The Hand, 5 April

Whipper-snipper – Part 2
Beginning with an old video of mine which traces some of my argument.

Pioneering primatologists, the Yerkes, described ‘pongid nestbuilding behaviour’ as a ‘constructivity’, suggesting this behaviour belonged to our early evolutionary history.[1] The hand itself produces a handcrafted temporary shelter vital for sleep. Despite its artefactual nature, nestbuilding was classified as social behaviour in primatology. For too long, the hand has been ignored as a tool, as the first tool.[2]

The danger of viewing a hand as a tool is that it may diminish its perceived role in the phenomenological lived body. After all, philosopher Martin Heidegger denied that apes have hands.[3] Whereas, anthropologist Arnold Perey asks us to, ‘Look at your own hand; there is nothing quite like it in the rest of creation. Think of any other creature playing the piano, repairing a watch, or hammering a nail. Yet, go to a natural history museum and you will see the front feet of large dinosaurs which also have five digits; and the wings of bats which have four long ‘fingers’ and one short one.[4]

Heidegger pronounces ‘The hand acts – Die Hand handelt.’ And, ‘Man himself acts through the hand; for the hand is, together with the word, the essential distinction of man.’[5] But his peculiar speciest position derives from his idiosyncratic approach to Dasein, (Being) where humans are always bodily in a situation.[6] Our opposable thumbs, along with binocular vision and bipedalism, allowed us to get a handle on tool use, language and much more.[7] For too long, the hand has been ignored as a tool, as the first tool.[8] The flexibility of the human hand affords choice in how it handles the world.

Though the human hand has changed little in 5 million years, about 2.5 million years ago, stone tools appeared. Such tools remained unchanged for a surprisingly long time and tools and human culture as ‘extra-somatic means of adaptation’ suddenly burst open perhaps 80,000 years ago, probably with the birth of language.

Aristotle thought humans have hands because humans are intelligent animals, rather than that the possession of hands caused intelligence.[9] His teleology and notion of final cause evolved into the scholastic ‘argument from design’, long before notions of adaptation and evolution appeared.[10] French anthropologist Andre Leroi-Gourhan believed that the evolution of tools and technology parallels the evolution of human language.[11] Through the development of the hand new tools are created and brought into use. The mouth was freed and humans developed the ability to externalize and remember new knowledge in various forms of representation, including speech and gestures which express mind and language.

Johann Gottfried von Herder, key figure in the German Enlightenment, thought feeling (Gefühl) was the medium of thought, which he compared to the sense of touch. Whereas sight apprehends things at a distance, the haptic is an immediate experience of reality, apperceived as a power reacting against an individual’s own energy – from this insight, Herder introduced the notion of agency.[12] Philosopher David Michael Kleinberg-Levin adds, ‘The gesturing of our hands is a techne, a skill, an articulatory capacity; it can also be poiesis, poeticising, bring what we touch and handle into the beauty and unconcealment of truth… But to speak of capacity, of skill, is to acknowledge the possibility of development and to assume some responsibility for this process.’[13] Raymond Tallis, a British renaissance man, characterises this skilled hand practice as, ‘manipulative indeterminacy’, and agrees: ‘The hand becomes a tool; the body becomes an instrument; and we emerge as true agents.’[14] Agency assumes responsibility.

Rather than using experimental methodologies from the natural sciences, Rom Harré was a  philosopher and a psychologist who thought human life is best understood as produced through discourses of the whole body/subject, hands, feet and brain.[15] The phenomenology of action does not require representation, as Maurice Merleau Ponty pointed out, ‘A movement is learned when the body has understood it, that is, when it has incorporated it into its ‘world’, and to move one’s body is to aim at things through it; it is to allow oneself to respond to their call, which is made upon it independently of any representation.[16]

In his major work, The Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty emphasised embodiment in the world, without explaining embodiment.[17] The Australian philosopher Elizabeth Grosz teases out this idea, ‘Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of the flesh as an inherent intertwining of subject and world founds a new ontology, one which supercedes the ontological distinction between the animate and the inanimate, between the animal and the human, scientist and object of investigation.’[18] Merleau-Ponty argued that bodies understand their worlds pre-symbolically and act, not through a Cartesian mind, but emerging through the body’s connections with the world at hand in lived experience. He adopted the notion of ‘cenesthesia’ (the body’s experiential awareness of itself as a schema of sensations, muscles, limbs and organs) that leads to a reciprocal relationship of body’s posture and movement in the dimensions of the external environment.[19] (The bricoleur also uses ‘the world at hand’).[20]

