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
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
> 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
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 m...@uoregon.edu
> (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