« Leslie Feinberg speaks | Main | not quite the end . . . »

May 4, 2005

holding form

Last week, Briankle gave us a karate lesson, emphasizing over and over again that it is the form that matters.

"The perfection of the form of a thing is its entelechy in virtue of which it attains its fullest realization of function (De anima, ii. 2)."

Entelechy "denotes realization as opposed to potentiality."

What I'm thinking is that entelechy is the achievement of a form's skopos. In order not to lose form - in other words, in order to realize something, to bring it into being - one must train diligently, vigorously. Training is the practice of moving into position, of choosing the form that best responds to contingency, of enacting the form spontaneously, at the level of instinct because it is so deeply ingrained.

Karate is an analogy for life. For communication. For theorizing about communication and life? To theorize is to believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds. From theoria, a latin term meaning "to see, to stage, theatre, scene, spectacle" (class notes, 4/27/05).

Here's an explanation: "Theoria, in contrast [to phronesis], defines a very different rational capacity, traditionally translated as "contemplation," and by Irwin as "study," particularly theoretical study. Theoria is the activity which expresses nous, "understanding." One understands origins‹origins are not demonstrable, one cannot prove them syllogistically‹however, everything has an origin, and it is through theoria that we know these. It does not lead to "an answer" to a problem. Aristotle does not see theoria as necessarily equivalent to philosophy, then‹I can think philosophically about a number of things, however, rarely do I do theoria. I might, instead, wonder about various applications of ethics to problems in the real world, or about theoretical issues of translation, or what it means to have knowledge‹but this is not theoria. From what Aristotle seems to be saying here, theoria would be strictly reflecting on the knowledge of origins‹almost like meditating on the idea of a god." (from EUDAIMONIA AND THE ACTIVITY(IES)OF THE SOUL IN ARISTOTLE'S ETHICS.

This article, The Place of Phronesis in Postmodern Hermeneutics, discusses Lyotard's suggestion, based on Kuhn, "that scientific knowledge involves a search for instabilities rather than consensus." This reminds me of Immanual Velikovsky. Enoch tried to show us this movie about him yesterday. (Note: he is still being critiqued, but at a level that is incomprehensible to me.)

Juan noted that Velikovsky's theory sounds like Eldredge and Gould's theory of punctuated equilibrium. The difference, I think, is that punctuated equilibrium refers specifically to evolution, whereas Velikovsky's theory has more to do with geology and astronomy.

What intrigued me about Velikovsky is the notion that there may be forces larger than the institutionalized, macrosocial social, economic, and political processes that cultural studies and political economy takes for granted as the biggest patterns that matter. It reminds me of that basic science movie, the power of ten. Here's an interactive web site that does essentially the same thing. Take, for instance, 10 to the +12 as a Velikovskiian "level", compared with 10 to the +7, which shows continental geography (roughly the level of political economy?) Both macrosocial and microsocial perspectives originate from the position of our own perspective.

Our own perspective is grounded in our body and the social mileau we operate within. The flower bed which composes the example could analogically be my immediate peers, colleagues, friends, professors, etc. Microsocially, the first increment "down" distinguishes individuals, 10 to the -1. The next level isolates features and characteristics of an individual. At 10 to the -3, we're dealing with perception, and next at the perceptual apparatus, then to the unique characteristics of each biological element of functional perception.

At 10 to the -8, we arrive at the level of DNA and the capacity for reproduction. At 10 to the -10, we encounter electromagnetism. Arguably, somewhere at this level are the operational structures of consciousness.

This is (if my analogy holds) the level where knowledge is constructed, where language occurs.

Posted by Steph at May 4, 2005 4:02 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Post a comment yipee

Remember Me?