The sense of agency has received much attention in the context of individual action but not in the context of joint action. We investigated how the sense of agency developed during individual and dyadic performance while people learned a haptic coordination task. The sense of agency increased with better performance in all groups. Individuals and dyads showed a differential sense of agency after initial task learning, with dyads showing a minimal increase. The sense of agency depended on the context in (...) which the task was first learnt, as transfer from joint to individual performance resulted in an illusory boost in the sense of agency. Whereas the quality of performance related to the sense of agency, the generated forces to achieve the task did not. Our findings are consistent with a predictive model account at the perceptual level, such that the sense of agency relies most strongly on sharable perceptual information. (shrink)
When two or more people coordinate their actions in space and time to produce a joint outcome, they perform a joint action. The perceptual, cognitive, and motor processes that enable individuals to coordinate their actions with others have been receiving increasing attention during the last decade, complementing earlier work on shared intentionality and discourse. This chapter reviews current theoretical concepts and empirical findings in order to provide a structured overview of the state of the art in joint action research. We (...) distinguish between planned and emergent coordination. In planned coordination, agents' behavior is driven by representations that specify the desired outcomes of joint action and the agent's own part in achieving these outcomes. In emergent coordination, coordinated behavior occurs due to perception action couplings that make multiple individuals act in similar ways, independently of joint plans. We review evidence for the two types of coordination and discuss potential synergies between them. (shrink)
Prolonged solitary confinement has become a widespread and standard practice in U.S. prisons—even though it consistently drives healthy prisoners insane, makes the mentally ill sicker, and, according to the testimony of prisoners, threatens to reduce life to a living death. In this profoundly important and original book, Lisa Guenther examines the death-in-life experience of solitary confinement in America from the early nineteenth century to today’s supermax prisons. Documenting how solitary confinement undermines prisoners’ sense of identity and their ability to (...) understand the world, Guenther demonstrates the real effects of forcibly isolating a person for weeks, months, or years. -/- Drawing on the testimony of prisoners and the work of philosophers and social activists from Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to Frantz Fanon and Angela Davis, the author defines solitary confinement as a kind of social death. It argues that isolation exposes the relational structure of being by showing what happens when that structure is abused—when prisoners are deprived of the concrete relations with others on which our existence as sense-making creatures depends. Solitary confinement is beyond a form of racial or political violence; it is an assault on being. (shrink)
Prior research suggests that the action system is responsible for creating an immediate sense of self by determining whether certain sensations and perceptions are the result of one's own actions. In addition, it is assumed that declarative, episodic, or autobiographical memories create a temporally extended sense of self or some form of identity. In the present article, we review recent evidence suggesting that action (procedural) knowledge also forms part of a person's identity, an action identity, so to speak. Experiments that (...) addressed self-recognition of past actions, prediction, and coordination provide ample evidence for this assumption. The phenomena observed in these experiments can be explained by the assumption that observing an action results in the activation of action representations, the more so, when the action observed corresponds to the way in which the observer would produce it. (shrink)
The Gift of the Other brings together a philosophical analysis of time, embodiment, and ethical responsibility with a feminist critique of the way women’s reproductive capacity has been theorized and represented in Western culture. Author Lisa Guenther develops the ethical and temporal implications of understanding birth as the gift of the Other, a gift which makes existence possible, and already orients this existence toward a radical responsibility for Others. Through an engagement with the work of Levinas, Beauvoir, Arendt, Irigaray, (...) and Kristeva, the author outlines an ethics of maternity based on the givenness of existence and a feminist politics of motherhood which critiques the exploitation of maternal generosity. (shrink)
