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Computers and the embodied nature of communication
Merleau-Ponty's new ontology of embodiment

Ubiquity, Volume 2005 Issue November | BY Arun Kumar Tripathi 


Full citation in the ACM Digital Library

The world is... the natural setting of, and field for, all my thoughts and all my explicit perceptions. Truth does not "inhabit" only "the inner man," or more accurately, there is no inner man, man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself. Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception, Preface (1945)For the modern Man it is not so important to feel the Desire (Lust) or Listlessness (Unlust), but to animate themselves; Für den modernen Menschen ist es nicht mehr wichtig, Lust oder Unlust zu empfinden, sondern angeregt zu werden (Friedrich Nietszche, S. 108, Vom Übermenschen zu überreizten Menschen, "Paul Virilio, Die Eroberung des Körpers, Hanser Verlag, 1994)

The world² is... the natural setting of, and field for, all my thoughts and all my explicit perceptions. Truth does not "inhabit" only "the inner man," or more accurately, there is no inner man, man is in the world, and only in the world does he know himself. Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception, Preface (1945)

For the modern Man it is not so important to feel the Desire (Lust) or Listlessness (Unlust), but to animate themselves; F�r den modernen Menschen ist es nicht mehr wichtig, Lust oder Unlust zu empfinden, sondern angeregt zu werden (Friedrich Nietszche, S. 108, Vom �bermenschen zu �berreizten Menschen, "Paul Virilio, Die Eroberung des K�rpers, Hanser Verlag, 1994)

I. Introduction

Computer technology provides a new way of understanding the world in terms of "embodiment," which we can think of as a uniquely sensitive and manifold interface. As Martin Heidegger pointed out in Being and Time (section 43)³, the real problem is not to find an answer to philosophical question4 , but to understand how the question could arise in the first place. The role of the computer in the world has evolved from specialised computing machines to information devices that pervade our daily lives. As research in Artificial Intelligence attempts to make computers more human, some approaches to human-computer interaction are becoming analogous to human-human interaction. By attempting to emulate human conversation, natural language technologies are poised to replace traditional graphical interfaces as a more natural means of interaction. This approach, however, overlooks the embodied nature of communication, leading to serious difficulties in usability and implementation.

In this paper, I will show how integrating a multiplicity of input channels 5 leads to benefits in interactive efficiency and robustness, and I will also show that multimodal systems should take into account not only the user's thoughts but also the user's emotions (i.e., through affective computing). In this way, computers can hope to share some of the phenomenological experience of humans, bringing us closer together in a more intimate form of interaction. The phenomenology of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty provides a background for the design of readiness-to-hand 6 participants and tools. In our attempts to integrate computers into our daily lives in the world, we take into account the embodied nature of our interactions with each other and objects we manipulate. Dreyfus divides our embodiment into three modes as described by Merleau-Ponty: innate structures, basic general skills, and cultural skills (Dreyfus 7). Innate structures describe the way our body is built, and basic general skills are skills we learn through our bodies. Cultural skills 8 describe our learned interactions not directly tied to the way our bodies are built. In order to understand users and interact with them as ready-to-hand participants and tools, computers should view them as embodied agents in the world with communicative and cultural skills 9 specific to their embodiment. Natural language technologies capture a part of those communicative skills, but fail to take into account the embodied aspects of communication.

Phenomenological views on language and communication emphasise actions associated with our speech, which are ignored by pure natural language systems. Dourish describes Wittgenstein's view of language as socially shared practices "consisting of language and the actions into which it is woven" (Dourish, 2001). These actions into which language is woven are inseparable from communicative meaning. Thus, language has an extra dimension associated with social conventions and actions, such as gestures, pointing and body language. Winograd and Flores describe language whereby "words correspond to our intuition about 'reality' because our purposes in using them are closely aligned with our physical existence in a world and our actions within" (Winograd & Flores, 1986). Thus, natural language systems' attempt to strip spoken language from its phenomenological correlates and actions is somewhat misguided, yielding an incomplete means of human-computer interaction. "We inhabit conversations as embodied phenomena in the everyday world."

