Monday, October 31, 2011

additional comments on the notion of 'Pairing'

Husserl explains the notion of 'Pairing' as follows:

Pairing is a primal form of that passive synthesis which we designate as "association", in contrast to passive synthesis of "identification". In a pairing association the characteristic feature is that, in the most primitive case, two data are given intuitionally, and with prominence, in the unity of a consciousness and that, on this basis --- essentially, already in pure passivity (regardless therefore of whether they are noticed or unnoticed) ---, as data appearing with mutual distinctness, they found phenomenologically a unity of similarity and thus are always constituted precisely as a pair. If there are more than two such data, then a phenomenally unitary group, a plurality, becomes constituted. On more precise analysis we find essentially present here an intentional overreaching, coming about genetically (and by essential necessity) as soon as the data that undergo pairing have become prominent and simultaneously intended; we find, more particularly, a living mutual awakening and overlaying of each with the objective sense of the other. This overlaying can bring a total or a partial coincidence, which in any particular instance has its degree, the limiting case being that of complete "likeness". As the result of this overlaying, there takes place in the paired data a mutual transfer of sense --- that is to say: an apperception of each according to the sense of the other, so far as / moments of sense actualized in what is experienced do not annul this transfer, with the consciousness of "different".
[Husserl, E (1950/1988). Cartesian Meditation. (trans.) D. Cairns. London: Kluwer Academic. p.113.]

My body and that of the other are not the same but they are enough similar to make 'a unity of similarity'. There is an 'intentional overreaching', which is 'a living mutual awakening and overlaying of each with the objective sense of the other'. Through this process, the other's body is recognized as a living body like mine.

The word "intentional overreaching" (original German is "intentionales Ubergreifen") was translated into French as "transgression intentionelle" and possibly had an influence on the Merleau-Pontian notion of "intercorporeality".

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.