NB This text is a draft. Comments for improvement, or interesting lines of further thought, are most welcome.
I have used the following papers, which should be read in this order, as my main sources:
- Pink, Sarah, with response by David Howes. The future of sensory anthropology/the anthropology of the senses. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale (2010) 18, 3 331–340. C 2010 European Association of Social Anthropologists. 331 doi:10.1111/j.1469-8676.2010.00119.x
- Ingold, T. Worlds of sense and sensing the world: a response to Sarah Pink and David Howes. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale (2011) 19, 3 313–317. C 2011 European Association of Social Anthropologists. 313 doi:10.1111/j.1469-8676.2011.00163.x
- Howes, D. Reply to Tim Ingold. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale (2011) 19, 3 318–322. C 2011 European Association of Social Anthropologists. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8676.2011.00164.x
- Ingold. T. Reply to David Howes. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale (2011) 19, 3 323–327. C 2011 European Association of Social Anthropologists. 323 doi:10.1111/j.1469-8676.2011.00165.x
For this moment I decided to use bold text for my own commentary, and normal text for all quotes. Here we go:
What it takes to understand our embodied being: in defense of Tim Ingold.
In the following commentary I will give my personal reading of the debate between two anthropologists, Tim Ingold and David Howes, a debate which started in fact by a short paper by another anthropologist, named Sara Pink. By way of context, the reader may wish to position Pink, and myself, on Ingold’s side of the debate. I will thus defend the position of Ingold, and I explain why I think Howes’ is misrepresenting Ingold. Ingold defends himself as well of course, in the series of papers that form the debate. He does so in increasingly strong voice, up to the point where the reader may wonder whether Howes is getting a fair debate on the subject, or is rather attacked personally. There is something to be said for this. On surface value, Howes’ seems the considerate gentleman, while Ingold is shouting. Yet we can see some vile in Howes’ writing as well, albeit in a more subtle way. For example, in one of the opening sentences of his reply to Pink’s original article, he says this:
In her eagerness to establish ‘sensory anthropology’ as the way of the future, Sarah Pink has engaged in a good deal of shadow boxing, aiming blows at an ‘anthropology of the senses’ that exists solely in her imagination.
I read this as pejorative and disparagingly of the arrived male professor, explaining to the younger female researcher that she has not understood the least of his theories – but of course Howes’ would be eager to point out that such assessment equally only exists in my imagination.
Concerning Ingold, by contrast, some evidence of ‘street fighting’ is less concealed, as illustrated by sentences like:
[F]or Howes it clearly strikes a raw nerve, for he proceeds to launch into a catalogue of disagreements, as though the mere citation of my work were enough to render Pink guilty by association of all the sins and errors he attributes to me. I, likewise, am condemned for referring to the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. With Howes, you have to be careful whom you cite, because if they happen to be on his hit list, you’re fired!
And it is getting edgier as we proceed into the debate:
I thank David Howes for his response. As ever, it mixes wilful misquotation with crude caricature, and is delivered with all the finesse and precision of a blunderbuss. In the interests of clarity, I shall try yet again to put the record straight. Whereas Howes remains stuck in the trenches, however, I prefer to move on, and I will endeavour to end on a positive and constructive note.
Now, in order to understand what may have triggered Ingold to write such stark ad hominems, we need to start at the beginning. This is the paper by Sara Pink, who proposes a new form of anthropology that focuses strongly on the human senses and she positions this research in contrast to what is called ‘anthropology of the senses’, a line of research the founding father of which is Howes.
Sara Pink writes:
Equally, recent work by neurologists suggests that understandings based on the idea of differentially sensing modalities attached to specific sense organs should be replaced by understandings of the senses as interconnected in human perception – in that ‘the five senses do not travel along separate channels, but interact to a degree few scientists would have believed only a decade ago’ (Cytowic 2010: 46).
Approaches to ethnography that engage with the senses, however, are often developed in the context of ‘innovative’ and interdisciplinary research methods. Thus, long-term ethnographic fieldwork, which for some remains anthropology’s defining practice, is being surpassed by ‘sensory’ methods developed across the ‘ethnographic’ disciplines. Such methods that appreciate and engage with the senses and the theoretical principles outlined above include walking methods and collaborations with artists. They might be located in research projects that explore how people make place or experience inequalities in their everyday lives.
