Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement | Vol. 25 No. 1 | DRID WILLIAMS: Signifying Bodies, Signifying Acts: New Ways of Thinking about Human Movement: Chapter 5: Conditions

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Signifying Bodies, Signifying Acts: New Ways of Thinking about Human Movement


Chapter 5: Conditions

To ask a social anthropologist to treat 'behaviour' as a universal and to relate it to his own subject, is inevitably to miss the point of all recent advances in the subject.

Edwin Ardener, "Behaviour," 1989a

Preview Questions

  1. Historically, what features of social anthropology provided a hospitable climate for emerging new ideas about human movement?

  2. What constitutes the necessary conditions for new ways of seeing human movement?

  3. How and in what ways is behaviorism incompatible with semasiology?

  4. Why does semasiology provide for metarules and for 'transitive' and 'intransitive' structures?

  5. Why is Descartes's paradigm of movement inappropriate for use in human movement studies?

Evans-Pritchard's basic conviction that social anthropology was not a natural science studying physical systems but one of the humanities investigating moral systems inspired a trend in the discipline that led to many developments—among them, semasiology. In challenging Radcliffe-Brown's notion that there could be a "natural science of society" (Evans-Pritchard 1950), Evans-Pritchard opened the door to semantic anthropology (Parkin 1982), pointing to the growing awareness on the part of many anthropologists that any kind of 'people anthropology' necessarily involves semantic inquiry. However, semantic anthropology is not a "school of thought" in British anthropology, it is "a style of investigation based upon a certain conception of what it is to be a human being . . . [that includes] a shift from function to meaning" (Crick 1976: 2).1

     When new ways of thinking about human movement emerged in the mid-1970s, the shift from function to meaning placed new emphasis on human social life as the creation and negotiation of meaning, permitting semasiology to replace previous definitions of humanity (that is, "tool-makers," "more complex primates," "fallen angels," and so forth), with the idea that human beings are, above all else, meaning makers. The conception of humanity as fundamentally semantic creatures assumes they are language users engaging in more or less conscious self-monitoring processes, all of which contain rule following, and role creating.

     While few people seem to have problems with the notions of "language using" or "role creating," to conceive of humanity as "rule followers" is a serious stumbling block for some, because it appears to mitigate against the ideal of freedom of expression. Because of this, I ask that readers suspend judgment until they discover what is meant by 'rules' in semasiology. This means putting aside images of injunctions issued by judges or courts and/or regulations of the kind that prevail in religious orders, the military, or schools. Instead, we shall ask, "What are the metarules to which human actions conform?" Before undertaking an examination of metarules, however, some recapitulation is unavoidable.

The Necessary Conditions for Seeing Movement as Action

In the previous four chapters, published in JASHM 24(2), clear distinctions have been made between behavioristic and semasiological ways of seeing movement. It will be useful at this stage of the discussion systematically to examine these:

Seeing Behavioristically
Seeing Semasiologically
1. defines human bodies as physiological organisms;   1. defines human bodies as embodied agents performing signifying acts;
2. conceives of human bodies as conglomerates of 'physical processes' only;   2. conceives of human bodies as unique powers and capacities;
3. separates body from mind;   3. does not separate body and mind;
4. flows out of a mechanical model of human beings;   4. flows out of an anthropomorphic model of human beings;
5. does not take spatial contexts (deixis or indexicality) into account.   5. does take spatial context, indexicality, and deixis into account.
6. means that scientific explanation is achieved via correlations or of non-random patterns of movement described in terms of causal mechanisms   6. means that scientific explanation is achieved via descriptions of individuals with powers, acting and reacting upon self, other people and things and
7. means accepting traditional concepts of science; that is, 'things' including people) are substances with qualities, thus behavior is explainable in terms of stimulus-organism-response theory (S-O-R)   7. means accepting neo-realist conceptions of (social) science; people are agents, thus human acts and actions are realizations of potentialities created in space by powerful individuals.

     Perhaps for obvious reasons, semasiological ways of seeing movement cannot rightly be grafted onto behavioristic thinking. There are too many discrepancies between them, too many contradictions. In Chapter 1, "Introduction" (see JASHM 24(2), para. 6), we began with a major descriptive inconsistency, namely, "he signaled a left turn" (semasiological; item 1b) as against "His arm extended straight out through the car window" (item 1a). Such discrepancies are extremely important, but there are deeper incongruities in the paired items that deserve attention.

