3.01.2002

This is a meta-blog. A blog on the earlier blog. I say that I am apprehending the world from a form of life -- a pattern of regularity I have settled into. This is okay for a start, but there are problems. When I say I have settled into a form of life, it sounds like I stepped along a surface and then stopped. I continue to travel, and carry with me residues of earlier forms of life. As you noted, last week we went from talking about teaching to engaging in teaching. The tendency is to think this a hierarchy where thinking about teaching is somehow above, hovering over, the activity of teaching. It is more accurate to see these distinctive practices as partially concentric circles. The boundary between them is invisible for the most part. The boundary could be raised by a mistake. Talking about the substance of my subject when I should be describing where my subject fits into the curriculum and being called pedantic by a colleague would do the trick. How are these two language-games related. They do overlap, but remain distinctive. And you and I add to the interrelation by walking from one activity to another. Carrying over might be thought of as being energized for teaching by listening to others talking about their teaching methods and experiences in the classroom.

I apprehend the world from the form of life I have settled into. The world here sounds as though it exists outside the form of life. Why we retain elements of Cartesianism, why dualism is such a difficult habit to break, is because it feels accurate. There is this dead barrier between me and you. Epidermis. Mark Taylor is worth citing at some length here (sorry!): "The skin, which is not a simple covering or container but is the body's largest organ, is internally differentiated into the epidermis and the dermis. As such, the skin is forever doubled and hence unavoidably duplicitous. Hide hides hide, which hides nothing...nothing but other hides. Not all hides, however, are the same. The basal cells of the epidermis, which are internally differentiated, are the progenitors of other epidermal cells. As new cells form, old cells die and drift away. The very mechanism of differentiation through which life emerges also leads to death. When epidermal cells become radically differentiated and migrate to the dermis, their nuclei are destroyed and the cells die. The outermost layer of the body consists of proteinaceous debris that is dead. Death, like life, is not a momentary event but is an ongoing process whose traces line the body. At the point where I make contact with the world, I am always already dead." (Mark C. Taylor, Hiding U of Chicago Press, 1997, pp.12-13). Inner/outer is not an ontological dualism; rather, it is a snapshot of a complex, emergent process more accurately described in terms of life and death.

The combination of hide and skeletal structure gives physiological form, an isomorphism that, pace Wittgenstein, we share with the lion. We are quadrupeds all. The biological form that life can take must be different than what Wittgenstein calls forms of life, then. This is a path we can pursue when wondering why we retain the distinction between language, language-games, and forms of life.

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