Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who Was Samuel Todes?

The Wikipedia entry for Samuel Todes is pretty bare and the rest of the web offers little information about the person whose work seems poised to become the next stage of the road that began with Husserl and continued through Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Todes, in Body and World, provides us with a phenomenological account of bodily perception and how the structure of the human body allows us to come to know initially knowable objects. Perhaps the best thing that can be said in this inaugural post comes from the mouth of the sole promoter of Todes's work, Hubert Dreyfus:
There was a fellow graduate student named Samuel Todes who was very influential on me. I didn't mention him when we talked about my graduate [years], but if I went into Continental philosophy it was also largely because he was the only one I could talk to. He had this idea -- it's very important -- that the body has a structure. In Merleau-Ponty you hear always that the body has a capacity to act, to be open to the world, to go around objects, but Todes says, "Well, we've got a front and a back, an up and a down, we move forward more easily than we move backward, we can't protect ourselves from behind." There's a lot to having a body that Merleau-Ponty doesn't see. So, I published Todes' book, Body and World, because I think it's the next stage that people will have to pay attention to. I talked about it in my presidential address. This says that until computers could (which I don't think they ever will,) have bodies enough like ours, and feelings like ours, they can't be intelligent. -transcribed source
The comment is taken from the following interview, which can be seen in its entirety: