Telepistemology: Descartes’ Last Stand



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Telepistemology: Descartes’ Last Stand

Hubert L. Dreyfus

She could see the image of her son, who lived on the other side of the earth, and he could see her….”What is it, dearest boy?” …“I want you to come and see me.” “But I can see you!, she exclaimed. “What more do you want?” …”I see something like you …, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this phone, but I do not hear you.” The imponderable bloom, declared by discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was ignored by the machine. E. M. Forster1

Artists see far ahead of their time. Thus in the twenties E. M. Forester envisioned a future in which people all over the world would be able to keep in touch with everything electronically. They would sit in their rooms all their lives, talking to each other and seeing each other, as well as receiving medical care from distant robots, and so forth. Naturally, they developed pale, lumpish bodies that they hated and, on those rare occasions when they met face to face, it was considered as great faux pas to touch or be touched by another person. Now we are getting close to the future Forester envisioned. We can keep up on the latest events in the universe, shop, do research, communicate with our family, friends and colleagues, meet new people, play games, and control remote robots all without leaving our room. When we are engaged in such activities, our bodies seem irrelevant and, thanks to telepresence, our minds seem to expand to all corners of the universe.

But at the same time a skeptical doubt can creep into our sense of almost god-like control and omniscience. All this knowledge is indirect, inferred from what we see on our screens and hear from out loud speakers. What if all this telepresence were rigged and there was nothing outside our room but a duplicitous computer feeding carefully organized audio-visual data to our computer to create the illusion of a world with which we believe we are interacting? Nothing on our high-resolution 3D screens and our hi-fi stereo speakers would look or sound any different.

But at least we know our bodies, our room and the screen are real, we want to respond. But what if our sense organs were just further input channels to our mental computer and we were just being given systematic inputs to produce the experience of an external world while all that was real was our brain in its cranial vat. Again, how could we tell the difference? But, we could insist, at least the brain and the vat and the computers feeding in data would have to be real, so at least our belief that there was an external world would not be an illusion. But even our assurance of that minimal contact with reality would be fragile for, once we had gone this far, we would, on reflection, have to admit that all that we really have access to is our own private experience. Just as in dreams an experience of a supposed world is produced by the mind alone, so all that I can know for sure is that I am a conscious subject having my private experiences. These inner experiences would be the same, even if the outside world were a fiction.

The above story of progressive loss of touch with reality is not mere fantasy. It is the true story of the development of epistemology in the West. Modern skepticism about the existence of the external world begins with Descartes. Before Descartes there had been skeptics but they questioned their reasons for believing anything, not especially their perception.2 They did not distinguish the world of inner experience from the external world and then discover one could doubt the existence of the latter. But early in the 17 century three influences led Descartes to make his fateful distinction between the mind and the rest of reality. To begin with, instruments like the telescope and microscope were extending man’s perceptual powers, but along with such indirect access came doubts about the reliability of what one seemed to see by means of such prostheses. The church doubted Galileo’s report of spots on the sun and, as Ian Hacking tells us, “even into the 1860s there were serious debates as to whether globules seen through a microscope were artifacts of the instrument or genuine elements of living material (they were artifacts).”th Clearly such doubts were pragmatically motivated and realistic.

At the same time, the sense organs themselves were being understood as transducers bringing information to the brain. Descartes pioneered this research with an account of how the eye responded to light and passed the information on to the brain by means of “the small fibers of the optic nerve.”3 Likewise, Descartes understood that other nerves brought information about the body to the brain and from there to the mind:



The mind is immediately affected, not by all parts of the body, but only by the brain, or rather perhaps only by one small part of it.4

Descartes not only realized that our accesses to the world was indirect. He also saw that the transmission channels were unreliable so that inferences made on the basis of this information could be mistaken. He observed that:



It may happen that, although the extremities in the foot are not affected... the motion excited in the brain will be the same as would have been caused by an injury to the foot, and the mind will then necessarily sense pain in the foot just as if the foot had indeed been hurt. 5

He then used reports of patients with a phantom limb to call into question our seemingly direct knowledge that we have bodies:



I have been assured by men whose arm or leg has been amputated that it still seemed to them that they occasionally felt pain in the limb they had lost—thus giving me grounds to think that I could not be quite certain that a pain I endured was indeed due to the limb in which I seemed to feel it.6

Descartes also observed that,

Because it is the soul that sees, and not the eye, and because the soul sees immediately only by the intervention of the brain,…it happens that madmen, and sleepers often see, or think that they see, diverse objects that are not before their eyes.