As human beings in the world, we utilise our entire bodies for the purpose of communication (rather than simply our voices or our writing), thus motivating a multimodal approach to human-computer interfaces. The tone of our voice, our body language, our gaze all constitute communicative meaning, either consciously or subconsciously. Our inclination to communicate with all our bodily facilities, either for efficiency or greater expressiveness, is captured by Bunt's "Multimax Concept," which states that people do not leave modalities unused that are available and useful in a given communication situation (Bunt & Beun, 1998).

Computers that monitor and measure the affect of students in the classroom can give helpful feedback to teachers. Recognizing other peoples' emotions and feeling or being affected by them are two different things, however. How an affective computer may induce the emotional context of a certain environment is an important problem to solve: "The emotions 10 of the game change how a player sees the field, and those aren't things that one can get a feel from the film" (Dreyfus, 2001). The computer's intentional arc, with the addition of multimodal and affective computing, is still incomplete. Phenomenologist philosopher Hubert Dreyfus considers the issue of role of bodies in the world and comments: "We have got bodies, and we move around in this world, and the way that world is organised is in terms of our implicit understanding of things like we move forward more easily than backward, and we have to move toward a goal, and we have to overcome obstacles." Dreyfus 11 emphasizes that for human beings the experience of the world as whole precedes the experience of independently distinguished elements. Thus a depressed person experiences the world as "gray" and "meaningless" before specific elements stand out in it, and one may experience a new environment as "safe" or "threatening" before distinguishing discrete objects; it is the situation as a whole that calls for the experience.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is concerned with the design, implementation and evaluation of interactive computer-based systems, as well as with the multi-disciplinary study of various issues affecting this interaction. The aim of HCI is to ensure the safety, utility, effectiveness, efficiency, accessibility and usability of such systems. In recent years, HCI has attracted considerable attention by the academic and research communities, as well as by the Information Society Technologies industry. The on-going paradigm shift towards a knowledge-intensive Information Society has brought about radical changes in the way people work and interact with each other and with information. Computer-mediated human activities undergo fundamental changes and new ones appear continuously, as new, intelligent, distributed, and highly interactive technological environments emerge, making available concurrent access to heterogeneous information sources and interpersonal communication. The progressive fusion of existing and emerging technologies is transforming the computer from a specialist's device into an information appliance. This dynamic evolution is characterized by several dimensions of diversity that are intrinsic to the Information Society. These become evident when considering the broad range of user characteristics, the changing nature of human activities, the variety of contexts of use, the increasing availability and diversification of information, knowledge sources and services, the proliferation of diverse technological platforms, etc. HCI plays a critical role in the context of the emerging Information Society, as citizens experience technology through their contact with the user interfaces of interactive products, applications and services. Therefore, it is important to ensure that user interfaces provide access and quality in use to all potential users, in all possible of contexts of use, and through a variety of technological platforms. The field of HCI is now experiencing new challenges. New perspectives, trends and insights enrich the design, implementation and evaluation of interactive software, necessitating new multidisciplinary and collaborative efforts.

II. Maurice Merleau-Ponty12 (1908-61) on Perceptual Experience and Embodiment

Maurice Merleau-Ponty was one of the most insightful and historically influential of 20th-century phenomenologists. His earlier writings developed an existential phenomenology of perception, behaviour, and the body-as-lived in order to attempt a viable alternative to dualisms of Descartes and, later, Sartre, as well as the deterministic causality of classical science and behaviourism. In this regard he benefited greatly from his critical reflections on, among others, Hegel, Bergson, Husserl (especially the later Husserl on Crisis), Heidegger, Scheler, Sartre, and deBeauvoir. Merleau-Ponty also drew extensively on the experimental and experiential evidence in Gestalt psychology which, he showed, had effectively falsified its reliance on deterministic causality.

Throughout many subsequent published books and articles Merleau-Ponty also developed the implications of his phenomenology of embodied existence 13 for understanding speech, language, sexuality, art, history, politics, and expression generally — in short, all areas of the Lifeworld that involve the creation of meaning. In this regard, he was aided by his critical analyses of Ferdinand de Saussure's structural linguistics and Marxism, and, with regard to the latter, in such a way as to create a final break with Sartre. Merleau-Ponty's last writings 14 abandoned phenomenology as a method for overcoming Cartesian 15 dualism, and instead sought to develop an ontology of "flesh" of which "body" and "soul" were only twin aspects. This ontology, which begins to take shape in "Eye and Mind" and his lecture courses at the Coll�ge de France, became the subject of the manuscript left unfinished by Merleau-Ponty's untimely death and was published posthumously as "The Visible and the Invisible." Within this ontology human existence achieves a much closer and more profound relationship with nature of which it is part. Merleau-Ponty's philosophy anticipated many of the themes found in contemporary continental thought. His influence is evident in the work of Derrida, Foucault, and others in the postmodern or poststructural tradition.

