Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand Bohr

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jun 28 2007 - 08:41:49 PDT

  I'm not at all clear as to why you think the distinction between expert and novice essentializes any more than recognizing hot and cold essentializes, light and dark. There are continuums: temperature, luminosity, and knowledge/skill for which each of these terms functions as a place marker. But there are also limits on the the continuum, no?
  I'm also unclear as to what you are trying to say by invoking Ilyenkov. I have been sitting on a post-in-preparation since this thread began concerning Ilyenkov's theory of the "ideal" which I consider very relevant to what is being attempted in "toolsforthought". I hope to post it soon along with a discussion of the work of Andrew Chitty and Peter Jones both of whom have done work that is much more intelligible on how "intelligence" is present in tools, one which doesn't however transform tools into "agents" or "actants". Hopefullly I will get it distilled into something suitable before this discussion ends.
  Paul Dillon

Wolff-Michael Roth <> wrote:
  Think about culture as being produced and reproduced simultaneously,
that is, always also transformed, never the same, always in flux.

I am trying to provide resources that people can use to jolt them out
of their ontologies.... and into the one Vygotsky and his students
had adopted from Marx.... an ontology of difference as Il'enkov
shows, not one of the same that dominates the current discussion,
which ESSENTIALIZES experts and novices.


On 28-Jun-07, at 7:36 AM, Paul Dillon wrote:


I haven't read your article yet I'm wondering whether you equate
professor with expert, student with novice? This clearly would make
your statement about expertise being up for grabs a bit circular, no?

Often a student has insights into a specific problem that the
professor doesn't, but you are now at the graduate level, right?
That is already stratospheric in relation to the first year physics
student being taught a section by the grad student. It is unlikely
that the freshman could distinguish between the expertise of the
professor or the grad student in a conversation about physics.

Paul Dillon

Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
thinking from an ontology of difference----the hardest thing for many
Westerners subject to individualist ideology---means that we are
different from ourselves, that heterogeneity is at the hard of
sameness and Self. This also means that expertise is heterogeneous,
within individuals and across, and even within itself. This, then,
makes the ontological opposition of THE expert and THE novice highly
questionable. In a paper that David Middleton and I published not too
long ago, we show how this turns out to be the case in research
interviews conducted with respect to graphing by an undergraduate
physics students with professors in his own department, and who is
expert and who is novice with respect to a particular issue
continuously is up for grab.

Roth, W.-M., & Middleton, D. (2006). The making of asymmetries of
knowing, identity, and accountability in the sequential organization
of graph interpretation. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 1, 11–

On 27-Jun-07, at 7:36 PM, Louise Hawkins wrote:

I also find issue with the distinction between expert and novice, as if
the expert has something to give and the novice something to receive.
How many times is it the student who poses a question that raises a
point that the 'expert' learns from?



From: []
On Behalf Of Michael Glassman
Sent: Wednesday, 27 June 2007 04:37 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
Darwinand Bohr


Why this distinction between expert and novice? What does it really buy
us? And who gets to make the distinction? It seems to me in an
expert/novice scenario all power lies in the hands of those who get to
make this distinction on whatever level, and get to define the two
classes. Take a look at the political class in the United States, we
define experts as those who have the right cultural capital, wear the
right type of ties and suits, who speak in somber, modulated voices with
a weary sigh of resignation, suggesting "of course you cannot see what I
can see, but trust me."

This is not to say every generation starts from scratch. Every
generation starts with the tools that they have, but then they figure
out how to use those tools to solve what invariably must be new
problems, or they develop new tools out of the old tools. Let's say we
have a set of spears we use to hunt food. There are great spear
throwers who use those spears and teach others to use them as well.
Their "expertise" in spear throwing gives them great power within the
community. But things change, and the spears that were once used on
larger animals are not as good for smaller animals. Are the spear
throwers going to give up their place in the community as "experts?" Or
are they going to say, well if we just wait, or if we use the spear in a
different way, or it is the fault of our lazy children who do not train
in spear throwing the way previous generations did. Meanwhile the food
supply dwindles for the community. A young person examines the spear
and says, hmmm, the arrow head pierces the skin but it cannot reach the
skin with these new animals that we hunt. Perhaps I can create
something else - a bow and arrow perhaps. But she is not an expert.
Who, in a hierarchical system of knowledge development would listen and
adopt the work of this young innovator? This is always the danger of a
heirarchical system of knowledge development.

In a more lateral system of development information is everything. As a
species were are problem solvers, but our problem solving is based on
the easy access and flow of information. I just read the most
fascinating article by the economist Amriyat (sp?) Sen. In it he talks
about famine. He makes a really good argument that famine is almost
never about food. There is always enough food even in some of the major
famines of the twentieth century. It is about the lack of capability
for getting to the food. At its core the lack of information as a tool
in obtaining this basic human function. What else is there other than
information. When we define information as static and give it value
separate from the problems we are working on, isn't that when we find
the most trouble, have the most difficulties in problems solving?

I watch my son play his World of Warcraft game. I wish I knew more
about it. But I see him adapting and recalibrating constantly,
developing strategies and processes that see incredible to me. It is a
virtual world in which there are no "experts." The world and my son and
the other players co-exist.

I don't know if I've done such a good job trying to explore this.
Perhaps a problem that needs greater consideration.



From: on behalf of Martin Packer
Sent: Tue 6/26/2007 2:04 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
Darwinand Bohr

Michael, you would have each generation start on their own, from
scratch? No
experts, just novices? That really is a post-apocalyptic vision!

My point was there is more to life (and education) than "functioning"
"information." The danger with the tool metaphor, and the emphasis on
artifacts as tools, is that they reduce all of life to the production
process. That is not just a conceptual mistake, it is a political
agenda. To
argue that thinking is not important, only tool use, is not to argue
formalization, it is to promote a purely instrumental conception of
action and interaction. It is to promote an extreme version of the
of labor, in which only a tiny elite get to think about the nature of
thinking, and everyone else is simply using tools skillfully but

On 6/26/07 12:40 PM, "Michael Glassman" wrote:

> But if this information is so important, and it exists as part of the
> solving tools of humanity, don't we trust humans to discover it
through their
> own activities?

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