Transmission in Motion

Seminar Blogs

“Episteme? Doxa? Or something in between…” – Elissavet Kardami

John McKenzie and Aneta Stonic’s performance lecture was an introduction to the notion of thought action figures. This new concept was initially contextualized by presenting two different types of knowledge: episteme and doxa. John McKenzie located the origins of epistemic knowledge in Plato’s metaphysical idealism, where the process of abstraction can offer access to a metaphysical realm, which brings us closer to the essence of things. On the other hand, doxa seemed to be the opposite of episteme. It was associated with the Homeric tradition and refers to common knowledge acquired by our engagement with the world. What the performance lecture seemed to suggest was that thought action figures are situated at the intersection between episteme and doxa. They function as an attempt to bridge the gap between these two notions, as well as propose alternative ways of evaluating and generating knowledge.

There is a complex relation between the prominence of a specific understanding of a concept, but also the fluidity of what a concept can signify. There is a constant tension between the concretization of meaning residing in concepts and the potential of that meaning to change over time, depending on the context in which it is situated. Thought-action figures acknowledge the fluidity of concepts, but also point out that this fluidity is always depended on the way that concepts are being enacted. Thought action figures are moving against a tendency of fixating certain meanings on concepts, against the notion of ideation, which implies the freezing of an action, of a concept, of an idea in space and time. Moreover, whereas ideation implies a more linear progression of knowledge, thought action figures invite a more distributed and dynamic process of knowledge production. These thought action figures do not exist only at a conceptual level, but they are also anchored and influenced by actuality, by the processes of applying and enacting concepts.

Furthermore, what thought action figures seem to add to the idea of the fluidity of concepts is the notion of embodiment in the process of understanding and constructing meaning. This was not only emphasized through some of the examples presented during the lecture. Movement was incorporated in the staging of the lecture as an integral part of the message that was being conveyed. The inclusion of these physical and performative elements sometimes generated unsettling impressions for the audience. Nevertheless, the decision to incorporate them and break the conventional setting of a lecture opened up the space for alternative ways in which knowledge can be communicated, especially in an academic setting. Ultimately, the proposed concept of thought action figures aims at breaking the unidirectionality of knowledge production, from experience to ideation, as well as challenging dominance of specific forms of knowledge. Instead of moving only from doxa to episteme, thought action figures invite us to think of feedback loops of knowledge production, both conceptual and embodied. Consequently, these loops can generate different relational constellations between these two types of knowledge.