16.182 a garden enclosed, no garden otherwise

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Mon Aug 26 2002 - 11:19:05 EDT

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty : "16.185 a garden enclosed"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 182.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: "C. Perry Willett" <pwillett@indiana.edu> (11)
             Subject: Re: 16.180 gatekeeping & its perils

       [2] From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance) (37)
             Subject: Re: 16.166 embodiment

             Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 08:10:01 -0700
             From: "C. Perry Willett" <pwillett@indiana.edu>
             Subject: Re: 16.180 gatekeeping & its perils


    As A. Bartlett Giamatti was fond of pointing out, the root of
    "paradise" is from Persian for an enclosed garden, or, as the
    OED has it, "for a (Persian) enclosed park, orchard, or pleasure
    ground." Giamatti, in his dual role of Commissioner of Baseball
    and very public intellectual, liked the idea of a baseball park
    as paradise, but perhaps virtual paradises require a wall as well.

    Perry Willett
    Main Library
    Indiana University

             Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 08:10:35 -0700
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Re: 16.166 embodiment

    Arun-Kumar Tripathi recently invited the souls of Humanist to consider
    "Understanding the world by virtue of having Bodies". There is in that
    invitation a reference to "a machine without a body".

    > understand the world by virtue of having bodies and a machine without a
    > body would never understand the world the way we do.

    >From a systems perspective, is there such a thing as a body without a
    machine? Another way of restating the question is to ask if the human
    does not exist except in a prosthetic condition. The human is always in a
    state of mediation.

    If this inescability of the prosthetic condition and the necessity of the
    state of mediation is the human destiny, then the question asked by our
    learned colleague is unanswerable. We cannot know "a machine without a
    body" and if we cannot know such a machine, how are we to judge whether it
    is capable of understanding the world as we do?

    I find it difficult to imagine humans as reasoning beings free of all
    technological augmentation since for me reason proceeds by the use of
    tools (rules are tools). I am also still to be convinced that unmediated
    contact is possible between the human and the world. If I as a human being
    were to know a "machine without a body" in that very act of knowing I
    would be endowing the "machine without a body" with a body.

    The computer and the user form a system. And in this system the human
    gives mind to the machine. The question for our time is whether machines
    give "mind" to the human or whether machines that appear to "give mind" to
    humans are but mediating instances and instruments through which other
    humans mind humans. It is a question if our time is the time and place of
    Western-inspired ideological systems that place the human in a particular
    situation vis-a-vis the natural in an exploiter-exploited relation.

    The question of the autonomy of the artefact is familiar to text encoders
    and ethnobotanists. It is a moral and aesthetic question that is older
    than fancy talk of technological ecologies and textual economies. And yet
    I am curious as to what the meme "machine without body" can do in the
    streams of networked discourse.

    Old enough to be curious,


    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
    per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality

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