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Re: [xmca] Space, neighbourhood, dwelling in, in*formation as notions with a "family resemblance"

Hello Larry,

Hopefully as a new post we can get others' wisdom on the Rayner article and
further discussion on the connections you're drawing.  Thanks for your

There seem to be countless ways in our neck of the woods to reassert the
problems with dualistic views of mind and subjectivity.  It's not until I
try to discuss these things with people outside our neck of the woods that I
(as subject, as L.W. would say) realize how thickly we here in-dwell in
anti-dualism, even as we experience countless ways to disagree about this.
 Mike often expresses to me the hope that xmca can build more lastingly on
intense moments of discussion such as the one that this latest "new" post is
a part of.  You've been pushing hard for us to consider more tightly the
links among a number of thinkers, expressed once again here:


'This is a shift FROM dualism TO a philosophy of EXPERIENCE & EXPRESSION.
The theme Donna Orange, John Shotter, Merleau-Ponty, Charles Taylor, Rayner
 and others are exploring and bringing into the world as an alternative to
the "natural exclusion" narrative.'


Mike has been reading Ingold recently, and everyday it seems he mentions
some enticing line of inquiry which Ingold's views in "Being Alive" bring to
mind.  About materials and not merely "materiality", space, the
"environment", and many many more that overlap overwhelmingly with your
lines of inquiry Larry.  Consider just this paragraph of Ingold's:

In Chapter 6, I return to the perennial problem of what it means to speak of
the environment  of an animal or, more particularly, of a human being. To
avoid the contradictions entailed in assuming that human environmental
relations are mediated by systems of symbolic meaning  – with its absurd
corollary that non-human animals inhabit meaningless worlds – I consider
 the sources of environmental meaning for non-humans and their possible
availability to  humans as well. In psychology, James Gibson’s theory of
affordances offers one possible  approach, though it is ultimately found to
privilege the environment as a site of meaning  vis-à-vis its inhabitants,
whether human or non-human. In ethology, Jakob von Uexküll’s  theory of the
Umwelt suggests, quite to the contrary, that meaning is bestowed by the
organism  on its environment. In philosophy, and following von Uexküll’s
lead, Martin Heidegger drew  a sharp distinction between the animal’s
‘captivation’ in its Umwelt and the way the world is  disclosed, or opened
up, to human beings. But the animal’s captivation also implies a sense  of
openness, in the manner in which its life flows along lines comparable – in
von Uexküll’s  terms – to those of polyphonic music. This sense has been
taken up in the philosophy of  Gilles Deleuze. The living organism, for
Deleuze, is a bundle of lines, a haecceity. Critically,  these lines do not
connect points but pass forever amidst and between. Considering the way  in
which this idea has been taken up in so-called actor-network theory,
particularly associated  with the work of Bruno Latour, I return to the
importance of distinguishing the network as  a set of interconnected points
from the meshwork as an interweaving of lines. Every such line  describes a
flow of material substance in a space that is topologically fluid. I
conclude that the  organism (animal or human) should be understood not as a
bounded entity surrounded by  an environment but as an unbounded
entanglement of lines in fluid space. (p. 64, Being Alive)


AND, for kicks, how about the following xmca post, by Jay Lemke, from 1998,
in particular the second paragraph:

 In thread "microcosm vs. hierarchy; units of analysis" (3), created
1998-09-17 19:46:58, by Jay Lemke

