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RE: [xmca] fetishism

I'd just like to point out that the origin of the word "spirit" is breath
(which is a bodily activity), so it is interesting to me that spirit/soul
became so strongly used and associated with a mental force contrasting with
the body. The history of this particular word shows a lot of conceptual
development :).

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Martin Packer
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2011 2:39 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] fetishism

Charles Morris was a student of George Herbert Mead. In 1932 he published
"Six theories of mind," dedicated to Mead and Dewey, a review of the many
theories of mind as substance, as process, as relation, as intentional act,
as substance, and as function. 

In the chapter on mind as process, Morris reviews reactions to what he has
called the Galilean-Cartesian-Newtonian world-view, which insisted that the
world is no more than matter in motion, mechanical clockwork. In this world
view, mind and matter are distinct, as separate substances. Idealism was one
such reaction: "idealism has played the cultural role of restoring to man
and his cherished objects a place of importance and dignity in the cosmos
whenever a scientific movement has tended to make him a three-dimensional...
worm" (50). In the G-C-N world-view all value, meaning, truth and beauty
were considered to be purely mental phenomena, and "it was a natural and
brilliant counterstroke to assert the basic and pervasive character of mind
by attempting to show that" value, meaning, truth and beauty in fact exist
in the world - because the world is mind (spirit).  "This attempt to make
mind the supreme category is then, in part at least, understandable as an
insistence upon the ultimate reality of that realm where alone, on the
opposing view, values were allowed to reside" (50-51).

Of course there was a counter-revolution to idealism, and idealism itself
ran in considerable problems as a philosophical position. But Morris'
evaluation is by no means completely negative: "The strength of idealism lay
in its activism [that is, the world is not merely inert stuff]; its weakness
in its mentalism: in avoiding the dualism between thought and sense, mind
and nature, experience and reality, idealism overgeneralized its case in
regarding mind as the sole reality" (100-101). But in Morris' view a more
adequate materialism can grasp these aspects of world as active, organized
and meaningful, just as well, if not better, than idealism. In the
functionalism of Dewey and Mead, mind is the functioning of significant
symbols, not to be located in the brain. Mind has contact with nature that
is mediated, but direct in the sense that knowledge is achieved in action,
and the activity of knowing transforms the world. The world is one of
meaning and value insofar as it has relevance to the various functions of
the human organism.

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