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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


Constance

Paranormal Adept
And here is a new book on MP and phenomenology that is probably, from reviewer accounts, the best book to read for those interested in understanding phenomenological-existential ontology:

David Morris, Merleau-Ponty's Developmental Ontology

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0810137933/ref=rdr_ext_tmb?fbclid=IwAR0DSb-tRaweNZ3cCSD-Ygbp4ciOGylcD9tCXZvKHvL272acDZ1__hc4Jrc

Amazon description:

"Merleau-Ponty's Developmental Ontology shows how the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, from its very beginnings, seeks to find sense or meaning within nature, and how this quest calls for and develops into a radically new ontology.

David Morris first gives an illuminating analysis of sense, showing how it requires understanding nature as engendering new norms. He then presents innovative studies of Merleau-Ponty's The Structure of Behavior and Phenomenology of Perception, revealing how these early works are oriented by the problem of sense and already lead to difficulties about nature, temporality, and ontology that preoccupy Merleau-Ponty's later work. Morris shows how resolving these difficulties requires seeking sense through its appearance in nature, prior to experience—ultimately leading to radically new concepts of nature, time, and philosophy.

Merleau-Ponty's Developmental Ontology makes key issues in Merleau-Ponty's philosophy clear and accessible to a broad audience while also advancing original philosophical conclusions."


Reviewer comments on this new book by David Morris:

“This book is unique as a contribution both to Merleau-Ponty scholarship and to a renewed phenomenological ontology. Drawing on contemporary life sciences and cosmology, it presents an organic and dynamic view of how meaning and a factual order arise and appear in being, space, and time. Hardly ever has the plea for a radical transcendental empiricism, instead of traditional forms of subjectivism, been made so concretely and convincingly.” —Rudolf Bernet, author of Force, Drive, Desire: A Philosophy of Psychoanalysis

"This scintillating text offers two books for the price of one: not only does it offer an insightful and innovative reading of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, early and late, but it also establishes David Morris as an original voice to be heard in its own right. The reader is provided with a rich panoply of new ways of finding sense embedded in experience and in being, and all this in the context of a phenomenology of nature, a new model of 'development' of life and the cosmos, and an inaugural notion of “templacement” that surpasses earlier discussions of space and time and is shown to be the foundation of a radically new ontology. The result is a tour de force in which contemporary immunology and biology and cosmic theory join forces with Merleau-Ponty’s final search for 'wild being.' This is one of the most exciting, intellectually engaging, and profound books of our time." —Edward S. Casey, author of The World on Edge

Note that the paperback edition has apparently been sold out already but is being reprinted and bound for further sales at amazon and elsewhere.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
NATURE AS EXPRESSIVE SYNTHESIS: THE SENSIBLE AWAKENING OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL BETWEEN KANT, HUSSERL AND MERLEAU-PONTY

DON BEITH
University of Maine, Department of Philosophy. 04469 Orono, Maine, USA. E-mail: donbeith@gmail.com

Abstract: The critical insights of transcendental philosophy and phenomenology evolve out of a tension in the nature of consciousness. On the one hand, consciousness is a synthetic activity or intentional that discloses the horizon in which meanings and objects have conditions of possibility. On the other hand, in perception we find the workings of sense that point to a dynamic, expressive origin prior to the pure activity of consciousness. Our investigation is concerned with explaining how this passivity of consciousness is itself a synthesis that arises out of our expressive bodily nature. There is a clear logical connection between the ways Immanuel Kant, Edmund Husserl, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty conceive of a synthesis within sensibility and bodily affectivity, where each thinker requires us to conceptualize nature as a mode of expressivity, with the implication that transcendental conditions of possibility must, mysteriously, happen within the very intercorporeal and temporal fields that they render possible.
Key words: Phenomenology, transcendental idealism, Kant, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, consciousness, temporality.