He concluded that since he could experience only what the nerves from his sense organs transmitted to his brain and from there to his mind, he had no direct knowledge of the world, and, since the senses could malfunction, all information about the body and the external world was intrinsically unreliable. He then used dreaming to make the last step into the interior.

How often…have I dreamt of myself being in this place, dressed and seated by the fire, whilst all the time I was lying undressed in bed!…I see that there are no certain makers distinguishing waking from sleep; and I see this so manifestly that, lost in amazement, I am almost persuaded that I am now dreaming. 7

So Descartes held that all we can be certain of is the content of our own minds, our private subjective experiences.

Descartes had discovered that, from the point of view of detached, philosophical reflection, it seems reasonable to raise, not just pragmatic doubts about the reliability of our instruments and even of our sense organs, but hyperbolic doubts about the existence of anything outside the mind. Indeed, when we engage in pure philosophical reflection it seems we have to agree with Descartes. We have no direct access to the external world, only the unreliable data sent by our sensors to our brain. The inevitable follow-up question of how self-enclosed subjects could come to know transcendent objects led to a new version of skepticism, skepticism about the existence of the external world, and to a new philosophical discipline, epistemology, which attempted to determine how and to what extent our everyday beliefs about the world could be justified.

Over the next three centuries (roughly from 1650 to 1950) philosophers came to accept uncritically the picture of the inner mind and the external world as separated by an ontological gulf and connected only by a narrow and unreliable information channel. Epistemologists then worked though the three theses supporting Cartesian skepticism First, starting with the British empiricists, especially Berkeley and Hume, there were repeated attempts to determine just what data were directly given by the senses. Gradually, however, philosophers found they could not make sense of indubitable private sense data and eventually gave up this line of inquiry. They then turned their attention to the reliability of perceptual beliefs. This issue is still debated but only by a small minority of philosophers. (See Goldman’s paper in this volume.) Finally, some prominent philosophers still hold that, since all I can know is the content of my own mind, for all I can tell I may be a brain in a vat.8 This is the contemporary version of Descartes’ disembodied dreamer.

But in the second half of the twentieth century, thanks to the work of Pragmatics from William James to John Dewey, existential phenomenologists such as Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and so called ordinary language philosophers such as John Austin and Ludwig Wittgenstein, most philosophers have abandoned these epistemological concerns. These philosophers now hold that, if our Cartesian way of thinking about the mind and its self-enclosed content gives rise to skepticism about the external world, there must be something wrong with this view of the mind as having only indirect access to reality. Each of the above schools of philosophy claims, each for its own reasons, that our basic relation to the world is direct, so that global skeptical doubts are incompatible with everyday experience and so are not only unmotivated but cannot even be coherently formulated.

Heidegger, for example, holds that Descartes, in his famous dictum “I think, therefore I am.” paid attention to the cogito but neglected the sum. Human beings, Heidegger argues, have to take a stand on who they are by dealing with things and by assuming social roles. He captures this idea in his claim that human beings are essentially being-in-the-world. He argues that, if human beings are essentially being-in-the-world, then the skeptical question of whether the world and others exist cannot sensibly be raised by human beings, and, as Heidegger asks, “Who else would raise it?”9 Heidegger thus claims that any attempt to answer the skeptic is mistaken. Taking the skeptic seriously and attempting to prove that there is an external world presupposes a separation of the mind from the world of things and other people which defies a phenomenological description of how human beings make sense of everyday things and of themselves. Using a different approach, Externalists like Donald Davidson claim that the idea of a self-enclosed Cartesian subject makes no sense because mental content can only have meaning in so far as it has a causal connection with the external world of objects and other people.

These anti-skeptics share the view that we can’t make sense of the detached attitude from which Descartes formulates his skeptical arguments, or, in so far as we can make sense of this attitude, we have to understand it as derivative from and dependent upon our everyday involvement in the world. As such arguments have gained ground, the epistemological concerns inaugurated by Descartes and central to all branches of modern philosophy have come to seem more and more implausible. In major philosophy departments the mandatory epistemology courses that presupposed that, before one could investigate the entities in any domain, one had to have an account of how one could know about such entities, were demoted to one among several options or were dropped from the requirements altogether and replaced by courses in metaphysics and ontology.