Merleau-Ponty places the body at the center of ontology. "I am" because I have a body. It is from the body that I perceive the world. Without a body, I have no place from which to perceive the world. "Where is" begins with the location of the body. It locates me in a place. Merleau-Ponty suggests that we enjoy the use of the body not only in so far as it is involved in a concrete setting, [we] are in a situation not only in relation to the tasks imposed by a particular job, [we] are not merely open to real situations [i.e., actual]; we are open to those verbal and imaginary situations [i.e., virtual or abstract] which we can choose for ourselves or which may suggested to us in the course of an experiment. (Merleau-Ponty, 1965, p. 108)

On the other hand, empiricism claims that consciousness is shaped by the transcendent world. By the transcendent world, we mean the world outside of human experience. But this is a problem. If all we can know is the transcendent world, which is outside of experience, how will we know that we've found what we're looking for once we find it?

For Merleau-Ponty, the body is neither subject nor object, but an ambiguous third party. Dreyfus (1996) points out three different meanings of embodiment in Merleau-Ponty's work. The first is the physical embodiment of a human subject, with legs and arms, and of a certain size and shape; the second is the set of bodily skills and situational responses that we have developed; and the third is the cultural "skills," abilities 16 and understanding that we responsively gain from the cultural world in which we are embedded. Each of theses aspects, simultaneously, contributes to and conditions the actions of the individual, both in terms of how they understand their own embodiment (the 'phenomenological body') and how it is understood by others (the 'objective body'). The body can no longer be regarded as an entity to be examined in its own right but has to be placed in the context of a world. Moreover, being-in-the-world cannot itself be understood as a certain relation that obtains between a central body and a surrounding world, but has to be understood in terms of tasks, action to be accomplished, a free space which outlines in advance the possibilities available to the body at any time (Macann, 1993).

Merleau-Ponty teaches us that the body is the source of our knowledge of the world precisely because it is an entity like every other entities in the world. To see one must be visible, to touch one must be able to be touched. Human beings are different than animals and other things by virtue of their capacity to distantiate themselves from the "incarnate-self" and retain knowledge of the phenomenal world. This knowledge will always be imperfect, but the body cannot be ignored for the sake of "absolute knowledge", for it is the very finitude of our bodies and perception that enables us to understand the world and self in human terms. "Finite truths require finite bodies." The body attended is a primordial ground of all of our experiences. Does the body's capacity for fitting the world as evident in its felt experience of openness, immensity and magnification offer a suggestion to us for how we might approach the other who lives in this world with us? Embodiment and openness of body gives us a deeper emotional understanding and assist us, of how to live in the world with others and how to experience the world with others 17.

Most of our understanding in the world of what it is like to be embodied is so ubiquitous and action-oriented that there is every reason to doubt that it could be made explicit and entered into a database in a disembodied computer. We can attain explicit knowledge through our understanding with the world, by virtue of having bodies. We can find answers to questions involving the body by using our body in the world. Human beings respond only to the changes that are relevant given their bodies and their interests, so it should be no surprise that no one has been able to program a computer to respond to what is relevant. Bodies are important making sense with the world. Forms of life is organized by and for beings embodied like us. Our embodied concerns so pervade our world that we don't notice the way our body enables us to make sense of it. So, if we leave our embodied commonsense understanding of the world aside, as using computers forces us to do, then we have to do things the computer's way and try to locate relevant information replacing semantics. Dreyfus criticizes AI as the epistemological considerations concerning how human bodies work in intelligent behaviour.

Merleau-Ponty begins with the everyday lived engagement with the world (what Heidegger would call the "ready-to-hand") 18; Merleau-Ponty begins his phenomenology by giving primacy to perception. The phenomenologist, says Merleau-Ponty, returns "to the world which precedes (scientific description), (the world) of which science always speaks, and in relation to which every scientific characterisation is an abstract and derivative sign language as is geography in relation to the countryside."