INTRODUCTION
"The critical insights of transcendental philosophy and phenomenology evolve out of a tension in the nature of consciousness. On the one hand, consciousness is a synthetic activity or intentionality that discloses the horizon in which meanings and objects have conditions of possibility. On the other hand, in perception we find the workings of sense that point to a dynamic, expressive origin prior to the pure activity of consciousness. Our investigation concerns how this passivity of consciousness is a synthesis that arises out of our expressive bodily nature. There is a clear logical connection between the ways Immanuel Kant, Edmund Husserl, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty conceive of a synthesis within sensibility and bodily affectivity, where each thinker requires us to conceptualize nature as a mode of expressivity, with the implication that transcendental conditions of possibility must, mysteriously, happen within the very intercorporeal and temporal fields that they render possible.

Kant’s provocative concept of “transcendental affinity” in his 1781 Critique of Pure Reason reveals a level of kinship between our pre-reflective experience of nature and the pre-conceptual association of sensation by the imagination. The primordial associative workings of the imagination resonate with a pre-objective nature that is not yet determined by concepts, but rather prepares itself to be thought. As a bridge between cognition and sensibility, imaginative synthesis as immanent to the field of experience breaks down the logical distinction between a priori and a posteriori. For Husserl, the very form of experience is temporally dynamic, and consciousness as a
necessary condition of experience is manifest in and through an affective awakening.

.Husserl works, like Kant, in his Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis [to expose] a level of immanent, flowing synthesis, termed operative intentionality. Consciousness emerges through a call-response structure and is animated by this level of affective bodily synthesis at which the dichotomies of activity and passivity, a priori and a posteriori, self and world, do not hold. For Husserl, transcendental consciousness happens out of an affective, pre-conceptual awakening. In Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception and Institution lectures we find a combination of these two problems. Merleau-Ponty explores consciousness, like Husserl, as a temporally emergent and awakening field of sense, but like Kant, Merleau-Ponty finds this imaginative proto-production of sense to be the mark of a deep affinity between consciousness and nature as expressive
institutions.

Kant’s affinity with nature is phenomenologically manifest through the natural generality of the lived body, and the expressive, acquired depth of its natural past. Consciousness must emerge from nature, and must awaken through emotion, and this requires driving the implications of Kant’s critique of the imagination and Husserl’s phenomenology of operative intentionality to their furthest logical conclusions: an overcoming [of] division of dualisms of activity/passivity, fact/essence and contingency/necessity, past/present, by showing nature itself, and its institutions of life and consciousness, to be an expressive movement from nonsense to sense. This way of thinking resituates transcendental conditions of possibility as transformative events within histories of local, divergent forms of life and consciousness. If we drive these philosophical methods to their furthest logical conclusions, transcendental idealism and phenomenology mutually illuminate the radical embeddedness of transcendental conditions of possibility within a generative time of natural expressivity. . . ."

Nature as Expressive Synthesis: The Sensible Awakening of the Transcendental between Kant, Husserl and Merleau-Ponty
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Hope you all are well! I do visit thread frequently. Haven’t posted much but definitely still very interested in the topic and reading when I can. Haven’t really stumbled across anything new but would be sure to post if I did. I miss our discussions and think of them often.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
This online resource might keep us busy for awhile:

A Companion to Velmans, M. (ed.) (2018) Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology) Volume 1: The Origins of Psychology and the Study of Consciousness, Major Works Series, London: Routledge

"Preface

This is the first of four online Companions to Velmans, M. (ed.) (2018) Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology), a 4-volume collection of Major Works on Consciousness commissioned by Routledge, London. Each of the Companions presents a pre-publication version of the introduction to one of the Volumes and, for Volume 1, it also sets the stage for the entire, printed collection. As the collection forms part of a Critical Concepts in Psychology series, this selection of major works focuses mainly on works that have a direct psychological relevance. From the mid 19th Century onwards, psychology began to separate itself from philosophy, and the development of psychological thought about consciousness links intimately to the development of psychology itself. In order to trace this development, the four volumes of this collection follow a rough, historical sequence. Volume 1 deals with The Origins of Psychology and the Study of Consciousness. Volumes 2 and 3 deal with contemporary Cognitive and Neuropsychological Approaches to the Study of Consciousness. And Volume 4 focuses mainly on New Directions: Psychogenesis, Transformations of Consciousness and Non-reductive, Integrative Theories, which deal with issues likely to expand current, mainstream thought in potentially novel, and, sometimes, challenging directions.

