AN Leontiev in an informal article entitled "Will" (in JREEP July Aug 2005) tells of an interesting experiment he was involved in in the 1930's at an amusement park where people jumped off a high platform and parachuted down to the ground. The ride was safe, but sometimes people would get the equipment strapped on and would get to the jump platform and would choose not to jump, which was called a refusal. However, these refusals were rare. Leontiev and his team investigated these occasional refusals - why were they rare? What caused them? Apparently the research was at the behest of the military.
Two motives were in conflict in this situation, a desire to jump, and motive stemming from a fear of stepping into an abyss. They created a plank that was sensitive to weight shifts to better understand the person's movements and discovered that while the person was making their initial tentative move forward over the ledge, there was a momentary "backward push," an unconscious micro-movement away from the initial forward motion. It was at this point that the person either would then make the step forward, pushing themselves off, and enter the jump, or step back, and refuse. The conflict of motives could be detected as different aspects of the motor system going in opposite directions (which I would like to understand better - this seems important as part of studying conflicts of motives, how it is expressed in our bodies).
Naturally, of course, the experimenters tinkered with how the person was strapped in and instructed, to see what they could change regarding the rate of refusals.
The usual and normally successful procedure employed on the ride was to strap people in, tell them to look at their parachute (in other words, at themselves, and not down) and tell them "you do not have to jump, just step forward." People would usually tentatively step a little forward, do the "backward push" thing, and then go through with the jump.
A way the experimenters modified the usual procedures for sending people on their jumps predictably increased the number of refusals. They fumbled with the equipment while strapping them into it, giving the impression there was some difficulty, they pointed to something on the ground 7 stories below pointing out how far down it was, whereupon the person would naturally look, and they complicated the final instructions with a remark that "it is not dangerous because the parachute is balanced." Refusals increased.
They also devised a mechanism that got nearly anyone who had initially refused to wind up jumping anyway. This mechanism, a translucent tissue, was stretched out in such a way as to obscure most of the field of vision over the abyss. It obscured objects, depth perception, etc. The parachutists were told the tissue of course would not stop their fall. Now, almost everyone who had originally refused went through with it. The tissue itself was attached to an apparatus on a hinge, so it fell perpendicular to the tower, and could therefore be reused (and was not actually broken by the parachutist).
The external device of the tissue seemed to demonstrate that with the visual field over the abyss covered up, the motive to avoid stepping into the void was almost completely overridden by the motive to jump.
- Steve On Aug 1, 2010, at 5:13 PM, mike cole wrote:
Could it have to do with the idea of acquiring the ability to control oneself from the outside, Steve? mike 2010/7/31 Steve Gabosch <email@example.com>Monica, what suggests to you that will has an early-age-based entanglementfactor that is different from that of other functions?On motives, we get some of Vygotsky's thoughts also in that chapter on will - such as "in voluntary selection [decision-making], it is not stimuli, butmotives that are in conflict ..." V4 p 215. - Steve On Jul 31, 2010, at 1:52 PM, Monica Hansen wrote:Your last question, Steve is what I have been playing with for a while andone of the reasons I asked the question about the differentiation of the terms motivation and volition. Is "will" a high mental process? I havebeenthinking about the possibility of part of "will" as being a disposition of an intermediate process, maybe a neurobiological process, a somatic state(Damasio) that cannot be disentangled from our conscious subjectiveexperience of situations associated with it in early development. I aminterested to see what other ideas and connections come from this discussion. -----Original Message-----From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com ] OnBehalf Of Steve Gabosch Sent: Friday, July 30, 2010 1:29 PM To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity Subject: Re: [xmca] QuestionElina, you ask many intriguing and very good questions! The symposiumyou are developing will be very interesting. A side point in your discussion here on the nature of self-consciousness or reflection struck me - you suggest that will may not be a higher psychologicalfunction. I happen to have some Vygotsky quotes handy to think aboutthat with.In studying Vol 4 The History of the Development of the Higher Mental Functions - a difficult but rewarding book - I have been struck by how much emphasis Vygotsky puts on will, self-mastery, self-control as an essential aspect of the development of all the higher mental functions.Some of this is new to me and quite fascinating. So here is a quicksynopsis of what I am getting from this so far. See what you think.According the