Dear All,

I think that in the context of what Maxine, Lou, Soeren and others
exchanged a little while ago it makes sense to refer to Kalevi Kull’s paper
in the Biosemiotics section V of this collection below which initiated our

2015 JPBMB Special Issue on Integral Biomathics: Life Sciences, Mathematics
and Phenomenological Philosophy
(note: free access to all articles until July 19th, 2016)

Of course, you are welcome to read all papers there.

Best wishes,


On Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 7:43 AM, Dr. Plamen L. Simeonov <> wrote:

> 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 <>
> wrote:
>> 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!
> Plamen
>> 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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