In the same journal, below Pink’s article, Howes responds, but in doing so he responds more to Ingold than to Pink herself, who was referred to as one of her inspirators. (That, in and of itself I find disrespectful, as if Pink’s contribution as such is not really worthy of a debate, and one would misuse the opportunity to engage in an renewed fight with an old, male, rival). In any case, this is what Howes’ writes:
Phenomenology also has the drawback, particularly from the perspective of the social sciences, of emphasising the individual and the subjective over the communal and social, and in consequence having little to say about the politics of perception.
This naive emphasis on some primal, ‘prereflective’ (in Merleau-Ponty’s term) unity overlooks all the ways in which the senses conflict with one another as regards both physical experience and cultural values: for example, the sensory dissonance produced by encountering a holy man who looks ugly but emits a fragrant odour of sanctity, or the stick in water that looks different to the eye from how it feels in the hand. The senses do not always work together or convey the same message. This makes sensory perception far more complex – and interesting – than phenomenologists imagine.
But the point of phenomenology is not to deny all that exists ‘post-reflectively’, the point is that there is something *before* it, something that grounds the practices of using representations. There is, indeed, a pre-reflective unified experience.
Ingold himself responds as follows:
That Howes’s anthropology is so founded is apparent from the way he reifies ‘the senses’ as bodily registers that convey messages to the mind of the perceiver. … Appearances can be deceptive. This is not, however, because the mind has to piece together information about external objects delivered by way of different registers. For the senses are not keyboards or filters that mediate the traffic between mind and world. They are rather – as Gibson (1966) always insisted – aspects of the functioning of the living being in its environment. And their synergy lies in the fact of their being powers of the same organism, engaged in the same action, and attending to the same world (see also Merleau-Ponty 1962: 317–18). If we are occasionally deceived, it is because what we find there does not always match our expectations. (my emphasis).
In my book I go to great lengths to refute the notion of the human (or non-human) being as an individual subject bombarded by sensation-inducing sensory stimuli from the external environment, and with it the idea – to which Howes himself subscribes – that in order to ‘make sense’ of the world, these induced sensations have to be cognitively assembled (or ‘constructed’) in terms of received cultural categories.
Ingold then arrives at what I think is the crux of the whole dispute:
Howes appears incapable of thinking outside the box of a representational theory of knowledge production whose walls are set up by the dichotomies between subject and object, between individual and social, and between object and image.
By contrast, Ingold’s position is that:
[E]very living being is a particular nexus of growth and development within a field of relations. Skills of perception and action, I argue, emerge within these processes of ontogenetic development. It is because these skills differ from being to being, depending on where they stand in relation to others, that they perceive the environment in different ways.
Ingold critically assesses Howes position from this perspective:
In the very objectification of the senses, as things one can have an anthropological study of, it seems that the eyes, ears and skin are no longer to be regarded as organs of a body that, as it makes its way in the world, attentively looks, listens and feels where it is going.
In the next paper, Howes, in turn, responds like this:
[Ingold’s] anthropology of the senses is concerned, not with ‘collective representations’ but with how ‘people practically look, listen, touch, taste and sniff as they go about their business’. “Ingold’s approach has the appeal of being seemingly straightforward and practical, “
This, to me, is pure rhetorics. Howes neglects the core of the matter, and frames Ingold’s ideas using terms that suggest Ingold is cutting corners and offering a too simplistic theory, one that should not be taken seriously in the first place. This goes on in sentences like:
“Ingold’s quasi-truism that ‘as a mode of active, exploratory engagement with the environment . . . hearing is an experience of sound [and] sight is an experience of light’.
One may indeed perhaps be inclined to think that, because we are so familiar with the colloquial use of the term ‘experience’, Ingold’s statement would seem to be a truism. But Howes has read phenomenological work, and may be expected to know better. It is not at all a trivial statement to say that hearing is an experience of sound, rather than, for example, stating that hearing is an information proces that delivers data about the external world to a mind. Furthermore it is not trivial to say this experience is grounded in active exploratory engagement with the environment. This means: no active exploratory engagement, no hearing. It also means: information processing by a machine of waves in the auditory spectrum? Very well, but no hearing, because machines have no experience. Not everyone would readily agree to such “quasi-truisms”, because, in fact, they are nothing of the sort. But in order to see this one needs to be interested in meant by the term “experience” in the phenomenological and (for example) the pragmatist traditions, and calling Ingold’s theory a quasi-truism from the outset, suggests one is not really interested at all.
Howes also claims that Ingold says that “all of the senses are very similar to each other: ‘Vision has much more in common with audition than is often supposed, and for that matter also with gustation and olfaction.’”
