When I play Grand Theft Auto, I project myself onto the avatar who seems to be running around in a vast fictional world. If I were to describe my understanding of my activity as I appear to simply sit on the couch twiddling my thumbs, I would say things like “I’m stealing a car, climbing a hill, jumping, cycling, falling, oh damn, I died.” The terms used do not make it clear that this is a fictional universe, and in some sense, I am telling nothing but the truth.

When I use similar terms to describe my activity at any other time, similar concerns arise. The words used do not distinguish between a projection and anything real. The indubitable reality of my lived experience is not approached, described, or contacted by my words, which simply draw pictures, tell stories.

Add to this realization, the non-singularity of my experience, such that your experience and my experience are continuous, reciprocal, mutually entwined, and we have a right pickle. Words can only tell stories (in P). We are here (H).

I have notes everywhere. I leave very many trails in my pmwiki pages, in this blog, in thousands of whiteboards, and in many other locations (including publications). If one were to trawl them forensically (Lord forbid!) I doubt a coherent picture would emerge. But in re-reading many bits myself, I find I have to understand them in the context of a specific progression of ideas.

About 2005, I became fixated on the concept of the P-world, which was that which was present to an individual at any given moment. My attempts to articulate this ran foul of obviousness and unoriginality, and it must have seemed that I was trying to describe the contents of consciousness, or the like. I suppose I was, but I was trying to tie it to the notion of the present. However I was trapped in an individualistic framework. (more…)

In this quote from the second of his 2012 Gifford Lectures, Bruno Latour laments the notion that one might recognise only a single kind of truth, and a single kind of veridication.

The various creeds of the Christian faiths appear to be confused with respect to the subject.  In some traditions, the text is “We believe”, in some it is “I believe”.  This does not seem to be a bone of significant contention (for once!), as very closely aligned traditions may differ in this small detail. It seems to make sense, though, as the Credo is professed together, in public, and the distinction between “I” and “We” is largely eradicated.

587 years before the Gutenberg Bible was printed, the Dunhuang scroll was printed using an already mature woodblock technique.  The text printed was the Diamond Sutra.  In a surprisingly contemporary manner, the text comes with this attempt to be available:

Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 15th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [11 May 868].

Perhaps a text such as this would make a good discussion point.

If we can articulate a goal, which is tantamount to recognizing a behaviour that fulfils that goal, then we can probably define, or create, a mechanism that achieves that goal, to within some tolerable error of observation.  But not all that happens is teleological.  When we say that we can provide a mechanistic explanation of an avalanche, there is the exchange of energy, but there is no goal, nothing to replicate, and no underlying mechanism.

We see mechanisms in coordinative systems.  We also see them (I suspect) in Gibsonian perception/action machines.  We bring them into being through the constraints of the experimental psychologists laboratory.

So the question necessarily arises: whose goals are we talking about?  Mechanisms, or purposes, are probably necessary to identify the elements for whom the question of natural selection arises.  The common structures of memetics and Darwinianism may point to commonality.  Whose goals?

Enaction seems to provide a good language for talking about this important question.

Several authors have objected to the notion that thoughts or ideas go on, separate from the words and movements that we see and hear. Here is Wittgenstein (Philosophical Investigations, p. 107):

“When I think in language, there aren’t ‘meanings’ going through my mind in addition to the verbal expression”

Or Merleau-Ponty:

“The word and speech must somehow cease to be a way of designating things or thoughts, and become the presence of that thought in the phenomenal world, and, moreover, not its clothing but its token or body” (Phenomenology of Perception, p. 182)

Or, once more, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone:

“Movement is not a medium by which thoughts emerge but rather, the thoughts themselves, significations in the flesh, so to speak” (Thinking in Movement, p. 400)


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