Tangential Note on T. Gunning's Talk

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Auteur(s): 
Lafontaine, Andrée

T. Gunning's defense of a phenomenological approach to the understanding of the perception of movement, rather than a mechanistic approach (to simplify his very interesting exposé), reminds me of Merleau-Ponty's study of the phenomena of the phantom limb.

Merleau-Ponty was very interested in the curious phenomena where a limb (a hand, foot, arm) that has been amputated will still be felt by the patient. After the limb has been cut off, it somehow remains as a possibility. The limb is gone (in its material, physical presence) yet it is still present virtually. It is virtual yet real phenomenologically or experientially. The patient still respond with, through a phantom limb, to the aspects of the world which address the limb that is no longer.

I bring this up because Merleau-Ponty explains that this phenomenon of the phantom limb lies at the heart of what makes us different, as humans, from machines. If we were machines, we would simply stop using the parts that are no longer. As humans, we feel interpellated, by the world - we do not simply reach out to it using our body. A mechanistic explanation would not be able to explain the phenomenon of the phantom limb (certainly not in the way that phenomenology can). The film apparatus might very well be a mechanistic process of joining together still pictures, we still experience it in a way that is human and phenomenological, whereas filmic phantom limbs (?) fill in the blanks in between the still.

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