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Re: [xmca] The Origins of Pointing and Child "Syncretism"

I see no contradiction at all between your source of scepticism and mine,
And I like your "inverted" idea of syncretism because it fits so well with
the primacy of sociality.
Either way, what LSV calls the natural line of development is a part of the
story. We also see
more clearly the intermxing of the interpersonal and object-oriented aspects
of ostension.

On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 6:41 AM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

> In South Korea, when I first arrived in 1998, we were given a kind of crash
> course on Korean culture which was designed to keep us from offending
> people. Like a lot of this sort of thing, it involved a list of dos and
> don'ts. For example, we were told not to blow our noses at the table, not to
> wite anybody's name in red ink, and not to point and anybody, not even
> students when initiating in class.
> All of the dos and don'ts were simultaneously true and not true, but more
> interestingly all of the dos and don'ts appear to refer to things which,
> understood as abstract principles, appear to me now to be cultural
> universals. Even in Korea it is permitted to dab delicately at your nose
> when you eat kimchi, and even in the savage West it is not particularly
> polite to splatter your snot all over the meal of your fellow diners. In
> Korea you CAN write a letter entirely in red, even the salutation and the
> name, and teachers often do this, and even in the savage West we would think
> it odd to see our name highlighted in red on a list of others (in China this
> is used to indicate that someone has been executed).
> Pointing with the palm of your hand is the same. There is a "Cultural
> Footnote" in one of our textbooks which tells a rather Hofstedean story
> about a Korean who goes to America and tries to coach a soccerl team. At one
> point he wants to beckon to the team and uses the normal Korean gesture for
> this, which is hand outstretched, palm down, fingers moving rapidly in the
> direction of the speaker, as if you were scratching an imaginary dog. The
> team takes this as a waving goodbye, and to the Korean coach's chagrin all
> leave the stadium and go home, forfeiting the game.
> Of course, everything about this story marks it as apocryphal, from the
> moment we read about a Korean coaching an American soccer team (Korea
> normally imports the coach of its national team from Europe, and of course
> athletic hatred for the USA is generally at fever pitch, since it is one of
> the few outlets for anti-colonialist sentiment which Koreans allow
> themselves). But in a vain attempt to get this story removed from the
> textbook, I tried a series of experiments with American children and then
> with American adults.
> I placed a row of children about fifteen feet away and then used the Korean
> beckoning gesture to see how they responded. I then asked them what it
> meant. Children who were less than ten always responded correctly and came
> to me, although they could not always explain that the gesture meant "come
> here" and one of them even said I was waving goodbye. Adults, on the other
> hand, sometimes came to me and sometimes said that I was waving goodbye.or
> scratching the air or something like that.
> Now, in practice, these misunderstandings are unlikely because gestures are
> always very heavily contextualized. But I was still puzzled at the result,
> so I did a little experiment. I used the gesture with my fingers moving more
> rapidly TOWARD me, and the children came towards me. I then did the SAME
> gesture with my fingers moving rapidly AWAY and the children stepped away
> from me. So clearly the gesture is INDEXICAL: you INDEX the motion you want
> from your audience by moving your fingers in the direction you want them to
> move more rapidly than in the other direction.
> This indexicality is  (as far as I can figure out) to some degree
> NONcultural and universal; it is why you can beckon to dogs and why the
> gesture is offensive to people. And of course this universalism is of course
> exactly what we would expect to find in Carol and Paula's work: the more we
> go towards syncretism (the heap, the jumble) the more we find universal
> categories, and the more we go towards conceptual thought the more we find
> functional differentiation.
> And it's HERE that I'm a little skeptical about LSV's canonical account of
> the genesis of the pointing gesture, but for slightly different reasons than
> Mike (Cole and also Tomasello). I think that gestures must have a genetic
> history, at the root of which is ostension, and thus child syncretism. But
> syncretism is not to be interpreted in the Piagetian sense (that is, the
> child's actions are autistic, solipsistic, irrational, a form of syncretic
> religion which allows the child to believe that presents come from Santa
> Clause AND from Mom and Dad at one and the same time, and a gesture can mean
> anything).
> Syncretism is to be interpreted in the Vygotsyan sense, as a purely
> SUBJECTIVE attitude which is nevertheless purely oriented toward reality.
> This attitude persists longer than we might think; I have sat through
> numerous dinnertable conversations between adolescents which consist of
> little more than "What's your favorite X?" and "Y is cool (sweet, awesome,
> gnarly) but Z is for dorks (doofuses, dimwits)." The vocabulary is what I
> would call almost entirely syncretic: the functional equivalent of the
> concept is the heap, the jumble, the pile.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education.
> --- On Sat, 8/15/09, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:
> From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Concerning the origins of Pointing
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Date: Saturday, August 15, 2009, 1:07 PM
> Apparently in Japan it considered rude to point with one finger directly at
> a person. But otherwise pointing is fine, and is even used to direct ones
> higher psychological functions! as this link documents:
> <http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ek20081021wh.html>
> Martin
> On Aug 15, 2009, at 1:46 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
> > PS--Work too much? You jest!!
> >
> > Bach is playing in the background. the garden has been watered, our dog
> has
> > taken us for a walk, we saw a fantastic
> > production of Cyrano translated by Anthony Burgess that had my mind
> reeling
> > about the magic of language, ventriloquation,
> > the connection between ashes and diamonts, writting vs speaking, and  lot
> > more. And there is so much interesting here at xmca to think about. Not
> to
> > mention the few pages of George Elliot that i get through each day.
> Amazing
> > to read long passages in which she is
> > giving voice to a form of zionism that has contemporary relevance that is
> > mind boggling.
> >
> > Work? Work is when our faculty return and classes start. Then the
> horrendous
> > massacre of a great public university will make
> > getting up in the morning a real chore because in addition to financially
> > overburdened students, the faculty will be fighting for
> > their perks in the name of virtue, a situation that provides an iron clad
> > guarantee of unpleasantness.
> > m
> >
> > On Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 5:39 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> >
> >> Thanks for that Mike. Ask a question on this list and the answer is not
> >> long in coming. A case of joint attention I guess.
> >>
> >> As I understand this excerpt, the idea of pointing growing out of
> attempted
> >> grasping in ontogenetic development is ruled out, but the "precision
> >> grasping" movement with thumb and forefinger and the pointing gesture
> with
> >> thumb *not* opposing the forefinger are co-evolved reflexes (?) and the
> >> discovery is pushed back from Vygotsky and Dewey to Darwin (sort of).
> And
> >> co-attention (gaze-following) precedes pointing at distant objects.
> >>
> >> All of which points to the communicative functions developing
> >> ontogenetically in advance of I->object functions. Is that right? And we
> >> should take the grasping-then-pointing idea really just as part of our
> >> history.
> >>
> >> thanks Mike.
> >> you work too hard!
> >>
> >> Andy
> >>
> >> Mike Cole wrote:
> >>
> >>>
> >>>
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