For Merleau-Ponty, consciousness is not just something that goes on in our heads. Rather, our intentional consciousness is experienced in and through our bodies. With his concept of the lived body 19 , Merleau-Ponty overcomes Descartes' mind-body dualism without resorting to physiological reductionism. Recall that for Descartes the body is a machine and the mind is what runs the machine. For Merleau-Ponty the body is not a machine, but a living organism by which we body-forth our possibilities in the world.

The current of a person's intentional existence is lived through the body. We are our bodies, and consciousness is not just locked up inside the head. In his later thought, Merleau-Ponty talked of the body as "flesh," made of the same flesh as the world, and it is because the flesh of the body is of the flesh of the world that we can know and understand the world.

To demonstrate this concept of the lived body, Merleau-Ponty uses the example of the phantom limb. A phantom limb would not be possible if our bodies were just machines. If a part of the machine was severed from the rest of the machine, it would simply go without using the limb. Yet, people who have a limb amputated still feel the limb, and they are still called to use the limb in situations that call for its use, even though it is no longer there. In this same sense, the whole lived body is an intentional body, which is lived through in relation to possibilities in the world. Even when the limb is gone, the possibilities for its use remain, but are unable to be taken up as a project in the world. This is why the phantom limb phenomenon is so awe-ful; the arm is gone, and yet the person still feels the call to use it.

For Merleau-Ponty, however, the body cannot be understood as separate parts but must be understand as a whole, as it is lived 20 . The body as it is lived is an experiential body, a body that opens onto a world and allows the world to be for us. Physiology is not pointless; it has value, no doubt. But it does not get at the lived body. If we want to understand the body as it is lived in our experience, we have to use a phenomenological method. The idea of the lived body allows Merleau-Ponty to resolve Meno's paradox. The body is both transcendent and immanent. It is the "third term" between subject and object. I know that transcendent things exist because I can touch them, see them, hear them. But most importantly, I never know things in their totality, but always from an embodied perspective. Because I am a body, I can only see things from a certain perspective, and yet, because I am a body, I can also experience the thing as being more than that partial perspective.

According to Merleau-Ponty, in everyday absorbed, skilful coping, acting is experienced as a steady flow of skilful activity in response to one's sense of the situation. Part of that experience is a sense that when one's situation deviates from some optimal body-environment relationship, one's motion takes one closer to that optimum and thereby relieves the "tension" of the deviation. One does not need a goal or intention to act. One's body is simply solicited by the situation to get into equilibrium with it. "Whether a system of motor or perceptual powers, our body is not an object for an 'I think', it is a grouping of live-through meanings which moves towards its equilibrium" (1962: 153).

Using Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological theory of perception and embodiment Hubert Dreyfus illustrates that above hypothesis: When everyday coping is going well one experiences something like what athletes call flow, or playing out of their heads. One's activity is completely geared into the demands of the situation. According to Dreyfus, Aron Gurwitsch offers an excellent description of this absorbed activity:

[W]hat is imposed on us to do is not determined by us as someone standing outside the situation simply looking on at it; what occurs and is imposed are rather prescribed by the situation and its own structure; and we do more and greater justice to it the more we let ourselves be guided by it, i.e., the less reserved we are in immersing ourselves in it and subordinating ourselves to it. We find ourselves in a situation and are interwoven with it, encompassed by it, indeed just "absorbed" into it. (Gurwitsch 1979: 67)

One is tempted to paraphrase Ludwig Wittgenstein: "Can we explain a Beethoven sonata?" Can we explain a body? Explaining a body implies reducing its ambiguity. Language becomes inadequate. When we speak about the body, it is the spoken-about body we refer to, and not the body itself. Language produces metaphors about the body. Our language is in itself part of the body, a physical elongation out into the world. But it is only a part. When we analyze the body, there is always something left that defies analysis; a magical remainder (Duesund and Skårderud, 2003).

To Merleau-Ponty, to be a subject means to be in the world as body. Both Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty thematize the alternation between having a body and being bodily. We both are our body and we have a body. The body is our primary instrument for understanding. The experience precedes the analysis of the experience. The un-reflected comes prior to the reflection. Experiences are created in a bodily encounter and in the reflections about this bodily encounter. The expressing and creating body is the very "site" for development.

