Words and language are but a virus preying upon our brains from birth.
Exploring Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back, we’re left with a peculiar takeaway; words and language are but a virus preying upon our brains from birth. However, this virus is symbiotic and the backbone of human culture–and culture is the foundation of our intelligence.
On the surface, language seems to mimic top-down intelligent design. We humans are the creator of our language so therefore we are in control of it. However, Dennett inverts the paradigm and ties the phenomenon to evolution, demonstrating how language is as organic as natural selection. “Children acquire this natural language by a quasi-Darwinian process, achieving the competences that are the foundation for comprehension by a process that is competent without comprehension” (197). The child becomes immersed in language from birth and bootstraps themselves into comprehension through a massive and unconscious process of trial and error (197).