Date: Sun 22 Dec 2002 - 22:50:28 GMT
Humanity's bodily nature not only determines the possibility and
difficulty of their physical actuations of their intentions accoding to size,
howeever. Human perceptions are also limited by the manner in which
they are structured in the body. Vision is limited to apprehension of
wavelengths between 3900 and 6900 angstroms in length, audition is
limited to the perception of pitches between 20 ans 20,000 Hertz, and
tactile stimulations can only register when matter or energy directly
contacts the human surface. Humans are determined, individually to
two and for specise perpetuation to all three of T.S. Eliout's trilogy of
birth (beginnig of a being), copulation (conjoining of two beings) and
death (end of a being). Humans are spatiotemporally finite. Humans
also communicate, mainly through language. This communication is
efected through one's intentional modifications of another's perceptual
field; this points to (1) the a priori agreement between humans of both
common meanings and common modes of their expression, and (2) the
a priori constancy and intersubjective similarity of perceptions so
actionally modified. Even common conceptions are themselves
grounded in the perception of a common world; Aristotle's three Laws of
Thought (if A then A, A or not A, not both A and not A) are perceptually
rounded as follows: if I perceive an object then I perceive that object,
either I perceive an object or I don't; and I cannot simultaneously
perceive and not perceive the selfsame aspect of a single object (there
is a fourth Law that Aristotle missed: if not A then not A, that is, if I do
not perceive an object, then I do not perceive it). Our concepts are
extrapolated from our percepts, in which they are phenomenologically
grounded. As one's own body is the third perspectival element in
figure-ground perception, so is a thought (figure) in a context (ground)
interpreted from one's own subjectivity. However unusual the
perspective or abstruse the thought, its primordial ground is the world
as perceived, and its cognition is within a context of common meaning.
Back to Maurice. We have two more questions to ask of him before we proceed: (1) how is an Other recognized? and (2) is there an essential nature, accessible by probability, to being-among-Others? As to the first question...
"From the depths of my subjectivity I see another subjectivity
invested with equal rights appear, because the behavior of the other
takes place within my perceptual field. I understand this behavior, the
words of another; I espouse his thoughts because this other, born in the
midst of my phenomena, appropriates them and treats them in accord
with typical behaviors which I myself have experienced. Just as my
body, as the system of all my holds on the world, founds the unity of the
objects, which I perceive, in the same way the body of the other - as the
bearer of symbolic behaviors and of the behavior of true reality - tears
itself away from being one of my phenomena, offers me the task of a
true communication, and confers on my objects the new dimension of
intersubjective being or, in other words, of objectivity."
All very well and good. I see another 'myself' manifested,
through behavior and meaning congruent with my own, within my
perceptual field. Now it is time to answer the second question.
"The For-Themselves - me for myself and the other for himself -
must stand out against a background of For-Others - I for the other and
the other for me. My life must have a significance which i do not
constitute; there must strictly speaking be an intersubjectivity; each one
of us must be both anonymous in the sense of absolutely individual,
and anonymous in the sense of absolutely general. Our being-in-the-
world is the concrete bearer of this double anonymity."
Thus we are all different in that we are different subjects, but
this difference is adjectival, not essential. Likewise we are all the same
in our very identity of mode of subjectivity (without which it would be
impossible to distinguish between subject and object), but once again
this sameness is adjectival rather than essential. For beings-in-the-
world, difference and sameness are the thesis and antithesis which
correlate to comprise a synthetic social essence, one in which statistical
thought has a sound phenomenological basis. Merleau-Ponty stated
the need for such a basis; if he had sufficiently perused his own writings
he would have found it there.
Even human will strives for such a social synthesis, as erving
"When an individual plays a part he implicitly requests his
observers to take seriously the impression that is fostered before them.
They are asked to believe that the character they see actually
possesses the attributes he appears to possess, that the task he
performs will have the consequences that are implicitly claimed for it,
and that, in general, matters are what they appear to be."
Thus one consciously strives to be accepted and categorized
by others. Furthermore...
"One cannot judge the importance of definitional disruptions by
the frequesny with which they occur, for apparently they would occur
more were not constant precautions taken. We find that preventive
practices are constantly employed to compensate for discrediting
ocurences that have not been successfully avoided. When the
individual employs these strategies and tactics to protect his own
projections, we may refer to them as 'defensive practices'; when a
participant employs them to save the definition of the situation projected
by another, we speak of 'protective practices' or 'tact'. Together,
defensive and protective practices comprise the techniques employed
to safeguard the impression fostered by an individual during his
presence before others. It should be added that while we may be ready
to see that no fostered impressions would survive if defensive practices
were not employed, we are less ready prehaps to see that few
impressions could survive if those who received the impressions did not
exert tact in their reception of them."
...the individual is consciously aided and abetted conspiratorily
by the others, who consciously strive to accept and categorize. With
the explication of this conjunction between essence and accidence
towards similarity, the phenomenological basis for statistical thought is
But what form may the representation of this thought take? Humans are not absolutely different, nor are they absolutely the same. However, neither are the similarities arising from their sameness- difference dialectic absolutely delineated, nor are all aspects of these similarities identically patterned. By what means may such a variable
(the consequence of probable) multiplicity be uniformly represented?
I suggest that the representation already commonly in use, the Bell curve projected on an XY axis intersection grid (abscissa and ordinate), faithfully represents the phenomenological realities of the referent situation. The degree of difference within an anonymous aspect of humanity's actions or intentions may vary narrowly or widely. Also, the locus of greatest agreement may not be fixed a priori. The Bell curve is compatible with these requirements. The possible differences may vary to infinity, and the slope may be adjusted to intersect the X axis where appropriate, or not at all. The apex of the curve is determined by the locus of greatest agreement, not vice-versa. The number of individuals within this locus also determines the Y axis intersection point. Thus, the Bell curve is a variable tool well suited to this particular purpose. Also to be kept in mind is the a posteriori nature of its implementation, as a display of previously garnered experimental and phenomenal data. Lastly, as mentioned before, it is already in use in the social sciences, and the weight of its empirical veracity is a strong argument in its favor.
Would Maurice agree? Would the use fo the Bell curve as a statistical tool in the social sciences be compatible with Merleau-Ponty's conception of Freedom?
"We are always in a plenum, in being...I may defy all accepted
form, and spurn everything, for there is no case in which I am utterly
committed: but in this case I do not withdraw into my freedom, I engage
it elsewhere...Far from its being the case that my freedom is always
unattended, it is never without an accomplice, and its power of
perpetually tearing itself away finds its fulcrum in my universal
commitment in the world."
I think so.
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