chapter  7
27 Pages

The Big S ≈ Symbol

ByWilliam C. Frederick

In common usage, symbols stand for something. A national flag—the United States Stars and Stripes, for example—is a symbol of the nation and what it stands for and how it is distinguished from other nations whose flags carry their own distinctive symbolic meaning for their citizens. All symbols are supported by, and take their meaning from, an underlying infrastructure composed of organism–ecosystem interactions. Imaged symbols, one and all, bubbling up from a natural understory of organism–ecosystem linkages. Another organic source of symbol generation is found in the rhythmic and cyclic nature of Homo life. So, too, do natural cycles—another rhythmic beat of sorts—give rise to other symbolic meanings. Symbols are brain/neural/cognitive phenomena. Scientific research and opinion are divided about when, where, and why human language evolved, but few doubt its central importance as the key feature of human symbolic behavior. A generative, creative power resides in both tools and symbols: new tools and new symbols are continuously generated.