Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hand Positions

"Hand positions antcipate habitual possibilities of movement and prevention of movement," Morris writes. Not merely positions of the body, they "already anticipate their crossing into the world" (Sense, p. 50). Morris' discussion of the body schema as developed from Merleau-Ponty's philosophy focuses on this crossing of body and world. At one point he defines the body schema as being in "body-world movement itself" (p. 45). It is an emergent phenomenon, perhaps neither transcendent nor imminent in any complete and proper sense. I find Morris's discussion quite engaging. However, I am beginning to question whether an equality of body and world is implied in the chiasm, or in the co-arising of body and world. Perhaps embodiment means something like a lived instability, a disequilibrium that can't be shaken from what it is to execute a style of movement, or to "sculpt perception from the given," (p. 43), an act that, according to Morris, requires a dynamic crossing and a prior shaping. Is this prior shaping governed by the world? By the chiasm? Morris rightly explains that phenomenology teaches that any relation between what is visited upon the body and what is experienced has to do with meaning of the lived body, and this meaning is necessarily both habitual and anticipatory (p. 49). Does the world construct meaning just as I do, or am I, animal that I am, privileged in some way in the field of meaning? (One tends not to notice one's own privilege, and not to want to.) Is touching on par with being touched? Does the dynamism of a rock deserve a different name from the dynamism of animals, or from the dynamism of speech? Is any "physical" reality marked by a heterogeneity of forces?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 4:30 AM.


OpenID kvond said...

Yak: "Is touching on par with being touched? Does the dynamism of a rock deserve a different name from the dynamism of animals, or from the dynamism of speech?"

Kvond: When we touch we often forget that we are being touched. The current of what is actually happening is deeper than we think. And I was walking with a friend in the woods some years ago, it was a cold, first-of-Winter day, and there are a great number of boulders on the path near my house. He said, "When its cold like this, the rocks come out". To this day I know exactly what he means by this, but could never really express or explain it. Is this "coming out" of the rocks an illusion of my phenonomenal, animal self? Or something the rocks are really dynamically doing? I think to parse the question that way is a mistake.

August 19, 2009 7:54 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Paradoxically our thoughts are often deeper than the current of actuality and at the same time we are beholden to primitive ways of thought that inhibit our perception, or shape the apperceptions which give actuality its meaning in such a way as to conceal the power to give meaning. I don't really suppose rocks have anything like apperceptive schemata, nothing like what raccoons have, for instance, who navigate almost solely be a refined sense of touch. That makes a notable difference between the nature of animals and the nature of rocks in my opinion--and as long as the idea of the schema retains some descriptive value I'm in favor of using it. Your friend's intuition sounds right but I'm feeling that it represents more a sense of the organism's habitat (or the self's world, at the extreme) rather than an intuition into the pure being of rocks, much less everything that is. The way rocks are for us they come out when it's cold. However, I'm not completely sold on the position I'm taking.

Nice to hear from you, Kvond.

August 19, 2009 2:41 PM  
OpenID kvond said...

Yak: "The way rocks are for us they come out when it's cold"

Kvond: I believe this is incorrect, and a product of Platonic/Phenomenological preoccupations. When indeed if ever there is a pattern which connects, there ultimately is no "for us". The "comming out" is the lived inter-relation, the property, if you will, BETWEEN us and them, such that one can never say whether it is for us or for them. I see a bit of Naess here.

As to apperception, I find such Kantian imaginations deceptively descriptive. I don't know what it means for a raccoon to appercept a rock, other than me imagining a bunch of things about racoons and their experiences. "Schema" here is an slippery metaphor which invited unbecoming concept of mind. But it seems that we are forever divided upon whether animals (and then humans) form a kingdom within a kindom or not.

August 19, 2009 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rocks. What rocks?

August 20, 2009 2:02 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

The rocks that geologists study.

August 20, 2009 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, the exposed hard material of the earth's crust. I was just musing that in a way there aren't any indiv rocks - one fungible material.
Just like there aren't any mountains indep of our distinctions (where does the mountain begin)

I can see someone kicking a rock and saying I refute you thus!

The fascist druid used to go on about the 'world poor' lizard lying on the 'worldless rock' which wasn't lying on the ground...(partly becos it's part of the crust - partly cos it can't lie on anything).
Anyway, rocks have a privileged place in the hist of phil. Maybe this a problem - we should have more hobbies and go for walks when the rocks come out.

August 20, 2009 1:15 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

:-) Not a bad point. It strikes me that the geologists have a firmer grip on their subject matter (rocks) than the biologists do on theirs, yet I would scarcely say that the life sciences lacked sophistication.

We can observe a raccoon discern between a rock and a clam, or we imagine such discernment in a more or less highly technical way. Do we rightly suppose that a raccoon knows what a rock is? It "knows" enough not to eat rocks. By such a measure of knowledge omnivores are less poor in world than dietary specialists. Yet surely there is more to life than eating.

One philosopher whom I have read argues that rocks have feelings. How's that for a hypertrophic privileging of rocks!

