The world has no color, no smell, no ‘hard’ or ‘velvety’ textures, no taste, no sound. The world has none of these things without us, you and me and others like us — people and animals, through whose perception alone color, scent, hardness, ‘velvetiness’ and taste exist. And it is through such primary signs that the world appears to us. Color is a wave converted by the retina of the eye. The signal goes to my brain, which ‘reads’ it, that is assigns a meaning to it. Then, already schooled by my parents and others who introduced me to the world of language, in other words the human world, I understand this sign as, for example, red.
It seems as if there are things we can take in almost in a glance, like a picture, for example. But this is not the case. By looking at an object we are feeling our way into understanding it. It is as if we are ‘palpating’ the object, touching it with our eyes, a process which takes place gradually over time, step by step. The resulting scan morphs in our mind into a complete structure, no longer temporal but spatial. ‘Mass”, that is the ‘object’, would seem to be a spatial concept but in fact it presents itself to us only through a series of sensations drawn out in time.
In any case, we only recognize things we c a n d i s t i n g u i s h. And we only distinguish things we have learnt to distinguish. We distinguish things with the help of ‘third parties’, what Mamardashvili refers to as “organs of conversion”.
Let us take, for example, the way we establish a link between a tactile sensation — ‘velvetiness’ — and an object, such as a peach. The peach becomes one of the attributes of ‘velvetiness’. Tactile and visual sensations already experienced have merged in my mind to produce an object. This must have happened for the very first time in the course of a dialogue, otherwise it is difficult to explain where the word peach could have come from. Later, it became an element in a classificatory schema, the internal schema which regulates my behavior. It is to these primary signs which knit together experience and schema and which reveal the point of syntheses that our site is dedicated.
Today’s Russian citizen, formed by the naïve positivism of the country’s native schools of thought, knows little about the practices of his or her own daily life, that is the daily business, with which we are all preoccupied — the business of recognizing, controlling, loving, without ever letting go of our electronic ‘gadgets’, accepting and giving gifts, weeding our parent’s vegetable patches at the dacha, choosing our clothes or our children’s education, adding to our photos in social networks, tending our graves, and so on and so forth.
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