First, I offer a short overview on the classical occidental philosophy as propounded by the ancient Greeks and the natural philosophies of the last 2000 years until the dawn of the empiricist logic of science in the twentieth century, which wanted to delimitate classical metaphysics from empirical sciences. In contrast to metaphysical concepts which didn’t reflect on the language with which they tried to explain the whole realm of entities empiricist logic of science initiated the end of metaphysical theories by (...) reflecting on the preconditions for foundation and justification of sentences about objects of investigation, i.e. a coherent definition of language in general, which was not the aim of classical metaphysics. Unexpectedly empiricist logic of science in the linguistic turn failed in the physical and mathematical reductionism of language and its use in communication, as will be discussed below in further detail. Nevertheless, such reflection on language and communication also introduced this vocabulary into biology. Manfred Eigen and bioinformatics, later on biolinguistics, used ‘language’ applied linguistic turn thinking to biology coherent to the logic of science and its formalisable aims. This changed significantly with the birth of biosemiotics and biohermeneutics. At the end of this introduction it will be outlined why and how all these approaches reproduced the deficiencies of the logic of science and why the biocommunicative approach avoids their abstractive fallacies. (shrink)
Manfred Eigen employs the terms language and communication to explain key recombination processes of DNA as well as to explain the self-organization of human language and communication: Life processes as well as language and communication processes are governed by the logic of a molecular syntax, which is the exact depiction of a principally formalizable reality. The author of the present contribution demonstrates that this view of Manfred Eigen’s cannot be sufficiently substantiated and that it must be supplemented by an approach (...) based on linguistic pragmatics. (shrink)
: Drawing on Adriana Cavarero's account of natality, Guenther argues that Martin Heidegger overlooks the distinct ontological and ethical significance of birth as a limit that orients one toward an other who resists appropriation, even while handing down a heritage of possibilities that one can—and must—make one's own. Guenther calls this structure of natality Being-from-others, modifying Heidegger's language of inheritance to suggest an ethical understanding of existence as the gift of the other.
Most molecular biological concepts derive from physical chemical assumptions about the genetic code that are basically more than 40 years old. Additionally, systems biology, another quantitative approach, investigates the sum of interrelations to obtain a more holistic picture of nucleotide sequence order. Recent empirical data on genetic code compositions and rearrangements by mobile genetic elements and non-coding RNAs, together with results of virus research and their role in evolution, does not really fit into these concepts and compel a re-examination. In (...) this review we try to find an alternate hypothesis. It seems plausible now that if we look at the abundance of regulatory RNAs and persistent viruses in host genomes, we will find more and more evidence that the key players that edit the genetic codes of host genomes are consortia of RNA agents and viruses that drive evolutionary novelty and regulation of cellular processes in all steps of development. This agent-based approach may lead to a qualitative RNA sociology that investigates and identifies relevant behavioural motifs of cooperative RNA consortia. In addition to molecular biological perspectives this may lead to a better understanding of genetic code evolution and dynamics. (shrink)
Shame is notoriously ambivalent. On one hand, it operates as a mechanism of normalization and social exclusion, installing or reinforcing patterns of silence and invisibility; on the other hand, the capacity for shame may be indispensible for ethical life insofar as it attests to the subject’s constitutive relationality and its openness to the provocation of others. Sartre, Levinas and Beauvoir each offer phenomenological analyses of shame in which its basic structure emerges as a feeling of being exposed to others and (...) bound to one’s own identity. For Sartre, shame is an ontological provocation, constitutive of subjectivity as a being-for-Others. For Levinas, ontological shame takes the form of an inability to escape one’s own relation to being; this predicament is altered by the ethical provocation of an Other who puts my freedom in question and commands me to justify myself. For Beauvoir, shame is an effect of oppression, both for the woman whose embodied existence is marked as shameful, and for the beneficiary of colonial domination who feels ashamed of her privilege. For each thinker, shame articulates the temporality of social life in both its promise and its danger. (shrink)
Whereas telomeres protect terminal ends of linear chromosomes, telomerases identify natural chromosome ends, which differ from broken DNA and replicate telomeres. Although telomeres play a crucial role in the linear chromosome organization of eukaryotic cells, their molecular syntax most probably descended from an ancient retroviral competence. This indicates an early retroviral colonization of large double-stranded DNA viruses, which are putative ancestors of the eukaryotic nucleus. This contribution demonstrates an advantage of the biosemiotic approach towards our evolutionary understanding of telomeres, telomerases, (...) other reverse transcriptases and mobile elements. Their role in genetic/genomic content organization and maintenance is no longer viewed as an object of randomly derived alterations (mutations) but as a highly sophisticated hierarchy of regulatory networks organized and coordinated by natural genome-editing competences of viruses. (shrink)
