Monday, August 28, 2017

The virtual self as a center of gravity

Continuing this post (and its predecessors), recall that Thompson worked with Varela on neurophenomenology. This article on Varela has some pertinent Varela quotes:

"From both the biophysical and the concrete experiential points of view there is no central "I" other than the one sporadically actualized in a linguistic, self-referential mode in communication. The "I" can only be localized as an emergence but it acts as the center of gravity of the subject himself, of his real life experiences" (36).

But said self has no specific location. It is "co-determination of inner and outer." It is a "selfless self" or "virtual self" and yet "can provide an occasion for coupling in a dynamical process." Thus through the history of its interactions it maintains a "cognitive self."

Which of course reminds me of what Edwards et al. said in their article on syntegrity in another application:
“‘Syn-integrality’ resonates in particular with the idea of ‘tensegrity’ as this concept refers to the integrity of structures as being based in a synergy between the inseparable and balanced components of tension and compression (Fuller and Applewhite, 1975). [...] Instead of using compression, ‘syn-integral’ bridging achieves stability by the distribution and concurrent application of tension and pressure on the entire bridge and in relation between its poles. Thus, the integrity of the structure is determined by the distributed tensile stress of the entire system. [...] Remarkably these tensile structures have empty centres. Correspondingly, every point is visible and connectable from every other, suggesting a desirable form of transparency. […] For a tensegrity-oriented approach the centre is a virtual one, rather than being occupied by some dominant body, individual, concept or value. [...] Therefore syn-integral bridging does not follow the ideas of a metaphysical harmony, nor an underlying unity-oriented ideal(ism)" (127-8).

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