Merleau-Ponty has explored how the hand moves in and with the world, making a world,[21] using the term ‘double sensation’ to describe the transfer of what is touching to that which is being touched, the phenomenon of perceiving, and of being the object of perception.[22] In his last (unfinished) work, The Visible and the Invisible, he uses the term ‘flesh’ to explore the boundaries of toucher and touched, noting, ‘[M]y hand, while it is felt from within, is also accessible from without, itself tangible, for my other hand, for example . . .’[23]

Linda Smith and Esther Thelen’s study of infants reaching out with their hands found their behaviour variable, ‘in each individual case, turned out to be soft-assembled from somewhat different components, reflecting differences in the intrinsic dynamics of the infants and in their historical experience.’[24] Embodied skills are developed through practice; the body as primed for basic adaptations like grasping.

The ‘alternative’ philosopher Michael Serres analyses the phenomena through the intimacy of one hand cutting the fingernails of the other.[25] And in a discussion of autopoiesis, Luis Arata, an academic interested in how we model the world, describes M. C. Escher’s Drawing Hands, and how the hands loop back, ‘In a second version, one of the hands overcomes the temptation of symmetry and draws a slightly different one. This second hand introduces further changes. The drawing process loops back to the first hand. Change continues to propagate through this open loop. If the hands cooperate, the creative possibilities of this mutual play could become endless . . .’[26]

Heidegger thinks that our use of tools is not explicit but instinctive, and this is our primary way of understanding our environments, thus he highlights the hand, and intentional acts, through the figure of a hammer. He warns of loss of contact with the world: ‘Perhaps thinking too is just is something like building a cabinet, at any rate it is a craft … The cabinet maker must make himself answer and respond above all to the different kinds of wood and to the shapes slumbering within wood – to wood as it enters man’s dwelling with all the hidden riches of its nature. In fact, this relatedness is what maintains the whole craft. Without that relatedness, the craft will never be anything but empty busywork … Every handicraft, all human dealings are constantly in that danger. The writing of poetry is no more exempt from it than is thinking.’[27]

We live against a background of familiarity and competence (which sociologist and philosopher Alfred Schutz detailed), environments packed with tools and artefacts that are everyday objects, transparent in use. ‘Equipment’ (Heidegger’s terminology) is always something ‘in-order-to’, which we do not encounter as something present-at-hand, but as, what Heidegger calls, ‘ready-to-hand’ (zuhanden).[28]

A hammer is no longer consciously engaged, but just used in what he calls ‘everyday skilful coping’. A hammer is part of a network of other things – tools, raw materials, and projects like cabinet making; the act in hammering to build a house is not solely instrumental but is associated with being a carpenter. Through such human actions, we become human, gaining identity. For Merleau-Ponty, human action is animal, aimed at gripping the world. We understand a tool (‘equipment’) through its use, by understanding its readiness-to-hand. The person using the tool is not interested in the essence of the tool, or often aware of it.

George Herbert Mead, a pragmatist philosopher noted how we want to grasp the world:  ‘The vision of the distant object is not only the stimulus to movement toward it. It is also, in its changing distance values, a continual control of the act of approach. The contours of the object determine the organization of the act in its seizure.’[29]

Neurologist Frank Wilson writes: ‘The idea of becoming one’ with a backhoe is no more exotic than the idea of a rider becoming one with a horse or a carpenter becoming one with a hammer, and this phenomenon itself may take its origin from countless monkeys who spent countless eons becoming one with tree branches. The mystical feel comes from the combination of a good mechanical marriage and something in the nervous system that can make an object external to the body feel as if it had sprouted from the hand, foot, or (rarely) some other place on the body where your skin makes contact with it.’[30]

