Re: [xmca] Zo-peds, roads, and Senseis

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sun Dec 24 2006 - 17:13:28 PST

Actually, I think that we might treat Dewey the way Bakhurst treats Lenin
and learn something from it.
Dewey wrote a LOT and over a long period of time. I picked out that
quotation because it seemed to me
to point precisely to the Skinnerian program's underlying logic and roots in
pragmatism. Some of his ideas
in "The Public and Its Problems" make me wince with pain. But he wrote a lot
of great materials. His discussion
of the concept of situation in the book on logic, for example.

Interesting discussion of affordances, Andy. The term comes from Gibson and
has been exploited by Don Norman a lot
in recent years. Gibson concerned himself mainly, but entirely, with the
natural enviornment. In discussions involving Ed Hutchins,
Peg Griffin, and myself, the many ways in which Gibson and Vygotsky
complemented each other (a complementarity well understood
by AV Zaporozhets) came to have some currency. if you google costall and
vygotsky on lchc you will find more along these interesting
lines in the newsletter archives.

On 12/24/06, Michael Glassman <> wrote:
> Andy,
> This sort of talks to Pragmatism's reliance on experimentalism. I found
> it interesting that David Backhurst used the term radical empiricism to
> describe the more liberal aspects of Lenin, because of course James termed
> his theoretical approach radical empiricism. The idea being you can only
> know what you do know from experimentation - and understanding the
> consequences comes from experimentation in particular situations. You
> determine what the problem is, you determine what the problem would look
> like if it was solved (in a very concrete manner), and you see if you
> achieved that end-in-view. Very concrete and very much attached to the
> situation. I believe that is what Dewey is talking about when he mentions
> consequences - the only issue is whether you have achieved a solution to the
> problem - if not, you go back and do another experiment.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Sun 12/24/2006 6:01 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: RE: [xmca] Zo-peds, roads, and Senseis
> At 11:55 AM 24/12/2006 -0500, you wrote:
> >... >From Chapter 5 [Dewey]
> > "The test of ideas, of thinking generally, is found in the consequences
> > of the acts to which the ideas lead, that is in the new arrangements of
> > things which are brought into existence. Such is the unequivocal
> > evidence as to the worth of ideas which is derived from observing their
> > position and rule in experimental knowing. But tradition makes the tests
> > of ideas to be their agreement with some antecedent [i.e. already
> > existing] state of things. This change of outlook and standard from
> what
> > precedes to what comes after, from the retrospective to the prospective,
> > from antecedents to consequences, is extremely hard to
> accomplish. Hence
> > when the physical sciences describe objects and the world as being such
> > and such, it is thought that the description is of reality as it exists
> > in itself."
> It seems to me that the Achilles' heel of American Pragmatism is how it
> (and Dewey in the above passage) reduce the relation between consciousness
> and activity to: "The test of ideas, of thinking generally, is found in
> the
> consequences of the acts to which the ideas lead." This overlooks the fact
> that it is by no means given exactly what these consequences are, at what
> time consequences are deemed to have been realised, for whom they are
> effective, and from the standpoint of what system of activity they are
> assessed; all of which refers back to the very idea which is supposed to
> be
> tested in its consequences. One can equally say: "The test of the
> consequences of an act is the ideas, and thinking generally, by which they
> were brought about."
> Fascinating and important as Dewey is, I prefer Marx.
> Andy
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