Thesis: Language of Newtonian Billiards Vs Wholistic Situational Understanding

This Page Last Updated: 12/26/2014

Chapter Four: The World Is Your Body -by Alan Watts

Excerpts (Points):

Point 1. pg 71 As soon as one sees that separate things are fictitious, it becomes obvious that nonexistent things cannot "perform" actions. The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, "goeswith") absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body. How can a noun, which is by definition not action, lead to action?

Point 2. pg 72 And, right now is the moment to say that I am not trying to smuggle in the "total situation" as a new disguise for the old "things" which were supposed to explain behavior or action. The total situation or field is always open-ended, for

Little fields have big fields

Upon their backs to bite 'em,

And big fields have bigger fields

And so ad infinitum.

Point 3. pg 73 We never get more than a sketch of the situation, yet this is enough to show that actions (or processes) must be understood, or explained, in terms of situations just as words must be understood in the context of sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, libraries, and ... life itself.

Point 4. pg 73 For what we mean by "understanding" or "comprehension" is seeing how parts fit into a whole, and then realizing that they don't compose the whole, as one assembles a jigsaw puzzle, but that the whole is a pattern, a complex wiggliness, which has no separate parts. Parts are fictions of language, of the calculus of looking at the world through a net which seems to chop it up into bits. Parts exist only for purposes of figuring and describing, and as we figure the world out we become confused if we do not remember this all the time.


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