Merleau-Ponty raises objections to Descartes' dualism between body and soul (it should be here mind & body), and the body's split history by introducing the phenomenal body. That the body is phenomenal, means that it is experiencing, acting and seeking meaning. The body is not a mechanical object responding to the stimuli in its environment. It is in lively interaction and in an ongoing dialogue with the world. The body in movement is not an objective thing-body, but an experiencing and experienced unity, connected to activity. The body is intentionally seeking out into the world; it is always existential (Duesund and Skårderud, 2003).

Merleau-Ponty uses the concept of corps propre, the lived body. In the Cartesian tradition it is the physical characteristics of the phenomena, which are examined. In medicine and in Adapted Physical Activity this is expressed in disciplines such as anatomy and physiology. By using the concept of the lived body, Merleau-Ponty attempts to discover deeper meanings in one's experience that one's own body is more than its physical aspects. Merleau-Ponty maintains that the body does not contain an either-or, but a both. He calls this an irreducible ambiguity. It is both subject and object, with a simultaneous and mutual relationship between these levels. We see and are seen. The body is both subject and object not only in relation to others, but also in relation to itself. The alternating direction is briefly what in the tradition after Merleau-Ponty is called circularity. The circular alternation occurs between the body and the life-world, but also between the subject-body and the object-body (Madison, 1981). In this connection Merleau-Ponty gives the example that if I take hold of my left arm with my right arm, my right arm will be the subjective, which takes hold, and the left arm will be taken hold of. But when I feel that my left arm is taken hold of, this arm becomes the subjective which experiences the right arm as an object. I take hold and am taken hold of. The relations between subject and object also become apparent in our clinical experience: Even though the body is thus focused upon as a tool, the person with anorexia may experience "bad contact" with his/her own body. The body is experienced more via glances, on the weight scales, in the mirror and via fantasies about being looked at by others, than by living and feeling one's own body.

III. The Phenomenon of Body in Human-Computer Interaction: Cyberspace and the World

"Why" the body exists in Cyberspace is not the question we have to ask ourselves, but "How" the body, the body as the matter, as real and material substance, as a perceivable object, as density, comes alive. Cyberspace, we are often told is a disembodied medium. Testimonies to this effect are everywhere from William Gibson's fictional representation of the 'bodiless exultation of cyberspace' to John Perry Barlow's description of his VR experience as 'my everything has been amputated.' In a sense, these testimonies are correct; the body remains in front of the computer screens rather than within it. In another sense, however, they are deeply misleading, for they obscure the crucial role that the body plays in constructing cyberspace. In fact, we are never disembodied. A phenomenological approach of the body would describes its "experience" or its "awareness", in a manner which would not reduce it to scientific data. By focusing on the act of the experience rather than on the "thing of being" experienced, the body would become the location of physical awareness. How do our bodies affect our concepts of self? How do we understand what it means to live in our own skin? Can the body as a location of openness, capacity and unclosed possibility assist us with a deeper understanding of how to live in the world with others? The body attended is a primordial ground of all of our experience. Does the body's capacity for fitting the world as evident in its felt experience of openness, immensity and magnification offer a suggestion to us for how we might approach the other who lives in this world with us? We experience our body, its components are alive, it appears to our senses and our cognition. The phenomenon "body in Cyberspace" could be conceived as an idea, a sort of mental picture or representation, as a creation of the body/mind, of its intellect. But who is the real body or the real subject of Cyberspace?

The body should not be forgotten or separated from the subject in the new media design, because body is an essential part of our existence. Physicality or Corporeality is something that connects us to the world and other people. The Ideas of embodied experience and physicality are carried through the process, but much more could have done with them. (Ihde, Don: Body and Identity in Virtual Space). In the language of embodiment, Merleau-Ponty took account of the way in which technologies may be embodied -such as the blind man's cane or woman's feathered hat. In the first instance, the cane/roadway touch is what the walker experiences -his body is extended through the cane, which becomes part of his here-body experience (Concept of extending the here-body due to Don Ihde applicable in Computer Games).