The printed, 4-Volume collection presents 89 major readings (or salient extracts from major readings) drawn from the entire field of Consciousness Studies, along with these introductions and an extensive index. It also introduces 5 additional readings that were selected for inclusion, but could not be reprinted for the reason that reprint permissions were prohibitively expensive. Although these online Companions cannot substitute for the 2000 page hard copy, they do provide a wealth of additional resources in the form of online links to supplementary readings (marked in pink) and to the readings themselves (marked in blue). In many cases the online sources are freely available or available through institutional subscriptions. Links are also provided for some of the readings that require access to complex colour plates, thereby making the four Companions complementary to the printed collection itself.

This Companion to Volume 1 focuses on the selection criteria for the collection, the problems presented by consciousness and how to organize these into groups, the ancient history of thought about consciousness, mind and soul, the emergence of psychology as the empirical study of consciousness and mind, the emergence of behaviorism, cognitive psychology and the re-emergence of the study of mind, initial ideas about the role of consciousness in human information processing, the strengths of functionalist accounts of mind, the weaknesses of functionalist accounts of consciousness, competing psychological theories about the nature and function of consciousness, interdisciplinary influences, and the formation of Consciousness Studies.

General Introduction

In this introduction we examine, in a very brief way, the long history of thought about human consciousness that provides the context for these Major Works. The introduction is brief owing to space restrictions, but the history is long, for the reason that, in one way or another, human beings have been concerned with issues surrounding the nature of consciousness from well before recorded history. In the prehistoric period, the evidence for this can only be indirect—in the burial rites of ancient peoples—but it is direct in the earliest writings of ancient Egypt, and the philosophies of ancient India and Greece, although for millennia, the founding philosopher-psychologists made no consistently clear distinctions between what we now think of as “consciousness”, “mind” and “soul”. . . ."

A Companion to Velmans, M. (ed.) (2018) Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology) Volume 1: The Origins of Psychology and the Study of Consciousness, Major Works Series, London: Routledge
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Looks like you recorded the interview yesterday. I'll be sure to listen to it.
It was rough and he bailed before completing the last two segments. You'd be welcome to join us Saturday afternoon to complete the show and discuss the topic further on ATP if you're interested. We'll be starting at 1:00pm MST.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
It was rough and he bailed before completing the last two segments. You'd be welcome to join us Saturday afternoon to complete the show and discuss the topic further on ATP if you're interested. We'll be starting at 1:00pm MST.
Thanks, but again I'm seeing this hours after you posted it. What happened that led Russo to bail?
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Thanks, but again I'm seeing this hours after you posted it.
No Problem. I think you two would have gotten along well.
What happened that led Russo to bail?
He said he wasn't properly informed about the length of the interview, but he also seemed miffed at the style of the interview, so he wouldn't come back to finish it later. We talk about that at the end of the show and in the ATP. I also touched on it in the QB thread. basically Grosso was expecting the interview to be less of a discussion about the subject matter and more of a promotion for him and his books. So I imagine there will be a split of opinion between those who blame it on the style of the interview, and those who prefer a discussion that requires a little critical thinking about the subject matter.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Sarah Garfinkel, "How the body and mind talk to one another to understand the world"

"Have you ever been startled by someone suddenly talking to you when you thought you were alone? Even when they apologise for surprising you, your heart goes on pounding in your chest. You are very aware of this sensation. But what kind of experience is it, and what can it tell us about relations between the heart and the brain? When considering the senses, we tend to think of sight and sound, taste, touch and smell. However, these are classified as exteroceptive senses, that is, they tell us something about the outside world. In contrast, interoception is a sense that informs us about our internal bodily sensations, such as the pounding of our heart, the flutter of butterflies in our stomach or feelings of hunger.

