Sunday, October 23, 2011

Husserl's theory of the Other (3)

The body of the other is material and objective (Körper), but also living and animate (Leib) like mine. The other's body as Leib is not static. It appears to me as the body in behavior, which indicates indirectly the existence of other mental being.

The experienced animate organism of another continues to probe itself as actually an animate organism, solely in its changing but incessantly harmonious "behavior". Such harmonious behavior (as having a physical side that indicates something psychic appresentatively) must present itself fulfillingly in original experience, and do so throughout the continuous change in behavior from phase to phase. The organism becomes experienced as a pseudo-organism, precisely if there is something discordant about its behavior.
The character of the existent "other" has its basis in this kind of verifiable accessibility of what is not originally accessible....Whatever, by virtue thereof, is experienced in that founded manner which characterizes a primordially unfulfillable experience --- an experience that does not give something itself originally but that consistently verifies something indicated --- is "other".
[Husserl, E (1950/1988). Cartesian Meditation. (trans.) D. Cairns. London: Kluwer Academic. p.114-5.]

According to Husserl, the mind of the other does not appear in itself. It is something to be apprehended indirectly behind the bodily behavior. Thus, Husserl would claim that the understanding of the other minds should be based on that of the other's behavior and accordant with it. Before simulations or theoretical inferences as is seen in Theory of Mind, it is needed to understand bodily movements, actions, and behaviors of the others. (Phenomenology itself does not tell us whether the theory-theory or simulation theory is true.)

Again, what is important here is understanding the other person as an embodied being. Though we are not able to access or grasp directly the other's mind, we should not posit it as an abstract entity separated from the body or the behavior. It is something realized in concrete behaviors in certain contexts.