But here Howes’ is making a joke out of the debate. Ingold was here responding to Howes who claimed that Ingold was only talking about vision and thought that olfaction, for example, was just a ‘lower’ sense. Ingold explained that he does not think olfaction is a lower sense and that, for that matter, olfaction and vision are to be understood as on a par: they are all very important, and therefore similar. Ingold does claim that the senses do not form separate ‘worlds’ as we experience the world in a unified way, since the world we experience is tied into with the body that we are, and we are not multiple embodied beings at the same time but one integrated being, at least in the non-pathological situation. Implicitly, Howes’ is making olfaction and gustation something peculiar by distinguishing it so strongly from vision and hearing, even though he claims that he does not think they are lower. But his discussion of it and the examples he gives from indigenous cultures driving on touch and smell still seems as if he encounters these senses as something ‘primitive’ that he then feels the need for to help emancipate in our Western understanding of things. He accuses Ingold of being that Western colonial thinker. But it is, in my view, Howes talking to himself and convincing himself that he embraces diversity, in the face of his own biases. The distinction between lower senses and higher senses that Howes’ wants to get rid of was never a problem of Ingold in the first place, precisely because Ingold just does not make the distinction, as he does not make the distinction between practical work and ‘higher’ cognition or cultural symbols. This brings me to Howes contention that Ingold’s view would
“relieve the anthropologist of the need to delve into such fields as religion or aesthetics or take any symbolic systems into account.”
Ingold never claims that these *phenomena* are not important. He just opposes the research paradigms that take these practices as some native, inborn poverty of human minds. He wants to know what is the phenomenological *basis* upon which systems of symbols are ultimately built.
Howes’ then proceeds with:
“the often-difficult task of understanding a people’s ‘system of collective representations’ can, Ingold assures us, be ‘readily circumvented by means of participant observation which allows the ethnographer to access other people’s ways of perceiving by joining with them in the same currents of practical activity.’“
Here, Howes does not seem to understand what Ingold is trying to say. Howes’ mistakes a methodological argument with a topical one. Ingold wrote this as part of a methodological argument. Howes’ himself had asserted earlier that another people’s indigenous practices are inaccessible.
For one, by universalising the subjective sensations of the individual, phenomenology ignores the extent to which perception is a cultural construct. Culturally informed practices that differ from one’s own are inaccessible from a purely phenomenological perspective (see Howes 2005: 29)
In truth, they would be inaccessible only if one’s own self and the selves of others were individual subjects of the kind that Howes imagines subjects to be: each locked in a private world of sensations, such that they can communicate with one another, and share their experiences and understandings, only by framing these sensations within a system of collective representations common to a community and validated by verbal convention. If that were indeed the case, then an ethnographer wishing to access the experiences and understandings of people of another culture, and not initially privy to their representations, would face a dilemma akin to that of the would-be map-reader who needs a key to read the map, but has to be able to read the map in order to decipher the key. He or she could never get off the starting block (Ingold 2001: 117). In reality, of course, this dilemma is readily circumvented by means of participant observation, which allows the ethnographer to access other people’s ways of perceiving by joining with them in the same currents of practical activity, and by learning to attend to things – as would any novice practitioner – in terms of what they afford in the contexts of what has to be done. This communion of experience establishes a baseline of sociality on which all attempts at verbal communication subsequently build. It is what makes anthropological fieldwork possible (Ingold 1993: 222–3).
That was what the quote was referring to. Howes now claims, instead, that because of this, Ingold is not ‘taking into account’ representational systems that people use. This is not true. Ingold does give a priority to embodied action over formal representation. His whole point is that granting a study of formal systems of representation the exclusive right of the only possible way to understand how culture is enacted is getting in the way of the fact that much of what is needed to explain about cultural practices is primordial to representation, namely, it is grounded in embodied action. Only on the basis of a phenomenological understanding of embodied action can we try to make sense of symbolic representation in the first place, and the way to understand such embodied sense making is to take a fundamentally participatory approach, if we want to have any chance in finding out how representations actually work, that is, what they actually *do* in the practice. What goes wrong in so many accounts of human activity and being is to think that there is some symbolic representation that could provide us as researchers with direct access to the practice, by analysing looking at what the representations “are”. This is problematic in a variety of ways, one of which being that studying the symbols does not get us to their meaning within the practical setting within which they are used, and another being the danger, at least, of too quickly taking *ones own* practical grounding as the basis for working with these representations, that is, taking our own historically evolved ideas of the meaning of a symbol, as the basis for understanding the system in which that symbol is used. Which leaves unexplained where that meaning comes from let alone being able to tell if we got it right. All of this is what Ingold has been keen to point out for many years now in a long series of books and papers and Howes is glossing over it with an arrogance that is quite frustrating.
