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

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jun 28 2007 - 10:42:17 PDT

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Peter Smagorinsky
The University of Georgia
Department of Language and Literacy Education
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-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2007 11:05 AM
Subject: Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca]
Copernicus,Darwinand Bohr

please take me off this mailing list... thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: Wolff-Michael Roth <>
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <>
Sent: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 8:59 am
Subject: Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
Darwinand Bohr

Hi Paul,
it would perhaps be of interest to you to follow the thinking of
philosophers of difference, which I think take up Marx's agenda that also
was taken up by Vygotsky and his students, including Klaus Holzkamp who
suggested that much of psychology is a reification of folk beliefs rather
than a real science. He, his wife Ute Osterkamp, and some others then showed
how psychological constructs need to be categorically constructed on
evolutionary and cultural-historical grounds.
I see this as a parallel effort to philosophy of difference, first
philosophies, that take into account their very own beginnings. Thus, as one
of Emmanuel Levina's book title suggests, it is a move to go "Beyond
Essence" and think Being as being grounded, historically, in something that
is "Otherwise than Being."
Jean-Luc Nancy, another philosopher of difference, grounds being in the
"with" that precedes being; Thus, we have GROUPS of chimpanzees, and
chimpanzee experience of WITHness prior to and constituting the ground of
Levinas, Emmanuel (1998). Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence (Alphonso
Lingis, transl.). Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press. Nancy, J.-L.
(2000). Being singular plural. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
On 28-Jun-07, at 8:41 AM, Paul Dillon wrote:
  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
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. Cheers, Michael
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– 81.
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" and
"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 against
formalization, it is to promote a purely instrumental conception of human
action and interaction. It is to promote an extreme version of the division
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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Received on Thu Jun 28 09:43 PDT 2007

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