Trophic dynamics may provide a key reason why the existence of the object "for us" makes more intuitive sense than positing the existence of an us (a meta-us?) between us and the object. Perhaps though I'm being too simplistic in my objection to the equanimity of the chiasm.

August 20, 2009 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this way, all that every existentiality does by herself in nature,
whether initiating or not evident bodily behavior, is reclustering her focus of
attention. Aboutness, the attentionally optional reference to certain responsively
varying entities rather than to others, is thus intrinsic to the functioning,
development, and use of that relevancies-anchored model. Their cognizance
of themselves, although incomplete, allows these existentialities to
know this model and then, as they grow up, to refine it. So they distinguish
Electroneurobiología vol. 7 (2), pp. 81-116, 2000
a diversity of encompassing things in terms of which specific combination,
of semovient actions, in similar circumstances maps again those outer
things (or "conserves" them, as in Piagetian object permanence) in the
mind's unelapsing ontic consistency.
This feature-ascertaining "classification" yields "classes" of encounters,
relating each new individual encounter with the already objectified and
categorized surrounding things. This turns new sensations into perceptions,
turning sentient intelligences into percipient agencies. Let me give some illustrations.
The largest thing in the solar system, Jupiter's magnetosphere
(ten times the width of the sun), was only recognized in quite recent times
and by means of actions performed by instruments journeying to the thing,
unseen when one simply gazes at Jupiter. It instances a class (or "concept")
whose previously encountered samples were smaller. Nut kernels, instead,
are more straightforwardly recognized, as what appears whenever cracking
open an instance of the appropriate class of woody shells. Yet in both cases
the notion is established by the appropriate courses of semovient causal actions
("nut cracking" and "Jupiter probe-sending") and the sensual intonations
that these actions generate in return; Platonic contemplation does not
infuse knowledge. Along these lines, to achieve the mentioned transference
of the problem-solving function from one agency to another (that is, from
species-specific preadaptations, such as those of oysters, to individual finite
existentialities circumstanced in individual organisms), these finite existentialities
or minds are either sensually allured or sensually discouraged for
keeping or varying their courses of semovient action on recognized things.
In this way these existentialities are instigated to turn accidental encounters
into opportunities for their general programmings set up in terms of seducing
or deterring sensational states – for example, to optimally profit from
occasions to nourish, reproduce, and protect themselves as well as kith and
kin. Thus their semovience and their ontic intonability, the two gnoseologically
apprehended, are used as an instrument to bring extra entropic gain to
the biospheric process – an extra "reddening" to further dim the otherwisesilvery

So evolution selects the formation of animal bodies that allow minds
to attain adaptive intellectual development, that is, to become clever as the
individual grows up; not unrestrictedly clever, but just as much as is required
for proficiently leading such bodies, in their specific circumstances,
into their functions of relation. That is to say, evolution selects the formation
of such animal bodies that make these minds know and semoviently
address those differentiations of their own reality that may be developmentally
made to include references to those outer things biologically relevant in
their specific situation. (In contrast, recognizing objects such as Jupiter's
magnetosphere was biologically unimportant for our ancestors, or for the
ancestors of whales and dolphins, which acquired their own important increment
in brain mass, in proportion to body weight, before our ancestors
did: cetaceans acquired it some 35 million years ago.)
planetary shine. (Crocco, Palindrome)

August 20, 2009 11:57 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

That's pretty cool.

August 21, 2009 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's your french? I stumbled upon this site which has vids of everyone - Including Stengers

The last 2 words 'planetary shine' should have ended the penultimate para.
There are connections with Schrodinger's 'What is Life' - on the Web.

“Thus a living organism continually increases

its entropy -or, as you may say, produces

positive entropy -and thus tends to approach the

dangerous state of maximum entropy, which

is of death. It can only keep aloof from it, i.e.

alive, by continually drawing from its

environment negative entropy -which is

something very positive as we shall immediately

see. What an organism feeds upon is negative

entropy. Or, to put it less paradoxically, the

essential thing in metabolism is that the

organism succeeds in freeing itself from all the

entropy it cannot help producing while alive.

Thus the device by which an organism

maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of

he orderliness ( = fairly low level of entropy)

really consists continually sucking orderliness

from its environment. This conclusion is less

paradoxical than it appears at first sight. Rather

could it be blamed for triviality. Indeed, in the

case of higher animals we know the kind of

orderliness they feed upon well enough, viz. the

extremely well-ordered state of matter in more or

less complicated organic compounds, which

serve them as foodstuffs. After utilizing it they

return it in a very much degraded form -not

entirely degraded, however, for plants can still

make use of it. (These, of course, have their most

power supply of ‘negative entropy’ the sunlight).” (Schrodinger).

August 22, 2009 7:45 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

There's a lot to be said for metabolism. Re rocks, Barbaras writes (summarizing Merleau-Ponty) that there aren't things but divergences, accents and 'ephemeral modulations' of the world. Some tripping on Simondon going on, individuation as "ultimate moment." Is uniqueness transductive? So much to think about.

August 28, 2009 1:04 PM  

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