Howes’ makes strange assertions like:
“Ingold might argue that these experiences do not properly involve the senses but rather the mind “
But the distinction between senses and mind is one Ingold would never make in the first place, in fact his philosophy is precisely all about getting rid of this distinction completely. And getting rid of a mind-sense distinction is not saying there is only sense, or only mind, it is to claim that what we call ‘mind’ and ‘sense’ are actually part of the same thing, which is something unlike either of the two in isolation.
Then there is the idea put forward by Howes’ that two different processes could operate at the same time involving different senses:
“what of drinking coffee while talking on the telephone”
Well, what of it? To begin with, I do not see why it is two different senses that define the distinction between coffee drinking and talking on the phone. I am also touching and seeing the coffee and touching and seeing the phone, all at the same time. To describe this scene in terms of distinctive senses makes little sense to me, if anything, we are talking about various activities, about a concert of coordinated actions. In any case, the experience is still one experience. It is the experience of ‘drinking coffee while talking on the telephone’. Upon reflection, we can break it down into two component parts: drinking and talking. And there is something about the way we can be said to shift our attention from the phone to the coffee, perhaps, but perhaps not, it all depends on where our attention goes. Regardless, we could also have broken this scene down into many more component parts (taking a sip, putting the mug back, checking whether there is still coffee in it, testing whether it is too hot with our lips). Or we could break the scene down in entirely different ways. For example, suppose we burn our lips on a gulf of coffee spilled because the conversation partner tells us he just robbed the bank. The scene could be broken down in: “before”, “during” and “after” this shocking event. Such a split is just as meaningful, but this one makes no distinction between tasting and hearing and touching, and the pain. We could also split the scene into elements in our sensory field that are in the center of our attention, versus elements that are part of the experiential ‘background’, versus aspects that are, at that moment, not part of our lived world at all. Or what about an example that seems in principle no different from Howes: “drinking coffee while enjoying the sun”. In this example it is much less clear why we should dissociate the touch of the sun on our skin from the activation of our olfactory buds by the coffee. They are together needed to account for exactly that type of experience. Even marketeers know what an experience is made of, which is why people in coffee commercials are always sitting in Italian squares in a setting sun. The point is that telephone conversations (and not sun tanning) are part of the practice of using language – and it is our Western, modernized culture which has biased us into giving special status to anything to do with symbols, rather than, say, just tasting coffee. But there is no fundamental difference betwee being engaged in a conversation and being engaged in drinking coffee and there is no reason why in unified experience the two cannot go together. Yes, splitting up “drinking coffee” and “talking on the phone” is familiar to most of us (*). But the activity of making this split, that is, recasting the unified experience into a number of cognitive categories, is itself a practice and that practice, if it has any chance to be explained, needs to be understood first in terms of how it is grounded in embodied being. Breaking up the world into categories is part of what we do. The point is not to deny this, but to investigate its grounds. And these grounds, Ingold holds, are not themselves already representational categories.
(* For example, autistic people may break up their experience in ways completely different from neurotypical individuals.)
Howes also puts a denigratory tone on ‘practical skills’, saying in various places that there is more than ‘just’ practical skills. As if there is an aspect of human life that is not practical. This, of course, is precisely what the tradition has taught us: there is practical skills, and then there is the real intellectual life, the level at which things become truly meaningful. The point of Ingold is that even something as sophisticated and abstract as, say, an anthropological debate in an academic journal, is still at the core a practical activity. There is no distinction between cognition, on the one hand, and practical action, on the other. It is all phronesis, practical wisdom, or know-how, in the end. We are neglecting the practical nature of our intellect, placing the latter instead on one side of an essentially Cartesian divide.
So, Howes for example wonders how to
“separate such things as symbolic agricultural rituals from practical acts of farming, particularly when the two may overlap in the same act (e.g., first harvest)”
But this is exactly the point: there is no such thing as symbolic agricultural ritual that is not grounded in the practical act of farming. Howes seems to suggest that there is symbolic agriculture and practical agriculture and he accuses Ingold of only paying attention to the latter:
“Ingold ‘slices’ up the world by insisting on separating practical action from all other human endeavours.
This is simply untrue. It is Howes that makes the distinction – Ingold is arguing that the dichotomy is false to begin with. This is misrepresenting Ingold’s position and with that the entire project of embodied phenomenology, or he simply doesn’t understand it.
