Organic and Social Correspondence - Point 19
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This Page, this Point:
“Case 1: Two communities live along the northwest Pacific coast of North America. One subsists largely on marine mammals, such as seals and sea lions; the members hunt in small, silent parties, roving widely. The other community focuses on fish, especially schools of salmon; its members hunt in big noisy groups and stay close to home. Both societies speak the same language, but with distinct dialects that differ even from clan to clan.
“Case 2: Two populations live 250 kilometers apart, separated by high mountains. One group erects towers of glued sticks on a painted black mossy base, decorated in stereotyped style with black, brown, and gray snail shells, acorns, sticks, stones, and leaves. The other population erects woven-stick huts on an unpainted green mossy base, decorated with much individual variation, using fruits, flowers, fungus, and butterfly wings, of every color imaginable except a few shades of brown, gray, and white.
"Case 3: Different groups colonized different types of forest, where they found little competition. The empty niches allowed remarkable innovation: these are the only societies known to build arboreal residence. Each group invented a range of efficient techniques to harvest staple foods, focused on the seeds of conifers. The processing techniques require social transmission from one generation to the next; youngsters deprived of such tradition would starve.
None of these case studies is of humans. The first is not a society of sea-going canoe-hunters of marine vertebrates, such as the Kwakiutl, but are orcas, or killer whales. The second is not a highland New Guinean horticultural society such as the Eipo, but a population of bowerbirds. The third is not a seafaring, exploratory colonizer of uninhabited islands, such as the ancestral Polynesians, but black rats.” de Waal, Frans B. M., editor. Tree of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution. Harvard University Press. 2001. p. 232.
"The evolution of ideas has added a new dimension to the creative process, supplementing but not displacing the evolution of material things. As mind becomes less and less dependent on matter a collective mind is taking shape--thoughts are reverberating around the earth and beginning to reach out into the universe.
"Although mankind appears to be just a minute local phenomenon in a cosmos so vast that its size humbles the imagination, size alone is not a measure of importance. We have seen that the transformation process takes place by building from tiny individual centers. The whole is immanent in all the parts, no matter how small.
"An exponential process magnifies in a spectacular way even very little beginnings. As the extension of the creative force of life and mind doubles and doubles again it will rapidly encompass ever widening spheres. We can imagine that the next stages of evolution will be more beautiful as they approach nearer to the ultimate expression of Form. Although the general direction of the transformation process can be perceived, we know that it is always moving into unexplored territory. Each new level of oganization reveals qualities that cannot be anticipated until that stage is reached. (It would not have been possible, for example, to predict the creation of mind by studying the individual human cell.) Higher levels of organisms may be taking shape--not just in time but also in space, far out in the larger dimensions of the universe." Young, Louise, B. The Unfinished Universe. Oxford University. 1986. p. 204.
"Though man remains a nourishing being, we now see clearly that his being-in-the-world is oriented not solely or even primarily as eater. He is, by natural attitude, a being whose eyes are encouraged to be bigger than his stomach.
'Animals move in the direction of their digestive axis. Their bodies are expanded between mouth and anus as between an entrance and an exit, a beginning and an ending. The spatial orientation of the human body is different throughout. The mouth is still an inlet but no longer a beginning, the anus, an outlet but no longer the tail end. Man in upright posture, his feet on the ground and his head uplifted, does not move in the line of his digestive axis; he moves in the direction of his vision. He is surrounded by a world panorama, by a space divided into world regions joined together in the totality of the universe. Around him, the horizons retreat in an ever growing radius. Galaxy and diluvium, the infinite and the eternal, enter into the orbit of human interests.'
"As with upright posture itself, the contemplative gaze–or the transformation of seeing into beholding–requires maturation, and especially inner or psychic growth; small children do not have it and remain largely interested only in things that lie within their grasp. Eventually, as adults, we are able to organize the visible world into things near and far or, alternatively, into those visible and even remote things we are interested in prehending (by bringing them near) and those we are content to let be and to comprehend, at a distance and in their place, against a background totality, a world." Leon Kass, The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature, University of Chicago Press, 1999, pages 71-72 (The subquote is from Erwin Straus, "The Upright Posture," in "Phenomenological Psychology," 1966)
"The house of a caddis is strictly not a part of its cellular body, but it does fit snugly round the body. If the body is regarded as a gene vehicle, or survival machine, it is easy to see the stone house as a kind of extra protective wall, in a functional sense the outer part of the vehicle. It just happens to be made of stone rather than chitin. Now consider a spider sitting at the centre of her web. If she is regarded as a gene vehicle, her web is not a part of that vehicle in quite the same obvious sense as a caddis house, since when she turns round the web does not turn with her. But the distinction is clearly a frivolous one. In a very real sense her web is a temporary functional extension of her body, a huge extension of the effective catchment area of her predatory organs." "The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene," Richard Dawkins, p. 198.