Archaeologist Steven Mithen argues that ‘cognitive fluidity’ is a necessary precondition for culture (technology, science, art, and religion) and, ‘when thoughts originating in different domains can engage together, the result is an almost limitless capacity for imagination.’[31] He then went on to argue that the basis of our cultural intelligence is our ability to create another home for ideas – in the physical world (carving, ritual, performance, or inscription), an externalisation process of tool use worked with art and agriculture some 50,000 years ago. Mithen writes, ‘I now see that the material culture itself was not just a product of a massive cognitive change, but also a cause of it.’[32] These remarkable developments: ‘should not be seen simply as the manifestation of a new level of consciousness. They are as much a cause as a product. They allowed people to explore, expand, manipulate and simply play with their own knowledge in ways that other humans, even those with private and public language, were unable to do.’[33]

Cognitive philosopher Andy Clark takes this externalisation deeper into cognition: ‘Every thought is had by a brain. But the flow of thoughts and the adaptive success of reason are now seen to depend on repeated and crucial interactions with external resources … human reasoners are truly, distributed cognitive engines: we call on external resources to perform specific computational tasks.’[34] Mithen offers this as an argument for the origins of art, discussing a human/lion ivory carving from Hohlenstein Stadel, Germany: ‘An evolved mind is unlikely to have a natural home for this being, as such entities do not exist in the natural world. As I have previously argued, a cognitively fluid mind can come up with such entities as I show here, but where then to store that entity? The only option is to extend the mind into the material world.’[35]

Emily Jane Cohen tells of immaterial hands. ‘The Judaic prohibition against images forbade any figuration . . . In the earliest Jewish images, if God is represented at all, it is only through his disembodied hand -reaching out, for instance, to resurrect the dead in the wall paintings of the synagogue of Dura Europos. The hand of God, far from symbolizing His body, indicates that He is all spirit.’ [36] From purity to Enlightenment hands becoming dirty – she writes: ‘The model philosopher is he who is capable of distinguishing the real from the illusory, of abstracting eternal mind from perishable body. The eighteenth century was heir to a dualism that posited the world as the product of a fall away from oneness, purity, and eternal bliss into mixture, contamination, and the transitory.’ [37]

Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu understood conscious cognition to be totally embodied, including in the hands.[38] This consciousness is expanded through techne, through working with the hands on the world. But our world is becoming insistently technological, and as Tim Ingold states, ‘Technology in short, appears to do away with technique, rather than back it up.’[39] He is concerned that technology removes techne, treating a worker as mere operator, putting mechanical principles into use – ‘productive work is divorced from human agency … technique appears to be “given” in the operational principles of the tools themselves.’[40]

‘The shift from the classical concept of tekhne to the modern concept of technology has brought about a profound change in the way we think about the relation between human beings and their activity . . . The image of the artisan, immersed with the whole of his being in a sensuous engagement with the material, was gradually supplanted by that of the operative whose job it is to set in motion an exterior system of productive forces, according to principles of mechanical functioning.’ Tim Ingold[41]

Art is going the same way, with the loss of aura and new technologies. Artefacts with human intention have great power, once begun art has never ceased. [42] But gardening has never ceased, and dirty fingernails are anticipated. As Cicero wrote: ‘We sow corn, we plant trees, we fertilize the soil by irrigation, we confine the rivers and straighten or divert their courses. In short, by means of our hands we try to create as it were a second nature within the natural world.’[43]

‘The forms of objects call for the hand and the grasp. Vision moves into grasp.’ Emmanuel Levinas.[44]

‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.’ Bertolt Brecht[45]

Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time: . . .  Gary Snyder [46]

[1] They concluded, ‘Nesting behaviour illustrates the appearance and phylogenetic development of dependence on self-adjustment to increasing dependence on manipulation or modification of environments as a method of behavioural adaptation.’ Robert Mearns Yerkes & Ada Yerkes, The Great Apes: A Study of Anthropoid Life, Yale UP, 1929, p564.

[2] Don’t forget the foot. Bonobos selectively crush vegetation to indicate food sources, travel directions, etc. See Savage-Rumbaugh, Williams, Furuichi & Kano, ‘Language Perceived: Paniscus branches out’, in Great Ape Societies, Ed. McGrew, Marchant, and Nishida. Cambridge UP, 1996.

[3] ‘Apes, too, have organs that can grasp, but they do not have hands.’ Heidegger ‘Hands’ Lecture 1, in What is Called Thinking? Harper & Row, 1968, p16,

[4] Arnold Perey,The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known’, The Aesthetics of Evolution: International Periodical of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, July, 1983.

