T. Givón

Coherence, connectivity and the fitting together of smaller parts into larger structures and a coherent whole is the hallmark of complex biologically-based systems. As a structure-internal constraint, coherence makes it possible for the parts to work together as a whole. As an external constraint, it lets complex system evolve and adapt to novel contexts. As a constraint on information processing, it makes new knowledge accessible to the maturing, learning or evolving mind-brain. As a constraint on cultures, it enables members of social groups to be empathic and cooperative. As a constraint on language and communication, lastly, it allows the mind of speakers to be accessible to the mind of hearers.Part I explores first the role of coherence in the evolution of complex biological design, from precellular to mono-cellular to multi-cellular to multi-organ sentient beings. The complex hierarchic design of the mind-brain is explored next, probing the coherent organization of major brain systems—perception, attention, motor control, memory and language. In surveying the coherence of cultures next, the first-evolved Society of Intimates is viewed as the model for social cohesion, empathy, trust and cooperation. Part II deals with language and communication, touching upon the coherent organization of semantic memory, event clauses and clause chains, and the central role of grammar in coherent communication. Part III deals with three general issues. First, the role of coherence in organized science. Second, the eternal seesaw of selfish vs. social motivation in coherently functioning cultures. And last, the frail balance between homogeneity diversity in large-scale Societies of Strangers.

John Benjamins Publishing Company
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