Let me demonstrate that my analysis was kinesic, functional-anatomical, and behavioral by reviewing the methods I used to analyze the expressive postures and gestures of two children I followed from the time they were 10 to 11 years old until they were in their early twenties. From time to time, each year I would ask the children to perform various expressive postures or gestures and locomotor acts and photograph their performances with stills or movie film. . . . The body was divided into four series of bony elements, arm and leg, right and left. Each element in the series, humeral forearm, hand, femoral foreleg, and foot2—was given the capacity of movement relative to its neighbor. All the movement was assumed to occur at the joints. The position of each element, or link, relative to its neighbor, was evaluated using three angular variables, one each for x-axis rotation, y-axis rotation, and z-axis rotation. . . .

     The human subjects were photographed while performing postures, gestures, dance, and locomotor acts in response to the photographer's instructions, such as "act happy," "run fast," or "jump three times." Angular variables were estimated for each of the elements from the photographs or film frames. The values for the variables were graphed in a multidimensional state, or phase, space. . . . and etc. (Prost 1996: 340)

Prost is a self-confessed behaviorist, using functional-anatomical models of movement and the body. He feels obliged to rehearse his methodology because, in a book he reviewed, Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance (Farnell 1995b), behaviorism was severely criticized, so much so that at the end of his review, Prost felt constrained to say,

What I found in the 1970s was not very different from what Friedland, Puri, Hart-Johnson and Kaeppler report in their chapters. My work was functional-anatomical kinesic, and behavioral, and I found the "invisible" of Farnell, Urciuoli and Varela to be quite visible. I think my work of the 1970s proves that there is no necessary reason why a functional anatomical, kinesic, or behavioral approach should miss the social and cultural symbols in body language. . . . Nonetheless, I have to agree with Farnell, Urciuoli and Varela that the cultural, social and symbolic have to be part of behavioral analysis if we are to understand the roles of positional behaviors in human existence. (1996: 343)

Drawing on what we have learned so far, it is clear that Prost's quest for knowledge places laboratory experiments at the center of scientific studies of human movement. In his (and other) experiments, empirical research is restricted to that which can be analyzed into independent and dependent variables. His investigation of movements that the "human subjects" performed (NB: not "children") were in response to a photographer's verbal stimuli, that is, "act happy," "run fast," or "jump three times," and so forth. Thus, the children are described as "human subjects," but they are really reduced to organisms for the purposes of the investigation. The method used is based upon S-O-R theory (see item 7 in the table). His analysis is in agreement with every item listed under "seeing behavioristically."

New Ways of Thinking or Semantic Cover-Ups?

At the beginning of Chapter 2, "Signifying Bodies" (JASHM 24[2], item 2, para. 1), we asked, "Is the phrase, 'the signifying body' merely a new word gloss on a conceptual entity everyone already knows about?" Questions like these reveal unvoiced beliefs among our detractors that semasiology is nothing but a rather complicated veneer over already known facts about bodies and movement analysis. There is nothing new about it because there is nothing in semasiology that behaviorism hasn't already accounted for. Farnell, the editor of the book Prost reviewed, was deeply concerned:

Functional-anatomical terminology explains nothing about the sociolinguistic or semantic properties of the action of hitchhiking—or any other action. Likewise, Prost's graphs showing postural and gestural groupings that cluster in the "happy area" that are based on angular variables (estimated from still photographs and film frames) at best show simple correlations among the groups, but they explain nothing about actions. . . .

