Re: [xmca] Fwd: [lchc] Wertsch

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Sat Aug 19 2006 - 21:01:18 PDT

Wow! That's a really interesting article, Mike.

It has drawn my attention to the fact that, in my own writing, I frequently
over-emphasise interaction between individuals as mediated, three-party,
creative activity, at the expense of communicative intersubjectivity
(subjects sending messages to one another in a shared code), flying against
the obvious fact that interactions between individuals are almost always in
part at least people trying to send clear signals to each other and express
themselves, *as well as* people creatively participating in
social-subjective activity.

This is of course because I find that Habermasian/Saussurian/positivist
conceptions, which see individuals unproblematically as subjects, language
as some kind of code, and the larger social subjectivities involved as
passive "resources" or "contexts" for communication, abstracted from what
it is that people are actually doing with one another. Clearly, Wertsch's
proposal that the only truly dialectical approach is to "live in the
middle" and in the tension between these two aspects of intersubjective
communication and intra(social)subjective activity. Both are in fact simply
abstractions from subjectivity in the full dialectical sense.

I am taken by Wertsch's final comment that other writers "do not offer a
final theoretical or methodological solution to these issues. Indeed, I do
not think that anyone has reached this point." In my opinion, the issue
remains one of the 'unit of analysis'. The problem in my view of models
like Engstrom's which put 6 concepts together in triangles, and thereby
include all the relevant moments (including those discussed here by
Wertsch) is that there is still no *concept* of that unit of analysis. My
hope is that *subject* is the appropriate notion.


At 08:22 AM 19/08/2006 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear Colleagues-- I have had a note froma couple of people noting it is
>quiet on xmca.
>My impression is that people are recovering for the summer. At the same
>time, even a glance
>at the world map indicates that a lot of people are logging on, perhaps,
>like Phil, doing archival
>work -- but not commeting or asking questions.... and generally there has
>not been all that much
>discussion of the papers that have been posted.
>However, in case some of you ARE interested in academic discussion, I am
>forwarding a paper we will
>be discussing Monday at noon at LCHC. It is by Jim Wertsch on
>"intersubjectivity and alterity."
>This summer we have been reading, in unsystematic fashion, a range of
>articles that address a set of
>interlocking issues/processes that we feel we do not properly understand.
>Subjectivity and intersubjectivity
>are one pair. We have read Tomasello on cultural learning where he defines
>intersubjectivity in relation
>to being able to interpret another's intentions, an early stage, in his
>opinion, of theory of mind. This idea
>is related to differering notions of imitation which in turn is related to
>ideas about necessary and sufficient
>conditions for cultural mediation. ALL of these concepts are related to the
>polysemic term, CONTEXT, which
>Jim uses in two different sense in his paper. We are concerned about the
>confusions arising from the way the
>term is used with different referential purposes but without any clear
>markers to say which reference purpose
>is in play, hence engendering confusion.
>You are all most welcome to join us in our investigation of this issue if
>you are in need of summer reading.
>On the other hand, I recently read George Elliot's "Silas Marner" which I
>was "forced" to read in Junior High
>School and which I found mesmerizing after a 50 year + set of opportunities
>to puzzle about the world.
>Content-Type: application/pdf; name=Wertsch.pdf
>X-Attachment-Id: f_er14thc3
>Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="Wertsch.pdf"
>xmca mailing list

  Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, AIM
identity: AndyMarxists mobile 0409 358 651

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