Howes also believes Ingold is only interested in ‘vision’, and seems to suggest also that phenomenology and ecological psychology (Gibson) are purely ‘visual’ accounts of human interaction with the world. He writes:
“The Cashinahua of Peru, however, attribute their skill at hunting to the cultivation of what they call ‘skin knowledge’ and ‘hand knowledge’. As far as they are concerned, ‘eye knowledge’ has little to do with it (Kensinger 1995: 239–43). “
That is indeed an interesting finding, although I wonder if blind Cashinahua would hunt in the same way as their sighted brothers. But I cannot judge on this because unlike Howes I do not have the facts about this culture. More importantly however, I wouldn’t know, why this interesting culture would contradict Ingold’s basic stance. The fact that he wrote about vision doesn’t contradict this at all. Phenomenology is not about ‘vision’ per se, even if Merleau-Ponty wrote a lot about it, and neither is Ingold’s position, who wrote about the way basket weavers use active grip and touching with their feet as integrated aspect of the weaving activity, to give just one example.
“the notion that due to our ‘existential grounding in one world’ we all share the same experiences easily becomes a stepping stone to presenting one’s own experiences as normative, as we see time and again in Ingold’s own work “
This is a potentially valid critique of the way researchers, in general, tend to impose their implicit values and ways of perceiving the world onto their subject matter. I do not see why it is exclusive of Ingold, or that he would be specifically suspect on this matter. It is good to be conscious of the problems, but it goes for Howes as well. All researchers are prone to imposing their own implicit norms. If anything, it is often the ‘objectivist’ accounts that try to shove existing normative assumptions under the carpet, claiming they have gotten rid of it (while they haven’t), while a participatory phenomenological methodology would at least surface quite explicitly the variety of perspectives that all stakeholders bring to the table, not in the least those of the researcher herself.
In relation to this, we read how Howes argues against “a phenomenology of perception which speaks simplistically of ‘sensing the world’ (Ingold)” and for “an understanding of perception which allows for the cultivation of ‘ways of sensing the world’”.
Regardless of the fact that Ingold’s analysis is far from simplistic, Howes himself cannot avoid a problem quite similar to what he accuses Ingold of. His explanatory framework, within which diverse ‘ways of sensing’ are supposedly made intelligible (i.e., the framework of collective representations) is a normative claim to a particular universal claim, namely, the claim that all people necessarily operate on the basis of collective representations.
Howes also completely misses the point (and probably on purpose) when suggesting that Ingold refuses to study certain phenomena on account of their being part of the world of sense. He states:
“[Is] the idea that the Desana can detect human scent trails  a collective representation, similar to their notion that odours can be perceived with the whole body? Is this, according to Ingold’s division of the field, an example of ‘sensing the world’, and therefore to be studied by the sensory anthropologist? Or is it part of a ‘world of sense’ and therefore to be eschewed?”
Howes is mixing up different phenomena with different explanations. The Desana detect human scent trails in the forest. This is a perfect *phenomenon* to be studied. Ingold would claim that the best way to study this phenomenon it is to *not* interpret it as a collective representation. If Ingold is not interested in ‘a world of sense’ it is because he thinks that would be the wrong explanation of the phenomenon, not that he is not interested in the phenomena (sic).
All of this also does not mean Ingold would claim representations do not exist – Ingold writes symbols on his blackboard, and he wouldn’t deny it. Representational practices should however be seen as embodied practices and we need theory of how the use of symbols is ultimately grounded in our embodied being in the world, which is utterly different (in fact, more like the reverse) from a theory that grounds our basic ways of sensing the world in a representational framework.
Ingold “he has done little to show what social anthropology can bring to phenomenology and ecological psychology, namely, an emphasis on the social.”
I think that Howes has a point about the importance of the social, but not that Ingold would be neglecting it. It is true that phenomenology not always pays attention to social interaction, but see for example the work of Albert Schutz. However, Howes himself says little about the social, for what he conceives to be the social is actually not very much about social interaction itself but more about collective representation, which he seems to equate with ‘social’ and distinguishes in a Cartesian fashion from more bodily, “practical” responsiveness. As Ingold puts it:
By placing practical activity and mental engagement on opposite sides of an epistemological divide, Howes conspires to reduce the former to mindless, gut responses driven only by the imperatives of subsistence and survival. It is this reduction that leads him to the curious conclusion that my focus on practical enskilment, inspired as it is by work in both phenomenology and ecological psychology, amounts to a denial of the social. It does so only if we equate the social, as Howes does, with ‘cultural values and symbolic representations’.
