RE: Identity as Dialectic: mediated versus unmediated

From: Carol Macdonald (
Date: Fri Oct 01 2004 - 10:57:26 PDT

Steve and Michael-
Thanks for going to all the trouble to lay out the examples and questions so
clearly. In my understanding of LSV, Shameer is already located in a
mediated situation when he is in a school with teachers. He has set up a
relationship of opposition when he reacts in personal antagonism...

Well--- I had gotten this far with my tuppence, when I read Viktor's
contribution, which is breathtaking in its articulateness and spread. It
brings to a different question entirely: how porous can these theories be?
There is a stunning array for sale, especially when we have a discussant
with a broad brushstroke-but where for example could we start to buy in,
from a CHAT point of view? I can hardly see a direct route through LSV-does
that allow us to depart from Bhakhtin instead? While I await your weekend
thoughts, I am going to start from Identity File...

For my own purposes, in working in African education, I have found it very
useful to use Garfinkel, particularly for example, defensive and protective
practices which children and teachers use. I teach against eclecticism, but
there you are.

Subject: Identity as Dialectic: mediated versus unmediated


Thank you for making your article "Identity as Dialectic" available. There
are some very interesting philosophical and methodological issues in it
that could be discussed. If you are interested, perhaps we can.

I have a specific question about the way you use the terms "mediated" and
"unmediated" on page 6.

Here is your use of the term unmediated: "When Shameer in the heat of the
moment says to a teacher, "See man this is why I don't like y'all, I don't
like y'all teachers or y'all school," he relates to the teacher in an
unmediated way."

You also use Ya-Meer's reaction in the original confrontation between
Cristobal and Ya-Meer discussed in Re/Making Identities as another example
of unmediated behavior. You describe your sense of "unmediated" behavior
in terms of "a being that does not reflect on its own relation with the
world, a being that simply relates to other things and other people without
objectifying them." In this example, you explain "When Shameer is mad at
his chemistry teacher and walks out of the classroom after hearing he has a
sixty-five on his test, Shameer is simply relating to his world, including
the teacher."

In contrast, you provide an example of the opposite of unmediated action:
mediated action. You say: "When he [Ya-Meer/Shameer] later says to the
teacher, "I just got mad [at you] because it wasn't my paper that you read
of your sheet," he is in a mediated relationship to the foregone events and
situation." You explain that Ya-Meer "conceives of the teacher as another
person, who became the object of his anger. When anger, grade, and teacher
are conscious entities, the relation to the world is no longer direct but
mediated, explicated, and objectified (Heidegger, 1977)."

The description you are offering as I understand it is that there are two
states of being. One is a state of being "direct," "unreflective," "simply
relating," and "non-objectifying." You refer to this state of being as

The other state of being refers to comprehending others as people
(comprehending "otherness"), "objectifying" one's own emotions as conscious
entities, and "explicating" these experiences. You refer to this state of
being as "mediated."

My question is that since, in both of the examples of "unmediated" behavior
you supply, Ya-Meer is clearly exercising conscious cultural behavior and
is undoubtedly using his "higher psychological functions" (he is not acting
reflexively, such as jumping in surprise to a loud sound - he is talking,
reasoning) - how can this behavior be considered "unmediated?"

- Steve

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