But now, at the close of the century, just as philosophers are coming to view the Cartesian subject/object ontology as mistaken and the epistemological problems it generated as pseudo-problems, new tele-technologies such as cellular phones, teleconferencing, telecommuting, home shopping, telerobotics, and Internet web cameras are resurrecting Descartes’ epistemological doubts. Descartes already noted that:

When looking from a window at beings passing by on the street below, I [...] say that it is men I am seeing... [But] what do I see from the window beyond hats and cloaks which might cover automatic machines? 10

And he concluded that, having no direct knowledge, he could only infer that there were people passing by. Now, as more and more of our perception becomes indirect, read off various sorts of distance sensors and then presented by means of various sorts of displays, we are coming to realize how much of our knowledge is based on inferences that go beyond the evidence displayed on our screens. We see that the reality mediated by this tele-technology can always be called into question. Indeed, skepticism is increasingly reasonable in the face of the growing variety of illusions and tele-experiences now available.

Consider the Telegarden (telegarden.aec.at), the Internet telerobotic project that motivated the title of this book. Visitors to this garden log in from terminals all over the world, directing a robot and camera to view, water, and plant seeds in a 6’ x 6’ patch of soil ostensibly existing in a museum in Austria. Seeds take weeks to germinate but the patient visitor is rewarded with a view of a distant plant in the garden. In what sense does this plant exist? It is perfectly plausible that the entire project is an elaborate forgery, with soil and plant images indexed from a digital library. How can an Internet visitor know the difference? Skepticism in this case seems well motivated.

Still, as long as the uses of telerobotics remain isolated instances of mediated interaction in contrast to our direct access to the everyday commonsense world, they can be dismissed by the general anti-epistemological mood of contemporary philosophy as special cases dependent upon our direct experience of everyday reality. (See Malpas paper in the Volume.) If, however, technology makes more and more of our knowledge indirect (i.e. inferred from displays), the old problem of how to justify our knowledge of the unobserved may well start to look a lot more pressing. Indeed, as telepresence becomes important in our commerce with people and things so that this indirect relation to the world comes to dominate more and more of our lives, we might come to think of our everyday relation to the world as merely a special case of telepresence. This might lead people to focus once again on the reliability of the “input” from the world and the possibility of both specific and general deception as to what we are encountering. Furthermore, if our culture’s practices continue to developed in the present direction so that most of our relations to others and to objects are indirect as in E. M. Forester’s prescient story, our picture of our relation to the world might well begin to change. We might again, as in the 17 century, come to give priority to the pure, reflective attitude in which we can’t help but think of our sense organs as transducers and ourselves as brains in vats. Since whether or not one takes skepticism to be intelligible depends on which picture of our epistemic situation (involved or detached) one feels to be fundamental, under such conditions skepticism might come to seem more and more reasonable. The epistemology courses that were central requirements up to thirty years ago, and have since virtually disappeared from the curriculum, might again be required. And if telepresence became ubiquitous and we became dependent on electronic prostheses to mediate all our relations to the world, the epistemological questions that troubled Descartes and three centuries of epistemologists could again come to seem, not just intelligible, but disturbing.

There is another possibility, however. It could turn out that the contrast between the interactions mediated by tele-technologies and the telepresence they deliver, on the one hand, and what little remains of our everyday unmediated interactions with people and things, on the other, will become starker and starker. Then it might well become clear that, as Malpas argues, the attenuated sort of telepresence available through tele-technologies is parasitic on the richer involvement we have with the things we directly perceive. Thus, when I am watching TV, I may sensibly wonder if NASA is faking the Mars-landing I seem to be witnessing but I can’t in the same way sensibly doubt that I am sitting on my couch surrounded by my family. Likewise, I may doubt that I am seeing real rather than computer generated models wearing the hats and cloaks in an on-line catalogue I am perusing, but I can’t entertain similar doubts when my order is delivered to my door. Telepresence would then call our attention to the way that things and people are normally directly present to us and we would sense that this direct form of presence was basic and that mediated telepresence was at best a poor imitation. If people experienced “presence” on the screen as a kind of privation of direct contact, the kind of washed out telepresence tele-technologies provide might well lead to an appreciation of our everyday robut relation to things and people. Then, rather than bringing about a revival of Cartesian epistemology, tele-technology would strengthen Heidegger’s hand by further undermining interest in global epistemological questions while stimulating interest in the ontology of being-in-the-world.

