Dear Maxine, Lou, Pedro, Loet, John, Soeren and Colleagues,

first of all I wish to thank Maxine for providing a bit different
perspective upon the overall subject of the discussion theme, namely
phenomenology or better said “phenomenological philosophy” (since
“phenomenology” has acquired different meanings in the sciences in the
years). Despite that “action", as Pedro said, has been a widely discussed
topic, I think that Maxine’s note was meaning something else which deserves
attention and more thought.

On Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 6:41 AM, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone <>

> To all colleagues,
> I hope I may voice a number of concerns that have arisen in the course
> of the ongoing discussions that are ostensibly about phenomenology and
> the life sciences.
> The concerns begin with a non-recognition of what is surely the ground
> floor of real-life, real-time realities, namely, animation, not in the
> sense of being alive or in opposition to the inanimate, but in the sense
> of motion, movement, kinetics. As Aristotle cogently remarked,
> “Nature is a principle of motion and change. . . . We must therefore see
> that we understand what motion is; for if it were unknown, nature too
> would be unknown” (Physics 200b12-14).
> Through and through--from animate organisms to an ever-changing world--
> movement is foundational to understandings of subject and world, and of
> subject/world relationships, and this whether subject and world are
> examined phenomenologically or scientifically. In short, movement is at
> the core of information and meaning, at the core of mind and consciousness,
> at the core of both gestural and verbal language, at the core of nervous
> system and organic functionings, at the core of molecular transformations,
> at the core of ellipses, electrons, gravity, waves, particles, and so on,
> and further, at the core of time, the concept, measurement, and meaning of
> time.
That the origins of meaning and purpose can be found in movement and life
is an interesting thought.
I think that this is what one could say about the ultimate goal of
Aristotle’s physics. It began being explained with the equations of Newton
about inanimate matter and finally landed at its origin ---  a curious loop
of recursion, reflection and self-reference --- with Schrödinger”s question
about what is life in the search of the lost purpose on the way to
explaining all kinds of movements.

All this is to remind us, that there are two kinds of knowledge (and
meaning): the incremental one with which most of us are accustomed, and
the“forked” one, similar to Everett’s split universes, providing a new
options for scrutinising, interpretation and understanding of the world we
live in. I think that this is the message which Maxine disseminates in this
forum. Maxine, please correct me if I am wrong. Understanding Husserl,
Heidegger and Marleau-Ponty is almost that difficult as understanding
quantum mechanics by non-specialists (as Alex Hankey told me in one of our
conversations), or Gödel by non-logicians and non-mathematicians. It is
difficult to follow the reasoning in each one of these domains, without
investing years of dedicated study, that only a few can afford in a single
life span. But that’s the reason why we have come together in this forum to
state opinions, ask questions and clarify remote subjects that are tough to
grasp alone.

> I enumerate below specifics with respect to what is essentially the
> foundational dynamic reality. The summary concerns are followed by
> references that document each concern.

These are indeed the concerns that motivated and moved human inquiry in the
era of the Greek philosophers, when theatre and mathematics were not that
far from each other. We need to come back to this kind of thinking and
understanding far-fetched stuff also by utilising our intuition, because
the roots of both science and the humanities are the same: our human
nature. Some folks from these remote fields, like Pauli and Jung, were able
to speak to each other. Others, despite being geniuses in their fields
remained stuck in them and could not follow a different viewpoint, and yet
they felt there is something beyond their own perspective and were longing
for it.

Anyway, I will stop here thanking Lou for his note on Gödel that reminded
us that this man has spent many years pondering on his theorems before
revealing them to the world. How many people are doing this today in our
publish-or-perish modern world of science?
It is not easy to acquire groundbreaking knowledge. Thanks to the
philosophers for reminding us of Kuhn’s work.

Have a nice week!


