A Process Model
Our concept of "implying" has already moved to a second meaning. First we said that all parts of body-en#2 imply each other as part of one whole; then we found that any occurring is also an implying of further occurring (and of change in implying).
But what if en changes in a way that is not part of the process? So far we defined body or en as one body-en#2 event. But if the foot changes so that it doesnít press, then the ground pressure is not there. Or, if the ground pressure is lacking, then the foot pressure would not be as it usually is, either. Therefore, if any aspect of body or of en#2 were to be different or missing, then what occurs must be different as well. The walking must stop; the living body may die or go on living differently.
Much of en#2 is constant, air or water perhaps in some cases. Then these are not separate aspects (unless we separate them). But these and other aspects of en #2 may sometimes be missing. The body might have changed so that the food is no longer there for it. Or, food may be missing. If there is a flood, the ground-pressure is not there.
If the creature does not instantly die because some process is stopped, then we have an implying that was not changed by an occurring. For example, the animal remains "hungry", i.e., food and feeding are implied, but do not occur. Now the hunger is not merely the implying into which eating occurs.
Perhaps there is soon some new kind of food, or perhaps a new way forms to do something that changes the implying somewhat as feeding would. But if not, then the implying of feeding will remain the same no matter what other events do occur.
For the first time in our model we have derived a sense of "the same."
Now we are speaking not just of the whole body-identical "environment", but of a certain aspect of it which separates itself by being absent. So the feeding process separates itself as well and remains implied. Everything else involved in feeding is here, the animal, the other animals, the air, ground, light, all together. What is not here is only a small but separated "part" of the whole en#2.
If such an aspect of en#2 is missing, we can speak of "a" process that is separated and stopped. Now there is a stopped process -- separable from the whole process.
The part of en #2 that separates itself by being absent plays a special role. It stops a process by its absence. Let us give this part of b-en#2 the ancient name "object" (even though it often means species members not just things as in the old model). If we do this we donít think of the environment as already consisting of objects, and especially not of spectator-defined objects. Rather, something is an object only if it is part of body-en #2, and also sometimes missing. A creature might have just one or two objects.
Because there is now a stopped process, this missing part of en#2 has attained a startling power: When this small aspect of en occurs, all of that process which was stopped by the absence, will occur.
Of course the process involves a great deal more than the missing part which has now returned. The process which resumes is much more complex than one could guess just from the object. Yet when this object occurs, the whole complex process which was stopped, resumes.
"The animal recognizes the object", says the spectator. It responds appropriately to the object.
We can now derive the old statement of G.H. Mead: "the environment is a function of the organism". This is not so in every respect. The body and the en have their own reality connections, and this leads to a new sense of our term "en#2" in which we can speak of it separately. The body process may not be able to determine the object's disappearance or reappearance. (Later we may find processes that can provide themselves with at first missing objects, but that is different.) The object is a function of the process insofar as the process separates this object by not occurring without it, and by resuming if the object recurs.
In a resumption the body does not encounter the object as if for the first time. It looks that way, as if living things just happen to have objects, or as if the animal just met the object. If one begins with this, one must remain puzzled by what the animal does with the object, and how it can.
What we call "an object" is part of en #2 and part of the functional cycle. It was already part of en#2 but not separated (not "an" object). By being absent it is separate. Now we can say that objects were already part of the functional cycle, although we are only now separating them out. The stoppage has enabled us to think further about implying, to make more terms from it. Because there is implying, and implying implies an occurring that will change it in a certain way, which we will become able to define, therefore there can be a stoppage (i.e., an occurring that does not change the implying in that certain way). Then the implying remains the same for a while, and we can feel and think about it. At such a juncture something new might occur and have this certain (to be defined) relation to it, because implying is both more intricate and still open. Since the next occurring does not immediately change it in a way that it implies itself changed, we encounter the implying "....." as such (carried by other occurrings). But so long as it remains the same it also continues to have the same object in the environment. We can speak of an object. But we cannot speak of en#2 as if it consisted of "objects" since most of it is never missing, and never separated and implied as an object. Most of it is constant and not divided into objects.
When people say that objects are "a function of the organism," they sometimes say that the organism "picks out" or "selects" what is an object for it. This assumes all of the spectatorís objects. One assumes that the animal interacts with some of what is defined by the spectator. Instead, let us think of the life process as including what is en#2 with it. Some part of that can differentiate itself by being sometimes missing. Then the implying of it stays "the same" as long as it is missing.
In our third meaning of the concept of "implying" the implying continues "the same" as long as a process is stopped. This leads us to the question: How can there "be" a process that is not ongoing? The next chapter will pursue the question.
We notice another oddity that will lead us further. As far as we defined it, there can be an object for the body only while the object is missing, and the process with it does not happen. As soon as the object recurs, the process resumes and changes the implying so that the object is no longer implied. Objects, so far, are objects only as long as they are absent!
Later (in VI) we will develop terms for how a body can have objects that can be there for it, such as perceived objects, but we donít have terms for this as yet. For example, we have no terms to say that food might be there for the body also while the food is being eaten, and afterwards. So far as we have developed our terms, the food would be an undifferentiated part of the bodyís whole process as soon as food occurs. The food would be part of the whole en#2 and would not be a distinct object. So we can ask: How does the body come to have and keep objects in front of itself? How can terms for this develop from our terms?