On the other hand, Hubert Dreyfus writes "On the Internet" 21 by applying the theory of embodiment. The book starts by pointing towards the Internet's ability to free us from the limits imposed by our bodies. Differences between embodied humans and the disembodied machines is established on:

  1. the issue of embodiment and situatedness
  2. the Platonic and Cartesian tradition
  3. the Nietzsche's argument about the emotional and intuitive capacities of our embodied being in the world.

In age of technical civilisation it is good to probe the question, how we can relate ourselves to technology in a way, that not only resists its damaging effects but also gives it a positive role in our lives?22 Is the Cyberspace gives us the freedom from our emotional, intuitive, situated and vulnerable embodied selves? These arguments are the Achilles heel of the Internet.

Loss of Embodiment gives the possibility to loss of ability to recognise, which makes sense in the world. In fact, Dreyfus leaves the possibility open that the Internet someday will be able to deliver the necessary characteristics to become true alternative to bodily presence. Saying that: "If telepresence could enable Human beings to be present at a distance in a way that captures all that is essential about bodily presence, then the dream of distance learning at all levels could, in principle be achieved." (P. 49)

The intercorporeality, as Merleau-Ponty discussed, of everyday embodied interaction cannot be captured in Cyberspace no matter how much we add together 3D images, stereo sound, remote robot controlled and so forth. From Plato to Kierkegaard, Dreyfus in his Internet book considers the concept of "embodiment" how embodiment defines the essence of being human, and how disembodiment in human interaction, via the Internet, may impact us. For the purposes of the Internet book, Dreyfus defines embodiment as being our physical selves with the ability to move about, our physical location in the world, our physical and emotional interactions with others and our exposure in the "real" world to disappointment and death. The book On the Internet asks if the body is becoming vestigial -if we live an increasingly large part of our lives in cyberspace will we become superhuman or nonhuman? Dreyfus takes the stance that our embodiment -physical, emotional and intuitive, is essential to our ability to make sense of the world, and that the actual shape and movement of our physical body.

We are living in a world that is losing its consistency each day, a world which appears to play with our senses and our judgements, hiding its real nature. A world in which we can determine "what it looks like", but not "what it is." We know that everything, starting from sensorial stimuli, which transforms into mental models produces the "idea of reality," is of our invention, creation, artifice; what presents itself to our eyes as reality, is constructed owing to the interaction between external stimuli, previous cultural sedimentation, science, technology, and society. It is important to understand what is phenomenology and world. Generally, the world offers to us through natural sciences is interpreted as a material world, independent of human beings. But, through phenomenology the world is manifested in human experiences. Phenomenological perspective takes the human experience in our everyday encounters with the world. This human world that is not entirely objective, as it is filled with experienced structures, like smells, feelings, frustrations, fantasy, threats and goals. Nor, this world is subjective, in the sense that the structures that we learn to perceive in the world are not our own arbitrary mental constructions; smells and obstacles are not the things that we invent but are manifested in our experiences, in our encounters with the world. Our reality is a generated reality that shares the characteristics of the "artificial". The idea of "truth" comes from the relative stability and the perseverance of the idea itself, in time. The image that is proposed to us corresponds to our expectations. Confronting the stability in our relationship with things, the problem is not in the accusation of the "non-reality" or "non-truth" of the experience, but it is in adapting our criteria to the novelties of the material substratum with which we form a tight relationship, and to develop a culture able to give these novelties a socially recognizable value. It is on the stability of this relationship between the "signifier" and the "signified" that our culture builds its own sense of reality and truth.

There is a call for a new world view where the criteria of experiential truth is to be set on new basis: a world where everything seems fluid, smooth, but where it is still necessary to learn new ways of making things talk. Maurice Merleau-Ponty considered the body the element itself of perception in his Phenomenology of Perception. The digital environment is considered to be the location where, according to the majority of the literature of the past years, the body vanishes in "fluid simulations", where the body as matter and the bodily functions are reduced to "soft programming", quoting Sherry Turkle�s most recent book Life on the Screen, life has "left our body" and has been transposed onto the screen. One would like to prove the contrary. It is important to support the theory that a body, the body still exists and has not yet abandoned us, on the contrary it is an active participant of the location we now commonly call Cyberspace. Every human being has the necessity of being located in a certain space and time. Space can be a physical location: a room, a theater, a library, or it can exist simply as conceived by the mind. Place is prior to all things and everything is somewhere and in place. The reason of the necessity of "implacement" is that individuals need to interact, to engage in the creation of relations with thing, we need to understand the limits of our within the existence that is around us. If we apply the notion of implacement to Cyberspace we will have a further representation of cultural process, where components of our "natural world" unite with the "generated world" of Cyberspace. The result will be the creation of a new culture, a "shared culture", where new meanings of both worlds would be placed in each other.

