Pavel Bělíček

 

Pavel Bělíček

 

Born

29th December 1946
Seninka near Vsetín, Czechoslovakia

Occupation

linguist, literary historian, publisher

Nationality

Czech

 

Pavel Bělíček ( [ˈpavɛl ˈbeliːʧɛk]; * 29th December 1946 at Seninka)

is a Czech linguist, literary historian and poet, an editor-in-chief of the Urania Publishers.

Contents

Life Career

Born in Seninka near Vsetín, he undertook studies in English philology and in 1969 graduated at the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University in Olomouc. There he also took degree of PhDr in English in 1988. He spent most of his professional career as a senior lecturer at Charles University in Prague, He specialised in lecturing on English theoretical linguistics in teacher-training studies, ESP to students of Charles University and philosophy to foreign students. From 1971 he has resided with his wife Hana and sons Pavel and Tomáš in Prague.

He has published over fifty books in Czech and English on mathematical and comparative linguistics, historical poetics, literary history, literary theory, humanities, semantics and philosophy.

Literary Activities

In his youth he cooperated with the painter Jan Kratochvíl (1941–1997) and founded a literary group of proprealists. They wrote dramas of “stageless theatre with two opposed auditoria“ . In their vanguard performance Hra na Ježíše (1967) they anticipated a number of scenic reforms advocated independently by Handke‘s project of „total theatre“. They developed a poetics of Breughel’s humoristic realism and Bosch’s philosophy of robotic homunculi affiliated with movies directed by M. Forman and J. Papoušek. This artististic direction drew inspiration from theoretical instigations of contemporary movements of New Figuration, conceptualism, hyperrealism and pop-art. Its undetachable part was formed by Kratochvíl’s project of categorematics endeavouring to render a formal axiomatisation of art theory employing ideas of Kenneth Pike and Noam Chomsky.

Scientific Activities

In his linguistic studies he drew from Lakoff’s generative semantics and H. Bendix’s componential analysis of the English word-stock. In his conceptualist and categorematical approach to linguistics he supported ideas of G. N. Leech’s semantics and developed D. A. Wilkins’s project of Notional Syllabus. In order to follow his trend in linguistic thought he founded the language-training institute Wilkins Language School. In his Handbook of English Semantics (1988). In the theoretical study English Semantics (2005) he elaborated the outlines of conceptual algebra based on the algebraic description of the English word-stock. complemented by an integral formalisation of grammar. His theory defines formal transformations and conceptual categories of natural languages by means of semantic equations as follows:

to learn = to begin to know = cease not to know

to remember = to continue to know = not to forget

to forget = to cease to know = to begin not to know

Such an apparatus provided a powerful tool of deciphering, rewriting and restructuring texts in natural languages. It employed algebraic symbols with diacritics denoting several types of negation: dual negation in veil – unveil or go – stay, quadral negation in must – may (modal logic), make – let (causative logic), certainty – possibility (epistemic logic), learnremember (cognitive logic) or begin – continue (phasal logic) and octal negation in shall – will or want – agree. Its wide applications are seen in organising data-bases and semantic programming (Prolog, SOP, concept-oriented programming).

From 1991 he coordinated a grant on programming in natural languages whose output was a series of software appliances that executed tasks assigned in commands such as “Draw a small yellow triangle and put it into the right upper corner of the desktop.” His method of decomposing English vocabulary and the algebraisation of English grammar is referred to as notional calculus, algebraic semantics or conceptual logic. It developed ideas of R. Carnap, C. I. Lewis and W. Quine concerning modal logic but translated their achievements into the formal models of relational algebras.

Literary, Philosophical and Cultural History

Since the early 1970s Pavel Bělíček has undertaken enquiries into the classification and morphology of literary and cultural trends. The first output was an outline of the evolutionary genesis of genres of oral folklore given in his Historická poetika and its first volume Poetika folklóru (2001). It traced the origins of prehistoric folktales, hymns and songs from aboriginal and prehistoric tribes and arrived at the conclusion that their cultural mythology had developed in at least four large ethnic stocks due to plant-gatherers and agriculturalists, hunters and pastoralists, nomadic fishermen and Lapponoid (Pygmoid) tribes. An accomplished systematics of the comparative classification of literary trends and prosodic foundations of poetic versification was proposed in three volumes of his Encyklopedie soustavné literární vědy (2011). Its scope concerned all literatures and prosodic traditions all over the world and formulated general outlines of human ‘prosodogenesis’ and ‘poetogenesis’. His results will appear in the forthcoming literary encyclopaedia Systematic Poetics I-III written in English.