The brain represents, integrates and prioritises interoceptive information from the internal body. These are communicated through a set of distinct neural and humoural (ie, blood-borne) pathways. This sensing of internal states of the body is part of the interplay between body and brain: it maintains homeostasis, the physiological stability necessary for survival; it provides key motivational drivers such as hunger and thirst; it explicitly represents bodily sensations, such as bladder distension. But that is not all, and herein lies the beauty of interoception, as our feelings, thoughts and perceptions are also influenced by the dynamic interaction between body and brain.

The shaping of emotional experience through the body’s internal physiology has long been recognised. The American philosopher William James argued in 1892 that the mental aspects of emotion, the ‘feeling states’, are a product of physiology. He reversed our intuitive causality, arguing that the physiological changes themselves give rise to the emotional state: our heart does not pound because we are afraid; fear arises from our pounding heart. Contemporary experiments demonstrate the neural and mental representation of internal bodily sensations as integral for the experience of emotions; those individuals with heightened interoception tend to experience emotions with greater intensity. The anterior insula is a key brain area, processing both emotions and internal visceral signals, supporting the idea that this area is key in processing internal bodily sensations as a means to inform emotional experience. Individuals with enhanced interoception also have greater activation of the insula during interoceptive processing and enhanced grey-matter density of this area.

So what is enhanced interoception? Some people are more accurate than others at sensing their own internal bodily sensations. While most of us are perhaps aware of our pounding heart when we are startled or have just run for the bus, not everyone can accurately sense their heartbeats when at rest. Interoceptive accuracy can be tested in the lab; we monitor physiological signals and measure how accurately these can be detected. Historically, research has focused on the heart, as these are discrete signals that can easily be quantified. For example, a typical experiment might involve the presentation of a periodic external stimulus (eg, an auditory tone) that is time-locked to the heartbeat, such that each tone (‘beep’) occurs when the heart is beating, or in between heartbeats. Participants state whether this external stimulus is synchronous or asynchronous with their own heart. An individual’s interoceptive accuracy is an index of how well they are able to do this.

It is also possible to measure subjective indices of how accurate people think they are at detecting internal bodily sensations, ascertained via questionnaires and other self-report measures. My work shows that individuals can be interoceptively accurate (ie, good at these heartbeat-perception tests) without being aware that they are. In this way, interoceptive signals can guide and inform without fully penetrating conscious awareness.

Individual differences in interoception can also be investigated using brain-imaging methods, such as through brain representation of afferent signals (eg, heartbeat-evoked potentials expressed in a neural EEG signal). Functional neuroimaging (fMRI) can also be used to investigate which areas of the brain are more active when focusing on an interoceptive signal (eg, the heart) relative to an exteroceptive signal (eg, an auditory tone).

Our hearts do not beat regularly and, while we can identify that our hearts race with fear or exercise, we might not fully appreciate the complexity of the temporal structure underlying our heartbeats. For example, cardiac signatures are also associated with states such as anticipation. Waiting for something to happen can cause our heartrate to slow down: this will happen at traffic lights, when waiting for them to go green. These effects of anticipation, potentially facilitating the body and mind to adopt an action-ready-state, highlight the meaningful composition of internal bodily signals.

Internal bodily signals can be deeply informative, which is why sensing them can provide an extra channel of information to influence decisionmaking. Gut instinct or intuition during a card game can also be guided by interoception. Bodily signatures (heart rate, skin-conductance response) can signal which cards are good (ie, more likely to be associated with a positive outcome) even in the absence of conscious knowledge that a card is good. Thus, the heart ‘knows’ what the mind does not yet realise, and access to this bodily signature can guide intuitive decisionmaking to a better outcome. In a real-world extrapolation of this, I visited the London Stock Exchange to work with high-frequency traders. These traders claimed that their decisions were often driven by gut instinct, when faced with fast-coming information that the conscious brain could not yet fully process. My colleagues and I demonstrated that interoceptive accuracy was enhanced in those traders who were most adept at trading, potentially grounding their intuitive instincts in a capacity to sense informative changes in internal bodily signals.

