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[Xmca-l] Re: Connecting and stability
- To: Larry Purss <email@example.com>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Connecting and stability
- From: Annalisa Aguilar <email@example.com>
- Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2015 00:30:09 +0000
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- Thread-topic: [Xmca-l] Re: Connecting and stability
Thanks for your reply. Well, it seems that reduction is something that people do when expansion might be a better path (for understanding).
I did not intend for "Understanding happens when the message is received as the message was intended," to be the summary of my email. It was a commentary on understanding as a result. The process of communication arising from the said and the unsaid and the context in which the message is delivered and received was the focus of my email. Understanding is merely the consequence that both parties hope to find in common, at least this is my experience myself when talking to people.
Reduction is a habit of mind, it might be either biologically or culturally based (likely both), when the mind grasps the object as an object. On the one hand it can be a trick of attention to focus upon objects (biology), and on the other, it could be culturally significant, tapping into previous impressions already present. It's likely both are happening, in fact, I think it's always both.
In these cases, there is always the possibility of jumping to conclusions. Descartes for one jumped to conclusions. But he seemed smarter than that, so I wonder if he had some other agenda, like performing the distraction of a magician.
Reduction can also have to do with the status of the speaker and the status of the listener. I think we can agree that these influences shape attention and the way messages are sent and received.
But that's just a side comment on how reduction occurs inadvertently.
So to reply to your question is the speaker's intention the only possible formation of meaning? No. But it is a powerful suggestion.
For example if I yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and people see no fire, chances are they will be skeptical and attend to perceive a fire, before deciding to run out. If I ran in with charcoal on my face and I'm choking and coughing and urgently yell the same word, they will, I hope, be more persuaded to leave the theater without seeing the fire itself. They are always free to respond as they like, which includes finding meaning as they like.
If I yell the word "Fire!" during a walk at the beach while wading knee deep in the ocean and point to the horizon, it simply will not register to people passing by what I'm talking about, or, they might think I'm talking about the sunset.
The vritti (that's v-r-i-t-t-i, pronounced "vrt-tee") is shaped by all these inputs.
Understanding happens when my vritti matches the receiver's. But first, how is it possible to know they match? It isn't. This is just to identify (in the realm of this conversation) concepts of knowledge and understanding. How it happens is a different topic. Second, understanding can only be relative (through relating in the here and now) and not absolute (there and then).
Also, understanding may not be agreement, which might be what happens at the beach when people hear me yell "Fire!"
One of the problems that happens with minority voices, is they are not allowed to author their intended meanings in their given contexts without the huge filter of the abstract being assigned to their intended meanings, which then misconstrues meaning and prevents understanding.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, for example. Believe it or not.
I think what I'm saying here is listening is hard work. But understanding is always rewarding, even if there is disagreement.
It may be that you use the word "stabilize" as I mean "understanding." I'm not sure.
I'm in agreement with Mike that meaning takes place in contexts, if that is what Mike means. Also, that meaning is not embedded in the word itself like a fortune (meaning) in a fortune cookie (word), or the way a computer will read code in a program. Meaning is a constant stream of dynamic processes simultaneously happening in the present moment between actors in a context of some kind.
I do not think even words have to be present for meaning to take place. So meaning need not depend on words. But I think meaning is something like the vritti taking shape in the mind, perhaps it is a kind of impression, or recognition.
I intuit meaning is the moment of recognition of the object of thought that meaning is there, but this need not be verbal, nor word-based. I can't say if recognition and meaning are identical. I don't think so, but I'm not sure. I'd have to think about that!
For example what is happening when we have a sense of meaning when we hear instrumental music? There are no words there. We certainly can't reduce the note of "C" to mean apple pie, and the note of "F" to mean a cup of coffee, and whenever the piano player puts those two notes together it means it's time for coffee and pie! [😊]
I don't think we are disagreeing about mediated listening and stabilization as understanding (if that is what you are saying). However, it is the job of the speaker if one wants to be understood to try to interact in the "language" of meaning of the listener, if possible.
A few weeks ago, I watched a special on Johnny Carson. At the end of his life he went to Africa and learned Swahili. Apparently he was delighted at being able to do an adhoc comedy with the Africans he met there, who were delighted by his jokes. I sort of doubt the Africans would know what an institution Carson was in American television, even if it was explained to them. But they loved his jokes (spoken in Swahili). How is that possible?
Considering the circles: they could have been imagined as anything, I was just pointing to that to illustrate that the vritti transforms into a shape that is reflective of something. Samskaras (impressions) can certainly affect vrittis. So yes, the entire cluster of circles could have been in an "in-between" state, until they shifted into the shape of a flower, and associated as such, and yes the flower impression would definitely have to be a possible "a priori" because we wouldn't call it a flower without knowing a flower (what it looks like, not just what it is called). And yes, the cluster could have been anything other than a flower. But the difference of the shift between the cluster of circles where they are now a flower and then a dartboard illustrates the transformation of the vritti from one form to another. This was the point of my illustration.
I feel to say that stabilizing is identical to recognition or to understanding might be reductive, because thought is fluid, like the sandcastle on the beach isn't fixed, but when the tide rolls in, the sand doesn't really disappear it just takes a new shape, in the case of the beach, resolving into the beach.
Perhaps another good metaphor is the giant penlight billboard that lights up and changes from one image to another. We recognize the words and the images, nothing changes about the arrangement of the pinlights on the billboard. All that changes is the configuration of light and how the pinlights light up. It's always the same number of pinlights on the screen.
Have you ever noticed that it's not possible to have two thoughts at the same time? We can have multiple perceptions, but we can only attend to one thought at a time. So the material of the mind is in constant shaping of itself and being influenced through perceptions, into a vritti here and another vritti here, using the same material of the mind.
If I am understanding you, the poignancy of your question is, if it becomes impossible for spontaneity to occur in the listener once an impression has been made a priori. I think that depends upon the flexibility of the listener to be spontaneous, and if the listener considers the speaker as saying something worth a listen.
In the case of people who have been rigorously conditioned to think a certain way, for whatever reason that might be, it probably does become difficult to listen outside of one's comfort zone. But I don't think that that has to be the case. I always have hope, because I believe everyone is in the end a free person on some level to choose to listen or not.
I certainly hope you feel listened to Larry! [😊]