Theory Seminar: The Shape of Behaviour 3

Session 3 began with a question on our behaviours: ‘When do I cry?’ For me the answer is not often, although I may want to or be in a situation that makes me sad and tear up, I can’t actually cry unless in very extraordinary circumstances. This is because it is a learned behaviour I have grown up with in my environment and culture that ‘Boys don’t cry’.

It has become part of my habitus (the automatic way the body exists in the world). In such a way as that which leads me to not cry in emotional situation, I learnt my native language of English passively due to the environment I grew up in, not through some pre-set knowledge of english as a form of communication. As such, our habitus responds to others and configures to the people around us in the world we know, to be able to communicate with someone you have to imitate them, reproduce their language.

Wittgenstein asks ‘How do words refer to sensations?’ Having a sensation is important for a word but the word does not describe the sensation (‘Pain’ does not explain what it feels like to be in pain), likewise a sensation doesn’t give a word meaning although it is necessary for continuity in sensation for a word to be useful (It is necessary to be in pain every time one says ‘I am in pain’, otherwise one can’t out of context share the information that ‘He’s in pain’). Neither are words nor sensations meaningful in themselves, but with grammar the relationship between the two gives them meaning. Sensations and words need context or aspect to them. One’s body is not separate from one’s habitus because your body only has meaning in how it interacts with the world, the way one gets out of bed or expresses pain, the body is meaningful under the aspect or context.

In order to reconfigure the world therefore, we have to produce or experience an aspect change. If the aspect of a word changes, then the sensation changes and our habitual reaction to it adjusts.


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