To understand the present situation and the direction in which it may evolve, we need to understand more precisely what is present in everyday life that is missing in telepresence. John Haugeland adopts a Heideggerian point of view claiming that Descartes misunderstood the mind and the world to be connected by a narrow channel, while in fact we are connected to reality by a broad bandwidth channel.th Given Haugeland’s convincing analysis we can see that the narrow bandwidth of our connection to the outside world in tele-technologies is certainly part of the problem, but it is not the basic difficulty. We can imagine the bandwidth of the input to our computer getting broader and broader and the dispalys getting richer and richer and still we would be in the position of inferring what is going on in the outside world by way of indirect evidence on our screens, and so still subject to legitimate skeptical doubts.

Pragmatists such a William James and John Dewey offer an analysis of Cartesian skepticism which gets closer to the essential nature of its distortion of our relation to reality. For the pragmatists, the question is whether our relation to the world is that of a detached spectator or an involved actor. On this analysis, what gives us our sense of being in direct touch with reality is that we bring about changes in the world and get perceptual feedback concerning what we have done. Merleau-Ponty has worked out this intuition in convincing detail.

In his Phenomenology of Perception, he spells out the way our active and involved body puts us directly in touch with perceived reality. According to Merleau-Ponty when everyday coping is going well one does not experience oneself as a subject with inner experiences relating to objects in the external world. Rather, in such cases, athletes speak of flow, or playing out of their heads. One’s activity is completely geared into the demands of the situation. Aron Gurwitsch offers an excellent description of this absorbed activity as opposed to Cartesian detachment:



[W]hat is imposed on us to do is not determined by us as someone standing outside the situation simply looking on at it; what occurs and is imposed are rather prescribed by the situation and its own structure; and we do more and greater justice to it the more we let ourselves be guided by it, i.e., the less reserved we are in immersing ourselves in it and subordinating ourselves to it. 11

Such skillful coping does not require an inner mental representation of its goal. As Merleau-Ponty puts it:



A movement is learned when the body has understood it, that is, when it has incorporated it into its ‘world’, and to move one’s body is to aim at things through it; to allow oneself to respond to their call, which is made upon it independently of any representation. 12

The way the body responds directly to the world leads Merleau-Ponty to introduce the concept of maximum grip. When we are looking at something, we tend, without thinking about it, to find the best distance for taking in both the thing as a whole and its different parts. When grasping something, we tend to grasp it in such a way as to get the best grip on it. Merleau-Ponty says:

My body is geared into the world when my perception presents me with a spectacle as varied and as clearly articulated as possible, and when my motor intentions, as they unfold, receive the responses they expect from the world.

This maximum sharpness of perception and action points clearly to a perceptual ground, a basis of my life, a general setting in which my body can co-exist with the world. 13

So, for there to be a sense of presence in telepresence one would have to be involved in getting a grip on something at a distance.

But even this sort of control and feedback is not sufficient to give the controller a sense of direct contact with reality. As long as we are controlling a robot with delayed feed back, like the telegarden arm or the Mars Sojourner, what we see on the screen will seem to be mediated by our long-distance equipment, not truly tele-present . To be more precise, we won’t seem to be bodily present at the site in question because we won’t sense ourselves as getting a maximal grip on the object of our concern. Skeptical doubts will, therefore, still seem well motivated.

There comes a point in interactive robot control, however, where we are able to cope skillfully with things and people in several sensory dimensions and in real time. Then, as in lapariscopic-surgery, we seem to be present at the robot site. Robot builders realize that “full telepresence requires a transparent display system, high resolution image and wide field of view, a multiplicity of feedback channels (visual as well as aural and tactile information, and even environmental data such as moisture level and air temperature), and a consistency of information between these.”14 At that point we can still step back and raise the abstract epistemological concern that we may be brains in vats or the hyperbolic doubt that all our experience might conceivably be a dream, but these seem to be philosophical worries belied by our sense of being directly involved with objects and other people in our interactions with them. Thus the experience of coping with an object in real time seems to remove the phenomenological basis for a legitimate concern that the instruments that stand between us the world may be malfunctioning and so to remove Descartes’ motivation for making the distinction between inner subjects and outer objects. The more tele-technology gives us real-time interactive telepresence, the more we get away for a Cartesian sense of being a spectator making inferences from our sense data and the more we have a sense of being in direct touch with objects and people, the more skeptical questions as to whether our interactive prosthesis could be systematically malfunctioning will seem merely academic.