His primary interest was in English and American literature but as a graduated Bohemist he devised also a four-volumed compendium Dějiny české literatury v statistických grafech a tabulkách (2011). These extensive studies were all appended by detailed chronological timelines of recapitulating a statistic evaluation of literary trends counted according to the number of genres of literary artworks during every year. This statistic method made it possible to discover the dependency of cultural styles in literature, religion, philosophy upon standard cycles of market development. In analogy to researches of econometry and Konjunkturforschung it could formulate “periodic laws” of literary and cultural development and lay rudimentary foundations of ‘cultural ideometry’ and ‘poetometry’. Parallel trends in philosophy and aesthetic thought were traced in his Dějiny literární estetiky I–III (2001, 2009) and A History of Classic Philosophy (1993). Such detailed chronological maps of literary and philosophical growth were arranged in fields of ancient Greek, Roman and medieval literature and in the history of English, American, French, German and Czech literary history. Their chief conclusion suggested that literary growth in most world literatures repeats successions of classicism, elegism, civilism, intimism, formalism, realism, traditionalism, spiritualism, esoterism and heroism in meaningful correlation to market booms. It revolves in circular vortices and helices driven by such gushes in the distribution of economic wealth as centralisation, consumerisation, privatisation and corporativisation. His ‘periodical tables’ and chronological maps make it possible to draft out a ‘systematic evolutionary taxonomy of literary and cultural species’ in a way similar to Mendeleev’s periodic tables of chemical elements.

Comparative Linguistics and Ethnology

Transition from systematic biology to systematic culturology is undermined by wide gaps yawning in the fields of anthropology, ethnology and comparative linguistics. His interest in the Nostratic Hypothesis led him to fill such gaps by comparing similar typological patterns in all prehistoric sciences. The most reliable evidence was found in categories of Acheulian, Levalloisian, Mousterian or Gravettian archaeology that have to correspond to the stocks of Bantoid, Altaic, Europoid and Lapponoid nations. His synthetic considerations resulted in publishing the voluminous study Prehistoric Dialects I-II (2001), whose principal objective was to sketch a comparative survey of all world language families and develop current linguistic typology into an integral outline of human glottogenesis. His theory of linguistic prehistory presupposes the growth of Levalloisian and Aurignacian flake-tool cultures into stocks of Tungusoid and Pelasgoid languages and the dispersal of Magdalenian and Maglemosian microlith peoples into Turcoid, Khmeroid, Cimbroid and Hebroid language families. These tribes of nomadic fishermen had a brotherly moiety in Mousterian big-game hunters who exhibited a similar type of Altaic agglutination. Their progeny fell into branches of Scythoid, Abkhazoid and Bascoid Megalith builders akin to the nationality of Uraloid and Sarmatoid languages. These flake-tool cultures were opposed by chopping-tools and hand-axe industry elaborated by the equatorial races of plant-gatherers. Their first wave gave rise to Bantu, Australian and Melanesian groups with a system of prefixing classifiers and prenasalised stops mb-, nd- and ng-. Later waves mixed these tongues with the family of Caucasoid agriculturalist that contributed a lot to mixed Indo-European populations with inflectional morphology. An independent branch is envisaged in Eurasian Lapponoid languages descending possibly from the eastern isolating type of morphology.

Bělíček conclusions corroborated the tenets of Nikolai Trubetzkoy’s Kettentheorie (chain theory) that refuted A. Schleicher’s and J. Schmidt’s ideas of large concentric realms of Ursprachen and confided in long-range linear typological chains documenting ancient colonisations. His linguistic genealogies were supported by toponymic studies tracking the distribution of tribal ethnonyms in close relation to archaeological migrations. Detailed maps of tribal prehistoric routes made it possible to found a new subdiscipline of toponymy called ‘linguistic archaeology’.

Manifestos

Pavel Bělíček has never been a member of a political party but he cannot help joining the side of rational evolutionary science in its strife with pseudoscientific irrationality. The latter looms as a tremendous menace in fundamentalism that does not flourish in Islamism but thrives on all continents. His comparative tables of western and eastern European literatures demonstrate that their countries had different political regimes and but exhibited a parallel development in similar cultural styles and patterns. His brosures developed an integral typology of social ideas denoted as ‘systematic ideology’. His brosures Postmoderní krize humanitních věd a úkoly jejich obnovy (2004) and Postmodern Irrationalism (2005) are conceived as Carl Jaspers’s Psychologie der Weltanschauungen (1921) and propose a systematic diagnostics of diseases of in scientific methodology. Their subtitle An Outline of the Systematic Psychopathology of Mental Disorders in Scientific Thought indicates that science is subdued to the same pressures of social ideology as morals, fashions and political views. The best antidote to extremist fundamentalism is provided by a detailed scientific diagnostics of all ideological current

Works

College textbooks in English

  • Úvodní kurs angličtiny pro posluchače matematicko-fyzikální fakulty. Praha: Karlova universita, SPN 1985, 2. vyd. 1989.
  • Handbook of English Semantics. Praha: Karlova universita, SPN 1988. [ A survey of semantic fields in English based on an algebraic calculus of semantic equations.]
  • A Manual of English Phonetics. Prague 1993, 184p., 2nd edition 2001.
  • An Introduction to Modern Linguistics. Prague: Urania 1992, 82p.
  • A Modern English Grammar. A Semantic Outline of English Morphology. Prague 1994, 375p., 2nd edition 2001.
  • A History of Classic Philosophy. Prague 1993, 179p.
  • Introducing Linguistics. Prague: Ústav jazykové a odborné přípravy, 2005.
  • Introduction to Phonetics. Prague: Ústav jazykové a odborné přípravy, 2005.