Organisms actively compete for environmental resources. They assess their surroundings, estimate how much energy they need for particular goals, and then realize the optimum variant. They take measures to control certain environmental resources. They perceive themselves and can distinguish between “self” and “non-self.” Current empirical data on all domains of life indicate that unicellular organisms such as bacteria, archaea, giant viruses, and protozoa as well as multicellular organisms such as animals, fungi, and plants coordinate and organize their essential life functions (...) through signaling processes. Signaling allows for real life coordination and organization and is a communicative action in which speciesspecific behavioral patterns and sign repertoires are used. Cells, tissues, organs, and organisms that communicate share several key levels that are essential to all life forms and which serve as a uniform tool for investigating biocommunication. (shrink)
Investigation into the sequence structure of the genetic code by means of an informatic approach is a real success story. The features of human language are also the object of investigation within the realm of formal language theories. They focus on the common rules of a universal grammar that lies behind all languages and determine generation of syntactic structures. This universal grammar is a depiction of material reality, i.e., the hidden logical order of things and its relations determined by natural (...) laws. Therefore mathematics is viewed not only as an appropriate tool to investigate human language and genetic code structures through computer sciencebased formal language theory but is itself a depiction of material reality. This confusion between language as a scientific tool to describe observations/experiences within cognitive constructed models and formal language as a direct depiction of material reality occurs not only in current approaches but was the central focus of the philosophy of science debate in the twentieth century, with rather unexpected results. This article recalls these results and their implications for more recent mathematical approaches that also attempt to explain the evolution of human language. (shrink)
In Remnants of Auschwitz , Giorgio Agamben argues that the hidden structure of subjectivity is shame. In shame, I am consigned to something that cannot be assumed, such that the very thing that makes me a subject also forces me to witness my own desubjectification. Agamben’s ontological account of shame is problematic insofar as it forecloses collective responsibility and collapses the distinction between shame and humiliation. By recontextualizing three of Agamben’s sources – Primo Levi, Robert Antelme and Maurice Blanchot – (...) I develop an alternative account of shame as the structure of intersubjectivity , and of a collective responsibility that is more fundamental than the subject itself. On this basis, I sketch the preliminary outline of a biopolitics of resistance rooted in the ethics of alterity. The intuition driving this approach is that life is never bare ; even in situations of extreme affliction there remains a relation to alterity which provides a starting point for resistance. (shrink)
In Otherwise than Being, Levinas writes that the alterity of the Other escapes “le flair animal,” or the animal’s sense of smell. This paper puts pressure on the strong human-animal distinction that Levinas makes by considering the possibility that, while non-human animals may not respond to the alterity of the Other in the way that Levinas describes as responsibility, animal sensibility plays a key role in a relation to Others that Levinas does not discuss at length: friendship. This approach to (...) friendship addresses a gap in Levinas’ work between the absolute Other for whom I am responsible and the “brother” who is my political equal. (shrink)
Ensemble musicians play in synchrony despite expressively motivated irregularities in timing. We hypothesized that synchrony is achieved by each performer internally simulating the concurrent actions of other ensemble members, relying initially on how they would perform in their stead. Hence, musicians should be better at synchronizing with recordings of their own earlier performances than with others’ recordings. We required pianists to record one part from each of several piano duets, and later to play the complementary part in synchrony with their (...) own or others’ recordings. The pianists were also asked to identify their own recordings. The pianists were better at synchronizing with their own than with others’ performances, and they were able to recognize their own recordings. Furthermore, synchronization accuracy and recognition were correlated: Pianists who were relatively accurate at synchronizing with their own performances were also good at recognizing them. Thus, action simulation may underlie both synchronization and self-recognition. (shrink)
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1979.
