Mind Matters: Earth to Manning A Reply

Symbolic Interaction 31 (2):149-154 (2008)
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This piece continues ideas developed in my essay, Mind Matters, through responding to the critique of that essay by Peter K. Manning. Manning cannot conceive that human conduct involves full-bodied semiosis rather than disembodied conceptualism, and that the study of human signification requires a full-bodied understanding. The ancient Greek root phren, basis for the concept of phronesis, is rooted in the heart-lungs-solar plexus basis of bodily awareness, and provides a metaphor for a discussion of bio-developmental, biosemiotic capacities as crucial for human culture. Manning’s use of Wittgenstein is contrasted with the outlook of Charles Peirce. The intense attunement to and reverence for animals and plants in hunter-gatherer peoples is more than some conceptual collective representations system or interaction order or psychological belief system, explainable by Durkheim or Goffman, or Jung’s universal structure of the “collective unconscious,” or by neural net theory. It exemplifies how those peoples are in real learning relationships to the instinctive intelligence of their habitats, deep learning expressed not only in trial-and-error experience but also in the sense of wonder, communicated in ritual life. Mind is found literally in those transactions, not in isolate brains or disembodied conceptualism.

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Eugene Halton
University of Notre Dame


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