 Bruce Robinson raises a very interesting aspect of vygotsky's views that
seems to me relevant to a deeper consideration of issues of units of
analysis and scales of organization and phenomena. Our usual view, and the
one that undergirds reductionism (but certainly does not require it), is
that the relationship between more macro-scale and more micro-scale units of
analysis and phenomena is one of constituency: the smaller faster goings-on
are somehow parts of the larger slower ones. This fits with our tendency to
find spatial relationship metaphors more intuitive than other kinds (perhaps
part of our phylogenetic heritage, perhaps just a historically specific
cultural bias). The image is russian dolls, the little ones inside the
bigger ones, except that we usually imagine, as with cellular to organismic
organizational hierarchy in anatomy, that there are a lot of smaller ones
making up each bigger one. But there is another semantic relationship
possible here that we also believe in but which gets lost in the spatialized
view, and this is represented by vygotsky's suggestion that social
psychology and indeed sociology can begin from the individual, because the
individual is a microcosm of society. We find this notion also in Bakhtin,
that individuals articulate and ventriloquate many social voices that
ideally represent social viewpoints and positions in which they may or may
not participate: the whole social heteroglossia is implicit in the
dialogicity of the utterance. The Dostoyevskyan novel is an orchestration,
and so also an artistic microcosm, of the society in which and of which D.
writes. Note that in this interpretation, the individual is a microcosm of
the society most fundamentally NOT in being a map or representation of it,
but in being an instance and a product of it. This semantics of
instantiation, or of the indexical sign relation, gives quite a different
view of the relation of the individual and the social. Not least, the
individual, or the event, or the text, as an instance of a larger social
system and social meaning system, inherits properties from that larger
system.  The system now is in some sense a generalization over its instances
(rather than a composition from its parts), and instances do not have to
seem as limited as they do in the whole-part way of talking. Our usual view
of a part is that it cannot share many characteristics with the whole; so we
imagine that the whole is either aggregated from diverse parts
(reductionism) or that it is entirely and uniquely emergent with its own
properties that cannot exist in the parts (extreme emergentism, perhaps
Durkheim's view in the heat of rhetoric).

But the whole-part view is only part of the story; we also need the
system-instance view. Each person, event, text is an instance of a social
order, a culture, a language. We bear the traces of our times, our places,
our relationships on many scales. We are examples and products of the larger
scale systems as well as parts of them, and as such we embody (our ways of
participating in and making activities _instance_) not just ONE PART of the
larger system, but many typical phenomena that are inherently relational in
character and so index OTHER parts of the larger system.  Like Leibniz'
monads, we are not isolated atoms, but we reflect one another: my gender
makes no sense apart from a system of genders, my social class habitus
implies other class habitus, my utterance implies an addressee, my rhetoric
implies others' viewpoints, etc. Like the hologram metaphor for brain
function (Pribram), each element, by deriving its nature from its
connections to other elements, speaks (if less distinctly) of the whole. In
Latour's actant-network epistemology, each actant is only defined through
its network of relations, and not ever prior to or outside all networks; and
so to know an actant (an individual, a text, an event) is to know it
in-the-whole (on some scale, perhaps to some degree on every scale of whole)
and from-the-whole, and so as monad or microcosm. This view also implies, of
course, in complementary fashion that we cannot know the individual if we do
not understand the society ... much as Jerry Bruner concludes that you can't
say you know the individual as an individual unless you know him/her both as
instance of a culture, an epoch, a place, a family, and, perhaps only
finally, as unique. JAY.


I am in the beginning phases of my dissertation writing.  I've been
wrestling, like we all seem to do here at various time, with the question of
what is in what, of in*formation of mind, subjectivity, activity, and
learning.  But I'm not wrestling with these questions for lack of tools and
conceptual apparatuses, quite the contrary.  I'm wrestling with them because
I would like to communicate my experience in doing my research not in "new"
terms, but in in*formative ways to this (and other) communities.  Perhaps
more to other communities than to this one.

What are those "living things" that we younger generation can inhabit today
that can inform others in inviting/inclusionary ways?  Can you all give us a
list of "burning questions" to which we can address our research
productively, and also use as guides to find "topologically fluid spaces"
that we would all be happy to dwell in?