> If further specifics are wanted or
> if specific articles are wanted, kindly contact
> (1). Instincts and/or feelings motivate animate organisms to move.
> Without such instincts or feelings there would be no disposition
> to move. An ‘animate organism’ would in truth be akin to a statue,
> a statue Condillac described two and a half centuries ago as having
> first this sense given to it, then that sense given to it, but that,
> lacking movement, is powerless to gain knowledge of the world. Such
> a movement deficient creature would furthermore lack the biological
> capacity of responsivity, a near universal characteristic of life.
> The startle reflex is a premier example. Can what is evolutionarily
> given be “illogical”? Clearly, feelings are not “illogical,” but move
> through animate bodies, moving them to move. Without feelings of
> curiosity, for example, or awe, or wonder, there would be no exploration
> of the natural world, no investigations, hence no “information.”
> Furthermore, without feelings of movement—initially, from an evolutionary
> perspective, no proprioception, and later, no kinesthesia--there would be
> no near and far, no weak and strong, no straight and curved, and so on,
> hence, no determinations of Nature. In short, there would be no information
> and no meaning. (See Note #1: The Primacy of Movement)
> (2). An excellent lead-in to scientific understandings of movement and
> its inherent dynamics lies in the extensive research and writings of
> J. A. Scott Kelso, Pierre de Fermat Laureate in 2007. Kelso was founder
> of the Center for Brain and Behavioral Studies and its Director for twenty
> years. His rigorous multi-dimensional experimental studies are anchored in
> coordination dynamics, an anchorage that is unconstrained by dogma. The
> breadth of his knowledge and his sense of open inquiry is apparent in the
> literature he cites in conjunction with his articles and books. His recent
> article in Biological Cybernetics that focuses on “Agency” is strikingly
> relevant to the present FIS discussion. It takes experience into account,
> specifically in the form of “positive feedback,” which obviously involves
> kinesthesia in a central way. Moreover his upcoming Opinion piece in Trends
> in Cognitive Science should be essential reading. (See Note #2: “The
> Coordination
> Dynamics of Mobile Conjugate Reinforcement” and The Complementary Nature)
> (3). As pointed out elsewhere, “Certainly words carry no patented meanings,
> but the term ‘phenomenology’ does seem stretched beyond its limits when it
> is used to denote either mere reportorial renderings of perceptible
> behaviors
> or actions, or any descriptive rendering at all of perceptible behaviors or
> actions. At the least, ‘phenomenology’ should be recognized as a very
> specific
> mode of epistemological inquiry invariably associated with the name Edmund
> Husserl. . . . ”
> Phenomenological inquiries are tethered to a very specific methodology,
> one as
> rigorous as that of science. Phenomenological findings are furthermore
> open to
> verification by others, precisely as in science. Moreover two forms of
> phenomenological analysis warrant recognition: static and genetic, the
> former
> being a determination of the essential character of the object of inquiry,
> the
> second being a determination of how the meaning of that object of inquiry
> came
> to be constituted, hence an inquiry into sedimentations of meaning, into
> protentions and retentions, into horizons of meaning, and so on. Thus too,
> what warrants recognition is the fact that bracketing is not the beginning
> and
> end of phenomenological methodology. On the contrary, bracketing is only
> the beginning.
> Phenomenological reduction follows bracketing and allows the essential
> character
> of the object of inquiry or the constitution of its meaning to come to
> light.
> (See Note #3: Animation: Analyses, Elaborations, and Implications”)
> (4). References made to Gödel’s theorem to uphold certain theses can be
> definitively
> questioned. The claim that Gödel makes on behalf of his theorem is
> inaccurate.
> Three articles that demonstrate the inaccuracy, one from a phenomenological
> perspective, two others from a logical-analytical perspective, warrant
> clear-headed
> study. In brief, self-referential statements are vacuous, hence neither
> true nor false.
> Moreover the sentences expressing the statements may be used to make two
> quite
> different statements, a fact ignored by Gödel.(See Note #4:
> “Self-Reference and
> Gödel’s Theorem,” “The Liar Syndrome,” and “Doctor’s Diagnosis Sustained")
> (5): Information is commonly understood as factual knowledge, thus
> empirically
> sustained and sustainable knowledge. It is thus a matter of the condition
> or
> nature or workings, etc., of something out there in the world, including
> even
> your liver if that is the source of information. Mathematics has its
> origin in
> arithmetic, the latter having its origins in counting things in the world,
> including if not beginning with one’s fingers, and in shape, including if
> not
> beginning with differentiating contours and size, thus with linear and
> amplitudinal
> dimensions of things in the world. As I wrote in my last posting, I hope
> that
> someone will take up the challenge of doing a phenomenological analysis of
> information.
> An inquiry into the relationship of meaning to information and of
> information to
> meaning might then be undertaken. That step, to my mind, would provide
> solid ground
> for linking informational sciences and phenomenology, linking by way of
> showing—-
> demonstrating—complementarities, precisely complementarities in the sense
> that
> Bohr and Kelso specify.
> Note #1: Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine. 2011. The Primacy of Movement, expanded
> 2nd ed.
> Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing
> Note #2: Kelso, J. A. Scott and Armin Fuchs. 2016. “The Coordination
> Dynamics of
> Mobile Conjugate Reinforcement,” Biological Cybernetics:  DOI
> 10.1007/s00422-015-0676-0.
> Kelso, J. A. Scott and David A. Engström. 2006. The Complementary Nature.
> Cambridge,
> MA: Bradford Book/MIT Press.
> Note #3: Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine. 2015. “Animation: Analyses,
> Elaborations, and Implications,”
> Husserl Studies, 30/3: 247-268.  DOI 10.1007/s10743-014-9156-y
> Note #4: Johnstone, Albert A. 2002. “Self-Reference and Gödel’s Theorem: A
> Husserlian Analysis."
> Husserl Studies, 19: 131-151.
> Johnstone, Albert A. 2002. “The Liar Syndrome,” SATS/Nordic Journal of
> Philosophy, 3/1: 37-55.
> Johnstone, Albert A. 2002. “Doctor’s Diagnosis Sustained,” SATS/Nordic
> Journal of Philosophy,
> 3/2: 142-153.
> Maxine
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