An act is not true or false

At the end of his life Kuhn analysed, reflected and explored still further. Inspired by the way the evolutionary process develops, he argued that every specialty functions in a 'niche', which is perceived as the world. For people, or actors, the niche that they form part of is also the world. It is where communities live. Lexicons evolve between different individuals and all contribute to a deeper structure of taxonomies that characterize that specific community. The structure of a conceptual framework must be shared to enable people to understand each other. The mechanics of 'taxonomizing', of developing a shared language, can only be understood when grounded in the community it serves. The work of Thomas Kuhn is crucial to my understanding of the 'thinking actor'. Kuhn writes:

"Niches are where other creatures live. We see them from outside and thus in physical interaction with their inhabitants. But the inhabitants of a niche see it from inside and their interactions with it are, to them, intentionally mediated through something like a mental representation. Biologically, that is, a niche is the world of the group which inhabits it, thus constituting it a niche. Conceptually, the world is our representation of our niche, the residence of the particular human community with whose members we are currently interacting. This is the aspect of my work that, more than any other, has suggested that I took the world to be mind-dependent. But the metaphor of a mind-dependent world - like its cousin, the constructed or invented world - proves to be deeply misleading." (Kuhn 2000, 103).

The way that incommensurability has been approached so far, also by Thomas Kuhn, is characterized by the implications that certain taxonomies possess for understanding the world and being able to communicate, or not, with others about this understanding. In his last text Kuhn wrote that he had come to question his earlier idea of a 'mind-dependent' world. This questioning resonates with my research into the clash between intention and realization, which makes the actor 'think'. In the first section of this chapter I argued that the clash between intention and realization occurs physically, cognitively and emotionally. In the experience of the actor these clashes blur, but in relation to one another these three clashes nonetheless inform a human being about the world that he or she is in. Therefore I agree with Kuhn that the way an actor understands the world is not merely mind-dependent. I would argue that the cognitive clash informs an actor, but this can only be understood within the context of the physical and the emotional clash as well. Especially because the physical and the emotional clash provide a human being with clear indications of what direction survival and well-being can be found in. Kuhn continues his argument by emphasizing the importance of communities, witnessed presence in the creation of social structures and the taxonomies they create.

"It is groups and group practices that constitute worlds (and are constituted by them). And the practice-in-the-world of some of those groups is science. The primacy of the community over its members is reflected also in the theory of the lexicon, the unit which embodies the shared conceptual or taxonomic structure that holds the community together and simultaneously isolates it from other groups. Conceive the lexicon as a module within the head of an individual group member. It can then be shown (though not here) that what characterizes members of the group is possession not of identical lexicons, but of mutually congruent ones, of lexicons with the same structure. The lexical structure, which characterizes a group is more abstract than, different in kind from, the individual lexicons or mental modules which embody it. And it is only that structure, not its various individual embodiments, that members of the community must share. The mechanics of taxonomizing are in this respect like its function: neither can be fully understood except as grounded within the community it serves." (Kuhn 2000, 103-104).

Kuhn argues that lexicons and taxonomies evolve from communities that interact. Research by Luc Steels and colleagues also suggests that language evolves from interaction in which processes of attribution, synchronization and adaptation take place. When I translate these insights into the theoretical framework I have used in this study, this points to an even deeper effect of witnessed presence than I had understood thus far. Following Kuhn's reasoning this would imply that in the clash between intention and realization, witnessed presence generates significant input. This input not only influences the negotiation about trust and truth in a community, but it actually influences how lexicons and taxonomies evolve. It reflects the way a certain community interacts, and by doing so it also facilitates the community to interact.

In order to do this, as Kuhn argues, members of the community have to share certain concepts or no interaction would be possible. This accords with my findings that collaborating actors share terrains of commensurability and also terrains of incommensurability, otherwise they could not collaborate. Kuhn goes even further by discarding the notion of true and false when discussing contributions to communities' practices, which in my words are the result of being involved in collaborations. One actor cannot be more 'right' than another when collaborating:

"Whether the communities in question are displaced in time or in conceptual space, their lexical structures must overlap in major ways, or there could be no bridgeheads permitting a member of one to acquire the lexicon of the other. Nor, in the absence of major overlap, would it be possible for the members of a single community to evaluate proposed new theories when their acceptance required lexical change. Some ways are better suited to some purposes, some to others. But none is to be accepted as true or rejected as false; none gives privileged access to a real, as against an invented, world. The ways of being-in the-world which a lexicon provides are not candidates for true/false. " (Kuhn 2000, 104).

Here Kuhn touches upon one of the crucial points of the thinking actor. "The ways of being-in-the-world, which a lexicon provides, are not candidates for true or false." (Kuhn 2000, 104). Actors develop their lexicons and taxonomies, and their deeper structures for these, in the communities they operate in. They do this as 'thinking' actors, through the clash between intention and realization, in order to make things work, to communicate, to find common ground and to share knowledge and create new things. The way they do this is via taxonomies that are grounded in communities and can only be understood in relation to these communities. The question for the actor is not whether something is true or false, but whether it works and taxonomies serve this need for things to work.

For Kuhn, the developing incommensurabilities and evolution of new lexicons and taxonomies is important for understanding the way science develops. As I argued before, it seems plausible to suggest that dealing with incommensurability is a factor of significance for the thinking actor; in the confrontation between the varieties of taxonomies that an actor is confronted with, the thinking actor is influenced and is subject to change. The main issue I want to establish here about the thinking actor is that an actor wants an act to happen and to be successful. The question is not whether something is true or false. The question is, how will an act work in the context that it is supposed to. To be able to achieve this in collaborations, in communities, actors need language and language evolves from, and is embedded in, the communities where it functions.

Kuhn's notion that communities in their niches create taxonomies, which help actors to be-in-the-world, opens up perspectives for understanding the significant role that mediated communication and mediated presence play in our daily lives. The more mediated presence is accepted, the more it may function in a community as part of its reality. It will be a contributing factor to the taxonomies that a community develops. Taxonomy involves grammar and words. When presence is mediated the way the editing of the mediation is carried out will also add to the taxonomy of the community. Developing media schemata is part of this process as well. As I discussed in the first section of this chapter, the clash between intention and realization also occurs in mediated presence, people are 'thinking actors' in mediated presence and in natural presence, even though the clash in mediated presence is not as intense and significant as a possible clash in natural presence would be.

When one considers mediated presence as a contributor to language in its own right, it is possible to conclude that mediated presence is also accepted because it contributes to the taxonomies that communities share. This may be a factor of significance for understanding why mediated presence is accepted on such a large scale; it enriches people's taxonomies and therefore the realities they share. Because mediated presence is accepted as a contributor to the taxonomies that communities share, it has also grown to be part of them. Following this line of reasoning I have to conclude that mediated presence adds to taxonomies and in doing so it contributes to the practice, the knowledge and the ethics that a certain community share. The clash between intention and realization in natural presence contributes these as well, and because the sense of presence can be maximized in natural presence it will ultimately determine what mediated presence will be considered part of the community and what will be discarded. This last conclusion accords with my findings at the 0+Ball, for example, that contributors to the crucial network, in this case the mediated contribution of the U.S. State Department, were dependent on the gathered crucial network in natural presence for the impact that they were allowed to have.