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

With you, Larry, and Jay Lemke from recent conversations, one such burning
question is a "feeling-ful" framework for understanding activity.  How much
terra incognita is there here?  Others?


On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 9:11 AM, Ivan Rosero <irosero@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> 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
> comments.
> 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?
> Ivan
> 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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