An appreciation that bodily signals can guide emotion and cognition provides potential interoceptive mechanisms through which these processes can be disrupted. Alexithymia, defined as an impaired ability to detect and identify emotions, is associated with reduced interoceptive accuracy. Autistic individuals, who often have difficulty in understanding emotions, have also been shown to have impaired interoceptive accuracy. Neural representation of bodily signatures are altered in borderline personality disorder (also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder), and interventions designed to focus on the body, such as mindfulness, have been shown to reduce anxiety. Insight into the nature of these embodied mechanisms opens up potential avenues for further understanding and targeted intervention.

As well as telling us about our own emotions, our bodies respond to the joy, pain and sadness of others. Our hearts can race as loved ones experience fear, and our pupils can adopt a physiological signature of sadness in response to the sadness of others. If you pay attention to your heart and bodily responses, they can tell you how you are feeling, and allow you to share in the emotions of others. Interoception can enhance the depth of our own emotions, emotionally bind us to those around us, and guide our intuitive instincts. We are now learning just how much the way we think and feel is shaped by this dynamic interaction between body and brain."

How the body and mind talk to one another to understand the world – Sarah Garfinkel | Aeon Ideas


I think the most important and ramifying sentence in the above essay is this one: "Internal bodily signals can be deeply informative, which is why sensing them can provide an extra channel of information to influence decisionmaking." That this appears to be the case, based on Garfinkel et al's research, opens a new perspective from which we could re-open discussion of many topics in Consciousness Studies that we have taken up here in the past. Anyone else interested in doing so? If so, we might begin by producing a list of those topics . . . .
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
The Southern Journal of Philosophy
Volume 57, Issue 1 March 2019

Laura McMahon, FREEDOM AS (SELF-)EXPRESSION: NATALITY AND THE TEMPORALITY OF ACTION
IN MERLEAU-PONTY AND ARENDT

ABSTRACT
This paper draws on the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Hannah Arendt in order to explore the nature of free action. Part one outlines three familiar ways in which we often understand the nature of freedom. Part two argues that these common understandings of freedom are rooted in impoverished conceptions of time and subjectivity. Part three engages with Arendt’s conception of natality alongside Merleau-Ponty’s conception of expression in order to argue that the freely acting self draws in improvisational manners on the resources of a shared past in order to open unprecedented spaces of meaning for the future, and in so doing at once discovers and institutes herself as the self that she is. Part four draws on an example of anti-oppressive political action in order to argue that free action not only has the power to inaugurate new spaces of shared meaning for the future, but also to change the sens of the shared past. By the same token, free action is vulnerable in its ontological status and ethical meanings to the events and judgments of the future. Part five argues with both Merleau-Ponty and Arendt that ethical-political actors can do no better than to cultivate a political virtù while facing up to the inherently transgressive dimensions of free action in a shared historical world.

Normally we think of the past as a settled matter; if we are free to influence the direction of things, we think, only the future can be in our hands. Against this very sensible linear conception of time, this paper draws on the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Hannah Arendt to argue that free action opens up new spaces of meaning for the future and, in so doing, changes both the meaning and the direction [sens] of the past. On the one hand, recognition of the open-ended nature of the past is liberating: far from being a settled matter, the meaning of the past is sensitive to what we make of it in the present. On the other hand, this recognition is ineluctably tragic, for to recognize the open-ended nature of the past is at the same time to grapple with the fact that our own free action now —in this living present that will one day be past—is open in its meaning to the events and judgments of the future. Our free actions—the words and deeds by which we give voice to who we are—are definitively not in our hands alone.

