Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

A philosophy of “becoming with” as “becoming alongside”

In foundational research, I went through a philosophical shift from “being” (in the sense of Hubert Dreyfus’ reading of Heidegger) towards “becoming”  — as I was writing a finalization of Open Innovation Learning in Chapter 9.  As I reflect more, my view of systems as living can be expressed as “becoming with“, and more precisely “becoming alongside“.

This is influenced not so much directly from philosophy, but from the ecological anthropology of Tim Ingold, as indicated in “Anthropology Beyond Humanity” in 2013.

I conclude with just two proposals.

First, every animate being is fundamentally a going on in the world. Or more to point, to be animate — to be alive — is to become. And as Haraway (2008: 244) stresses, ‘becoming is always becoming with—in a contact zone where the outcome, where who is in the world, is at stake’.

Thus whether we are speaking of human or other animals, they are at any moment what they have become, and what they have become depends on whom they are with. If the Saami have reindeer on the brain, it is because they have grown up with them, just as the reindeer, for their part, have grown up with the sounds and smells of the camp.  [….]

My preference […] would be to think of animate beings in the grammatical form of the verb. Thus ‘to human’ is a verb, as is ‘to baboon’ and ‘to reindeer’. Wherever and whenever we encounter them, humans are humaning, baboons are babooning, reindeer reindeering. Humans, baboons and reindeer do not exist, but humaning, babooning and reindeering occur — they are ways of carrying on (Ingold 2011: 174–175).

Secondly, my ‘anthropology beyond the human’ would be just that: it would be anthropology, not ethnography, and it would be beyond the human, not multispecies.

We have already seen that a relational approach to human and animal becoming refutes the logic of the multispecies. But it also tells us that in our inquiries we join with, and learn from, the human and animal becomings (Ingold 2013a: 6–9) alongside which we carry on our own lives.  [….]

Thus in anthropology we do not make studies of people, or indeed of animals. We study with them (Ingold 2013b: 2–4). The aim of such study is not to seek a retrospective account, looking back on what has come to pass. It is rather to move forward, in real time, along with the multiple and heterogeneous becomings with which we share our world, in an active and ongoing exploration of the possibilities that our common life can open up. And just as in life, becoming continually overtakes being, so in scholarship the scope of anthropology must forever exceed the threshold of humanity.  [Ingold 2013-05, pp. 20-21, editorial paragraphing added]

  • Haraway, D. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Ingold, T. 2011. Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Ingold, T. 2013a. Prospect. In T. Ingold and G. Pálsson (eds), Biosocial Becomings: Integrating Social
    and Biological Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ingold, T. 2013b. Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. Abingdon: Routledge.

Thinking of relations between beings as verbs, rather than beings as nouns, gives more a feeling of time, if not motion.

This publication was officially presented as the Edward Westermarck Memorial Lecture at the Finnish Anthropological Society in May 2013.  A less formal reading of the paper was recorded at Macquarie University in October 2013.

Becoming-with doesn’t derive as cleanly from the metaphysics of being and becoming extending back to the ancient Greeks.  It relates alongside ecological anthropology, which can be placed alongside a more general context of ecological epistemology, for which a citable definition in philosophy is relatively recent.

Ecological epistemology (EE) demarcates an area of convergence between contemporary theories whose common core is the recognition of the agency of natural processes, objects, and materials. EE encompasses the knowledge emerging from the assumption of symmetry between things and thought, human and nonhuman beings, and historical and natural processes. The claim of a symmetrical ontology developed in the framework of the new philosophy of materialism has demanded intense work in order to overcome philosophical constructivism that takes knowledge as a mental construct, regardless of its material base. The idealist perspective in this approach takes knowledge as a representation of reality, which is processed through the logical operation of abstraction and detachment from its empirical object. The assumption of symmetry leads to a knowledge no longer “about” but “with” the other human and nonhuman beings. From this perspective, EE avoids diluting culture into nature or assimilating nature into culture but seeks to merge the human and natural histories considering all, nonhumans and humans, coresidents, and “co-citizens” of the same world. [Carvalho, 2016]

Ecological epistemology relates alongside ecological anthropology, that relates alongside the ecological psychology that introduced a theory of affordances.  Here’s footnote 310, from Open Innovation Learning section 9.2, that places Ingold alongside J.J. Gibson, alongside Gregory Bateson and an Ecology of Mind.

Ecological anthropology, as practiced by Tim Ingold, builds on the ecological psychology of J.J. Gibson.

Gibson wanted to know how people come to perceive the environment around them. The majority of psychologists, at least at the time when Gibson was writing, assumed that they did so by constructing representations of the world inside their heads….. The mind, then, was conceived as a kind of data-processing device, akin to a digital computer, and the problem for the psychologist was to figure out how it worked. But Gibson’s approach was quite different. It was to throw out the idea, that has been with us since the time of Descartes, of the mind as a distinct organ that is capable of operating upon the bodily data of sense. Perception, Gibson argued, is not the achievement of a mind in a body, but of the organism as a whole in its environment, and is tantamount to the organism’s own exploratory movement through the world. If mind is anywhere, then, it is not ‘inside the head’ rather than ‘out there’ in the world. To the contrary, it is immanent in the network of sensory pathways that are set up by virtue of the perceiver’s immersion in his or her environment. Reading Gibson, I was reminded of the teaching of that notorious maverick of anthropology, Gregory Bateson. The mind, Bateson had always insisted, is not limited by the skin (Bateson 1973: 429) (Ingold, 2000b, pp. 2–3).

