Thursday, April 21, 2011

Notes on Intercorporeality (2)

From philosophical point of view, the problem of the other minds and how we understand the others is a variation or a byproduct of the mind-body problem. Merleau-Ponty explains;

[i]f the body is indeed a province of the world, if it is that object which the biologist talks about, that conjunction of processes analysed in physiological treatises, that collection of organs shown in the plates of books on anatomy, then my experience can be nothing but the dialogue between bare consciousness and the system of objective correlations which it conceives. The body of another, like my own, is not inhabited, but is an object standing before the consciousnesss which thinks about or constitutes it. Other men, and myself, seen as empirical beings, are merely pieces of mechanism worked by springs, but the true subject is irrepeatable, for that consciousness which is hidden in so much flesh and blood is the least intelligible of occult qualities. My consciousness, being co-extensive with what can exist for me, and corresponding to the whole system of experience, cannot encounter, in that system, another consciousness capable of bringing immediately to light in the world the background, unknown to me, of its own phenomena. There are two modes of being, and two only: being in itself, which is that of objects arrayed in space, and being for itself, which is that of consciousness. Now, another person would seem to stand before me as in-itself and yet to exist for himself, thus requiring of me, in order to be perceived, a contradictory operation, since I ought both to distinguish him from myself, and therefore place him in the world of objects, and think of him as a consciousness, that is, the sort of being with no outside and no parts, to which I have access merely because that being is myself, and because the thinker and the thought about are amalgamated in him. There is thus no place for other people and a plurality of consciousness in objective thought.
[Merleau-Ponty, M. (1945/1962) Phenomenology of Perception, p.349-50.]

Cartesian Cogito, the mind-body dualism, and the solipsism form the hidden triangle behind the problem of the other minds. In order to think over the problem, it is needed to shift the the way of thinking, at least as follows;

1. The mind is embodied.

2. The other person appears as the lived body (not as the objective body), as concrete behaviors in the shared context or in the common world.

3. Understanding the other person's mind is not trying to find his/her mind behind the bodily appearances.

4. One can directly experience the other person through bodily interactions, regardless of whether one can clearly understand his/her mind or not.

5. There might be an latent dimension, where one's body and that of the other are like organs of one single intercorporeality.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Notes on Intercorporeality (1)

A quotation from Merleau-Ponty's text on Intercorporeality.

[M]y right hand was present at the advent of my left hand's active sense of touch. It is no different fashion that the other's body becomes animate before me when I shake another man's hand or just look at him. In learning that my body is a "perceiving thing," that it is able to be stimulated (reizbar)---it, and not just my "consciousness"---I prepared myself for understanding that there are other animalia and possibly other men.
It is imperative to recognize that we have here neither comparison, nor analogy, nor projection or "introjection." The reason why I have evidence of the other man's being-there when I shake his hand is that his hand is substituted for my left hand, and my body annexes the body of another person in that "sort of reflection" it is paradoxically the seat of. My two hands "coexist" or are "compresent" because they are one single body's hands. The other person appears through an extension of that compresence; he and I are like organs of one single intercorporeality.
[Merleau-Ponty, M. (1960/1964). The Philosopher and His Shadow. in Signs. p.168]

In order to understand the other man's "being-there", we don't need any analogy or projection. It is based on the direct perception and direct experience. Understanding the other person is basically the problem of perception, not that of theoretical inference or internal projection.