By allowing our terms to work logically in this way, we arrive at puzzling results that generate further questions. Sometimes we dip into their more than logical implications, but we must also take them logically, quite exactly. It is clear that we have as yet nothing like objects of perception. We have as yet no terms for perceptions, images, or memories. We have devised concepts for something earlier, more primitive, namely how something separate like "a" process and "an" object might come to be in the first place. Before the object was missing it was not an "it" for the body at all.
When the object returns, the stopped process resumes and moves on. Then the object is no longer implied.
Our third kind of "imply" can be used in both directions, although not in the same sense. We can say that the partially stopped body process implies the missing en-aspect. We can also say that this en-aspect implies and resumes the stopped body-process. For example, the food implies feeding to the body. To be an object is to resume a process with the body.
Later (IVAe) when we have the terms, we will be able to use them to think about an "original implying" that is "resumed" in a process that need not have had a stoppage.
The object implies the resumed process to the body because the body implies that process. Such an en-aspect has a role, a function, we could almost say a "meaning" to that body; like a symbol it means (implies) feeding. The body "recognizes" the object, we could almost say -- almost, but this use of the words comes much too early. Below I will discuss this "too early" use of term.
SOME MOTIVATIONS AND POWERS OF THE MODEL SO FAR
When I say that a missing and implied en-aspect has a role, a function, a meaning, that it has the role of a symbol to the body, my "too early" use of these terms is deliberate. The too early use is part of the project to create an alternative model in which we define living bodies in such a way that one of them can be ours. We start from how we know (feel, are .....) our own more complex body. From the start, let us develop concepts of "body" and "environment" that can apply also to our own bodies. Since our human bodies have environments including species members and other objects, meanings, and symbols, we know that living bodies can have objects, meanings, and symbols. Let us therefore not build the "basic" terms in our model in a way that makes our own bodies seem impossible from the start.
Since we humans are here, we can be certain that we are not impossible. A conceptual model of "reality" that makes us seem impossible has to have something wrong with it.
Human meanings and symbols seem impossible in the spectatorís space and time within which we have been taught to think about anything. Therefore, currently, the human world seems to float disconnectedly; human meanings seem added on to a "reality" that makes us seem unreal.
Postmodernists want to reject any conceptual model. I call the rudimentary outlines of a model "basic" not because someone believes that a conceptual model is the foundation of anything, but because the "basic" structure is acquired by all the other terms. The usual "Western" model is widely rejected today, but it remains "basic" not as an assertion, but because it inheres in the structure of most concepts, and seems to be the only way to make new concepts. This will remain so as long as we lack an alternative "basic" model. By rejecting all models, the postmodernists make themselves right. But a model ceases to entrap as soon as we have an equally "basic" alternative. Then we are able to devise concepts beyond the old model -- and beyond the new one too.
We can devise an alternative, if we fashion the "basic" terms from the living bodies that we have (are, act from, speak from .....). With basic parameters that are "too early" versions of human processes, we can make the later definitions of meaning and symbol possible. We wonít darkly announce later on, that humans have a symboling power, as is usually done in the currently disconnected social sciences. We want to understand that power and its continuity with less than human processes. We are not pretending to be without or before language. Of course we are devising concepts from some aspects of how we are and live. The usual mathematical "reality" is also derived from human processes, of course. Nothing is more exclusively human than mathematics.
We can speak from living, and we can make rudimentary concepts from speaking-from, and especially from focusing and from the process of explication. Since these are possible in reality, they can lead us to an alternative set of "basic" concepts of a "reality" in which we would not seem impossible.
Our rudimentary model will develop into a connected matrix of concepts with which we can "derive" human behavior and symboling. Then it will have the concepts with which to speak-about itself (VII and VIII).
It is known that symbols and rituals have deep bodily effects but there is no way to think how that can be. We are building a way to think from and into those effects. And of course we spend much of our lives speaking. The old notion that symbols "stand for something" never opened this relation. It is left like an external relation. What lets symbols be "about" things? We are told about "signifiers and the signified" -- but the signifiers float. The old terms about language and signifying do not internally explain themselves nor do they relate to living bodies. Even our little primitive model with its few terms is already further along than the usual model. With body and environment making up one event, and with the concept of "implying," the body implies its participating environment, as well as special objects that can be missing and can resume a process.
What makes something a symbol is usually said to be that it "stands for something." Our definition so far is not yet of a symbol, also not yet of an object that is present and perceived by a body. So far the "object" disappears as soon as it recurs. And yet it already "stands for something", namely the process it resumes when it recurs. But "stands for" comes from the old model, as if symboling were an external relation. I say instead that the body "implies" the object by implying the process which the object resumes.
Our rudimentary model can already say quite a lot that needs to be said and cannot be said in the old model.
We have terms also to say that an object (and later a symbol) involves a whole implicit complexity even though it can look so simple and single. Like the missing en-aspect, the effect of a symbol cannot be accounted for by examining it alone. Our rudimentary model provides a way to think these dimensions without assuming representations. The body does not imply the object by having some kind of copy of it. Nothing in the implying or the bodyís process looks like the object. Secondly, the implying of the object is not a "reference " as in the old model. What is really implied is a further body process, not just the object. Explication is never representation, always itself a further process.
Later we will derive terms for cognitive processes (the kind that carry the word "of", such as perception of, symbol of, etc) but not by making a fresh start as if humans cannot be part of the world studied by science.
But, of course the too early use is not yet how we want to use the words "meaning" and "symbol."
Modified 10/2001 (c) 1998 by Eugene T. Gendlin. All Rights Reserved. webmaster