     Human Action Signs in Cultural Context was created because its authors recognized the need to inform other anthropologists and upcoming generations of students about recent theoretical developments in the anthropology of human movement systems. We all knew that while many anthropologists were familiar with the names 'kinesics' and 'proxemics,' there was little awareness of substantial developments in theory and method that built upon, or departed radically from, these earlier approaches.3 Prost's report confirms not only that our concerns were justified, it also teaches us never to underestimate the tenacity of ghosts that refuse to be exorcised. (Farnell 1996a: 362)

Not only was Prost unaware of recent developments in sociocultural anthropology, but he had unclear ideas of what 'meaning' in semasiology is, as Bonnie Urciuoli states:

Prost equates meaning with glosses: movements have glosses as morphemes or words have glosses. He describes movement systems in terms adapted from post-Bloomfieldian descriptive linguistics: objective systems whose segments can be glossed (they "have meanings" and constitute "vocabularies"), and that can be classified according to their distribution patterns. . . . The problem is, such a model only accounts for referential meaning (words "having meaning" in the conventional dictionary sense) which appears to be what Prost thinks meaning is. As at least 30 years of work in language and culture have made abundantly clear, a purely referential approach cannot account for how cultural meaning is made in social life. Hence language and culture scholars have turned their attention to such issues as the ways in which meaning is complexly emergent in culturally situated action and, as Farnell's Introduction says, that is what the contributors to this volume are writing about. This book is not about physical movement per se. It is about the inter-subjective construction of significant actions in a complex of social relations, and its contributors seek to take these concerns into a realm where they had not been taken previously. (Urciuoli 1996: 365)

Finally, Prost completely missed the point of Varela's essay:

[B]ehaviorism (therefore the issue of behavior and action) is not the focal concern of my essay, because that problem had already been settled by the end of the 'sixties, and definitively so by the close of the 'seventies. Thus, the end of (and the irrelevance of), behaviorism is a philosophical and scientific "done deal." Behaviorism in any strict sense that involves a positivist justification of its preference for "behavior" as against "action" is conceptually vacuous. . . . The real—and deep—issue in my essay is Cartesianism, not behaviorism; thus the problem here is that the concept of "action" in various social scientific theories is reserved for the concept of mind to the exclusion of conceptions of the body and especially of the moving body. The result, in some social scientific theorizing, is that conceptions of the body and of bodily movement are tacitly assimilated into "behavior." . . . In this light, Prost's claim that the invisible is to be found in the visible is incoherent. It stems from a philosophically mindless acceptance of the traditional empirical realism of positivism. (Varela 1996b: 368-69)

Despite dissenting voices, however, there is no doubt that in human movement studies, behavioristic views still possess a dominant influence. The problem, I think, may be found in an overemphasis on fieldwork associated with a lack of conceptual work in sociocultural anthropology. The tendency is to overemphasize empiricism at the expense of conceptualization and to elevate alleged 'facts' over ideas. But the importance of concepts cannot be overstressed, for, in social anthropology, at any rate, there is no such thing as "telling it like it is"—although that is what many movement researchers (anthropologists or not) naively imagine they can do.

     It is extremely difficult to visualize a location or an action in a complex, multidimensional space. Perhaps it is even more difficult to grasp the connection between observed 'movement-facts' and appropriate forms of explanation for the facts. Time and again I've been asked, "Why do you make such heavy weather out of describing 'action signs' instead of 'locomotor acts'? Aren't you quibbling over two ways of saying the same thing?"

     By now, readers can probably anticipate the answer to that question. Should there be one or two who cannot, let me say that behavioristic ways of seeing movement and semasiological ways of seeing movement are two different standpoints; thus, researchers have vitally important choices to make because the two standpoints involve different systems of concepts.

     Behavioristic concepts systematically destroy the social actions and performances they set out to describe and explain by reducing complex action signs to simple behavioral elements that are capable of independent explanation. "Act happy" indeed!

     Perhaps Evans-Pritchard rejected Radcliffe-Brown's idea of a natural "science of society" many years ago because he couldn't tolerate the notion of societies described as the behavior of hundreds of passive bodies subjected to external circumstance. The kinds of descriptive language Evans-Pritchard used in his ethnographies would tend to support an interpretation of his reluctance to think of social anthropology as a 'science' at all:

We have noted that the lam or invocation states the intention of the sacrifice. Its words are a projection of the will and desire of the person as he turns towards Spirit; and an essential part of the action is the brandishing of the spear. AB the officiant walks up and down delivering his oration that movements of the spear in his right hand emphasize his words; opening and closing his fingers on it, poising it in his hand, raising it as though to strike, making little jabs with it into the air, pointing it towards the victim, and so on. These movements are an integral part of the expression of intention, and there is more in the action than meets the eye. (Evans-Prichard 1956: 231)