  • Bateson, Gregory. 1972. “Form, Substance, and Difference.” In Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1987 reprint, 454–71. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.

These are background contexts for a paradigm of co-responsive movement, in Open Innovation Learning section 9.2.

Co-responsive movement is a joining with, in an ongoing sympathy of living things going along together. Joining with is an “interpenetration of lifelines in the mesh of social life … in a world where things are continually coming into being through processes of growth and movement” in a generative form when contrary forces of tension and friction are pulled tightly into a knot. This is in contrast with “joining up” as assemblies that can “be a readily decomposed as composed”. “Untying the knot … is not a disarticulation or decomposition. It does not break things into pieces. It is rather a casting off, whence lines once bound together go their separate ways”.320

320 Joining up can more formally be called interstitial differentiation. Joining with is exterior articulation, as in agencement traced to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, assemblage used by Manuel DeLanda, or compositionism advanced by Bruno Latour (Ingold, 2017, pp. 13–15).

The fine distinction between “becoming-with” and “becoming-alongside” shows up in a reference to Ingold (2017) in footnote 322 of Open Innovation Learning section 9.2.  While “with” is not exclusively restricted to beings and/or things at a single point in time, “alongside” better suggests parallel sequentiality of those beings with a passage of time.

Co-responding “is the process by which beings or things literally answer to one another over time, for example in the exchange of letters or words in conversation, or of gifts, or indeed in holding hands”321. Members co-responding with each other carry on alongside one another over time, answering contrapuntally.322 A theory of co-responding was foreshadowed in John Dewey’s social view of communication, meaning “the attainment of a certain ‘like-mindedness’, enabling those with different experiences of life, both young and old, to carry on together”.323 This sense of communication is “not about the exchange of information, as communication is often understood today; it is rather about forging a concordance”.

321I prefer the more active labels of co-responsive and co-responding, for which Ingold builds a theory of human correspondence. “I propose the term correspondence to connote their affiliation. Social life, then, is not the articulation but the correspondence of its constituents. [….] The sense in which I do intend the term differs from this precisely as filiation differs from alliance. It is not transverse, cutting across the duration of social life, but longitudinal, going along with it” (Ingold, 2017, p. 14).

322 Whereas articulation associates with “and“, co-responding associates with “with“. “The distinction between the kinds of work done here with these little words ‘and’ and ‘with’ is all-important. The logic of the conjunction is articulatory; that of the preposition differential. The limbs and muscles of the body, the stones and timbers of the cathedral, the voices of choral polyphony or the members of the family: these are not added to but carry on alongside one another. Limbs move, stones settle, timbers bind, voices harmonize, and family members get along through the balance of friction and tension in their affects. They are not ‘and . . . and . . . and’ but ‘with . . . with . . . with’, not additive but contrapuntal. In answering – or responding – to one another, they co-respond” (Ingold, 2017, p. 14).

323 Dewey saw life as coproduced with others, socially. “Since no living being can perpetuate itself indefinitely, or in isolation, every particular life is tasked with bringing other lives into being and with sustaining them for however long it takes for the latter, in turn, to engender further life. The continuity of the life process is therefore not individual but social” (Ingold, 2017, p. 14).

[Open Innovation Learning] can be seen as opening up communications, sharing artifacts in common and learning in a larger community.324 This takes up “an approach that understood how time, movement, and growth were together generative of the forms of living things rather than merely ancillary to their expression”.325

324 Ingold’s proposal of a theory of human correspondence is cited as concordant with pragmatic philosophy and theory of education. “Dewey was particularly struck by the affinity between the words ‘communication’, ‘community’, and ‘common’. This, he insisted, is not just an accident of etymology. It rather points to a fundamental condition for the possibility of social life. ‘Men live in a community’, he wrote, ‘in virtue of the things which they have in common; and communication is the way in which they come to possess things in common’ (Dewey 1966: 4) (Ingold, 2017, p. 14)

325 Tim Ingold cites Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution (1911) as turning point in his research.
“The year was 1983, and I was in the throes of writing a book on the idea of evolution, and on how it had figured in theories of biology, history, and anthropology from the nineteenth century to the present. [….] It turned into a Bergson-inspired critique of the entire legacy of Darwinian historicism in the human sciences” (Ingold, 2014, p. 157).

Little words make a difference.  My philosophy focused on being; then becoming; then becoming-with; and has refined to becoming-alongside.  These are rather fine distinctions.  Scholarly writing drives precision.

References

Carvalho, Isabel. 2016. “Ecological Epistemology (EE).” In Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions, edited by Henri Gooren, 1–3. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_19-1

Ingold, Tim. 2000b. “General Introduction.” In The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, 1–7. Routledge.

