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Re: [xmca] (ism) v (ist) and cherries
Just a response to these postings while I've been looking at stupid tax forms and recovering therefrom ... (April 15 is income tax due day in the US).
I have often thought that philosophy follows identity. People are attracted to philosophical positions, ontological, epistemological, ethical, and commonsensical very much I believe in relation to "who" they are ... somewhat as Bourdieu argues that people choose their magazines, politicians, and food along, roughly, social class identity lines.
So, by all means, take up the position that you can use to make you into the kind of person you want to be --- which is, after all, already implied in the kind of person you now are, or you wouldn't want to become that particular kind of person! eh? :-)
And leaving things outside a synthesis does help give us an Other, in relation to which to define our Selves, and hopefully, in dialogue, to open up some possibilities that are NOT already implied by who we are now. But I think that is extremely rare. People seek confirmation and closure, not openness and uncertainty. Usually.
It's true that sloppy synthesis can make mush of all the nice cherries we pick, like the flavorless mess that mixes all flavors, the mushy grey that mixes all colors (pigments). But bricolage is not a mixing or a synthesis ... it takes up and leaves be as circumstances warrant, choosing what's helpful for now in whatever combination. It is the functional combinatorics that keeps each surgical tool sharp for the task ... rather as unrelated actions can combine into functional activities, perhaps.
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
On Apr 7, 2010, at 10:16 PM, Larry Purss wrote:
> Sign me up for embracing ambiguity and existing with the tension of not knowing and looking for linkages across theories.
> Your comment that nothing DEFINITE or DEFINITIVE comes from the debates between ontology and epistemology I may agree with BUT it does make a difference on guiding how we OUGHT to proceed and the "kinds of persons" we want to become. Taking a "second person" "ego-alter" position on ontology supports a moral conviction that EMBRACES the "other's DIFFERENCE" and in the engagement with otherness "self" emerges in relationship.
> Whether this is "true" or a construction I will leave as "uncertain and "fallible" BUT as a moral stance I believe it is the historical tension needed to BALANCE the precvious notion of the encapsulated self.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Jay Lemke <email@example.com>
> Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 9:37 pm
> Subject: Re: [xmca] (ism) v (ist) and cherries
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> I truncated and added the cherries to make a comment on the
>> "cherry-picking" debate that Jenna's blog (link below) pivoted
>> into the conversation here.
>> There it seems to be about the reputed evils of mixing theories
>> (of learning and/or development). But I took the lesson
>> concerning cherry-picking from Fred Erickson, for whom it was,
>> much more persuasively, about the dangers of selectively picking
>> just those items of data or evidence that support a particular
>> I think that cherry-picking (the metaphor means picking just the
>> sweet, ripe cherries from the tree and leaving the unripe sour
>> ones) items of evidence to support a hypothesis or a theory is
>> OK when the theory is very new and needs some benefit of the
>> doubt so it can be developed and elaborated into something worth
>> more carefully evaluating. Rather than just trying to kill it
>> off in the cradle.
>> Once it's old enough to fend for itself, then it's dangerous to
>> its future well-being to feed it only ripe cherries and not see
>> how it copes, or doesn't, with sour cherries that are inevitably
>> also to be found. Cherry-picking evidence is what happens with
>> cults, religions, conspiracy theories, political fanaticisms,
>> and other things that scholarly inquiry tries to avoid becoming.
>> I have a religious faith that eating occasional sour cherries is
>> good for the healthy development of useful and interesting new
>> theories and practices. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger!
>> But this view of cherry-picking does NOT apply in the same sense
>> to concepts, ideas, methods, discourse thematics,
>> representations, and the like. They are the only stuff around
>> from which to build new theories and practices, and it makes
>> sense to explore any possible combination of them that might be
>> helpful. While philosophers may shudder, I simply don't believe
>> any two ideas are inherently and necessarily incompatible with
>> one another, or that philosophical purism or canons of
>> "consistency" are really of much use, much less intellectual
>> necessities. This stance is generally associated with
>> postmodernism, but need not be. I think it's better associated
>> with a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty in the
>> theory-creation process. And some philosophers certainly seem to
>> agree (e.g. Feyerabend, Latour, Serres).
>> Of course I also don't believe that theories ever do, or ever
>> can, definitively (much less uniquely) explain phenomena. They
>> are just tools for getting on with the inquiry, or provisionally
>> guiding practice, until something else comes along.
>> Jay Lemke
>> Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
>> Educational Studies
>> University of Michigan
>> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>> Visiting Scholar
>> Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
>> University of California -- San Diego
>> La Jolla, CA
>> USA 92093
>> On Apr 7, 2010, at 3:38 PM, Jenna McWilliams wrote:
>>> I don't know! That's why I've pitched this issue to you guys.
>>> I recently sat on the sidelines watching a pair of academics
>> argue over whether cultural-historical learning theories are as
>> theoretically rigorous as cognitivist theories. As you might
>> imagine, the cognitivist argued they aren't as rigorous, while
>> the situative theorist argued they were. I wonder if you xmca-
>> ers have thoughts on this.
>>> Jenna McWilliams
>>> Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University
>>> On Apr 7, 2010, at 3:50 PM, mike cole wrote:
>>>> Jenna-- No wonder you are so quiet on XMCA-- you are busy in
>> another>> interesting discussion, differently mediated!
>>>> So, vis a vis the local conversation, how do constructivism or
>>>> relate to cultural-historical theories?
>>>> On Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 10:12 AM, Jenna McWilliams
>>>>> I'm really enjoying this conversation, as it aligns really
>> nicely with
>>>>> issues I'm grappling with both in my graduate work and in my
>> research>>> projects and groups.
>>>>> Though I'm a shameless self-promoter, I normally wouldn't
>> plug my blog in
>>>>> such an esteemed listserv--except that I recently published
>> a post about the
>>>>> (ir)reconcilability of sociocultural and cognitivist
>> learning theories (at
>> constructionist.html,>>> if you want to see). It's the
>> conversation below the post that interests me
>>>>> now--a fun debate has started about whether pulling from
>> sociocultural and
>>>>> cognitivist theories can be called "synthesis" or
>> "cherrypicking." I fall on
>>>>> the "cherrypicking" side of things, though I can acknowledge how
>>>>> rhetorically poor that term is.
>>>>> I was going to post some of this thread in the comments
>> section before I
>>>>> started worrying about the appropriateness of doing that, so
>> instead I'll
>>>>> just set forth a plea to anyone who's interested to join in
>> on the
>>>>> conversation. My readers and I would be most grateful for
>> any thoughts you
>>>>> are willing to offer.
>>>>> Thanks for this listserv, which is supporting my knowledge
>> acquisition and
>>>>> enabling me to participate in knowledge production.
>>>>> Jenna McWilliams
>>>>> Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University
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