But even though interactive control and feedback may give us a sense of being directly in touch with the objects we manipulate, it may still leave us with a vague sense that we are not in touch with reality. In this volume, Albert Borgmann has given a plausible phenomenological account of what is still missing. He says



It is characteristic of real experience that we can never say in advance what depth features and structures will be significant….Following [Nelson Goodman’s] terminology we may call the inexhaustible richness of reality repleteness. If we think of repleteness as the vertical dimension of richness, we can use continuity to designate the endless width of richness. In comparison the presentation of reality in cyberspace is shallow and discontinuous. 15

Borgmann gives as a suggestive example of tele-reality’s lack of repleteness, the fact that, as we remotely control our car driving down the freeway, we can’t get out to help if we see through our tele-windshield a driver who has been hurt and is lying beside the road. This observation points to a further feature of reality that Borgmann overlooks. What is missing from our experience as we sit safely at home remote controlling our car is not just repleteness but risk. To avoid extremely risky situations is precisely why remotely controlled planet-exploring vehicles and tools for handling radioactive substances were developed in the first place. But even normally our bodies are in potentially risky situations. So, when we are in the real world not just as involved interactive minds but as embodied human beings, we must be constantly ready for dangerous surprises. Perhaps this readiness goes back to our survival as hunted animals. In any case, when this sense of vulnerability is absent the whole experience become unreal even if, involved in a sort of super-Miramax interactive display, we are swaying back and forth as we drive our car around dangerous-looking curves.

In Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty argues that, not only is each of us an activity body coping with things, but that, as embodied, we each experience a constant readiness to cope with things in general that goes beyond our readiness to cope with any specific thing. According to Merleau-Ponty, this background readiness makes up our sense of the reality of the world. He calls this embodied readiness our Urdoxa and claims that it is only on the background of this indubitable faith in the perceptual world that we can doubt the veracity of any specific perceptual experience.16

An attempt at inducing a sense of online corporeal risk was made in the telerobotic art project: Legal Tender (www.counterfeit.org). Remote viewers were presented with a pair of purportedly authentic US $100 bills. After registering for a password sent to their email address, participants were offered the opportunity to “experiment” with the bills by burning or puncturing them at an online telerobotic laboratory. After choosing an experiment, participants were shown a screen summarizing the legal implications: it is a Federal crime to knowingly deface US currency, punishable by up to six months in prison. If, in spite of the treat of incarceration, participants click a button indicating that they “accept responsibility”, the remote experiment is performed and the results shown. Finally participants were asked if they believed the bill and the experiment were real. Almost all responded in the negative. So they had not really experienced any risk after all.

But, while important and generally overlooked, focusing on the absence of a sense of physical risk in tele-interactions, still misses what seems to me the most important element absent from telepresence: intercorporiality.17 It seems there is a mode of presence more basic than our experience of the direct on-going coping with objects made possible by an ideal real-time, interactive interface or even our sense of risky embodied involvement. That is our sense of being in the presence of other people. John Canny and Eric Paulos have written convincing in this volume of the importance and difficulty of achieving a sense of the embodied telepresence of others. They criticize the Cartesian attempt to break down human -human interactions into a set of context-independent communication channels such as video, audio, haptics, etc., and point out that two human beings conversing face to face depend on a subtle combination of eye movements, head motion, gesture and posture, and so interact in a much richer way than most roboticists realize.

But, even if, as Canny and Paulos expect, (check this) our tele-technology goes beyond the imagination of E. M. Forester in that we will eventually be able use remote-controlled faces and robotic arms and hands to touch other people, I doubt that one could get a sense of how much to trust another person as we stare into each other’s prosthetic eyes, even if we were at the same time using our robot arms to shake each other’s robotic hands. Perhaps, one day we will stop missing this kind of trustful contact and then touching another person will be considered rude or disgusting. E. M. Foster’s envisions such a future in his story:



When Vashti swerved away from the sunbeams with a cry [the flight attendant] behaved barbarically – she put our her hand to steady her. “How dare you!” exclaimed the passenger. “you forget yourself!” The woman was confused, and apologized for not have let her fall. People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine.