[5] Martin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking? 1968. He adds, ‘All the work of the hand is rooted in thinking. Therefore, thinking itself is man’s simplest and for that reason hardest handiwork . . .’ He was Husserl’s assistant and successor at Freiburg and shifted emphasis from Husserl’s interest in perception to the nature of existence itself.

[6] There are empirical techniques for constructing how early man used his/her hands. By examining behaviour of closest living relatives (the chimpanzee and bonobo), assuming their behaviour was shared by our last common ancestor. Or, by looking at animals that live in ecological contexts similar to those of early hominids. Thus, savannah baboons may be a useful model for the social life in the savannah. By using ethology studying the tool-using behaviour of animals might offer insights into the mental and technological capacities of early hominids. Ethnography is less useful, modern hunter-gatherers are not ‘relics.’

[7] When Australopithecus afarensis left the trees for the dangerous savannah, bipedalism was an advantage for detecting prey and predator. At the same time, it freed up the hands from locomotion. But the hands of Australopithecus afarensis are ape-like and not suited to a precision grip, the thumbs are short with limited rotation. Later specimens (robusts) show a more human-like hand with strong thumbs. For more information see Mary Marzke, ‘Evolution of the hand and bipedality’, in Handbook of Human Symbolic Evolution Ed. Andrew Lock & Charles Peters, Clarendon Press, 1996. Humans have developed strong muscles and tendons on their thumbs (lacking in other apes). These muscles grip small tools with great strength. Kanzi, a pygmy chimpanzee at the Yerkes Primate Center, Georgia, appears to understand the concept of percussion flaking with a hammer-stone but does not hold the hammer tightly enough or strike the stone core with enough force to detach sharp flakes as large as those found in the archaeological record 2.5 million years ago. Stanley H. Ambrose, Etheoarcheaology and the archaeology of Pliocene Auatrakaoithecines’, [DL 4.9.2001]

[8] Some body parts seem more important than others, Aristotle thought, ‘the soul … is like the hand; for the hand is an instrument of instruments, and in the same way the mind is the form of forms.’ Aristotle, De Anima (Parts of Animals) IV, 10, 687a2-687b26 & 3.8, 432a1-2. It is a syllogism (i) All intelligent manipulators of tools have hands; (ii) All humans are intelligent manipulators of tools; (iii) All humans have hands.

[9] Aristotle saw the hand as an example of the ‘final cause’. He wrote, ‘the soul … is like the hand; for the hand is an instrument of instruments, and in the same way the mind is the form of forms.’ Aristotle, De Anima.

[10] ‘The feet of lizards and mammals,’ as the illustrious von Baer remarks, ‘the wings and feet of birds, no less than the hands and feet of man all arise from the same fundamental form.’ Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871,

[11] André Leroi-Gourhan, Gesture and Speech, MIT Press, 1993.

[12] Agency, like touch, has doubleness. David Abram, in seeking an ‘ecological’ Merleau-Ponty, writes, ‘There is an intimate reciprocity to the senses; as we touch the bark of a tree. We feel the tree touching us… The senses are the primary way that the earth has of informing our thoughts and of guiding our actions. David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, (1996), Vintage Books, 1997, p268. Abram strives not to explain world from outside but ‘to give voice to the world from our experiential situation within it, recalling us to our participation in the here-and-now, rejuvenating our sense of wonder at the fathomless things, events and powers that surround us on every hand.’ p47. He uses Husserl’s notion of Lebenswelt and Merleau-Ponty’s theories on the active participation of the body’s perception.

[13] David Michael Levin, ‘The Ontological Dimension of Embodiment’, in Donn Welton, The Body, Blackwelll, 1999, p137-8

[14] Raymond Tallis, ‘Carpal Knowledge’, Philosophy Now, No 33, Sept/Oct. 2001, p25.

[15] Harré situates the brain as ‘one amongst the various bodily organs which can be put to use by people in carrying out the tasks which from time to time are required of them. It is more useful than the hand, while the hand is more useful than the knee, in most circumstances. My argument will be directed towards the idea that the brain has a place in human life comparable to that of the hand. It is something that we use, not something that uses us.’ Rom Harré, ‘The rediscovery of the human mind’, to appear in the proceedings of the 50th anniversary conference of the Korean Psychological Association, Ed. Uichol Kim, <>

[16] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. C. Smith, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962, p139.

