This article discusses experimental studies of facial imitation in infants in the light of Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological theories of embodiment. I argue that both Sartre's account of the gaze of the other and Merleau-Ponty's account of the reversibility of the flesh provide a fertile ground for interpreting the data demonstrating that very young infants can imitate facial expressions of adults. Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's accounts of embodiment offer, in my view, a desirable alternative to the dominant mentalistic interpretation of facial imitation in terms of the theory of mind.
Sisyphean Landscape Allegory in Cinema
its diagonal progression across the screen, slowly ascending the muddy slope, in this unusual substitution of human character for manmade apparatus. Yet, the film's embodiment of Sisyphean physiological experience, per se, persists in tighter shots of
axiomatic claim that there is an intrinsic value to choice and freedom, finding inspiration in the sociological literature on embodiment such as to find its normative referent, while adding heft and substance to the becoming of the subject as an agent in the
The Enigma of Non-arrival
Nigel Rapport and Noa Vaisman
How people arrive at their convictions, and how they come to change them, remain immensely difficult questions. This article approaches convictions as manifestations of individuals' embodiment, and as allegories of their lives. As well as a rehearsing of moments of his own embodied learning, the main author engages in an email exchange with the second author, pondering how he might answer her questions about an anthropological methodology which more nearly approaches others' embodied experiences: the convictions represented by informants' words and behaviours. The article ends inconclusively. An individual's knowledge of body and self is part of that body and self, situated amid world-views and life-projects. Alongside the radical otherness of anthropologists' informants is the relative otherness of anthropologists to themselves. Our disciplinary conclusions concerning convictions, own and other, must remain provisional and open.
Joel W. Krueger
In this essay, I argue that Sartre's notion of pre-reflective consciousness can be summoned to offer a general challenge to contemporary functionalist accounts of mind, broadly construed. In virtue of the challenge Sartre offers these contemporary functionalist accounts and the richness of his phenomenological analysis, I conclude that his voice needs to be included in ongoing debates over the nature of consciousness. First, I look at some of the basic claims motivating functionalist accounts of mind. Next, I look at Sartre's notion of pre-reflective consciousness and discuss how this notion challenges functionalist accounts of mentality. I conclude by suggesting that Sartre's rendering of pre-reflective consciousness remains overly cognitivist. I show how this notion can be deepened to include the sensory-motor capacities of the situated body—resulting in a pre-reflective bodily self-awareness—and how this deepened formulation offers a further challenge to functionalist accounts of mind.
John C. Ryan
Since the eighteenth century, the study of plants has reflected an increasingly mechanized and technological view of the natural world that divides the humanities and the natual sciences. In broad terms, this article proposes a context for research into flora through an interrogation of existing literature addressing a rapprochement between ways to knowledge. The natureculture dichotomy, and more specifically the plant-to-human sensory disjunction, follows a parallel course of resolution to the schism between objective (technical, scientific, reductionistic, visual) and subjective (emotive, artistic, relational, multi-sensory) forms of knowledge. The foundations of taxonomic botany, as well as the allied fields of environmental studies, ethnobotany and economic botany, are undergirded by universalizing, sensorylimited visual structuring of the natural world. As the study of everyday embodied interactions of humans with flora, expanding upon the lens of cultural ecology, "cultural botany" provides a transdisciplinary research approach. Alternate embodied cultural engagements with flora emerge through a syncretic fusion of diverse methodologies.
Tracing Durkheim's Legacy
Sondra L. Hausner
This issue of Durkheimian Studies presents the collective efforts of the participants of a workshop held in late 2017, the centenary anniversary of Émile Durkheim’s death, at the University of Oxford. The articles that emerged from it, published together in this special issue for the first time along with some new material, demonstrate a continuation of classic Durkheimian themes, but with contemporary approaches. First, they consider the role of action in the production of society. Second, they rely on authors’ own ethnographies: the contributors here engage with Durkheimian questions from the data of their own fieldsites. Third, effervescence, one of Durkheim’s most innovative contributions to sociology, is considered in depth, and in context: how do societies sustain themselves over time? Finally, what intellectual histories did Durkheim himself draw upon – and how can we better understand his conceptual contributions in light of these influences?
Douglas Gordon’s “Pretty much every film and video work from about 1992 until now”
Human-computer interaction in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century has been aided by the graphical user interface (GUI). Cinematic representations of the GUI have reflected its pervasive quotidian presence and expanded beyond to create spectacular technophilic Hollywood blockbusters. The screen-based interaction, which computers and the cinema share, offers an important point of reflection upon the embodied relationship among screen, spectator, and the onscreen computer user. By examining cinematic representations of hackers, experts, and users and the extent to which they manipulate or submit to the computer's vision, this article considers the possible future interaction between spectator and the digital medium of cinema.
Rappaport and Polanyi between Thick and Thin
Robert E. Innis
Roy Rappaport’s attempted semiotic schematization of the logic of ritual, relying on analytical tools from C. S. Peirce’s philosophical semiotics, is examined in terms of both its conceptual coherence and its relation to other schematizations of ritual, especially Michael Polanyi’s thematization of a ‘tacit logic’ of meaning-making. The Peircean foregrounding of sign types (icons, indices, symbols) is compared to Polanyi’s delineation of an irreducible from-to structure of consciousness, rooted in the distinction between focal and subsidiary awareness, and to his further distinction between indication and symbolization as ways of relating to and effecting symbolic complexes, such as rituals. One of the startling upshots of this comparison is that the distinctions between ‘thick ritual’ and ‘thin ritual,’ and between art and ritual, become extremely labile. Examples from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philip Larkin, and Simone Weil illustrate this last point.