     From the standpoint of a T'ai Chi practitioner, a Dominican friar-preacher, a ballet dancer, a deaf-signer (or anyone who consciously controls his or her performance), rules, plans, desires, intentions, values, passion, and commitments are unambiguously related to performed actions. People have interests which they describe in terms of rules, plans, intentions, and such. They are not by nature passive-receptive information-processing machines; nor are they organisms exclusively subject to external circumstances. Human beings have conceptions of living, a statement that calls to mind Winch's point about natural scientists and social scientists: "what the [social scientist] is studying, as well as his study of it, is a human activity and is therefore carried on according to rules" (1990: 87).4

Necessary Conditions for Semasiological Analysis: Metarules

Ardener consistently stressed the need for a conceptual dimension of human facts by pointing to an analytical distinction that must be made between the "generative program" and visible sequences of events (1989c: 87-88). In previous chapters, we examined three examples to which his ideas can be applied: the "generative program" for T'ai Chi Ch'uan is the Primal Arrangement of the Hexagrams (see chapter 4, para. 6), that govern the visible sequences of moves comprising the short form of the exercise technique beginning with the bow (chapter 4, Fig. 1). The generative program for the Tridentine Mass is contained in Dominican manuals for sequences of events in the Missa Major. The generative program for the ballet Checkmate is given in two ways: as a synopsis of the ballet (see the previous chapter), and in the spatial schemata indicated by the key sign (Fig. 6, previous chapter). The question is, "Are any of Ardener's generative programs what semasiologists call 'metarules'?"

     The answer is 'no,' recalling Bhaskar's statement about transitive and intransitive objects of knowledge in science (see Bhaskar 1975: 22, cited in JASHM 24(2), chap. 2, para 65). The 'Primal Arrangement' of the hexagrams from the I Ching, the liturgy of the Missa Major, and the Cecchetti system of numbering corners and walls of a classroom or stage are all 'social products,' subject to change. In semasiology, these are transitive structures.

     Transitive structures represent one aspect of knowledge. The other side of knowledge is of things which are not produced by people. "Let us call these . . . the intransitive objects of knowledge" (Bhaskar 1975: 22). In semasiology, the intransitive structures of human actions are the 'metarules,' the 'rules of the rules,' so to speak:

Figure 1
Figure 1. The Canonical coordinate space [CCS] within which all human action takes place.

Semasiology provides this level of rule because it claims to offer conceptual frameworks within which structured systems of human movement can be described, analyzed, interpreted, and explained without recourse to the technical languages and conceptual frameworks of anatomy, biology, physiology, kinesiology, or Newtonian mechanics.

     To be able to think in new ways students, researchers, and others must reconceptualize their notions of spaces, bodies, and action because (a) the languages of older theory and methods in the field of human movement studies are corrupted by Cartesianism, by mechanical models of 'behavior,' and by ideas inherited from the old scientific paradigm; and (b) the conceptual structures a person habitually uses tend to determine what they see.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Space surrounding a human body within the canonical coordinate space.

Varela provocatively opens a discussion of this subject by remarking, "There is an old saying, 'seeing is believing,' or 'I'll believe it when I see it.' However, if seeing is not believing, or if people don't believe because they see, but see because they believe, then we have a serious problem" (1996a: 155). In particular, researchers have serious problems if they do not understand why they see what they see.

Mental Spectacles

Everyone thinks they believe what they see or after they have seen. In the popular wisdom, 'belief' follows the act of seeing. Varela turns the old maxim upside-down:

If seeing is not believing, it is because perception is the dynamically embodied semiotic practice of cultural belief. It is in this sense of the practice of belief that believing is seeing, not the other way around. (1996a: 166)

     For most people, the practice of cultural belief dictates, for example, their acceptance of Descartes's paradigm of motion as definitive regarding movement of any kind, regardless of whether they choose the conceptual frameworks of semasiology, behaviorism, postmodernism, systems theory, or what you will. Descartes's paradigm of motion is not only fundamental in Newtonian mechanics; it is traditionally acceptable and scientifically respectable. It is one of the cornerstones of Western cultural belief in science. But how applicable is it to the movements of human beings?