On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 5:49 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Ivan
> You wrote, "what is had/felt/done/thought "in" what is, after all, CENTRAL
> to our enterprise here.
> When you put it that way, it moves me to take up your suggestion that this
> theme, with family resemblances, probably belongs in a new post.
> To start the post I've copied your last comments:
> PS (This probably belongs in a separate post, but I think that in*formation
> and dwelling-in, and some other evocative notions that have sprouted here
> on
> xmca in recent months can be connected to "space" as it appears here, and
> to
> experience.  What is had/felt/done/thought "in" what is, after all, central
> to our enterprise here.  I've attached an article I shared with Mike, who
> suggested I share with you, *Alan David Rayner (2011) Space Cannot Be
> Cut—Why Self-Identity Naturally Includes Neighbourhood* , which appeared
> recently in Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science.  It
> problematizes, in my opinion, the distinction between individual and
> collective experience, by way of the notion that any identity (and other
> things besides) "naturally include" a "neighborhood" which identity
> includes
> in itself and in which it is included at the same time.  The abstract is
> below.)
> Ivan, I think this general theme of identity withIN neighbourhoods
> [Rayner's
> phrase] that points to a radically different notion of natural INclusion is
> also relevant to the contrasting notions of "context" or "con-text" as
> notions of "surround" or notions of "interweaving" that Mike discusses.
> To add to this line of inquiry, I'm going to bring in Wittgenstein's
> thoughts on "subjectivity"  Wittgenstein thought we confused the use of "I"
> as object [the container of mental representations] with "I" as subject.
> Donna Orange points out that Wittgenstein saw subject I as a limit of the
> world, not an ITEM within it. Donna Orange, in translating Wittgenstein's
> perspetive, writes,
> "Just as the physical eye cannot exist within its own visual field, but
> precisely LIMITS this field, the subjective I is not an existing thing, an
> object... He [Wittgenstein] needed to deny subjectivity an objective
> existence in the world in order to save it AS SUBJECTIVITY." [Donna Orange}
> Donna then quotes Wittgenstein directly,
> "There are two different cases in the use of the word "I" ( or "my") which
> I
> might call the "the USES as object" and "the USES as subject" [Wittgenstein
> in the Blue book 1930]
> Examples of the first kind are 'my arm is broken' or 'the wind blows my
> hair
> about'.  Examples of the second kind are 'I SEE so-and-so', 'I HEAR
> so-and-so', 'I THINK it will rain'.
> These examples point to the objectifying language games that tends to
> obscure the subjective "I". Scientific language games of describing events
> objectively are one type of language game that obscures subjectivity.
>  Wittgenstein points out that "I" and "L.W." are not the same. In other
> words,  "I" and "L.W." exist in different language games. However,
> "subjectivity" as a limit on the field [consciousness] DOES exist as
> eperience and expression. When "disclosed" to others dialogically, the
> other
> can alternatively be experienced objectively [as an object in an
> I-IT con-text] or alternatively the other can be experiencd withIN an
> "I-YOU" con-text.  As Buber points out we may exist most of the time in
> I-IT contexts but it is the I-YOU dialogical experiences and expressions
> which give life a felt sense of vitality and aliveness. Taylor would say
> the
> disclosive realm grounds the giving and asking for reasons. Shotter would
> express this felt movement as "con-scientia"
> Donna Orange summarizes by pointing out that subjectivity is neither
> interiority or exteriority, but LIFE IN THE WORLD [Ingold's steps to an
> ecology of life as dwelling in]  This is a shift from talking about
> interiority or exteriority to talking about  "living and speaking withIN
> what Wittgenstein referred to as 'forms of life' "
> This is a shift FROM dualism TO a philosophy of EXPERIENCE & EXPRESSION.
> The
> theme Donna Orange, John Shotter, Merleau-Ponty, Charles Taylor, Rayner
>  and
> others are exploring and bringing into the world as an alternative to the
> "natural exclusion" narrative. From this perspective "representational"
> descriptions and understandings are DERIVED FROM experience and expression
> that is always dialogical and interweaves withIN neighbourhoods or
> con-texts
> or life worlds.
> Ivan
> I want to end by returning to your phrase "what is had/felt/donethought
> 'in'
> what is", as the CENTRAL enterprise in which we are engaged. tThe "had"
> "done" "thought" often oershadow the "felt" in our narratives. Framing the
> "felt" as movement, engagement, expression brings this fouth aspect of the
> world back to the neighbourhood.
> Larry
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