Differences in linear and holistic thinking and operating


Zaia is a musician, homesteader, permaculturist, holistic health and wellness coach and sustainability advocate. She and husband Tom run permaculture designed farm "Kendall Permaculture Farm" on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia and the not for profit organisation PermEco Inc. and teach permaculture and self reliance. Zaia loves cooking and always comes up with new and different recipes to prepare the food she grows. She is a percussionist and is involved in various musical projects, including community music projects. She writes about life on the farm and tries to post regular photos and articles.

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4 Responses

  1. I enjoyed your writing and the subject matter intrigues me. I am so pleased to have stumbled onto this site.
    In 1954, Stuart Chase wrote an essay, “How Language Shapes Our Thoughts”. If you have not read it, you should. He writes that, in all the talk about talk and about a talker’s power over his language, little is mentioned of the reverse of that process, i.e. the power language exerts over the talker.
    Years ago, when I was searching to understand why I didn’t fit in this society into which I had been born, why I felt like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole, I discovered two things: 1. that I am of Native American ancestry and 2. the aforementioned essay.
    Chase references the research of Benjamin Lee Whorf, a linguist. Whorf put forth the question: Do our thoughts shape our language or does our language shape our thoughts? What follows is some incredible thought into this question.
    He speculates that “all observers are not led by the same physical evidence to the same picture of the universe, unless their linguistic backgrounds are similar, or in some way can be calibrated.”
    Whorf wrote of two distinct language groups. One of these is linear, involving time and space, with subject-predicate form of language. These are generally Indo-European language groups. The other language group is holistic and cannot be gauged by the same measures as Indo-European. These language groups include Native American, African, Chinese and many others. People born with genetic make up from these language groups are predetermined to see the world through that language make up.
    Take for instance, physics. A person of Native American genetics, who thinks holistically, has an intuitive understanding of physics. However, a person of Indo-European genetics, who thinks linearly, must have the language of mathematics to understand physics.

    • Zaia says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Zande, I was unaware of the essay but will definitely look it up to read. I myself speak multiple languages fluently, although they are all European languages. However, I am also a musician. Music I believe is another language and is universal. It can be practised linearly, but it can also be practised holistically. Food or future thought! Thanks again for contributing your information!

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