[17] The body grants affordance to the world in three ways: ‘The body is our general medium for having a world. Sometimes it is restricted to the actions necessary for the conservation of life, and accordingly it posits around us a biological world; at other times, elaborating upon these primary actions and moving from their literal to a figurative meaning, it manifests through them a core of new significance: this is true of motor habits [sic] such as dancing. Sometimes, finally, the meaning aimed at cannot be achieved by the body’s natural means; it must then build itself an instrument, and it projects thereby around itself a cultural world. Merleau-Ponty, 1962, p146. Hubert L. Dreyfus, ‘The Current Relevance of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Embodiment’ in Perspectives on Embodiment, Honi Haber and Gail Weiss, Eds., Routledge, New York and London, 1996. Edmund Husserl, a founder of phenomenology, argued that we know the body primarily through tactile sensation and that a subject with vision alone would not know the body as a lived-body. Husserl noted, ‘When the hand is touched, bumped etc. I undergo sensations.’ Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy Book 2, trans. R Rojcewicz & A. Schuwer, Collected Works, Vol 3, Klewer, 1989, p163. Mark Turner argues that parts of the human system for attributing meaning are directly susceptible to evolutionary pressures. He thinks that anyone lacking the following capacities would die – ability to: 1. attribute a vertical up-down gradient to the environment; 2. distinguish between the interior and the exterior of one’s body, with the skin as boundary; 3. partition the world into objects and actions; 4. understand certain objects as agents; and 5. attribute purposes to agents. (1-3 link in with JJ Gibson’s notion of affordance). Turner suggests that ‘Inabilities to attribute meaning in these ways would count as fundamental deficits in the organism: it is hard even to imagine that someone lacking them could count as a human being.’ Mark Turner, ‘Design for a Theory of Meaning’ in W. Overton and D. Palermo, Eds. The Nature and Ontogenesis of Meaning, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994, p91-107.

[18] Elizabeth Grosz, ‘Merleau-Ponty and Irigaray in the Flesh,’ Thesis Eleven, No 36, 1993, p54.

[19] Merleau-Ponty, The Primacy of Perception, Trans. James Edie, Northwestern UP, 1964, p114-9. His project was to ground philosophy in a subject’s experience.

[20] ‘The ‘bricoleur’ is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but, unlike the engineer, he does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the purpose of the project. His universe of instruments is closed and the rules of his game are always to make do with ‘whatever is at hand’, that is to say with a set of tools and materials which is always finite and is also heterogeneous because what it contains bears no relation to the current project, or indeed to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions there have been to renew or enrich the stock or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions.’ Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, U of Chicago P, 1966.

[21] ‘When my hand flows each effort of a struggling animal while holding an instrument for capturing it, it is clear that each of my movements responds to an external stimulation; but it is also clear that these stimulations could not be received without the movements by which I expose my receptors to their influence… The properties of the object and the intentions of the subject are not only intermingled; they also constitute a new whole.’ Merleau-Ponty 1942, p13.

[22] This double sensation is commented on by feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray, ‘The hands joined, palms together, fingers stretched, constitute a very particular touching… A touching more intimate than the one of a hand grabbing another.’ Irigaray records it as a feminine gesture and one of prayer, quoted by Elizabeth Grosz, 1993, p41. In Merleau-Ponty: Across the Analytic-Continental Divide. Eds. D. Olkowski and J. Morley, Humanities Press, 1996.

[23] Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible. Ed., Claude Lefort. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Northwestern UP, 1968, p139. David Abram takes it to ecological lengths, ‘There is an intimate reciprocity to the senses; as we touch the bark of a tree. We feel the tree touching us . . .The senses are the primary way that the earth has of informing our thoughts and of guiding our actions.’ David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, Pantheon, 1996, p268. Not everyone is convinced, Grene comments ‘[W]hat about that hand trick? Alas, I cannot make it work.’ M. Grene, ‘Merleau-Ponty and the Renewal of Ontology’, Review of Metaphysics, Vol29:4, 1976, p619.

