opportunities for all; that they are liberal in matters of abortion, gay rights, lesbianism, transgender, same sex marriage, assisted suicides and separation of church from state matters.

On generalization of all what are attributed to humanism, it is possible to conclude that humanism belongs to three major groups. The first one is Philosophical Humanism which came into existence by the end of the middle ages. The second group is Religious Humanism which is based on religions and religious beliefs.  The third and the most popular humanism is the non-religious philosophy which promotes humanity through secular practices.

The explanations about humanism as briefed herein above give credence to the conclusion that humanism has no specific ideology, no specific line of thoughts and no line of action. Even on taking it as a branch of philosophy, humanism lacks specific system of beliefs embracing any set of doctrines.  The term ‘humanism’ therefore remains as a magic wand in the hands of fence-sitters of the intellectual cauldron to induce illusions and to get applause of the innocent human beings, the world over.