This would seem to be her thesis statement:
What I would like to show, however, is that the nature of this transcendence is complex. It consists of three different types of transcendence that belong to three distinct cognitive domains that are unique to man and manifest three evolutionary milestones that have contributed to the emergence of the symbolic human species. Moreover, these three types of transcendence do not exist side by side, but inform and interpenetrate each other in intricate and abyssal ways, contributing to the paradoxical character of the linguistic sign and underlying some familiar inconsistencies and contradictions of our consciousness that, borrowing Gregory Bateson's term, I would like to refer to as the double-bind of freedom.Give it a read - it's very interesting, even if I am not sure I fully grasp what she is about here.
"Anthropoetics - The Journal of Generative Anthropology"
Volume XV, number 2 (Spring 2010)
URL: http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap1502/ (this issue)
Here are some excepted paragraphs:
THREE GAPS OF REPRESENTATION / THREE MEANINGS OF TRANSCENDENCE
In this essay, I would like to explore the idea of the multifaceted nature of transcendence that underlies symbolic representation in the form of language. It is commonly agreed that by creating a distinction between a sign and a referent, representation injects a discontinuity into our thinking. It introduces a gap between what is immediately present and what is possible, between an object and its imaginary recreation. It gives birth, in other words, to transcendence. What I would like to show, however, is that the nature of this transcendence is complex. It consists of three different types of transcendence that belong to three distinct cognitive domains that are unique to man and manifest three evolutionary milestones that have contributed to the emergence of the symbolic human species. Moreover, these three types of transcendence do not exist side by side, but inform and interpenetrate each other in intricate and abyssal ways, contributing to the paradoxical character of the linguistic sign and underlying some familiar inconsistencies and contradictions of our consciousness that, borrowing Gregory Bateson's term, I would like to refer to as the double-bind of freedom. Tracing the configurations and interplay of these three discontinuities will add to our originary understanding of the sacrificial nature of representation.
The first two of these gaps and their interrelation are succinctly elucidated in "The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic" by Martin Heidegger, who shows how they refer to two different ways of "going beyond" that are often confused or conflated. In other words, they manifest two distinct meanings of the term "transcendence." One of them is the transcendence that
can be considered the opposite of contingency. The contingent is what touches us, what pertains to us, that with which we are on the same footing, that which belongs to our kind and sort. The transcendent, on the contrary, is what is beyond all this as that which conditions it, as the unconditioned, but at the same time as the really unattainable, what exceeds us [das "Uberschw"angliche]. Transcendence is stepping-over in the sense of lying beyond conditioned beings. (MFL 161)
Heidegger uses the term "contingency" in the sense of "dependent on or conditioned by something else" or "subject to causality," meaning that the notion of the transcendence-that-is-the-opposite-of-contingency stems from our intuition about the necessity of the first cause, or an intuition that allows a theoretical possibility of a discontinuity in any chain of causation.
In other words, insofar as we picture the world is an aggregate of adjacent or nested boxes, we need to have a model of how communication between these boxes is possible in some causal form of signal-sending. This line of questioning leads us towards a theory of knowledge. This is why Heidegger terms this conception of transcendence--the transcendence that is the opposite of immanence--"epistemological".
This second type of gap, I would like to claim, is coterminous with the second important adaptation in the proto-human that paved the way for language. It is, what Peter G"ardenfors calls, the " theory of mind". At some point, early hominids developed a theory of mind, that is to say, an ability to impute thoughts, emotions, and intentionality to other sentient beings, according to G"ardenfors. It has been argued by some primatologists that higher apes also have a theory of mind. That this is plausible is inferred from a claim that primates are capable of deception.
The other being will forever remain somewhat of a mystery to ourselves--a closed book, a black box--and this mystery will make itself felt as an unbridgeable distance between two subjectivities. We could summon the help of psychology or neural science, but the former will, at best, be a heuristic tool, while the latter will reveal the workings of the brain rather than the mind. While the functioning of the brain, or the "hardware," might be both relevant and instructive, it is ultimately a different category, an experiential one, into which we are inquiring. The infinite, the impossible distance between our minds and those of others is the second type of transcendence--the transcendence that is the opposite of immanence. What comes first--the idea of subjecthood or that of transcendence? For Heidegger, it is the latter. He writes: "transcendence is not an additional attribute I ascribe to a subject, but the question becomes whether the essence of subjectivity can be grasped, first and foremost, through a rightly understood transcendence" (MFL 161).
Despite Heidegger's labeling the second transcendence "epistemological," it is the melding of the two concepts of transcendence that allows us to conceive of interactions between objects in terms of causality, given that the relationship of cause and effect is implicated both in our kinesthetic sense of self-movement and the expectation of resistance. As mentioned, kinesthesia and the experience of agency are inextricably bound up with each other and with our experience of agency, hinging on the experience of our expenditure of muscular effort originating "from a sense of actively imitating movement itself" (PM 426). Not only are we sensitive to our own movement, according to Sheets-Johnstone, but our sensitivity functions also by being attuned to the feedback and dynamic modifications of our environment, including the movement of others.