[24] E. Thelen & L. Smith, A dynamic systems approach to the development of cognition and action. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994. Quoted Andy Clark, ibid, 1997, p44. This reach had wider ramifications – ‘As the radius of physical reach and of cognitive comprehension, of libidinal attachment and of responsible action “As the radius of physical reach and of cognitive comprehension, of libidinal attachment and of responsible action — as all these expand, there will, of course, always be persons who are substitutes for the original mother.… I would conclude that the early mother’s equivalent in each later stage must always be the sum of all the persons and institutions which are significant for his wholeness in an expanding arena of interplay.’ Erik H. Erikson, Play and Actuality, 1972. David Abram even argues, ‘Consider the spider weaving its web… and the assumption that the behaviour… is thoroughly ‘programmed in its genes.’ … they could hardly have determined in advance the exact distances between the cave wall and the branch that the spider is now employing as an anchorage point for her current web . . .’ David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, Pantheon, 1996, p50.

[25] ‘The hand is thus central to a sense of self and the world and `the skin itself takes on consciousness’. Michel Serres, Les cinq sens: philosophie des corps mêlés, (Paris) Bernard Grasset, 1985, p18. Quoted Connor, ibid. The left hand subject works on the right hand object. The left hand participates in the I, suffused with subjectivity, the right hand is of the world.’ Richard Gregory notes that a pair of scissors, a well designed artefact is not just the result of intelligence but endower you enhance the potential, 1981 pp311ff see Dennett Darwins D idea  p377-8?? Each operation-performance of Orlan’s is built on a philosophical, psychoanalytical or literary text. She has used Michel Serres, Sanskrit texts and Antonin Artaud, among others. Orlan (unlike Stellarc) thinks the body is not obsolete, but (like Stellarc) wants to change the world. She writes, ‘And even if what follows may sound extremely romantic and even naive I still say that Art can, and must change the world. It is its one and only justification. . .  Art is not decoration for apartments, since we already have stuff for that; aquariums, plants, curtains and furniture…’ Orlan in Person / Orlan Speaks / Orlan Conference, 1995 (modified 1997, trans. Dominique Lasorgettem, Visual Arts / Orlan / Body Radicals / Gallery Publications. [DL 9.8.2000]

[26] ‘The two hands are mirror images. They seem to belong to a single nonexistent person. Now imagine that Drawing Hands becomes an animation. The hands continue to draw each other in a circular process of creation… Each hand is a separate autonomous agent, so to speak, entangled in a mutual process of construction. The introduction of reflexive differentiation yields a richly interacting universe in a shared space.’ Luis O. Arata, ‘The Work of Hands Drawing’ in ‘Creation by Looping Interactions’, M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture 5:4, 2002, [DL19.12.2002]. He mentions how the physicist David Bohm applied this perspective to science. He saw nature forming itself through a dialogical process of mutual participation among radically different components. Furthermore, he observed that the process of dialogue is new to science itself. Bohm envisioned a participatory science. Science has been mainly based on the concept of arriving at one unique truth. But if scientists could engage in a dialogue, that would be a radical revolution in science—in the very nature of science.’ David Bohm, On Dialogue. New York: Routledge, 1996, p38.

[27] Martin Heidegger, ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (W. Lovitt), 1977, p16.

[28] Martin Heidegger, Chapter 3 of Being and Time, Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson, Harper and Row, 1962. We notice equipment when it fails. Vorhanden (‘present-at-hand’) suggests an objectivity, a thing as isolated, and avoidable; in contrast, zuhanden implies an interconnectedness between agency and objects, Being and action.

[29] George Herbert Mead, ‘The Physical Thing’, Supplementary Essay 2 in The Philosophy of the Present, ed., Arthur E. Murphy, Open Court, 1932. p123.

[30] Frank Wilson, The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture, Vintage Press, 1999, p63.

[31] Steven Mithen, The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science, Thames & Hudson, 1996, p71.

[32] Steven Mithen, ‘Handaxes and Ice Age Carvings: Hard Evidence for the Evolution of Consciousness’, Cog Net, [DL 2.7.2000] The archaeologist S. Mithen, having examined stone tools as old as 1.4 million years ago finds evidence for conscious motor activity. S. Mithen, ‘Handaxes: some hard evidence regarding the evolution of the mind and consciousness’ in Section 6: ‘Evolution and the Function of Consciousness’, Towards a Science of Consciousness, The Third Tucson Discussions and Debates, Eds., S. Hameroff, A. Kaszniak, and D. Chalmers, MIT Press, 2000. Elsewhere he writes, ‘The material objects, social structures, ritualistic performances, acts of story-telling, and complex tools of modern humans are not, therefore, simply products or representations of our inner thoughts. They play an essential role in formulating, manipulating and sharing those thoughts. In this regard, the brain of modern humans may not, in itself, have any greater powers of imagination than that of the Neanderthals. It simply exploits the world outside of the skull to augment its powers of creative thought.’ Steven Mithen, ‘The Evolution of Imagination: An Archaeological Perspective’, SubStance Vol 30:1&2, 2001, p50.

