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Re: [xmca] Intransitivity and Intransigence

Martin writes: For Habermas they (Piaget, Kohlberg, Selman) offer a kind of
rational reconstruction of ontogenesis that he believes is able to separate
what is contingent from what is necessary and universal.

Mike writes: Am I correct in believing that the separation of *contingent
from what is necessary and universal *is a way of claiming a separation of
ontogeny and phylogeny?

On Sat, Oct 24, 2009 at 8:30 AM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

> David,
> I'm in general agreement with your perspective on Habermas. On the positive
> side his work shows just how important an understanding of ontogenesis is
> for any kind of critical analysis: a critical theory, emancipatory inquiry,
> etc. To put it simply, how people act now depends not only on their current
> circumstances but also on their past experiences, so any sort of
> emancipatory effort, whether it is psychotherapy or political organization,
> needs to be able to comprehend the impact of those experiences.
> At first Habermas, like Horkheimer and Adorno, turned to Freud for an
> account of ontogenesis, specifically an account of the ways traumatic
> experiences in childhood lead to distortions in adult communication. But
> this got him into trouble and the kind of approach to ontogenesis that
> Habermas has been drawing on since then has been structuralist: Piaget for
> an account of the ontogenesis of instrumental knowledge, Kohlberg for moral
> knowledge, and Selman for social knowledge. I have  respect for each of
> those three, but their work rests on assumptions that I have trouble with.
> For Habermas they offer a kind of rational reconstruction of ontogenesis
> that he believes is able to separate what is contingent from what is
> necessary and universal. I am skeptical. They also, as you point out,
> downplay what goes on 'below' the level of concepts, and consider the
> abstract to be a transcendence of the concrete and actual rather than a
> transformation of it.
> It is ironic, and disappointing, that Habermas has never turned his
> attention to LSV.
> Martin
> On Oct 22, 2009, at 9:02 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
>  Martin and Wolff-Michael:
>> Thanks for taking the time to patiently explain some Heidegger to a
>> philosophical neophyte. Wolff-Michael is right when he suspects I have not
>> studied it. First of all, my German is nowhere near good enough. Secondly, I
>> am Jewish (despite a goyische surname which my maternal grandmother always
>> suspected meant "kill hog") and, despite our well known inclination to take
>> suffering and even existence rather unsentimentally, I share with other Jews
>> a strong disinclination to make our continued existence a topic of
>> discussion.
>> But thirdly, my real interest is not Heidegger at all, but Adorno; I
>> started reading Heidegger only in order to understand Adorno's consuming
>> distaste for him. It's Adorno, not I, who says that Heidegger's view of
>> language is unmediated. But now I really AM quite interested in
>> understanding what that means.
>> I think Adorno does NOT mean that Heidegger's view of language is
>> unmediated in some ontological sense; that "language is" in the sense that
>> "being is" or "death is". It seems to me that what he's arguing is a lot
>> more subtle: it's that the statement that "being is" or "death is" IMPLIES,
>> although it does not explicitly state, that "language is", because "being"
>> and "death" are "given to us" (to use a somewhat unfortunate Andyism) not by
>> experience but only by language. That is an argument with which I think I am
>> in full agreement.
>> (The more I read of Adorno the more I find I disagree with him at my
>> peril, and so like Tony I am quite uneasy about his views on jazz, which he
>> considers "slave music". I suppose in a sense he is right, but it seems to
>> me that the choice we are then given is a choice between the music of slaves
>> and that of slave masters, and I am more than a little surprised that he
>> prefers the latter.)
>> Adorno provides an antidote to Habermas, whose views on psychology are
>> almost pure Piagetianism (though Adorno himself is a little two inclined to
>> Freudianism for my taste, he uses Freud to great effect in his critique of
>> fascist aesthetics.) Habermas' affinity for Piaget means "communicative
>> rationality" is basically something laid on top of the other forms of
>> rationality, rather the way that formal thinking rises out of concrete
>> operations. That leads to a really miserable kind of ethnocentrism, where
>> the bit that I am interested in, the part Habermas calls "evaluative"
>> rationality involved in aesthetic judgment, gets utterly short shrift.
>> On the one hand, Habermas has the problem of explaining how cultures which
>> are supposedly lacking in cognitive-instrumental discourses (teleological
>> rationality) nevertheless appear to have fully develped forms of evaluative
>> discourse (dramaturgical rationality). On the other, Habermas is left in a
>> world where Western myths about the "invisible hand" of the market and the
>> sovereign individual are considered forms of rationality while Azande myths
>> about magic spells and the sovereignty witches are not.
>> All of this could EASILY have been avoided, if Habermas had just bothered
>> to read and take seriously Vygotsky's critique of Levy-Bruhl and other early
>> ethnographers and his observation that a lot of what we consider "adult"
>> thinking takes place BELOW the level of concepts, and probably OUGHT to keep
>> doing so. For example, as a jazz lover, I am quite unwilling to give up my
>> musical affinity for concrete and factual links between ideas, and as a
>> painter I am positively wedded to them.
>> All of which renews my appreciation for Chapter Five of Thinking and
>> Speech, and also Paula and Carol's work on "Wolves and Other Vygotskyan
>> Constructs". I started reading their work convinced that Chapter Six, where
>> Vygotsky champions "leaving complexes at the school door" and teaching a
>> school curriculum entirely aimed at concept development, represented the
>> "real" Vygotsky. Now, I am not at all sure; it seems to me that in the field
>> of aesthetic education at least Chapter Six represents a concession to
>> educational Stakhanovism, a concession far too far.
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul National University of Education
>> PS: Andy, it seems to me that a question we really need to ask is whether
>> or not childhood has been made artificially long in so-called modern
>> societies, all of which suffer from capitalist overproduction and
>> consequently chronic under-employment. The Michael Jackson phenomenon, the
>> peculiarly Western phenomenon of great children's lit written by pedophiles
>> (Lewis Carroll, J.M. Barrie, etc) and (most recently) the obsession with the
>> "balloon boy" hoax all suggest that in so-called modern societies, it is not
>> children who are hurried so much as adults who are retarded,
>> There's a good article by Suzanne Gaskins on Mayan children who (she
>> argues) do not actually play, but only engage in various forms of legitimate
>> peripheral participation on the fringes of adult activity. She makes a good
>> case that this is a perfectly valid way of life, far better suited to this
>> environment than what you and I call "childhood".
>> Gaskins, S. (1999) Children's Daily Lives in a Mayan Village: A Case Study
>> of Culturally Constructed Roles and Activities. In Goncu, A. Children's
>> Engagement in the World, pp. 25-61. CUP.
>> d
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