PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, November 24, 2017

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Body Language

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Body Language

But first of all, Alfonso has kindly sent us the link to his website
where you can find details about his plays, poems and paintings:

And to kick off the topic Matilda has sent us the following quote from
Sherlock Homes:

By a man´s fingernails, by his coat sleeve, by his boots, by his
trouser-knees, by the calluses of his forefinger and thumb, by his
expression, by his shirt-cuffs, by his movements, by each of these
things a man´s calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail
to enlighten the competent enquire in any case is almost inconceivable.

Essay from Lawrence…..
As names go, Body Language is not very representative of our subject
matter; but this is English so names are not necessarily there to convey
information about their representative in the real world. Body language
is first and foremost not a language least of which because this non
verbal communication is not a public behaviour which we can learn by
following the rules. Indeed body language is supposed to occur
unconsciously. And what are the semantics and syntax of this language?

Of course, some would argue that some body language is a conscious
behaviour. For example, we consciously give the message that we are
being submissive. Shyness, timidity or meekness are other forms of body
messages which are a dead giveaway that we are very well aware of what
is happening to us.

Culture might provide some rules or meaningful structure for certain
behaviour while other behaviour might be confined to a certain group,
e.g. the military. Gestures and hand movements are often peculiar to
culture, but with modern communications and media some gestures are
becoming globalized, for example the Nazi salute is gaining such a

Other forms of body language do seem to be universal, at least universal
within modern cultures. Smiling, screaming, disgust, elation, fear,
pain, are all forms of body language which although not necessary
unconscious, certainly happen spontaneously in many cases.

So what are the key issues for us? The first must surely be, is body
language learnt or inherited as part of our DNA and genes? Are these
unconscious body language messages latent in us waiting for the right
occasion to express them? In the same sense that the heart beats faster
when we run, is a latent capacity of the heart just waiting for us to
start running. Or is body language picked up from our environment and
people close to us. Of course, cultural body language fits this latter
possibility, but do we need to learn how to give the right behaviour for
pain. (Please note that there are some people who do not feel pain and
this could be a very dangerous situation for them. This is disease is
well documented.)

Fear is a good cause of body language and is the primary cause of
certain types of body language. We are supposed to accept that our body
language gives us away when we lie, or at least most people cannot
unconsciously conceal they are lying. I would argue that it is not the
lying as such that causes the relevant body language for lying, but
rather fear (of being caught lying) that activates the relevant body

However, when we are afraid we are supposed run away or fight, when we
lie we are engaged in a verbal conversation that does not involve
running away or starting a fight. Maybe certain body language is more
primitive than modern behaviour. And we give ourselves away when we lie
because we cannot control our sense of fear. Indeed at the primitive
level fear in a person is very clear and without a hesitation of doubt;
we either run away or start fighting.

Finally, we might call this group of body behaviour or actions body
language because we assume that body language is there to convey
information to others; and certainly happens with a load of information.
And this information is most times correctly deciphered by others, which
they may or may not use against us. The problem with this scenario is
that why would we want to give away information unconsciously when
consciously we know would compromise us if others knew it. Why would we
tell others things about us unconsciously, when we wouldn't dream of
uttering consciously?

Maybe body language is not a means to convey subtle information to
others but rather to ostentatiously communicate with others our state of
being so that they can change their behaviour towards us. Thus, any form
of body language to convey we are lying is not us unconsciously
admitting we are lying but us wanting to convey we are being threatened
and that the other person should stop their behaviour towards us. Body
language must surely first and foremost be ostentatious communication to
others so they change their behaviour towards us.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813

PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Café Madrid
Calle del Meson de Panos in Opera

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Body Language


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