[33] Steven Mithen, ‘Handaxes and Ice Age Carvings’ ibid.

[34] Andy Clark, Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again, MIT Press, 1997, p68-9. Clark gives an example of scaffolding: ‘Asked to multiply 7222X9422, most of us resort to pen and paper (or a calculator)… We use the external medium paper to store the results of these simple problems, and by an interrelated series of simple pattern completions coupled with external storage we finally arrive at a solution.’ Andy Clark, 1997, p61. He notes that chimpanzees distinguish identical pairs of objects from different ones, but only when trained with physical tokens (to associate the concepts of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’) can they solve the higher-order task of sorting pairs of objects into ‘same’ and ‘different’. Andy Clark, Natural-Born Cybogs: Why Minds and Technologies Are Made to Merge, OUP, 2003.

[35] Engraved ochre found in the Blombos Cave, South Africa has been dated as 77,000 years old and recently decorated ostrich eggshell from 65,000c years ago has been found in the Cape area; Of these finds, Christopher Henshilwood suggests, ‘Abstract or depictional images… provide evidence for cognitive abilities considered integral to modern human behaviour.’ Christopher Henshilwood et al., Field School, South Africa, Science, February 2002.

[36] Emily Jane Cohen, ‘Enlightenment and the Dirty Philosopher’, Configurations 5.3, 1997, p373. ‘It is worth noting the etymology of the verb masturbate, which comes from the Latin manus, ‘hand,’ and stuprare, meaning not only ‘to defile’ but ‘to deflower’.’ P413-4.

[37] Emily Jane Cohen, 1997, p371.

[38] ‘Thinking and consciousness is, in Bourdieu’s view, spread out over the entire body, over the arms and legs; it includes the tactility of the skin and the hands, as well as sight and hearing. The language-like performances of action are not a preliminary stage to verbal language, but possess their own qualities, which play a role in the construction of social reality.’ Gunter Gebauer, ‘Habitus, Intentionality, and Social Rules: A Controversy between Searle and Bourdieu,’ SubStance 29.3, 2000, p72. Bourdieu’s did overdetermine class, cognition and aesthetics, in my view.

[39] Tim Ingold, & Kathleen R. Gibson, Tools, Language and Cognition in Human Evolution, Cambridge UP. 1993, p435.

[40] Tim Ingold, 1993, p434.

[41] Tim Ingold, ‘Tools, Minds and machines’, The Perception of the Environment, Routledge, 2000, p295.

[42] Ellen Dissanayake has tried to find out why, ‘The strange thing is In every human society of which we know – prehistoric, ancient, or modern – whether hunter-gatherer, pastoral, agricultural, or industrial, at least some form of art is displayed, and not only displayed but highly regarded and willingly engaged in.’ Dissanayake, Homo Aestheticus; Where Art Comes From and Why, Seattle, U of Washington P, 1995, p34. She offers a functional account for art. For an ethologist to consider that a species’ trait has evolved, it needs to satisfy a number of criteria: (a) it has survival value. It feels good so the animal will want to do it. (b) is a biological need. A significant amount of time and energy is spent doing it. (c) can be considered ‘a behaviour’. That is, it is universally prevalent.’ p33. She argues Art fits these criteria. From her stance that making art is a biologically innate need as fundamental as the need for food or shelter, she has since added emotional and cognitive strands to her argument.

[43] Cicero, De natura deorum, quoted and translated by John Dixon Hunt, “The Idea of the Garden, and the Three Natures,” in Zum Naturbegriff der Gegenwart, Stuttgart, 1993, p312.

[44] Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, (1961) trans Alphonso Lingis, Duquesne UP, 1969, p191. This knotty book concerning ethics as the ground of philosophy is probably his most important.

[45] Bertolt Brecht’s most famous aphorism (origin not located).

[46] Gary Snyder, #1 Riprap in Riprap and Cold Mountains, first published in Japan, 1959, Shoemaker & Hoard, 2003.

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