Paradigm 1. Descartes Paradigm. A stationary ball resting on a smooth table is struck by a moving ball. It begins to move and continues moving. The ball which struck the stationary ball continues on but moves less quickly. We are strongly tempted to think of this happening as a transaction in which the totality of the effect is due to the originally moving ball, and to suppose that the stationary ball contributes nothing to the final situation. The second ball which originally was stationary has no intrinsic power of motion, though it can move. Looking deeper and farther into this paradigm, we can ask about the origin of motion of the first ball: that which was originally moving. Did it possess its motion intrinsically or did it move of itself? . . . This paradigm . . . is not a straight metaphysician's crib from the science of mechanics. In that science, the final state of a system of bodies is a product of two factors, an extrinsic factor which is the various states of motion of the balls before they collide, and an intrinsic factor, which is the inertia or mass of the balls. Inertia is . . . a negative power, the power to resist indefinite increments of motion. . . . The application of the Cartesian paradigm requires us to suppose that in all action the effect is completely produced by the impressed or stimulating cause. (Harré 1970: 266-67—italics added)

The crucial reason behind the necessity for different enabling conditions for semasiological inquiry is thus made: billiard balls have no intrinsic power to move on their own. Living human bodies do. If one wants to describe and explain the actions of creatures who can move on their own, then a Cartesian paradigm of motion is inappropriate. There is, however, an alternative:

Paradigm 2. Van Helmont's Paradigm. On a fine sunny afternoon, of only moderate heat, and with no breeze to speak of, a man dozes in a deck chair in a garden. There are no flies, nor mosquitos, nor wasps nor shouts from neighbours' children. Suddenly the man jumps up, walks smartly to the shed, takes out the lawn mower and begins to mow the lawn. Nothing extrinsic to him had changed. The subsequent [situational] changes, for example, the smelly racket of the motor mower, are entirely the products of the action of the man, the ultimate causes of which are to be found among states intrinsic to him. (Harré 1970: 267; italics added)

Even when a human being responds to some external stimulus which superficially seems to cause them to act, on a deeper level they still possess intrinsic powers and capacities to act. Clearly, people are different kinds of 'things' from billiard balls. So, what's the problem?

[T]he Cartesian paradigm is enshrined in the metaphysics of positivism. If things are nothing but the collocations of their manifested qualities . . . and if causality is but regularity of sequence of like pairs of events, and events are what happens to things, there can be no place for active powers.

     There has seemed to be something fishy and soft, occult and mysterious about the second paradigm, and something tough, scientific and empirical about the first paradigm. But what are things, materials and persons really like [italics added]? Are they like sitting ducks and stationary billiard balls, or are they like loaded guns and sticks of dynamite? Why has the second paradigm seemed fishy when it seems to be so natural and so clearly forced upon us by the way things are? Part of the answer lies in a mistaken epistemology which confines the data, and thus the content, of science to simple truths about sensory qualities manifesting themselves to an observer in particular circumstances, so that all that science can really be about is the obvious and the overt. . . . It is also partly due to a mistaken metaphysics, in which 'power' is seen as a concept surviving from magic, an occult quality appealing only to those of too tender a mind to face the stem truths of empiricism. (Harré 1970: 268)

The old paradigm in science does not account for human action because it lacks the necessary framework of conditions. Its framework was not designed to handle human movement. These facts will become abundantly clear when we examine concepts of 'motion' and 'force' in Newtonian mechanics.

'Motion' in the Old Scientific Paradigm

The basic anomaly of billiard balls and human beings causes others to appear. Few people know, for example, that human movement itself is an eliminable concept in Newtonian mechanics. Why? An observable 'line' of movement that might draw from point A to point B in space is an infinitely dividable line connecting one 'place' in space to another. While the 'places' in space can be said to exist, the 'line' itself cannot; therefore human movement does not exist. It cannot be mathematically defined:5

Figure 3
Figure 3. A static conception of space and time, where 'places' in space exist but not the movements that connect them.

     Solving this problem requires a major conceptual shift. In Figure 3, if the vertical cube co-ordinates are x = 3, y = 2, z = 1 and the horizontal cube coordinates are x = 1, y = 2, z = 3, the products of the two points [p — p1] can be seen to be in different 'places' in space; thus, we say that {3, 2, 1} is not equal to {l, 2, 3}. This is a simple illustration of a static concept of space and time. The alternative is illustrated in Figure 4. This is a simple illustration of a dynamic concept of human movement in space/time (not space and time).

