Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Running and Mind

So, in the new book I talked about last time, there are some pretty interesting essays. Some don't really have a lot to do with running, but just use running to illustrate some other favorite idea (like the one by my benefactor about dualism). Others, though are quite interesting and insightful pieces about running. One of them in particular, "Phenomenology and Running" was very nice.

Throughout the twentieth century there were, broadly speaking, two dominant camps of philosophical thought: analytical and continental. Analytical philosophy emphasized logic and scientific method and rigorous argumentation; in my less charitable moments I describe continental philosophy as "touchy - feeling" or "fuzzy". In some of my past philosophy classes I used to do something that was probably unfair to continental philosophy: I'd bring my copy of Heidegger's Being and Time and open randomly and read a paragraph and ask students if they understood anything. Of course no one did. I'd say, "See, these continental folks are just spouting words and trying to create impressions without really analyzing their concepts." (One could just as easily do the same with analytic texts like Principia Mathematica, but I'd not mention that).

Anyway, this running article was on phenomenology--usually a topic of interest to continental types. But I really enjoyed it. It was a discussion based on Merleau-Ponty (a continental philosopher of whom I don't think I've ever read a word) about how becoming a runner changes the way you perceive the world, the way things appear to you to be (which is what phenomenology is all about). There are some obvious things like how runners can tend to view the world in miles and minutes and pace when they didn't before. The really interesting discussion was how focusing on running makes it harder, but when you occupy your mind with something else (like listening to lectures, as I often do), the body sort of runs on autopilot.

The author (I've forgotten his name now and the book is two flights up) was concerned that this spoke in favor of separate mind and body substances when his hero Merleau-Ponty wanted to say something like "our bodies are the expression of mind in the world; they are the way we experience the world." I'm going to toy around with this a bit, because it fits my theory that I had started to propound back in an entry during my first blogging stint.

1 comment:

preacherman said...

Wonderful post brother.
I want you to know that I love reading your blog (and no I am not a student wanting an A :-))!
I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.
I pray that God will bless your life as you strive to reach out to emerging generations brother.
I pray his richest and countless blessings on you, your family and career and ministry.
I hope you have a have bless week!
In Him,
Kinney Mabry