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[xmca] Objectivity of the SSD
Rather than using the terms lifeworld and system, it might help to just describe the underlying question that is generating my questions on the lifeworld.
The students I talk with, as they develop through the grades, stop valuing their imaginations, and become more and more reluctant to give validity to this aspect of their phenomenology. When given the opportunity to "secretly" share their imaginational reveries with some other peers it seems liberating to them. It seems to me that the social situation of development, in the particular institutional structures I inhabit, seem to devalue the imaginal and validate the "real" world.
I've noticed that many children continue to write imaginally in their private diaries but they will not risk exposing their imaginal worlds to an audience.
Now this situation seems to be part of the cultural surround and I've looked for concepts [and traditions] that will explain this phenomena.
The word "lifeword" and Habermas's notion of communicative action seemed a promising path to explore to understand the students worlds becoming disenchanted.
So on my path of trying to find "traditions" that will give me concepts to help guide my practices in schools to encourage imaginal activity, I'm going to bring in some ideas from The Cambridge Handbook of Sociocultural Psychology. Chapter 2 "Language, Cognition, Subjectivity: A Dynamic Constitution" by Thomas Slunecko and Sophie Hengl has some promising ideas.
Slunecko when discussing subjectivity summarizes Havelock's ideas. Havelock goes back in history to 500 B.C. and the time of Plato and Socrates to describe one of the paramount semantic-linquistic transformations of the European mind. At this time a few Greeks started to talk about their "souls" AS THOUGH they had selves or personalities that were autonomous. This semantic-linquistic transformation of soul or "psyche" went from a notion of "breath" or "lifeblood" [in Homer] devoid of sense and consciousness and came to MEAN "the ghost that thinks", that is capable of moral responsibility and rational cognition. From this time in European history humans start to possess and control a STABLE inner-space., an autonomous inner being. Individuals can now DISSOCIATE and DECENTER themselves from what is immediately present. This leads to a more EXPANSIVE and a more "agentic" journey than previously. Slunecko suggests it was at this same historical moment when Western philosophy became fascinated with metaphysics.
Slunecko and Hengl suggest that from 500 BC until our current time this notion of psyche and its semantic-linquistic structures have held center stage but there is now a revolutionary turn and we are beginning to exit this way of viewing subjectivity and the world.
Slunecko points out the statement ""I did not let myself get carried away by my anger" would have made NO MEANING to Homer, but Plato and Socrates may have understood. The pronouns syntactically began to be placed in antithesis to the body and emotions.
This historical excursion, as Slunecko points out, documents that AT ALL TIMES individuals result from historical circumstances.
Now here is the controversial part of this statement.
Individuals are "epiphenomena of higher non-personal intelligence which INSCRIBES itself within the thinking and acting person. "WE DO NOT HAVE OUR TRADITION, THE TRADITION HAS US" [Sloterick, 1988, as cited in Slunecko and Hengl.
In a similar way Gadamer says we must relate to "tradition" as a "Thou" and take up a relation to the tradition. In this spirit "psychology" as a tradition HAS US when we talk about psyche.
I know this notion of "traditions" "having us" may be seen as reification but I believe it is worth reflecting on
We are now in an historical turning point where the students may be invited to exist in social situations of development where the imagination is freed to engage within intersubjective communities of inquiry and students don't get the message that as they develop they must grow out of being imaginative [except in private reverie [or mental illness, or becoming artistic]
David, lifeworld and system may carry too much baggage and better terms may be found. However the concept of social situation of development, when taking a longterm historical perspective [back to Plato and Socrates] opens up the discussion to ask if the stages of development towards decentering and rationaliztion have costs as well as benefits. Western notions of rationalized systems that are expansive [and imaginary] may lead to self mastery [and intersubjectivity] but our leading activities and institutional practices must question why children believe the imaginal is only kids stuff.
----- Original Message -----
From: David Kellogg <email@example.com>
Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 8:17 pm
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD
To: Culture ActivityeXtended Mind <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> I blame Saussure, actually.
> I know that the distinction between "lifeworld" and "system" in
> Habermas is based on Durkheim and Parsons and lots of other
> names I haven't had time to read or think about since I was an
> undergraduate. Structuralism was in the air; you couldn't have a
> meal at the Gargoyle without mentioning Levi-Strauss's "The Raw
> and the Cooked".
> So I think "lifeworld" and system" go back to Saussure's basic
> distinction between paradigm and syntagm, the "vertical"
> organization of a sentence as a frame into which we slot
> different kinds of fillers (the way "cucumber" fits into "I want
> a ....") and the "horizontal" organization of a sentence as a
> statement to which another statement or a question or a
> rejoinder will follow on ("I want a cucumber". "Me too.")
> The "lifeworld" is the horizontal organization of experience and
> it tends to the same level of generality. But the "system" is
> the vertical organization of experience and it tends to diferent
> levels of generality. But just as neither one can be said to be
> alien to human consciousness, neither one can be said to be its
> "natural" or exclusive home.
> One of my grads has been looking at how Korean speaking kids
> develop (or fail to develop) the English article system: the
> distinction between "this cucumber" (ostension), "the cucumber"
> (indication), "a cucumber" (exemplification), "cucumbers"
> (signifying a general concept) and then non-
> depictable categorical concepts like "vegetables" which have to
> be lexicalized rather than grammaticized.
> Now, you can see that the grammatical means for doing this is
> systemic. On the other hand, every time we tell a story, we say
> something like "Once upon a time there was a cucumber who lived
> on a vine. One day, the cucumber fell off the vine...." Or when
> we play a game we say something like "Look! This is a cucumber.
> Now, is it MY cucumber or YOUR cucumber? It's the WINNER'S
> cucumber". You can see that everyday life in the lifeworld
> involves a fair amount of system.
> In our data, it really does appear that the kids are rather
> better at doing this sort of thing with, say, fruit ("I like
> apples", "I want an apple") than with body parts, where the
> teacher tends to point and say "This is my leg" and the kids
> will just repeat "This is my leg" even when they are pointing at
> the teacher. Interestingly, they are rather better at heads, I
> suppose because they think of them as more like apples than like
> arms or legs or fingers.
> If I had to say what the most system-like and least lifeworldish
> word that we teach is, I would have to say it is the word "if".
> The word "if" automatically creates an imaginary situation,
> every time we use it, and of course it also creates a hypotactic
> hierarchy of clauses that represent different states of
> possiblity ("If he COMES, I WILL go", "If I HAD wings, I WOULD
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