Joe's Blog

More About the “Protean” Hand

February 24, 2017


Originally published on Facebook 2/2/16

Let us use as an example taking a glass in your hand. Here are some of the things that, if you wanted, you could be conscious of as you do this.

A. What route did I choose in space from where my hand was before going into this new position? At what velocity did it travel? Did it accelerate or de-accelerate at any time while in motion? Can I make a graph that represents its path as a curve in space? In what way was it a better path than some other path? How much time I did choose to allow it to get into the new position? Was there a conscious moment when I stopped the ‘reaching’ towards the glass part of the procedure and began the ‘holding’ the glass part of the procedure? How long will it remain in this new position?

B. As I took the glass in my hand, what were the sequence of muscular motions that brought each part of the hand, each finger, each joint, into the mutual alignment that I notice when the new object is suddenly in my hand? How should I distribute the fingers around this object? What is my thumb doing? Is it the position in which it has maximum mechanical advantage to hold the glass so it will not fall. Where on the glass is the second finger? Was I like Michelangelo who conceived the form and shape of a hand locked away in the solidity of the marble?

Do I know how to put the glass down. Is there a specific conscious
moment when I release it from my hand. Have I computed this with my eye and brain. If the glass was in my left hand, would I have been able to put it into my right hand without putting it down, spilling anything that may have been in the glass. Have I consciously trained my fingers to perform this royal “changing of the guards”. Does each finger know what to do.

C. If I take a glass in my hand, put it down, and pick up another glass, am I conscious of any of the following… Do I need to know in what place I put the first glass in order to calculate in what direction I need to move my hand to get to the second glass? If yes, should this awareness include a specific measurement of how far the second glass is from the first glass?

D. Would knowing where the hand was before taking the first glass
help in any way taking the second glass in my hand.

If I now look at my other hand do I know where it was before it
showed up in its present place in space.


It is often a disadvantage to intellectually know, identify and time the movements needed to be made to play a passage at the piano.  The body does it best by itself without interference from the mind (intellect).


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