Agent, Person, Subject, Self: A Theory of Ontology, by Paul Kockelman

By Paul Kockelman

This booklet deals either a naturalistic and significant thought of indicators, minds, and meaning-in-the-world. It offers a reconstructive instead of deconstructive thought of the person, one that either analytically separates and theoretically synthesizes a variety of schools which are usually stressed and conflated: enterprise (understood as a causal capacity), subjectivity (understood as a representational capacity), selfhood (understood as a reflexive capacity), and personhood (understood as a sociopolitical skill attendant on being an agent, topic, or self). It argues that those amenities are most sensible understood from a semiotic stance that supersedes the standard intentional stance. And, in so doing, it deals a pragmatism-grounded method of which means and mediation that's normal sufficient to account for methods which are as embodied and embedded as they're articulated and enminded. specifically, whereas this idea is targeted on human-specific modes of that means, it additionally deals a basic thought of that means, such that the brokers, topics and selves in query needn't regularly, or maybe frequently, map onto individuals. And whereas this concept foregrounds brokers, people, matters and selves, it does this by means of theorizing procedures that frequently stay within the heritage of such (often erroneously) individuated figures: ontologies (akin to tradition, yet generalized throughout agentive collectivities), interplay (not purely among humans, but additionally among humans and issues, and whatever outdoor or in-between), and infrastructure (akin to context, yet generalized to incorporate mediation at any measure of remove).

Paul Kockelman, affiliate Professor of Anthropology, Barnard university and Columbia college.

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Example text

For example, one may use the same grassy field to play golf or feed sheep. Lawn mowers, then, are oriented toward a particular subset of the purchases provided by (or ontologically projectable onto) grass. For example, with their blades they are oriented to the fact that grass allows cutting by certain shaped things; with their wheels they are oriented to the fact that uncut grass affords passage for pushing; with their handles they are oriented to the fact that human hands will be doing the pushing; and so on.

12 A belief (S3) represents a state of affairs (O3) and inferentially gives rise to an intention (I3). And an intention (S4) represents a state of affairs (O4) and indexically gives rise to an instigation (I4), which may itself either immediately constitute or eventually cause the state of affairs so represented. In other words, between the original “sensation” and the ultimate “instigation” may be any number of other cognitive processes, themselves frameable as significant and selected processes.

8: O2 21 A4 Indexical and Inferential Enchaining of Cognitive Processes (or “causally”) gives rise to a perception (I1). 12 A belief (S3) represents a state of affairs (O3) and inferentially gives rise to an intention (I3). And an intention (S4) represents a state of affairs (O4) and indexically gives rise to an instigation (I4), which may itself either immediately constitute or eventually cause the state of affairs so represented. In other words, between the original “sensation” and the ultimate “instigation” may be any number of other cognitive processes, themselves frameable as significant and selected processes.

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