“... we will see not only that biological and mental processes are isomorphic but that, when taken together, they constitute yet another complex adaptive system.” Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture. University of Chicago. 2001. p. 206.
"Human beings are supposed to be in part preconstituted genetically, in part moulded through the super-imposition (through enculturation or socialisation) of ready-made structures. Real humans, however, grow in an environment furnished by the presence and activities of others. It is precisely because the dynamics of development lie at the heart of the obviation approach that it is able to dispense with the biological/social dichotomy. And it leads, naturally, to a focus on issues of embodiment. By this I do not mean that the human body should be understood as a site or medium for the inscription of social values. I would rather use the term to stress that throughout life, the body undergoes processes of growth and decay, and that as it does so, particular skills, habits capacities, and strengths, as well as debilities and weaknesses, are enfolded into its very constitution--in its neurology, musculature, even its anatomy. To adopt a distinction suggested by Connerton, this is a matter of incorporation rather than inscription. Thus walking, for example, is embodied in the sense of being developmentally incorporated through practice and training in an environment." Oyama, Susan, Paul E. Griffiths & Russell D. Gray. Cycles of Contingency: Developmental Systems and Evolution. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. 2001. Ingold, Tim. "From Complementarity to Obviation." p. 258.
“Moving from a preliminary analogy between Darwin’s population-based notion of species and Kuhn’s community-based view of paradigm, I suggested an analogy between incommensurability and sterility. Just as a variety’s inability to breed back with the original species marks the beginning of a new species, the inability to communicate between an emerging paradigm and the previous one (that is, of ‘breeding cognitively’) may be seen as the sign of the establishment of a new ‘scientific species.’” Biagioli, Mario. “From Relativism to Contingentism” The Disunity of Science. 1996. Stanford University Press. pp. 196.
“Yet the notion of humanity as forming one body with the universe has been so widely accepted by the Chinese, in popular as well as elite culture, that it can very well be characterized as a general Chinese worldview.” Tucker, Mary Evelyn and Berthrong, John, editors. Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans. Harvard University Press (Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions). 1998. “The Continuity of Being: Chinese Visions of Nature” by Tu Weiming. p. 113.
"Individuals in possession of reading, writing, and other visuo-graphic skills thus become somewhat like computers with networking capabilities; they are equipped to interface, to plug into whatever network becomes available. And once plugged in, their skills are determined by both the network and their own biological inheritance. Humans without such skills are isolated from the external memory system, somewhat like a computer that lacks the input/output devices needed to link up with a network. Network codes are collectively held by specified groups of people; those who possess the code, and the right of access, share a common source of representations and the knowledge encoded therein. Therefore, they share a common memory system; and as the data base in that system expands far beyond the mastery of any single individual, the system becomes by far the greatest determining factor in the cognitions of individuals.
"The memory system, once collectivized into the external symbolic storage system, becomes virtually unlimited in capacity and much more robust and precise. Thought moves from the relatively informal narrative ramblings of the isolated mind to the collective arena, and ideas thus accumulate over the centuries until they acquire the precision of continuously refined exterior devices, of which the prime example is modern science. But science, ubiquitous though it is at present, is atypical in historical terms. Human cultural products have usually been stored in less obviously systematic forms: religions, rituals, oral literary traditions, carvings, songs--in fact, in any cultural device that allows some form of enduring externalized memory, with rules and routes of access." Merlin, Donald. The Origin of the Mind. Harvard University Press. 1991, p. 311.
"This unity with our body, however, is no more strict identity than is our unity with our own past experience. Rather: ‘The body is that portion of nature with which each moment of human experience intimately cooperates. There is an inflow and outflow of factors between the bodily actuality and the human experience, so that each shares in the existence of the other.’ Griffin, David Ray. Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom, and the Mind-Body Problem. University of California Press. 1998. p. 148. Subquote is from Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought, 1938. p. 115.
From the vantage of society thinking it is more correct to say that:
we know the world by growing into it, by incorporating it, by expanding our society. each of us has an extended body of all of our actual relations to the world. thinking is a type of digesting where prior relations accommodate new ones to reform our extended, mental bodies. collectively, we can be said to have “intercorporated” the world; our meaning blanket is a supraorganism. all reality as we agree on it is our common coordination of patterns–in other words, our social body. all reality, as we disagree on it, is our social body’s relational digestive work at play–frolicking or evolving new social bodies.
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Page updated 3/5/03