[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: [xmca] Re: microcosm/unit of analysis and xmca discourse

Sorry, Achilles! Sometimes I talk like a block of marble. (My wife says I look more like a block of marble than like Michelangelo's David too.)
I guess that there really have to be both men and bulls for there to be the idea of the Minotaur. And there probably has to be an idea for a Minotaur for there to be a sculpture of one. Actually, I think that your comparison of consciousness to a Minotaur is a very good comparison, but NOT because it is half-man and half-beast.
Consciousness is not half-beast. Last night I read "Madame Bovary's Ovaries" (Barash and Barash) which "explains" Othello's jealousy by demonstrating that males evolved to be "sperm sprayers" and females to be "egg bakers", so men are much more susceptible to jealousy. We'll see what he has to say about Anna Karenina's consciousness.
I don't even think consciousness is "half-social and half-individual", the way Katharine Nelson and the "hybrid mind" folks seem to think. I think it is one hundred percent social and one hundred percent individual thought not at exactly the same time.
Hume argued that consciousness doesn't exist, and James basically agrees with him. LSV agrees that there are SOME things about consciousness that don't exist (e.g. the immortality of the soul, the "self" as a kind of mental mannikin). But there are OTHER things about consciousness which certainly do (e.g. volition, free will). To tell you the truth, I think that LSV would be rather suspicious of the idea of shared cognition.
On the one hand, we need a unit which includes all of the things which necessarily (intrinsically) determine consciousness (volition, imitation, generalization) and excludes all of those things which do not (immortality, instinct, involuntary behavior). 
On the other hand, we need an explanatory principle which includes all of the things which extrinsically call up consciousness and awaken the functions which intrinsically determine it (indication, ideation, social communication, depending on the maturity of consciousness)  and excludes those which do not (those functions which have already passed into instinctive, involuntary behavior, and those which can only be socially shared and not internalized--they are therefore immortal).
I read "The Crisis" too, but I don't think the answers are there; it's too early. The explanatory principle and the idea of analysis into units emerge together, sometime after 1932, as LSV is completing Thinking and Speech and lecturing on play in Leningrad. 
But to tell you the truth, I think even "Thinking and Speech" is a little early; consciousness only emerges as the true subject of the monograph at the very end. However, Chapter One was written RIGHT before the end (or perhaps afterwards, since in places LSV refers to Chapter Two as Chapter One). That is why I think that LSV's remarks there on the twin function of word meaning (social communication and thinking) are very significant. 
LSV knows that the unit itself has to develop. So at one point, social communication is dominant, and thinking is derivative. But at another, thinking dominates, and social communication is an afterthought. That is why the word is one hundred percent social and one hundred percent individual, though not at one and the same time. It's also why the point we call "cognition" is probably not immortal.
Social communication/thinking is too general as an explanatory principle; we need to exclude the things in it which do not awaken the functions which lead to the development of consciousness (most of what goes on in my head and a lot of what goes on in my posts, sad to say). 
That's why people are so excited and frustrated about the zone of proximal development; it's a clear link between microgenetic learning and ontogenetic development, and so it's a stab at providing that explanatory principle. All we have to do is to figure out what it means in each CONCRETE set of circumstances. As one of my offlist correspondants point out, it's much more likely to be related to classroom epistemology than to question grammar!
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

xmca mailing list