To FIS colleagues,

First, an open-to-all response to Lou Kaufmann:

Thank you for your lengthy tutorial—some time back--but I wonder and am
genuinely puzzled given the “phenomenology-life sciences theme” why none
of the articles that I referenced were read and a response generated at least
in part on the basis of that reading in conjunction with your own work.

Is there some reason why they were not taken up, especially perhaps the article
identified as being a critique of Godels’s incompleteness theorem from a
phenomenological perspective? I would think that you and perhaps FIS persons generally would feel particularly inquisitive about that article. I would think too that people in FIS would be particularly inquisitive about the reference to Biological Cybernetics. Viewpoints that differ from one’s own are by some thought a waste of time, but for my part, I think they rightly broaden a discussion, which is not to say that entrenched or deeply held views are not solidly based, much less wrong, but that they have the possibility of being amplified through a consideration
of the same topic from a different perspective.

For example: Language did not arise deus ex machina, and it certainly did not arise in the form of graphs or writing, but in the form of sounding. Awareness of oneself as a sound-maker is basic to what we identify as a ‘verbal language’. Moreover this awareness and the verbal language itself are both foundationally a matter of both movment and hearing. A recognition of this fact of life would seem to me to be of interest, even primordial interest, to anyone concerned with ‘SELF-REFERENCE', its
essential nature and substantive origins.

With respect to ‘substantive origins’, does it not behoove us to inquire as to the genesis of a particular capacity rather than take for granted that ‘this is the way things are and have always been’?. For example, and as pointed out elsewhere, the traditional conception of language being composed of arbitrary elements—-hence “symbols”--cannot be assumed with either epistemological or scientific impunity. Until the origin of verbal language is accounted for by reconstructing a particular lifeworld, there is no way of understanding how arbitrary sounds could come to be made . . . let alone serve as carriers of assigned meaning. What is essential is first that arbitrary sounds be distinguished from non-arbitrary sounds, and second, that a paradigm of signification exist. Further, no creature can speak a language for which its body is unprepared. In other words, a certain sensory-kinetic body is essential to the advent of verbal language. In short, in the beginning, thinking moved along analogical lines rather than symbolic ones, hence along the lines of iconicity rather than along arbitrary lines. See the extensive writings of linguistic anthropologist Mary LeCron Foster and Sheets-Johnstone’s The Roots of Thinking, Chapter 6, "On the Origin of Language." Foster's finely documented analyses show that the meaning of the original sound elements of language was the analogue of their articulatory gestures. Similarly, in my own analysis, I start not with symbols or symbolic thought but at the beginning, namely, with a sensory-kinetic analysis of the
arbitrary and the non-arbitrary.

Husserl wrote that "each free act [i.e., an act involving reason] has its comet’s tail of Nature.” In effect, living meanings are, from a phenomenological perspective, historically complex phenomena. They have a natural history that, in its fullest sense, is bound not both ontogenetically and phylogenetically. Like living forms, living meanings hold—-and have held—-possibilities of further development, which is to say that they have evolved over time and that investigations of their origin and historical development tell us something fundamental about life in general and human life, including individual human lives, in particular. WITH RESPECT TO ORIGINS AND HISTORICALLY
COMPLEX PHENOMENA, consider the following examples:

Information is commonly language-dependent whereas meaning is not.
We come into the world moving; we are precisely not stillborn.
We humans all learn our bodies and learn to move ourselves.
Movement forms the I that moves before the I that moves forms movement.
Infants are not pre-linguistic; language is post-kinetic.
Nonlinguistic corporeal concepts ground fundamental verbal concepts.

To all FIS colleagues re Alex Hankey's presentation:

I thought at first that we might be talking past each other because it was my understanding that this 4-part discussion was about phenomenology and the life sciences. What this means to me is that we conjoin real-life, real-time first-person experience, thus methodologically anchored phenomenological analyses, with real-life-real-time third-person experience, thus methodologically anchored empirical analyses. With this last conversation between Rafael and Alex, the terrain seems to be shifting precisely toward this ground. With respect to that conversation, I would like first to note my accord with their critique of Heidegger's metaphysical view that animals are "poor-in-world." In an article published at the end of last year, I give a detailed critical analysis of that metaphysical view in conjunction with a detailed critical analysis of Heidegger's own metaphysical shortcoming, namely, his being, among other things, "poor-in-body." See "The Enigma of Being-toward-Death," Journal of
Speculative Philosophy,2015 24/4: 547-576.

I recommend Aristotle (again) to FIS colleagues:

"Every realm of nature is marvellous. . . .[W]e should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal to us something natural and
something beautiful."
"If any person thinks the examination of the rest of the animal kingdom an unworthy task,
he must hold in like disesteem the study of man."

Aristotle wrote four astoundingly perceptive books on animals. The above quotes are from his book Parts of Animals. Of Aristotle, Darwin in fact wrote, "Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in very different ways, but they were mere school-boys to old Aristotle."

With respect to consciousness,may I refer you to a thoroughly documented article titled "Consciousness: A Natural History" that first appeared in the Journal of Consciousness Studies (1998) and that both critically and constructively addresses the question of 'how consciousness arises in matter'. Documentation is based on corporeal matters of fact from vertebrates to invertebrates and includes consideration of bacteria. The article was later included in The Corporeal Turn: An
Interdisciplinary Reader and in The Primacy of Movement.

What I term "phenomenologically-informed" studies of "the bodies we are not" requires acute observations to begin with, observations untethered to theories and beliefs about X, and then, finely detailed descriptions of those observations. Just such untethered observations and meticulous descriptions are the cornerstone of any life science. One is not out there trying to make others as you want them to be, but attempting to know them as they are. The task is precisely a challenge since it is a matter of achieving knowledge about living bodies that are different from, yet evolutionarily connected to, your living body. Jane Goodall's years of dedicated study set the original gold standard, so to speak, for such research, the foundations of "good life science." As I earlier wrote (and documented by way of a publication), descriptive foundations undergird phenomenological analyses, studies in evolutionary biology, and ecological literature.


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