Figure 4
Figure 4. A dynamic concept, where movements are defined by the angle of arc from the center of any jointing part of the signifying body.

If the focus is on the movements themselves (as transformations of space/time) then we have a dynamic system as the result. In the dynamic case, what distinguishes the transformation [editors: and thus allows us to define or specify the movement] is the angle of arc through which it moves, regardless if it is a move of the whole body around one of its axes, or the movement of a body member (say, an arm) around its axis [editors: the sets of eight symbols in the Laban script that specify spatial direction follow this mode, as shown in Figure 4].6

'Force' in the Old Scientific Paradigm

Any scientific explanation of movement in the behavioral sciences that is based on Newtonian mechanics treats the notion of 'force' as an eliminable concept as well:

[Newton's] problem was essentially to find a way of connecting up all the facts of motion, both terrestrial and celestial, partially and fragmentarily connected up by his predecessors.

     Newton's method, looked at from a logical point of view, was to introduce a concept force, which would, with certain rules of combination, link up into a connected whole the isolated facts of motion. For example, how to find a way of connecting up the motions of two bodies before and after impact? Newton's way was to define force as mass-acceleration, then provide the required connectedness by the Principle of Action and Reaction; this is so that on impact the force which each body exerts upon the other is identical in magnitude but opposite in direction. Symbolically we have:

These transformations lead us to a relation expressed in terms of a new concept "momentum," in which total momentum after impact is equal to total momentum before impact, and momentum is given entirely in terms of properties which are measurable. (Harré 1964: 9)7

Newton's conceptions of motion and force are based on the movements of inanimate, insensate objects. We cannot usefully apply the Newtonian concepts of motion or force to human actions because in the above conceptual schema, force = the acceleration of 'mass' (as in two speeding vehicles) and is the result of impact.

     Newton's theory of motion is useful with regard to trains, airplanes, space ships, arrows, bullets, and such—objects traveling over larger or smaller distances at great speeds—but it is useless with reference to human movement studies. Once something so fundamental as Newtonian concepts of motion and force and Descartes's paradigm of movement are seen as insurmountable obstacles in the way of explaining how human actions occur (far less how they come to mean anything), the necessity for defining new and different conditions in which human actions take place becomes clear.

Is There a Unified Concept of Human Movement Studies?

There is no unified approach to the study of human movement. There are many different approaches that have emerged from a variety of sources. To students and lay readers the whole field of human movement studies appears confused because it is so fragmented. The general epistemological gap that divides behavioristic and nonbehavioristic approaches is diagrammed below:

Figure 1 Text

     Everything below the double lines is generally considered to be tough, scientific, and empirical. Everything above the lines is often labeled "subjective"—or worse. Moreover, the terminology semasiology uses, that is, 'action sign,' 'agency,' 'signifying body,' 'intransitive,' and 'transitive' structure and others, is often written off as jargon.

     But what are people really like? If we know, for example, that, in social reality, intentions guide human actions and we know that people are self­monitoring language users who act in terms of self-conscious direction, then it seems reasonable to construct theories, models, and analogies that include these concepts. It should by now be abundantly clear that the concepts and assumptions of behaviorism were originally abandoned by semasiology because they were untenable. If behavioristic concepts about movement are implausible when applied to people, then ways should be open for serious reconsideration of how human movement is described and explained. But another problem looms: new ways of thinking about human movement require different terminologies to facilitate them.

     We argue that the terminology utilized by semasiologists is not 'jargon' because the words and concepts are not interchangeable with those characteristic of other styles of analysis. What many movement analysts and their supporters seem to overlook is the fact that fixed within their explanatory language, we find deep-seated models and theories of human beings, their natures, powers, and capacities—hence, their movement.

     Researchers who use functional-anatomical models of movement and the body who insist (as Prost does) that their concepts and methods include those of semasiology are linguistically naïve.

     Imagine a physicist declaring that research based on classical body mechanics and Newton's concepts of electromagnetism includes Einstein's theory of relativity and the principles of quantum mechanics.

