Folding the Manifold

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 2.43.25 PMI think often about these passages in Kant and how they describe the details of something like phenomenological intentionality. Along these lines, I think of skilled intentionality as a practice of conformation, of training the manifold of perception and intuition to bend in certain ways on purpose.

The Side View’s thesis is based on something like this idea: Practices of conformation, in Kant’s sense of “objects conforming to cognition,” are ways of bending and folding the manifold in certain ways.

I also noted recently that we might define a concept as a fold in perception. Taking up a concept as a part of experience is to shape the manifold of intuition in such a way so as to realize new details, emphasizes, and meanings for action.

But the concept is just one way of reorganizing the manifold. Practices of all kinds are nondiscursive (nonlinguistic) means of shaping perception. They also “fold” experience in different ways and allow new subtleties to show up.

If you can see the links between Kant’s manifold of intuition, and its potential of being shaped through practice, you can start to look at spiritual, religious, and contemplative exercises in a new light, one that might interest even the ardent atheists among you.

This shaping of the manifold is what unites the different disciplines The Side View draws from. The emphasis on practice also lets us view a variety of disciplines from a different angle. This includes the sciences, the humanities, the arts, as well as the contemplative, spiritual, and religious traditions, and their various philosophical commitments.

When we link these disciplines through the idea of practice—rather than in an effort to forcibly compare, contrast, conjoin, or reduce one tradition to another—a number of unhelpful divisions can be resolved, such as those between the religious and the secular the scientific and the philosophical, and the theoretical and the practical, especially in terms of their existential value for transforming perception and action.

In this sense, the practices, habits, and rituals explored through TSV are treated as ways of conjuring up novel syntheses of perception in experience that yield new meanings, details, and possibilities for action in the practitioner. I explore these ideas in more detail in my introduction to the first issue of The Side View Journal, which you can find here.

Consider downloading a copy for $5. All proceeds are put towards supporting TSV!



    • They don’t really, but surely I’m not too far from their approaches.


      • heh if I was on yer diss committee you’d have to at least explain how your model differs from the latest versions of Dewey-isms.
        I don’t think even a pragmatist mode of judging practices by their outcomes (what they allow us to do, afford us, or not) would bring about the kind of unity I think you are after b/c they make very different claims about what counts, what has priority/value/etc, and how we should go about organizing ourselves and making use of our resources. A Practice Turn (or any other philosophical approach) won’t cure the ills of governance, can’t replace institutions (like parliaments, courts, etc).


      • I don’t know Dewey super well, so I’m not confident about this, but I am planning on writing a chapter (perhaps based around Bergson, influential as he was for Hadot) on linking these practices with various notions of realism and metaphysics, perhaps in ways that cut against the more constructivist grain of pragmatist philosophy. Do you do much external reviewing for dissertations? This could be something to think about, actually, if you’re at all open to it.


  1. Makes sense you might want to check out Chris Long’s book Aristotle on the Nature of Truth.
    That’s kind of you to consider I’ve promised my better half that I wouldn’t take on any additional projects but I hope you know I’m always interested in reading what yer writing and giving whatever help I can in our usual more informal mode.
    One of my friends who is in an education dept sent me this link the other day you might be interested in:

    Click to access Learning%20Styles%20&%20Learning%20Spaces.pdf


    • Nice. Yeah, you’re like the anonymous fourth reader anway. I’ve been thinking about how (and if) to include Maturana and the enactivists. Even including Evan Thompson in one of my last papers felt like a bridge too far. It may end up being a separate project, even if that work is always in the background for me.


      • very good no need to try and fit a whole career’s worth of work into a dissertation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s