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Re: [xmca] perception/conception etc

Hi Eric posited the possibility of a primary need to RESPOND to others and
to help out others.  You question if this can be called a "precept" and if
it preceeds concepts.

I want to draw attention to a fascinating article by Joanne B. Waugh titled
"Writing the History of Historied Thought" published in the journal
Metaphilosophy, Vol. 36 No. 5, October 2005.

In this article she is responding to Joseph Margolis who wrote a book named
"Historied Thought, Constructed World.  Joanne's article is a fascinating
tour through the history of our notions of thinking and she makes a claim
that thinking is always social and always historical.  Her article links up
also with the notion of thinking and learning from a perspective of human
science. Her specialty is greek philosophy and she explores the how "text"
and "dialogue" have competed as metaphors for reflecting on conceptualizing
how we conceptualize.

Eric, I want to give her summary of how she views pre-conceptual processes.
[see page 595 of the article]  She is pointing out that "communication with
the other" includes pre-linguistic communication which she describes as
"correlating RESPONSES with the other in SHARED SPACE" through expressions,
stances, gestures, and movements. This movement in shared space is necessary
for the development of language and acquiring concepts.  Language is
something we abstract and systematize from our communicative acts. These
communicative acts cannot be reduced to some other more fundamental or
primitive capacity.  This knowledge of communicative acts demands that our
ideas of material or natural things include KNOWING HOW TO DO THINGS TO THAT
ENABLE COMMUNICATION - "making sounds, gestures, faces, and movements, that
we INTERPRET as meaningful.  Just as we speak of knowing how to walk,
gesture, dance, or ride a bicycle, and mean that this KNOWLEDGE is stored in
the muscles, nerves, and joints of the body as well as the brain, we can say
that knowing how to communicate - how to speak a language - is EMBODIED in
its speakers."

Foucault speaks about language being written on the body.  Waugh reverses
this metaphor when she states, "but this metaphor where body stands in place
of text should be turned around, for insribing language on some object -
generating a document - imitates the way in which language - and knowledge -
are in the body.  The text or document is a metaphor for the body and not
the other way around. The embodied speaker is not imitating the text or
document; rather the text stands in for a speaker."  She also points out the
Margolis uses the term "incarnation" to describe how the intentional and
cultural is real and in physical things.  Waugh's purpose in writing her
article is to challenge the Cartesian perspective that we occupy positions
as SPECTATORS looking out on the external world that we learn to "read" as
if the world is a "text" to be interpreted. Rather we are always already
in-the-world in a space that is no longer internalized or "withdrawn from

This is summarizing only 2 pages of a well written article that I think
speaks to linking up CHAT and the notion of the human sciences.  There is a
reality that is embodied and pre-linguistic and pre-conceptual.  Whether the
label "percepts" is necessary the reality of communicative acts or "helping
others" I believe is foundational to understanding being and becoming
persons as moral agents at home in the world.


You have

On Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 9:55 AM, <ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org> wrote:

> Martin:
> I will throw out an example that may work or may just need to be thrown
> away.  In the PBS show "the human spark"  there were experiments conducted
> comparing 3 year old humans to chimps.  What they found was the 3 year
> olds were invariably prone to provide assistance to those they perceive as
> not knowing how to do a task.  This was not the case in the chimpanzee who
> were always inclined to be selfish, not share or not perceive that
> assistance was needed.  Now is it possible that this perception of helping
> out is a percept?
> Of course it could be stated that the culture the 3-year old as been
> reared in provides the 'spark' for this helping out but it could just as
> easily be theorized that helping out is an innate percept for which humans
> are inclined to behave.  Perhaps I could be so bold (i might as well at
> this point for I started by saying this idea could just as easily be
> discarded) that humans have it within their genetic code a 'helping out'
> percept.  Just as female cardinals (the bird) have a genetic code for
> searching out red cardinals (like my keeping with your cardinal theme?)
> humans have a genetic code for searching out ways to be helpful.  Let's
> call these genetic predispositions in humans: percepts.  Who hasn't looked
> in the sky to see silhouettes of faces or seen faces outlined in the sides
> of cliffs?
> eric
> From:   Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
> To:     "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Date:   07/12/2010 11:29 AM
> Subject:        Re: [xmca] perception/conception etc
> Sent by:        xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
>  Eric,
> I think the difficulty that I am having with the proposals that people
> have been making about percepts and concepts is that, if my understanding
> is correct, these have been proposed as entities that belong (in some
> sense) to an individual, and more than this that they are internal to the
> individual - internal mental entities, distinct from the world in which
> that individual lives.
> I would say that we have learned from the work of Gibson and others that
> perception is an active interaction with and in the world. If 'forms'
> emerge in perception, these forms are not within the individual, they are
> forms of active attunement in practical activity. I would propose that we
> think of conception, too, as an active and interactive process.
> And a social process too. We won't understand the ontogenesis of any of
> this if we leave out the social moment. To return to pain, for example,
> the first thing a toddler does when they fall over and skin their knees is
> check to see how their parents are reacting. Only then will they cry, or
> laugh, or jump up and keep playing. Whether it is a painful experience or
> not is from the start a social matter.
> Martin
> On Jul 12, 2010, at 11:19 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:
> > When thinking about the idea of a precept I do have a hard time just
> > discarding it and stating that they are floating about in the ether
> until
> > we snatch one into our brain.  There is a complexity to them but a
> > complexity that falls short of a cultural artefact.  I must say I
> > currently have a banana inspired brain but I can't at the moment move
> > passed the thought that percepts provide the jumping off point for the
> > appropriation of cultural artifacts.
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