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[xmca] Showing, Speaking, Knowing
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- Subject: [xmca] Showing, Speaking, Knowing
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- Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 06:31:39 -0700
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Martin and David Ke on another thread are exploring the relation of the
perceptual and language. David is suggesting a transformation historically
in Vygotsky's understanding of of the relation of gestalten [meaningful
gestalts] to language and thought.
On this topic Gregory wrote
As for Foucault, my reading of F is influenced by French speakers that I
have spoken to who say that when read in French, F. seem much more of a
humanist (and there must be a reason why he always has such a fantastically
large grin on his face! If he's a nihilist, he hardly seems like a
practicing one. Althusser, on the other hand...). It isn't clear to me how
much these Francophones were mining and/or what the context was that
provided for this reading, but they seemed very convincing. And when I was
teaching Foucault to an undergrad class after this, I was able to begin to
see this in his writing.
Anyway, I'm very grateful for this opportunity to engage with others with
similar interests - and many thanks for reading through my blah-blah-blah
(and then some).
I know little of Foucault but do know that his writings were in RESPONSE to
Merleau-Ponty's theory of the perceptual as ontological.
Foucault emphasizes how the interplay of discourse is primary.
Martin's and David's opening conversations on the relation of the perceptual
and language [both acknowledge the sociohistorical situatedess of existence]
as a central topic to explore and Gregory's reflection's on French thinking
seem to be on the same topic.
I will just add that Merleau-Ponty rejects the notion of 5 discrete senses,
each modularly contributing its own specific inputs to build up a gestalt
construction FROM the 5 discrete senses. For M-P the living body
simultaneously FORMS perspectives from the intersensual coordination of the
body as flesh. Describing the 5 distinct senses for M-P is a derivative 2nd
order understanding of a previously formed body perspective. The eyes,
ears, skin, as BODY experience the world simultaneously. M-P says if we use
only one sense to grasp the world it is experienced as a phantom. [if we
hear the wind but do not feel it or see the leaves blowing we question if
its imaginal rather than actual. The actual is INTERsensory bodily grasped.
The relation of "mind as body" going out and grasping the world
perceptually, and this movement's relation to language and how these
processes transform perspectives in figure/ground forms of recognition I
hope will be explored further by Martin, David, and others.
Gregory, I appreciate your reflections on recognition as ontological [and
not merely a subjective search for identity] The search for recognition has
a particular intensity in our current historical moment in time. The danger
is that this search can accentuate and deepen the crisis we are trying to
transform, if it is seen as an individual search for SELF-expression
[Charles Taylor's insight] I am also interested in the day to day, moment
by moment, transformation in perspectves and forms of recognition [as
I want to give a simple example from my work that captures the possibilities
of this way of reflecting:
Three girls in grade 4 come in with a conflict from the lunch hour. The
discussion is very intensely going back and forth in a heated "She did
this, No, you said that", accusatory argument.
I ask the girls if they were "friends" before this "problem"
They answer, "Yes"
I then reframe that we are dealing with "friends" who have a difficulty.
Next, I ask them to DESCRIBE what they did as friends BEFORE the difficulty.
They start to describe how they like playing tag.
I then ask them to describe in detail the type of tag which they do. [deepen
[the next move on my part is significant]
I now ask the girls if they can SHOW ME [Merleau-Ponty] how they play tag
when they don't have the problem.
This move to "showing" [we actually go out onto the playground and they
actually play tag] is often transformative at a BODILY level. They start
to giggle, have fun [which I recognize is a result of my containing or
"holding" the intersubjective third space open for possibilities].
Now we go back into the school and talk about the "problem". However the
setting for discusion has been transformed and the girls are OPEN and freely
NEGOTIATING their differences and each is recognizing the needs of the
The transformative shift I believe was the SHOWING, not the telling. I as
the adult contained or "held" the intensity of emotion until it could be
transformed. Over time and guidance in these zones of proximal development,
the girls learn to take each others perspectives and develop DERIVATIVE
reasons and tellings ABOUT these situations.
Now, there are multiple ways to EXPLAIN why my intervention was "successful"
[from my ethical perspective] and I believe developmental. The particular
version of "reasons why" are derivative and inherently multiple. No reason
can fully contain or reflect the lived experience. However, with
Merleau-Ponty, I suspect the SHOWING [what I have discussed as MARKING] may
be a central factor.
A last passing thought. Merleau-Ponty discusses the relation between the
personal and the biological [sedimintation] as a process of
transformation.. Learning to ride a bike becomes incorporated into and
changes the biological sedimentation of the body. This sedimentation is the
formation of habits or ways of being in the world, expressed through the
body as the body grasps the world.
My example of recognition with the 3 girls is also, if repeated many times,
slowly sedimented in the body as habits of the body [and metaphorically as
habits of the heart]
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