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After Man: A Zoology of the Future by Dougal Dixon

By Dougal Dixon

What unique creatures does the next day carry? Dougal Dixon's vintage paintings of speculative anthropology blends technology and fable in a gorgeous zoology of the future.

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Sample text

Yet it remains trapped in a discourse that opposes the mental and the material, and that cannot therefore countenance the properties of materials, save as aspects of the inherent materiality of objects. There is nothing hybrid about one of Nash’s ladders, however. Like the living tree in the ground from which it was made, it inhabits the border zone not between matter and mind but between substance and medium. The wood is alive, or ‘breathes’, precisely because of the flux of materials across its surface.

To place Heidegger and Gibson side by side is like comparing chalk and cheese. More by accident than by design, however, this is what I found myself doing. If it was from Heidegger that I borrowed the concept of dwelling, then it was from Gibson, at least initially, that I drew my theory of perception. And the key insight that I took from it was that perception is fundamentally about movement. Reacting against the cognitivism of mainstream psychology and the Cartesian premises on which it rests, Gibson insisted that perception is the achievement not of a mind in a body, but of the whole organism as it moves about in its environment, and that what it perceives are not things as such but what they afford for the pursuance of its current activity.

To trace these paths is to bring anthropology back to life. PART I Clearing the ground Anthropology is not usually regarded as an experimental science. Scholars in many other disciplines deliberately set up situations in order to study their outcomes, going on to compare the results with what had been predicted on the basis of speculative conjectures already arrived at through abstract, theoretical reasoning. Anthropologists, however, are enjoined to observe and describe the forms of life they encounter more or less as they find them, and to do their theorising after the fact.

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