In Leib, Körper und Maschinen Donn Welton 23 address the relationship between the body and machines. But the distinction that Husserl introduced means that the topic is more complicated than we first thought. We must first sort out what we mean by body and then see if the way we are thinking of it gives us insight into how the body is involved with machines. Indeed, the term machines needs to be qualified as well, for Welton will not deal with technologies in a broad sense 24 but only with a certain set of machines that are directly used or incorporated into the body. It would require yet another issue to do justice to Husserl's provocative but laconic account of the difference between physical and lived body. 25 Let me instead give a general description of the somewhat superficial way this contrast is often understood and suggest several problems with it, leaving aside the question as to whether my criticisms do justice to the full scope of Husserl's analysis.

The lived body is often analyzed as the body experienced "from the inside" while the physical body is treated as the body experienced "from the outside." This difference is then justified by a series of contrasts, some receiving more attention than others. The first appeal is to two different kinds of sensations: kinaesthetic sensations, which convey information about the posture and position of the body, and "presentational sensations," which form the content of perceptual acts. Placing them in relation to each other, the kinaestheses account for our awareness of the movements of the body that attend acts of perception, while acts of perception proper employ a different type of sensations that contribution to the way in which an object is presented to consciousness. This difference in types of sensations was supported by a second difference in types of perceptions. In an effort to secure the strong contrast between physical body and lived body, the physical body is understood as what is experienced through "external" perception, while the lived body is taken as that same body but given in "internal" perception. As a consequence, K�rper was characterized as "object' body while Leib was understood as "subject" body. In some existentialist versions this led to the identity of the ego and the body: I am my body. Don Ihde, in his latest book Bodies in Technology discuss about concept of extending the Here-body. In terms of the language of embodiment, Merleau-Ponty took account of the way in which technologies may be embodied, such as the blind man's cane or the woman's feathered hat. In the first instance, the cane/roadway touch is what the walker experiences his body is extended through the cane, which becomes part of his Here-body experience.

