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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance [Because I say so]



Hi David!

Please know I do regret the form of my past post and I was a bit in anguish about it after it left my email client. I'm sorry for not being tidier in my delivery!

Let it suffice to say that I was using your email not only as a point of departure for content but also structure. Unfortunately the reification of email posts on listservs do not always coincide with thinking and typing, which tends to focus on words, grammar, and punctuation, rather than in headings and, in my case, chapters! The way I had divided the email did not maintain in the display on the list, so I can't know how formatting will end up interfering in how you might view it.

Much of what you say about simple and complex thinking and how we make our assignments of what they are resonates for me. I admit that perhaps associations that come with these two words (simple & complex) are not so easy to untangle, as you have so aptly pointed out with complexity theory at Santa Fe Institute and your bowl of fruit. 

Still, I don't think your bowl of fruit generates as a bowl of fruit, that, as a bowl of fruit, it generates far removed from where the fruit generates. I was referring to environment in terms of nature and how we might enjoy and experience nature in unmediated form. I do not mean we have to rid the world of supermarkets, or that you should be forced to forfeit your bowl of fruit by planting fruit trees in your back yard, if you were to even have a backyard. I am pointing to what it is like to want fruit and to pick it off the tree and then eat it.

Conversation can be a way to one's own experience. Especially pertaining to what I might be taking for granted in my thinking, which is not always easy to know in solitude while cogitating alone. But if I am connecting to my experience too strongly to make it seem I am speaking for all experiences, that isn't my intention, but rather it is to say "this is what it is like for me" knowing very well it may not be like that for others. But then again, maybe it is "what it is like" for others? And how to know that unless I say this is what it is like for me? To say "this is what it is like" isn't to say "this is what it is."

What I find frequently in discourse is a kind of ventriloquism whereby people throw the voice through a sundry or convenient vehicle of authority with the resulting "This is what it is," rather than just, "This is what it's like to me, is it that way for you?"

What is happening in our conversation, for which I am truly grateful, is that it is lending support (structure, not necessarily agreement) to my understanding and how to convey a particular idea that I believe is very important. The concept is nascent, is not polished, it barely has a form for me. I am positing this emerging thought into the development tray, and that's how I experience this lovely conversation, a kind of developing chemistry that is enabling the image to emerge from its latency. This the power of language is it not, in our developing minds?

There is a strong sense of semi-recognition in this thought and that's why Toto is truly my ally right now, but I hope not my only ally. Of course you may not want to participate. I hope I'm not cornering you. I wouldn't mind others joining in to say what it is like for them too. What I'm attempting to do here is to share how I'm thinking about it, as it is developing, in real time. I hope that that isn't insufferable, and that even if anyone disagrees with me, I know I am among friends, or perhaps just interested lurking parties, and oh yeah, kibitizing asteroids!

I said all that just now, because you have not understood what I mean when I say "Because I say so." 

This is my impression. 

Perhaps I have not said it very well. What I mean is not that the affirmation is not a form of causality. (I'm not liking the word "form" but I'm only using that word because you did), I am saying the affirmation IS a form of causality. Actually, as I'm considering it the affirmation IS causality. 

Kimchi is delicious because I say it is. How can you refute that? Are you going to study my tastebuds and compare them to Korean tastebuds and find out the differences in them to learn how it is I can say that because I am culturally different from my Korean counterpart? There is something in human experience for which kimchi can *only* be delicious, unless it is bad kimchi I suppose (I am trying to make this fun and light-hearted, even enjoyable in the way kimchi is delicious). It is this way ("like this") because it is embodied experience, but also because I say it is. 

In the sense of science and "description in order to explain," one might say that there is a kind of circle between the specific and the general. Lately these circles have been popping up all over the place for me to the point I can't remove them from my vision, well I mean my mind's eye, anyway. Subjective experience is a part of that circle. 

Embodied experience (as a self being a self) should have a chair at the table of "description in order to explain," but it is frequently an uninvited guest. We forget to take ourselves into account, and while this may be appropriate in the physical sciences (though maybe not... post Einstein and all), it is hard for me to accept why it should be the case in the social sciences. 

I'm not an expert on methodology, however isn't it the case in critical theory and ethnographic methods that subjective experience is an important part of the description in order "to explain"? Even if that subjectivity is as an observer? Shouldn't it be that researchers and the people whom they study, that they are all counted as subjects having experiences of participating in the experiment? Isn't removal of that subjectivity going to distort the data of experiment? 

Aren't we just counting fossilized dinosaur eggs?

One of the lovely things about science that seems to be overlooked, is that we have records of the scientists who discovered not only the data, but "what it was like" for them to discover what they discovered. 

What was it like to be Galileo to be under house arrest? What was it like for Spinoza to be labeled an atheist? What was it like for Einstein to travel on the lightbeam and look back? We look so enthusiastically and exclusively to the products of research that we forget to think about who was looking at the data and what it was like for the one looking when the data is unearthed?

Recently I had an intriguing experience with a well-established and respected researcher in attempting to explain this nascent concept (for which I have your welcomed company right now while I wrestle with all this), and he seemed to respond by saying something like "Subjects never know what they're talking about. Self-reporting doesn't work." That is not exactly what he said, but that is how I remember it, because that seems to be what he meant (to me).

That seems like a true statement and a false statement at the same time. Which might be another thread, methinks.

In the case of children, I think what I'm trying to say is because of their stages of development, they must start with themselves and to learn they must orient what they learn to how it is for them. "Is" is the main word there. It is their subjectivity, which apparently in philosophical circles is being called "agency." I'm OK with that word, but it still has an inadvertent result of removal of the sense of self, as in myself. When I am speaking I don't call myself an agent for myself, I just say "Me," "Myself," or "I". That immediacy is completely removed and that immediacy is what I am seeking to disclose in this conversation with you.

Am I wrong to say that children don't learn fully if they can't connect to their subjective experience? Otherwise any other kind of learning is the mere learning of rules, and when they learn them, they are rewarded like rats. This kind of rule-learning doesn't have anything to do with being in the world, unless the world is just a very large rat maze, and perhaps that is what it is like for many people in world. 

I realize I might still not be saying this correctly or clearly, because I'm still trying to grab this tiger by the tail, so I hope you will be patient with me in this exploration.

Tell me, does that help? 

Actually, at any stage of development we must start with ourselves and what it is like for us. 

I would reply to the rest of your post, but I am embarrassing myself by the length of this one. So I will start a different thread at some point in the near future. 

Kind regards,

Annalisa