I would like to re-conceive this two-way responsiveness to the self and to one's surroundings in the light of what I would like to call an "effort/resistance schema", where resistance is understood as an attunement or sensitivity to the outside world, which is given to us as something permanent, something that stands in our way and resists our efforts to disturb or modify it. In fact, the notions of effort and resistance are cognitively indissociable from each other, since without the experience of the resisting milieu (including the experience of our own body perceived as a resisting object that is difficult to move), an effort would not feel like an effort, and a desire to achieve a goal that this effort was designed to bring about would not register as a desire, which has a built-in idea of a distance between a conception and its fulfillment. Instead we would be omnipotent beings with the power of instant gratification.
Heidegger, as well, recognizes that the conflation of the two transcendences is not simply a philosophical error but that they are entangled in profound and indissociable ways. For example, the idea of divinity is broader than simply that of the unconditioned. God is not only God-the-Creator but also the absolute Other, the latter being a concept which cannot be properly grasped without engaging epistemological transcendence.
Now both conceptions of transcendence, the epistemological and the theological, can be conjoined--something that has always happened and always recurs. For once the epistemological conception of transcendence is granted, whether expressly or implicitly, then a being is posited outside the subject, and it stands over against the latter. Among the beings posited opposite, however, is something which towers above everything, the cause of all. It is thus both something over against [the subject] and something which transcends all conditioned beings over against [the subject]. The transcendent, in this double sense, is the Eminent, the being that surpasses and exceeds all experience. So, inquiry into the possible constitution of the transcendent in the epistemological sense is bound up with inquiry into the possibility of knowing the transcendent object in the theological sense. (MFL 162)
I would like to diverge from this by proposing that it is, in fact, more natural to conjoin or entwine these ideas than to separate them. It is not possible to reach the Eminent Being because, as the absolutely Other, it cannot be known to us. At the same time, we cannot know it because it is unreachable as the absolutely unconditioned. Thus, both concepts are mutually implicated to a very intimate degree, together contributing to the notion of the Eminent--the absolutely Other and the absolutely exceeding.
The two transcendent experiences, constituted by the theoretical discontinuity between the phenomenologically immediate kinesthetics of effort of resistance and the ballistically disembodied system of representation, inform and complement each other's model of divinity. On the one hand, we have God who is the creator and originator, the rationally necessary source of the created universe to which everything points, the unconditioned ground for conditioned beings, the First Cause. On the other, there exists, in parallel to God-the-creator, the God of catastrophes and natural disasters, of plagues and desolation, surprises and unforeseen occurrences, the helmsman of destiny, God of prayers, supplication, and propitiation.
These two Gods touch us in different but mutually penetrating ways. We become conscious of objects outside our consciousness through the kinesthetics of effort and resistance, which brings us the knowledge of the phenomena that stand between us and our desire for gratification: substances we wade or squeeze through, things we bump into and walk around, the inhospitable elements that send us in search of protection, materials that resist being shaped to suit our needs. All of these fall under the category of necessity and jolt us into an awareness of the objective existence of something we might call "exteriority," which houses various "external" physical objects that make themselves felt and known by impinging upon our senses as appearances. In this way, an intuition that belongs to the realm of the intelligible makes itself known empirically through the phenomenological pre-understanding of cause and effect. In the reverse (and reciprocal) fashion, the intelligible pre-understanding of the outside allows us to conceive the notion of transcendence that exceeds the contingent. Namely, on its own terms, our phenomenological experience of effortful striving, of reaching out toward a goal does not take us out of the contingent or suggest the existence of a "beyond." But because we have an intelligible pre-understanding of the outside, we are capable of conceiving the unconditioned "beyond" of what impresses on us as the horizon of experience. Thus, in a symmetrical fashion, an empirical insight is achieved as a result of an intuition that is accessible intellectually.
But in talking about God, I am already getting ahead of myself, because the frame of reference in which the two Gods can be discerned already presupposes the third gap, which I have not mentioned yet--that between the center and periphery. This gap opens up when the final milestone on the way to language is established--that of joint attention. By "final," I do not mean the actual historical order of these adaptations. If anything, it represents another aspect of the theory of mind--a level of the development of interpersonal skills that evinces a very sophisticated capacity for imitation.
Read the whole article.
Tags: Philosophy, Self, other, Psychology, theory of mind, development, language, Marina Ludwigs, Three Gaps of Representation, Three Meanings of Transcendence, Heidegger, epistemological, theological, Eminent Being, God, effort/resistance schema, contingency, subject to causality, Anthropoetics, Journal of Generative Anthropology, symbolic representation
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