Literary history in Czech

  • Poetika folklóru – Etnogeneze žánrů ústní slovesnosti. Historická poetika I. Praha 2001, 212 stran [The Poetics of Oral Folklore. Historical Poetics I].
  • Dějiny literární estetiky I–III [The History of Literary Aesthetics].
    • I. Od antiky až po romantismus. Praha 2009, 390p.
    • II. Od romantismu po meziválečnou avantgardu. Praha 2004, 313p.
    • III. Od meziválečné avantgardy po postmodernu. Praha 2004, 309p. .
  • Dějiny české literatury v statistických grafech a tabulkách I-V [The History of Czech literature in Statistic Graphs and Tables].
    • I. Od počátků po baroko. Praha 2008, 358p.
    • II. Od baroka po májovce. Praha 2008, 360p.
    • III. Od májovců po poetismus. Praha 2008, 345p.
    • IV. Od poetismu do válečných let. Praha 2009, 381p.
  • Geneze levicové kritiky ve Spojených státech (1900–1940). Praha 2009, 381p. [The Genesis of Lef-Wing Criticism in the United States].
  • Dějiny marxistické estetiky. Praha 2008, 390p, [The History of Marxist Aesthetics].
  • Encyklopedie soustavné literární vědy I–IV. Praha 2011, [The Encyclopaedia of Systematic Literary Theory].
    • I. Literární teorie. Praha 2011, 347p.
    • II. Literární sociologie. Praha 2011, 327p.
    • III. Literární historie. Praha 2011, 342p.
    • IV. Literární poetika. Praha 2011, 374p.

Teoretical studies in English

  • Historical Perspectives of English Studies in Czech Humanities. Prague 2001, 105p. [Teoretický přehled problémů a perspektivních řešení moderní anglistiky.]
  • Australo-Negroid Languages. A Linguistic Survey of Negro-Australoid and Caucaso-Siouan Languages. Prague 1993. pp. 119–224.
  • Indo-European Languages. The Linguistic Prehistory of Indo-European Languages. Prague 1993, pp. 225–314.
  • Prehistoric Dialects I–II. 2001. 799p. (An outline of human glottogenesis and a comparative survey of all world language families.)
  • English Semantics. The Semantic Structure of Modern English. Prague 2005, 353p.
  • A Systematic Survey of Theoretical Mathematics. Prague 2009, 387p. (in cooperation with his son Tomáš Bělíček). [An attempt at a systematic philosophical propedeutics and an encyclopaedia of modern mathematics.]
  • Teoretické základy sociálních a politických věd. Praha 2001, 375p.

Poetry, Prose, Drama

literary pseudonyms Martin Kobalt and Josef Vodvaz

  • Holá duše : výbor z poezie. Praha 2008, 99s [The Bare Soul].
  • Vozataj slov : (výběr veršů z let 1972–1982). Praha 2007, 92p.
  • Totálka : ekologické balady z konce tisíciletí. Praha 2008, 86p. [The Total Smashup].
  • Baedeker přírodních krás : velké epické skladby. Praha 2009, 109p. [Baedeker of Natural Beauties. [A selection of longer epic compositions in the style of T. S. Eliot’s and E. Pound‘s poetry].
  • Orfeova plavba Zátokou mrtvých : dantovský sestup do hlubin věků. Praha 2012, 69 stran. [Orpheus’s Voyage Round the Bay of the Dead].
  • Josef Vodvaz (pseudonym): Apokalypsa sv. Purdocchia : tajná kronika Valachů. Praha 1995, 158 stran. [Joycean and Tolkienian humouristic novels aimed at a reconstruction of prehistoric Moravian mythology.]
  • Martin Kobalt, Jan Kratochvíl: Hra na Krista. Praha 2008, 76s. [A vanguard drama with two auditoriums and no fromtal stage in the wake of Peter Handke’s total theatre].

Manifestos

  • Postmoderní krize humanitních věd a úkoly jejich obnovy. Démokritos 2004, 96p.
  • Postmodern irrationalism in sciences and recovery from its diseases. Democritus Association 2005, 96p.
  • Towards a Reform of Modern University Studies. Ad reformandum universitatem. Democritus Association. Prague 2008, 198p.
  • Demotism. A Manifesto of the Democratic Left for the 21th Century. Prague: Zeroth International.

References

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Pavel Bělíček