Ingold, Timothy. 2013-05. “Anthropology beyond Humanity.” Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 38 (3): 5–23.

Ingold, Tim. 2013-10. Anthropology beyond Humanity. Web Video. Sydney, Australia: Macquarie University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqMCytCAqUQ

Ingold, Tim. 2014. “A Life in Books.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20 (1): 157–159. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12088.

Ingold, Tim. 2017. “On Human Correspondence.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23 (1): 9–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12541.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • RSS qoto.org/@daviding (Mastodon)

    • daviding: Provocative statemen February 1, 2020
      Provocative statement by Canadian automobile reviewer. > There isn’t now and likely never will be enough electricity available worldwide to replace all the petroleum for the vehicles we currently drive.> And given that at least in Canada, only 11 per cent of fossil fuel emissions come from passenger vehicles (that’s not from some climate-change-denying website […]
    • daviding: Lecture on "Are Syst January 23, 2020
      Lecture on "Are Systems Changes Different from System + Change?" at #OCADU_SFI #SystemicDesign master's, web video and digital audio now at http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/are-systems-changes-different-from-system-change/ . Lecture of 1h18m covered 37 of 55 slides, all online for #SystemsChange #SystemsThinking #theoryofchange
    • daviding: The 2019-2020 fires January 5, 2020
      The 2019-2020 fires in Australia are associated with a slow history of human activity. > Three hours north, in Sydney, the air quality was worse than in Jakarta. [....] > There is no doubt that the fires are growing more ferocious. Even without the changing climate, it would be inevitable; 250 years of land mismanagement […]
    • daviding: > ... a fascinating December 18, 2019
      > ... a fascinating study by Javier Miranda, principal economist at the U.S. Census Bureau; Benjamin Jones, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; and Pierre Azoulay, professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. They took a detailed look at the demographics […]
    • daviding: A week of deepening December 15, 2019
      A week of deepening *democratic recession* says @FareedZakaria https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/25/us/fareed-democracy-decaying-worldwide/index.html . Citing term by #LarryDiamond "Facing Up to the Democratic Recession" | Jan. 2015 | J Democracy at https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles/facing-up-to-the-democratic-recession/
  • RSS on IngBrief

    • Plans as resources for action (Suchman, 1988)
      Two ways of thinking about practice put (i) “plans as determinants of action”, and (ii) “plans as resources for action”. The latter has become a convention, particularly through research into Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW). While the more durable explanation appears the Suchman (1987) book (specifically section “8.2 Plans as […]
    • The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago
      Does “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago and the second best time is now” date back further than 1988? It is time to look long and hard at the value of the urban forest and create the broad-based efforts — in research, funding and citizen participation — needed to improve […]
    • 2019/11/05 13:15 “Barriers to Data Science Adoption: Why Existing Frameworks Aren’t Working”, Workshop at CASCON-Evoke, Markham, Ontario
      Workshop led by @RohanAlexander and @prof_lyons at #CASCONxEvoke on "Barriers to Data Science Adoption: Why Existing Frameworks Aren't Working". For discussion purposes the challenges are grouped within three themes: regulatory; investment; and workforce.
    • Own opinion, but not facts
      “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts” by #DanielPatrickMoynihan is predated on @Freakonomics by #BernardMBaruch 1950 “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts”. Source: “There Are Opinions, And Then There Are Facts” | Fred Shapiro […]
    • R programming is from S, influenced by APL
      History of data science tools has evolved to #rstats of the 1990s, from the S-Language at Bell Labs in the 1970s, and the
    • Bullshit, Politics, and the Democratic Power of Satire | Paul Babbitt | 2013
      Satire can be an antidote, says Prof. #PaulBabbitt @muleriders , to #bullshit (c.f. rhetoric; hypocrisy; crocodile tears; propaganda; intellectual dishonesty; politeness, etiquette and civility; commonsense and conventional wisdom; symbolic votes; platitudes and valence issues).
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on daviding.com

    • 2020/01 Moments January 2020
      Back to school, teaching and learning at 2 universities.
    • 2019/12 Moments December 2019
      First half of December in finishing up course assignments and preparing for exams; second half on 11-day family vacation in Mexico City.
    • 2019/11 Moments November 2019
      Wrapped up paperwork on closing out family buildings in Gravenhurst, returned to classes and technical conferences in usual pattern of learning.
    • 2019/10 Moments October 2019
      Tightly scheduled weekdays at Ryerson Chang School, weekends in Gravenhurst clearing out family building as we're leaving the town permanently.
    • 2019/09 Moments September 2019
      Full month, winding down family business in Gravenhurst, starting Ryerson Chang certificate program in Big Data, with scheduled dinners with family and friends.
    • 2019/08 Moments August 2018
      Enjoyed summer with events in Toronto, followed by trips back my home town Gravenhurst, staying overnight for the first time in over 30 years.
  • RSS on Media Queue

  • Meta

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
    Theme modified from DevDmBootstrap4 by Danny Machal