Monday, April 28, 2008

Development and happiness

What de Certeau also says is that “Every society as a whole learns that happiness cannot be equated with development” (Culture in the plural, p. 17). But doesn’t this implicitly suppose a very narrow meaning of “development”? Isn’t it so that we tend to interpret this quotation as if “development” means economic development? Actually it should have been so that in the first place we talk of development just if we mean something that makes us happy. This does not exclude economic development, of course, for everybody knows that economic development can make us happier, and economic development that brings us above a certain basic level surely does. However, everybody knows also about the saying “money does not make happy”. Therefore we cannot say that the more economic development there is, the happier we are. For if that would be true, we simply needed to work harder and harder and we would be in the highest state of happiness at the moment that we died because of our working so hard.

Monday, April 21, 2008

De Certeau on violence

Michel de Certeau writes: “What is true is that violence indicates a necessary change” (Culture in the plural, p. 36). What is not true is that such a change needs violence. It is not so that de Certeau says that change needs violence, or at least that some changes do, but his mystifying language does not make clear what he really means here and it actually both suggests that change needs violence and that it needs to be reached by political means. This makes me think of a saying by Mark Kurlansky. Many people, anyway too many, glorify violence. Other people find it acceptable but, as Kurlansky says: “War is always more popular with those who don’t experience it” (Nonviolence, p. 141). I want to say that the same is true for violence in general.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Personal identity (22)

On April 30, 2007, I wrote: “When ‘I’ stumble, is it then I who stumbles or is it my body that stumbles?” Now we can ask: Is it then my mind scheme that has failed or is it that my body scheme has failed? I do not refer to the fact that I am about to fall, for that problem is usually solved in an adequate way by a perfect co-operation of my mind scheme and my body scheme. But what is it that had had to take attention to that branch, while I am running, so that I could go on smoothly instead of stumbling over it? Was it my mind scheme that had had to take attention to everything that is in my way (in co-operation with the senses), or is it my body scheme that has failed to give attention to my environment, for instance like when I am driving a car safely, while I am thinking about everything but driving?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Body scheme

Schank and Abelson developed the idea that we have a scheme in our head that organizes the way we see the world and that we use in order to interpret the world. It is a kind of abstract knowledge structure in which we try to fit what we perceive. Referring to my last blog, we can call the knowledge that my body has when it knows how to run “body knowledge”. Then we can call the knowledge that I intellectually have about my running (and that I can write down in a book or article) “mind knowledge”. When people talk about knowledge, they usually mean mind knowledge, but body knowledge is also a real kind of knowledge that we need when we want to act. Some philosophers talked in this case of knowing how and distinguished it from knowledge that, which I have called mind knowledge. If it is so that our mind knowledge is ordered in a scheme that we use for interpreting the world, it is not unlikely that such a scheme also exists for our body knowledge, a kind of body scheme that organizes the knowledge of the body about the world and where the body tries to fit in new experiences about the world and that it uses for acting. But as Gallagher has shown, it is impossible to separate the mental part from a person’s bodily part, and actually both schemes are only different sides of the same scheme (cf. my blog of June 18, 2007).