     Behavioristic thinking no more incorporates the concepts of semasiology and a new-realist scientific standpoint than a Newtonian universe encompasses a quantum universe.


Short Answers to the "Preview Questions"

  1. Historically, what features of social anthropology provided a hospitable climate for emerging new ideas about human movement? (a) Evans-Pritchard's conviction that social anthropology was one of the humanities investigating moral systems; (b) the shift from "function to meaning" which placed new emphasis on human social life as the creation and negotiation of meaning; (c) a definition of humanity as language users, role creators, rule followers, and meaning makers.

  2. What constitutes the necessary conditions for new ways of seeing human movement? First, a rejection of behavioristic principles, definitions, models, and explanation, based on the recognition that (a) behaviorism is an interrelated system of concepts that are incompatible with the aims of those interested in the meanings of human actions; and (b) new concepts of space/time and human motion.

  3. How and in what ways is behaviorism incompatible with semasiology? (1) Definitions of human bodies as 'organisms' instead of 'embodied agents.' Conceptions of human bodies as conglomerates of 'physical processes' instead of instruments having unique powers and capacities. Behaviorism separates 'body' from 'mind.' Semasiology does not. (2) Behaviorism is based on a mechanical, in contrast to an anthropomorphic, model of human beings. It does not take spatial context, deixis, or indexicality into account. Semasiology does. (3) Scientific explanation in behaviorism describes regularities of movements, which are seen as correlations of nonrandom patterns, described in terms of causal mechanisms, in contrast to descriptions of the actions of individuals with powers, who act upon self, things, and other people. (4) Behaviorism is based on the notion that 'things' (including people) are substances with qualities, hence, its reliance on S-O-R theory. Semasiology advocates a neorealist conception of science based on the notion that people are agents; thus, human actions are realizations of potentialities created by powerful individuals.

  4. Why does semasiology provide for metarules and for 'transitive' and 'intransitive' structures? Because it claims to offer conceptual frameworks within which structured systems of human movement can be described, analyzed, interpreted, and explained without recourse to the conceptual frameworks of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, or Newtonian mechanics.

  5. Why is Descartes's paradigm of movement inappropriate for use in human movement studies? Descartes's paradigm of movement is inappropriate because it is based on the movement of billiard balls which have no intrinsic power to move on their own. Living human bodies possess intrinsic powers of moving on their own. Even when people seem to respond to external stimuli, they still have intrinsic powers and capacities to act. In any case, their actions are nothing like the movements of inanimate billiard balls, bullets, or other such objects.


1 See Pocock (1971: 72) for further discussion.

2 Notice the use of taxonomy: only "forearm," "hand," and "foot" are taken from a human social lexicon. "Humeral" and "femoral" are from the medical lexicon, and "foreleg" is ambiguous: it is a word commonly used to describe each of the front legs of a quadruped, not a human being.

3 See Note 1 in Drid Williams's Preface, JASHM 24(2).

4 I have been asked, "What about people who believe they are nothing but passive-receptive information processing machines?" Semasiological accounts of such a group would record the belief, showing its effects on the action signs used by the group.

5 There is danger of an oversophisticated reaction to the diagrams in Figures 3 and 4, especially among those who know and understand higher mathematics, for example, "polar coordinates" and such. These diagrams are mine, and they are purely heuristic, intended to illustrate the fact that 'places' or 'points' in space do not accurately identify movements for purposes of measurement. Should measurements become necessary or desirable, seeing in terms of 'angles of arc' with reference to joints provides a viable approach.

6 [Editor's note] At this point in the original manuscript the following was written with a reference to further details in the Appendix:

In Figure 4 we see that 7 ⊗ 1 ≈ 7; the solid line. The dotted line represents 1 ≈ 7 plus 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 + 1 ≈ 7. Points p and p1 (primed) are, relatively speaking, in the same place, thus, viewed from a transformational, sequential point of view {l, 2, 3} does equal {3, 2, l} in the co-domain.

For clarity, we have chosen instead to include the text and the diagram from the Appendix here.

7 Again, I would ask readers to be careful of taking the mathematics too literally. It is possible to miss the point of this discussion by focusing on calculus, from which Harré derived some of these ideas, and thus lose the point that "Newton's conceptions of motion and force is based upon the movements of inanimate, insensate objects."


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