Prisoners involved in the Attica rebellion and in the recent Georgia prison strike have protested their dehumanizing treatment as animals and as slaves. Their critique is crucial for tracing the connections between slavery, abolition, the racialization of crime, and the reinscription of racialized slavery within the US prison system. I argue that, in addition to the dehumanization of prisoners, inmates are further de-animalized when they are held in conditions of intensive confinement such as prolonged solitude or chronic overcrowding. To be (...) de-animalized is to be treated not as a living being who is sustained by its mutual relations with other living and nonliving beings, but rather as a thing to be warehoused and/or exchanged for a profit. The violence of de-animalization affects both human and nonhuman animals held in control prisons, factory farms, laboratories and other sites of intensive confinement. In order to make the connections between these sites, and to develop forms of solidarity appropriate to our shared animality, we need a post-humanist critique of intensive confinement that breaks with the logic of opposition between human and animal, and articulates our constitutive relationality as (inter)corporeal beings. (shrink)
Psychiatrist Stuart Grassian has proposed the term “SHU syndrome” to name the cluster of cognitive, perceptual and affective symptoms that commonly arise for inmates held in the Special Housing Units (SHU) of supermax prisons. In this paper, I analyze the harm of solitary confinement from a phenomenological perspective by drawing on Husserl’s account of the essential relation between consciousness, the experience of an alter ego and the sense of a real, Objective world. While Husserl’s prioritization of transcendental subjectivity over transcendental (...) intersubjectivity underestimates the degree to which first-person consciousness is constitutively intertwined with the embodied consciousness of others, Husserl’s phenomenology nevertheless provides a fruitful starting-point for a philosophical engagement with the psychiatric research on solitary confinement. (shrink)
Irigaray's early work seeks to multiply possibilities for women's self-expression by recovering a sexual difference in which male and female are neither the same nor opposites, but irreducibly different modes of embodiment. In her more recent work, however, Irigaray has emphasized the duality of the sexes at the expense of multiplicity, enshrining the heterosexual couple as the model of sexual ethics. Alison Stone's recent revision of Irigaray supplements her account of sexual duality with a theory of bodily multiplicity derived from (...) Butler, Nietzsche, and certain German Romantics; but to the extent that Stone maintains the primacy of sexual duality, her revision fails to address the claims of multiplicity on their own terms. In this paper, I interpret a passage from Marcel Proust's novel, Sodom and Gomorrah, in order to develop an alternative theory of sexual difference in which sexual duality is affirmed in relation to a third, unsexed but sexual force which multiplies the possibilities for sexual pleasure beyond heterosexual coupling. Proust's emphasis on sexed ``parts'' rather than sexed morphologies is generative of maximally diverse combinations, all of which are equally natural and equally enhanced through artifice. (shrink)
: Emmanuel Levinas compares ethical responsibility to a maternal body who bears the Other in the same without assimilation. In explicating this trope, he refers to a biblical passage in which Moses is like a "wet nurse" bearing Others whom he has "neither conceived nor given birth to" (Num. 11:12). A close reading of this passage raises questions about ethics, maternity, and sexual difference, for both the concept of ethical substitution and the material practice of mothering.
Recent investigations surprisingly indicate that single RNA "stem-loops" operate solely by chemical laws that act without selective forces, and in contrast, self-ligated consortia of RNA stem-loops operate by biological selection. To understand consortial RNA selection, the concept of single quasi-species and its mutant spectra as drivers of RNA variation and evolution is rethought here. Instead, we evaluate the current RNA world scenario in which consortia of cooperating RNA stem-loops are the basic players. We thus redefine quasispecies as RNA quasispecies consortia (...) and argue that it has essential behavioral motifs that are relevant to the inherent variation, evolution and diversity in biology. We propose that qs-c is an especially innovative force. We apply qs-c thinking to RNA stem-loops and evaluate how it yields altered bulges and loops in the stem-loop regions, not as errors, but as a natural capability to generate diversity. This basic competence-not error-opens a variety of combinatorial possibilities which may alter and create new biological interactions, identities and newly emerged self identity functions. Thus RNA stem-loops typically operate as cooperative modules, like members of social groups. From such qs-c of stem-loop groups we can trace a variety of RNA secondary structures such as ribozymes, viroids, viruses, mobile genetic elements as abundant infection derived agents that provide the stem-loop societies of small and long non-coding RNAs. (shrink)
The self seems to be a unitary entity remaining stable across time. Nevertheless, current theorizing conceptualizes the self as a number of interacting sub-systems involving perception, intention and action (self-model). One important function of such a self-model is to distinguish between events occurring as a result of one's own actions and events occurring as the result of somebody else's actions. We conducted an fMRI experiment that compared brain activation after an abrupt mismatch between one's own movement and its visual consequences (...) with an abrupt mismatch between one's own movement and somebody else's visually perceived hand movement. A right fronto-parietal network was selectively active during a sudden mismatch between one's own observed and performed hand action. (shrink)