The argument of this paper proceeds in five parts. Part one briefly outlines three familiar conceptions of freedom. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s chapter “Temporality” in Phenomenology of Perception (1945), part two argues that these familiar understandings of freedom are rooted in impoverished and phenomenologically untenable conceptions of time and subjectivity. Part three shows that Arendt’s conception of natality in
The Human Condition (1958), together with Merleau-Ponty’s conception of expression, reveals that the freely acting self creatively draws on the specific resources of a shared past in order to institute new meaningful possibilities for the future; in so doing, she at once discovers and institutes herself as the self that she is. Part four draws on Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of history in Humanism and Terror (1947), using as an example Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s controversial 1963 Birmingham campaign, in order to make the paper’s central argu-ment: free action has the power not only to inaugurate new and unprecedented possibilities for the future, but to realize retroactively the sens of the past. Recognizing this temporal structure of action compels us to grapple with the inherent risk of freedom: we must take responsibility for what we do now without ever being able to be definitively master of the meaning of our deeds. Part five shows that for both Merleau-Ponty and Arendt, in the last analysis ethical-political actors can do no better than to cultivate a political virtù while owning up to the inherently audacious and transgressive dimensions of free action in a shared historical world. . . ." (continue reading at Freedom as (Self-)Expression: Natality and the Temporality of Action in Merleau-Ponty and Arendt
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I wish the one on Merleau-Ponty wasn't on a pay site. it's probably interesting. Or are they essentially the same thing?
As I recall only the first two pages or the abstract were available at academia.edu, from which I followed the link to the whole paper at Springer. It may be that we can request that the author put the whole paper up at academia.edu. I'll look into that. In the meantime, it's possible at less cost than at Springer to order a print-out of the article through interlibrary loan available at most sizeable libraries and at all academic libraries.

If the searchable archives of this forum are fully operational, you can probably access earlier discussions of MP's theory of language as originarily open-ended expression in citations I posted to works by Richard Lanigan.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Material Engagement Theory and its philosophical ties to pragmatism
Antonis Iliopoulos1

Abstract -- Material Engagement Theory (MET) is currently driving a conceptual change in the archaeology of mind. Drawing upon the dictates of enactivism and active externalism, it specifically calls for a radical reconceptualization of mind and material culture. Unpersuaded by the common assumption that cognition is brain-bound, Malafouris argues in favour of a process ontology that situates thinking in action. In granting ontological primacy to material engagement, MET seeks to illuminate the emergence of human ways of thinking through the practical effects of the material world. Considering that this is a characteristic example of a pragmatic take on cognition, this contemporary theoretical platform appears to share a lot with pragmatism. As of late, scholars working at the intersection of philosophy, semiotics, and cognitive science have made important steps towards the rapprochement between pragmatism and externalism. Looking to contribute to this growing corpus of work, the present paper focuses on MET’s relation to the pragmatism of Peirce, Dewey, and Mead. Having elsewhere recognized the overlap and complementarity between Malafouris’ and Peirce’s theories in particular, I developed a pragmatic and enactive theory of cognitive semiotics that is suitably geared to trace the nature, emergence, and evolution of material signs. Therefore, besides noting some obvious historical connections, I hereby aim to establish (at least part of) the theoretical backdrop upon which this composite theory is supposed to function, while also exploring new potential avenues. Given that this cognitive semiotic framework can be seen as a pragmatic extension of Malafouris’ enactivist approach to archaeology, the current paper delves into MET’s theoretical underpinnings, seeking to complement its working hypotheses and concepts with philosophical notions and ideas advanced long ago. This synthesis ultimately concludes with a call for the reconceptualization of ‘representation’ as a heuristic concept.

Keywords -- Material Engagement Theory . Enactivism. Pragmatism. Cognition. Signification. Agency. Creativity. Metaplasticity

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (2019) 18:39–63 Material Engagement Theory and its philosophical ties to pragmatism
* Antonis Iliopoulos antonis.iliopoulos@keble.oxon.org
1 Institute of Archaeology, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PG, UK

https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11097-018-9596-5.pdf
 

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