In contrast, as Lucy Suchman has explained, drawing on Garfinkel and phenomenology, the social is itself embodied activity in a shared space (Suchman, 1987). My own further take on this is that all embodied activity is likewise inherently social through and through, the relation runs both ways. Representational artefacts (e.g. symbolic culture) have an important place in this activity – but the representational structure as such do not equate or constitute the social, this structure both emerges out of and subsequently constrains what is always already social before it is representational. In other words, to be social there does not need to be communication by means of representational vehicles, even though we have evolved to make this a very important aspect of our social practices (Van Dijk, 2018) see also (Jaasma et al, 2017)
In fact Howes concedes that, in line with Suchman, “cultural values and symbolic representations constrain the ways in which people act in the world.”
Indeed, they do. And I do not see how it goes against anything Ingold has written about. Ingold’s analysis of how practices lead to artefacts would be a groundwork for understanding not only how representations constrain our actions, but also how representations come into being as emergent from these actions, while Howes seems simply to assume that such representations to be in place.
Thus he insists:
“cultural constructions of gender have shaped the particular practices engaged in by women and men in Western history “
And nobody would deny it. Yet the question is: “where” are these ‘conventions’? Following Ingold we can conclude they are in any case not stored in the minds of people, information units stored as activity patterns in the brain, and neither are they ‘stored’ as collective representations ‘in the social reality’, constituting some independent existing thing called ‘the culture’. Rather, gender conventions are enacted in the way we walk and talk, embodied in the gendered artefacts we use, and in the gendered ways we interact with these artefacts and with each other. They are part and parcel of the skilful, situated performances that emerge as self-organising patterns in each concrete situation, not executions of templates stored in the mind or in ‘the culture’. It would be quite a misunderstanding to accuse anybody holding such an embodied view to
“naturalise perception, disallowing any cultural influences. “
As Howes accuses Ingold of. But to say that a cultural convention gets enacted in practical settings does not mean it is naturalised, but it does mean to deny it a special ontological status as existing outside of the concrete circumstance in which it arises: it is not an independent power, floating in the cultural air pushing people this way and that way, as a counterforce to their more ‘bodily’ or ‘genetic’ inclinations – what we call cultural convention it is part and parcel of what people are – and this means it is not something that can be dissociated from the other aspects of human being.
“I hold it to be counterproductive to create an opposition between ‘sensing the world’ and ‘worlds of sense’. “
Ingold would in fact accuse Howes of creating the opposition in the first place. To talk of a world of sense means to create a second ‘world’, what Ingold calls the ‘virtual world’, one that is supposedly distinct from to that other world, i.e., the world we live. In fact there is only one world which is the world of our lived experience, and we experience that world using the full richness of all our senses.
I would like to end with Ingold’s fine statement in his final paper, just below his rather sarcastic opening. This statement below, and not the first ad hominems, show quite clearly the values that typify Ingold as a person and as an academic, even if these were somewhat overshadowed by his frustration about the way Howes’ was mistreating his ideas.
“My overriding aim is to understand how people perceive the world around them, and how and why these perceptions differ. These are among the fundamental questions of anthropology. In the search for answers, we should draw on all the sources of ideas and inspiration we can. We should listen to what so-called ‘indigenous people’ have to tell us, and in my work I do. We should attend to what people with impairments of sight and hearing have to tell us, and in my work I do that too. And we should also take note of what psychologists, neurophysiologists and philosophers – among others – have to tell us, and I do that as well. What I do not do, however, is to treat what others have to say (whatever their training, background or experience) as objects of anthropological analysis, or as token exemplars of systems of collective representation specific to particular communities of provenance. On the contrary, I treat them as both catalysts and checks to my own thinking, in an ongoing, critical conversation in which I feel privileged to participate.
Cytowic, R. 2010. ‘Our hidden superpowers’, New Scientist 24 April: 46. (Quoted in Pink).
Suchman, L. 1987 Plans and situated actions : The Problem of Human-Machine Communication. Cambridge University Press, New York.
Van Dijk, J. 2018 Designing for Embodied Being-in-the-World: A Critical Analysis of the Concept of Embodiment in the Design of Hybrids. Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2, 7.
Jaasma, P. Frens, J. Hummels, C.C.M & Van Dijk, J. 2017. On the Role of External Representations in Designing for Participatory Sensemaking. Proc of DESFORM, Eindhoven/Delft.