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¹ The paper is based on the phenomenological experiences in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
² Merleau-Ponty argues, "The world is not what I think, but what I live through. I am open to the world, I have no doubt that I am in communication with it, but I do not possess it; it is inexhaustible..." (pp. Xvi-xvii, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. from French by Colin Smith, Routledge, 1962).
³ § 43 Dasein, Weltlichkeit und Realitaet (Being-there, Worldhood/Worldiness and Reality), a) Realitaet als Problem des Seins und der Beweisbarkeit der "Aussenwelt" [Reality as problem of Being and the proof of the Outer-world], b) Realitaet als ontologisches Problem [Reality as Ontological Problem], c) Realitaet und Sorge [Reality and Caring] My translation in: Martin Heidegger, Sein u. Zeit (1972, Tuebingen). I am thankful to Professor Charles Guignon (who teaches Philosophy at the University of South Florida) for the elaboration on Dasein as "Dasein (the ordinary German word for existence, but reserved for human existence by Heidegger) is always Being-with, co-being-a participant or place-holder in a historical culture. Being an individual with a consciousness is derivative and "intermittent" (as Dreyfus says in his Being-in-the-World: A Commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time, Division I). As participants in a shared cultural context, masters of a shared language, we always embody a shared way of organizing and classifying things. Heidegger calls this the "gathering-differentiating" being of Dasein. It means we always have a tacit understanding of Being which is embodied in our practices and language. This is the pre-ontological understanding of Being."
4Does Computer Technology Provide a New Way of Understanding the world?-I am very grateful to Prof. Albert Borgmann for drawing my attention to this argument.
5Engaging questions; How do we interact effectively with information on a multiplicity of devices in a variety of places? Even more importantly, how can these interactions be made understandable and usable for a wide spectrum of users, ranging from information specialists to novice users?
6Heidegger's terminology Zuhandenheit in Heidegger's Sein und Zeit, Macquarrie and Robinson translates Zuhandenheit as readiness-to-hand and Hubert L. Dreyfus translates as availability or availableness in his Being-in-the-World: A Commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time, Division I. (MIT Press, 1990).
7In a more explicit manner, Hubert Dreyfus elucidates the phenomenology of skill acquisition In Taylor Carman and Mark Hansen, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
8Recently, Prof. Hubert Dreyfus gave a Presidential Address on "Overcoming the Myth of the Mental: How Philosophers Can Profit from the Phenomenology of Everyday Expertise" at the APA Pacific Division Meeting, 2005 the Presidential Address (In his Presidential Address, Prof. Dreyfus convincingly discuss the question; how philosophers who want to understand knowledge and action can profit from a phenomenological analysis of nonceptual embodied coping skills we share with animals and infants). The texts of the lecture is located at
9Reviewer Jack Reynolds (University of Tasmania) argues in the review of Taylor Carman and Mark Hansen, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty, Cambridge University Press, 2005 (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews) "...Hubert Dreyfus (Merleau-Ponty and Recent Cognitive Science) and Sean Kelly (Seeing Things in Merleau-Ponty) continue their inquiries into the normative importance of developing skills and maintaining an equilibrium for Merleau-Ponty..." -For a complete reading of the review, please see at: (Mark Wrathall also refers about skills and embodied coping in the chapter "Motives, Reasons, and Causes"-where he writes What the phenomenology of lived experience teaches us, Merleau-Ponty believes, is that our primary way of being in the world is a bodily existence that, for its part, is experienced neither as mental model of comportment, with determinate conceptual contents, nor as a merely physical interaction with physical objects. And Our way of being in the world is one in which we are ready for objects to be situated at varying depths. (pp. 115-118).
10Heidegger describes as moods (Stimmung).
11Philip Brey, Hubert Dreyfus: Humans Versus Computers in American Philosophy of Technology, edited Hans Achterhuis (Translated by Robert P. Crease): Indiana University Press, 2001.
12Merleau-Ponty and his main work "Phenomenologie de la perception" (l962) are central in this tradition. Merleau-Ponty belonged to the same intellectual tradition as Heidegger and Sartre. Phenomenology derives its name from the Greek word "phainomai", which means "I show myself". One should go back to the "matter itself". The method attaches great importance to the descriptions.
13Merleau-Ponty devotion to the World as "Zu-der-Welt-Sein" - has an extension of Heidegger's "In-Der-Welt-Sein".
14Visible & Invisible and The Eye and Mind.
15Kind of Cartesian Epistemology.
16We are physical beings, and known to the world through our bodies. We acknowledge that the natural body gives us extraordinary means of interacting with each other and with the world. It is a phenomenology of how we come to find our way about in the world, whether it be the world of jazz, discourse, typing, tennis, or getting on or off the bus. (Hubert L. Dreyfus, Foreword to 'David Sudnow: Ways of the Hand', MIT PRESS; 2002). In the book, Sudnow engages the question by analysing the phenomenology of hand with Jazz and Piano how our bodies gain their grasp of the world?, and at the same it explicates important implications for those who want to understand the nature of skillful performance, including the limits of cognitivism.
17In his 1963 doctoral dissertation, The Human as Material Subject of the World, Samuel J. Todes starts with Merleau-Ponty's account of the lived body and goes on to develop a description of the structure of the active body and the role that structure plays in producing the spatio-temporal field of experience, which he later elaborates, how the spatio-temporal makes possible objective knowledge of the subjects that show up in it, to assist us to understand, of how our bodies is an integral part to experience the world with others and how important our body plays in our understanding the world.
19Corps vecu.
20Whole body experience (whole body perception).
21The book of Hubert Dreyfus On the Internet starts by pointing towards the Internet's ability to free us from the limits imposed by our bodies.
22However, Alfred Schutz knew already about this problem in 1920.
23Interdisciplinary Phenomenology Vol. 1, 2004 (Eds.) Tadashi Ogawa and Hisashi Kashiwa, Kyoto University, Japan (pp. 207-224).
24For this, see Don Ihde, 1983 and Ihde, 1990.
25For this, see Donn Welton, 1999 and Zahavi, 1994.

Source: Ubiquity Volume 6, Issue 44 (November 30-December 5, 2005)


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