But for the time being Business consults know that in order to get two CEO’s to trust each other enough to merge their companies it is not sufficient that they have many teleconferences. They must live together for several days interacting in a shared environment, and it is quite likely that they will finally make their deal over dinner.18

Borgmann in his chapter is onto this sense of embodied nearness when, following Heidegger, he makes a sharp distinction between the near and the far, and claims that true nearness is being eliminated by telerobotics due to its failure to affirm the body. One might expand Borgmann’s point by noting that there is a crucial difference between the sort of presence we have access to due to our distance senses of hearing and sight and the full-bodied presence that is literally within arms reach. This full-bodied presence is not just the feeling that I am present at the site of a robot I am controlling through real-time interaction. Nor is it just a question of giving robots surface sensors so that, through them as prostheses, we can touch other people without knocking them over. Even the most gentle person/robot interaction would never be a caress, nor could one successfully use a delicately controlled and touch-sensitive robot arm to give one’s kid a hug. Whatever hugs do for people, I’m quite sure tele-hugs won’t do it. And any act of intimacy mediated by any sort of prosthesis would surely be equally grotesque if not obscene.

But why am I so sure tele-intimacy is an oxymoron? I suspect it is because any sense of intimacy must draw on the sense of security and well being each of us presumably experienced as babies in our caretaker’s arms. If so, even the most sophisticated forms of telepresence may well seem remote and abstract if they are not in some way connected with our sense of the warm, embodied nearness of a flesh-and-blood human being. Not that we automatically trust anyone who hugs us. Far from it. Just as Merleau-Ponty claims that it is only on the background of our indubitable faith in the perceptual world that we can doubt the veracity of any specific perceptual experience, so we seem to have a background predisposition to trust those who touch us, and it is only on the on the basis of his Urtrust which we can then be mistrustful in any specific case. But if that background trust were missing, we might tend to be suspicious of the trustworthiness of every mediated social interaction and withhold our trust until we could confirm its reliability. Such a skepticism would cease to be academic and would complicate if not poison all human interaction.



As we spend more and more time interacting remotely, we may erode our embodied sense of a risky yet trustworthy world that makes physical or human contact seem real. As this sense is weakened, even our daily “local” experience may take on an illusory quality and so seem to be in need of justification. In such a disembodied and dubious world, epistemology might stage a comeback as telepistemology, and Descartes might make a successful last stand.

1 E. M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” in The New Collected Short Stories, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, l985.

2 David R. Hiley, Philosophy in Question: Essays on a Pyrrhonian Theme, University of Chicago, l988.

th Ian Hacking, Representing and Intervening, Cambridge University Press, 1983, 194.

3 René Descartes, “”Dioptric”, Descartes: Philosophical Writings, ed. and trans., Norman Kemp Smith, Modern Library, l958, 150.

4 René Descartes, “”Meditations on First Philosophy”, Descartes: Philosophical Writings, ed. and trans., Norman Kemp Smith. Modern Library, l958, 244.

5 Ibid. 245.

6 Ibid. 235

7 Ibid. 177, 178.

8 For example, see John Searle, Intentionality, Cambridge University Press. “Even if I am a brain in a vat—that is, even if all my perceptions and actions in the world are hallucinations… I necessarily have the same … [experience] I would have if I were not a brain in a vat….” 154.

9 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson (New York: Harper) 246-247. For a more detailed discussion of the nature of human being (Dasein) see H. Dreyfus, Being-in-the-World; A Commentary on Division I of Being and Time, MIT Press, l991.

10 Descartes, “Meditations on First Philosophy” 190.

th John Haugeland, “Mind Embodied and Embedded,” in Having Thought, Harvard University Press, l998.

11 Aron Gurwitsch, Human Encounters in the Social World, Duquesne University Press, 1979, 67. Since Merleau-Ponty attended Gurwitsch's lectures explaining Heidegger's account of being-in-the-world in terms of gestalt perception, there may well be a direct line of influence here.

12 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Routeledge & Kegan Paul, l979, p. 139.

13 Ibid., p. 250.

14 Richard M. Held and Nathaniel I. Durlach, “Telepresence,” Presence 1:109-111 as cited in ??? in this volume.

15 Citation from this volume.

16 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, ???

17 I owe this term to Merleau-Ponty see Phenomenology of Perception ???

18 Interestingly, no one has proposed tele-smelling and yet recent research has shown that people can discriminate accurately by smell alone whether another person they are with is afraid, angry or happy. (see the article by Erica Goode in The New York Times, April 27th, l999 recounting the work at Rutgers University of Dr. Denise Chen and Dr. Jeanette Haviland.)





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