Notes on the Relationship between Persons and Embodiment

N.L. Kirsch, J. Jeffrey, A. Putman, & P. Zeiger

“The work of the philosopher consists in assembling reminders for a particular purpose.” Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §127.

The following is a set of “Notes” or “Reminders”, that summarize the conceptual “point” we believe we have now reached, given our previous posts and additional considerations. These may change, be added to, or deleted as our discussions continue, but we very much welcome your comments and contributions for this version.

This may be a surprising or challenging document. Whether it is or not, we plan to follow soon with a series of commentaries about each of the sections.
A. The Conceptual Relationship Between Embodiment and Persons

N1. Human embodiment, including neurologically embodied mechanisms, provides for being a person.

N1a. Providing for being a Person is to provide for being an individual whose history is, paradigmatically, a history of Deliberate Action in a Dramaturgical pattern.

N1b. Providing for being a Person is to provide for acquiring Person Characteristics [that is Dispositions, Powers, and Derivatives].

N1c. Providing for being a Person is to provide for acquiring and having a world and behaving in a world of other Persons.

(Etc., in a manner consistent with the DP opus, BoP, Place, WAH, and others)

N2. A characteristic of Persons is to have an embodiment sufficient for being a Person, which is to have sufficient embodied mechanisms for being a Person.

B. Embodiment and the Acquisition of Person Characteristics

N3. It is both empirically and conceptually necessary that human embodiment provides for everything a person can do (i.e., to be a Person).

N3a. If a person has acquired a person characteristic, there is some configuration of embodied mechanisms (that is, a neurologically embodied state-of-affairs) that provides for that individual to have acquired that person characteristic.

N3b. If a person has acquired a person characteristic, that person’s history has resulted in an embodied change (that is, a changed neurologically embodied state of affairs) that provides for having and retaining that person characteristic.

N3c. Being able to acquire a person characteristic (i.e., learning) is to have embodied mechanisms that provide for acquiring person characteristics, in general (for example, being able to acquire Knowledge and Know How), and for acquiring that specific person characteristic (given a relevant intervening history).

N3c1. Embodied mechanisms that provide for acquiring person characteristics in general, are those that would be represented by a Paradigm Case Formulation of Persons (rather than the description of a specific person and that person’s history).

N3d. For all of these cases, it makes sense to ask, “How is it possible that embodiment provides for those characteristics”, but that is a question about mechanisms, not about Persons.

N3d1. Observation of Persons cannot inform us about the biological structure and functioning of mechanisms, only what the person characteristics are that must be provided for.

C. Embodiment and the World of Persons

N4. It is not conceptually possible to examine or otherwise elucidate the embodied mechanisms that provide for acquiring a person characteristic without there being a world of Persons (in which, for example, it is observed that individuals acquire person characteristics in the way they do).

N4a. Examining or otherwise elucidating embodied mechanisms are behaviors in a world of Persons, provided for by embodied mechanisms.

N5. It is because of the systematic observation of Persons and what they do in their worlds that we are able to recognize what sufficient embodied mechanisms must provide for.

N5a. Human embodied mechanisms cannot be understood, that is, they cannot have the significance they do, without a concept of Person.

N5b. Any statement that appeals to neurological embodiment to inform the world of persons already presumes the world of persons and the meaningful distinctions persons make about what will or will not be informative.

N5c. Claims about sufficient embodiment must be, at least, claims of a sort that conceptually retain a place for the ability to engage in the types of behaviors that are represented by making claims about sufficient embodiment, as well as evaluating those claims.

N5d. The identification and description of embodied mechanisms may influence decision-making about the conceptual and observational adequacy of behavior description, but decisions about the adequacy of behavior descriptions, and therefore the adequacy of claims about sufficient embodiment are themselves behaviors in a world of persons and subject to the standards of behavior description in a world of Persons.

D. Methodological Implications

N6. A well articulated and conceptually sound formulation of a type, class, or domain of human behavior (e.g., a family of behaviors that may be identified by a PCF) offers guidance about whether a specifically targeted set of embodied mechanisms are sufficient to provide for the range and variability of that behavior, as observed.

N6a. Mechanisms that do not provide for the full range of behaviors represented by a well-articulated and conceptually sound formulation cannot be claimed to be sufficiently providing for that range of behaviors.

N6b. Behavioral variability across persons in regard to some behavioral family may provide additional information about the necessary variability of sufficient mechanisms across persons.

N6c. Behavioral variability across persons in regard to some behavioral family may provide information about other mechanisms that also necessarily provide for behaviors in the class of interest, other than those mechanisms that at some point had been considered to be sufficient.

N6d. Behavioral variability across persons in regard to some behavioral family may provide information about mechanisms that at some point had been considered to be necessary, but are not.

N7. Embodied mechanisms cannot be said to be insufficient if the type, class, or domain of human behavior of interest is not well-articulated and conceptually sound (i.e., the PCF is too restrictive, too expansive, or otherwise “incorrect.”).

N7a. The “burden of proof” for claims about the sufficiency of embodied mechanisms is that those mechanisms must provide for the full range of behaviors of interest and all parametric components of that range of behaviors. N.B. This is not the same as talking about standards for describing the mechanisms themselves.

N7b. The “burden of proof” for claims about the sufficiency of behavior descriptions that are used to guide the investigation of embodied mechanisms is that they must be conceptually and observationally sound, and therefore subject to standards within relevant communities (i.e., in a world of Persons), and the conceptual and empirical ways that such standards are developed and applied.

E. Implications for Intervention

N8. Person characteristic changes may express neurological embodiment changes.

N8a. A change of neurological embodiment may no longer provide for person characteristics that were provided for before that neurological change.

N8b. A change of neurological embodiment may provide for altered or new person characteristics.

N8c. A change in person characteristic may be taken by the person or others to be either a disability (that is, a restriction in behavior potential) or a new ability (that is, an enhancement of behavior potential).

N8d. As for any such observations, there is no guarantee that all observers will agree.

N9. Fully articulated formulations of a behavior type, class, or domain may provide additional information about embodied mechanisms by systematically associating those disabilities with specific mechanism impairments (e.g., lesions, dysfunctions and anomalies, deletions, and others).

N10. Fully articulated formulations of a behavior type, class, or domain, may therefore provide guidance about potential alternative embodied mechanisms and mechanism systems that can be recruited in order for a person to engage in a behavior that was otherwise compromised.

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One Response to Notes on the Relationship between Persons and Embodiment

  1. cj stone says:

    Elegantly constructed, esp. the centripetal force on the Person Concept.

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