Digestion Revisited

I was greatly impressed by a recent book, Out of Our Heads, by Alva Noë, who presents a different way to look at consciousness. He believes that current approaches to the question of consciousness are wrongheaded: instead of looking for consciousness as arising inside a person’s head, it is a result of interaction of with […]

Smirk of Face?

When I used to visit Mike at his group home, he would always respond to, “Gimme a high-five.” I don’t know where he picked that up, but he responded reliably, most of the time. Mike is my older brother who is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal. Mike is reacting to Dad’s request for a ‘high […]

Negative Space

Negative space is a concept frequently taught in visual design courses. When looking through a viewfinder of a camera or composing a sketch or painting, the shape of spaces in between objects becomes a design element. It is odd however, that this idea is considered negative ‘space’, since it is generally realized in two-dimensional representations. […]

Context

Language Managing the task of understanding language – sentences – combinations of words we have never heard before, is an enormous computational task, if we were to program a computer to decipher natural language. Much of what we understand of the spoken word comes from context. In fact, it is often true, that when people […]

A New Take on Consciousness

I just started reading Out of Our Heads by Alva Noë. [1] Noë operates from the premise that consciousness is not merely a mental process that comes from the machinations of the brain. In a wonderfully insightful metaphor he states, “Consciousness is more like dancing than it is like digestion.” Brain and environment The idea […]

More About Humanness

In yesterday’s post I began with definitions of the what it means to be human. Does the definition of humanness matter? Yes. It matters because many human beings feel free to mistreat others they deem non-human or less than human. Worldview One’s worldview has an influence on one’s view of humanness. There seem to be two […]

Humanness, Introduction

What does it mean to be human? On the surface, this may seem a frivolous question. Isn’t the answer obvious? Here are a few definitions: Dictionary definition – The Oxford Dictionary defines a human being as a “man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power […]

Arm as Tool

This is my brother Mike. He is older than me, autistic, low functioning and nonverbal. That’s our Dad in the background. You can see that Mike has something in his hand. Wait, that’s my arm! He must want something. Dad didn’t understand what it was, so I guess Mike wants to use my arm to […]

Choosing a Photo

Culling In getting organized to move, I’ve been going through all the stuff I have. The best method I came up with was to make a binary decision: Keep or Toss. That is really hard, since I don’t want to end up throwing away some reference book that I could use for my writing, or […]

Loving

Group home buddies When I visited my older brother, Michael, in his group home, I always enjoyed talking with some of his housemates. Of course, there were some who, like Mike, seemed to be beyond communication. One resident, J___, always seemed interested in what I was doing. He must have been profoundly deaf, as his […]