Vygotsky, the higher mental functions themselves (e.g.attention, perception, memory, imitation, thinking, speech, counting,personality, world view) are the psychological aspect of cultural behavior. The development of the higher mental functions is an essential aspect of cultural behavior, they are part and parcel of cultural behavior. They are all, without exception, derived fromsocial processes - encountered first externally as a relationship withanother person, and then internalized. They are by no means fixed, but develop historically, based on the society, social relations, forms of culture, etc.The concept of "the mastery of behavior through internal processes" isa core theme for Vygotsky's theory of the higher mental functions. This is the essence of will. He emphasizes that human freedom andfreedom of the will can be found in the recognition of necessity (per Hegel, Engels, etc.), and that "Human freedom consists specifically ofman's ability to think." Vol 4 p 209. But humans can only control their behavior by controlling their stimuli and situations. So he says ": the great uniqueness of the will consists of man having nopower over his own behavior other than the power that things have overhis behavior. But man subjects to himself the power of things overbehavior, makes them serve his own purposes and controls that power as he wants. He changes the environment with his external activity and inthis way affects his own behavior, subjecting it to his own authority." p 212 One way to describe his concept of will might be to say that will isnot a direct two-step process of willing-getting, but a mediated threestep process of willing-creating-getting. "... will is never a direct, unmediated process." p217 "We ... [can] not bring forth any process of behavior and control it other that by creating an appropriate stimulus." p 210 So with those ideas in mind, I am curious what the concept of the higher mental functions might look like if we view will as being something other than a higher mental process. Thoughts? - Steve Elina said: Part of this conversation was discussion of the nature of higherpsychological functions. I am still puzzled with what Vygotsky meant byfunction ( Seth Chaiklin and I posed this question in 2002 and as we discussed recently and are still looking for an answer...:-), but Gennadi and I believe that reflection and will are not higher psychologicalfunctions. We are in the process of developing a proposal for the ISCARsymposium on these issues. On Jul 30, 2010, at 11:11 AM, Elina Lampert-Shepel wrote: Dear Achilles,Thank you very much for the contribution. There can't be an interruption as it is a polylogical space I suppose.If we connect the Vygotskian descriptionof development of self/ "ya" in the ontogenesis, then it points to theimportant connections between reflexivity and self consciousness. - Crisis of seven years. Generalization of "perezivaniya" or as Vygotskycalls it logic of feelings. The dual position of the child in play (Imaginary situation:" I am a soldier in pain as I was wounded " and Real situation: My Mom is calling me for dinner and I am hungry) allows the child to reflect on one of this "perezivanij' as the other, as object of reflection. In the process of the crisis of seven years as it is noted in your last quote, the child because of the ability to distinguish external and internal, evaluate her own success and failure develops self- esteem and self -evaluation. It seems to me that reflection as a psychological tool of experiencing imaginary and real position in play as well as the psychological tool that helps the child to look at herself as the other is the condition for the development of the initial forms of self- evaluation and self esteem through the crises of seven years.Interestingly enough in the research of Alexander Dusavitskii it wasargued that when elementary school students in Davydov-El'konin classrooms were asked to evaluate themselves, they would always evaluate their work lower that it was, because the self-evaluation that emerged through the crisis of seven years was not developed in the context of learning activity. How to evaluate my own learning was "terra incognita" for them. *But the question is what is the role of "perezivaniye' in the development of self-consciousness? * "Perezhivaniye" captures the unity of affect andintellect and this unity seems very important for the development ofself-consciousness. These are my thoughts so far... 2010/7/30 Achilles Delari Junior <firstname.lastname@example.org>Hi Mike and Elina, This will not so deep as all you are talking about, but when I was reading here I remember of your discussion, I made a little connection, because an "auto-consciousness" influx for "auto-concept" (see the text about the Crisis of Seven Years), and the first consciousness of child ownperezhivaniia, etc... Then this influx for me to the problem of theconceptof our own "Ya" ... Please if this could seems much extemporaneous,by my part, delete this message... But, let me try: I - From Slovar' L.S. Vigoskogo (ed. A.A. Leont'ev, 2007): Я - Понятие о <<Я>> развивается уребенка из понятия о других. (31.1, 163) Тот факт, что с дошкольноговозраста человек начинает по-мнить последовательность событий, -- это то, что старые психологи называли единством и тождеством <<Я>>. (5.2, 130)<...> ребенок учит-ся в игре своему <<Я>>: создавая фиктивные точкиидентификации -- центры <<Я>>: irde социальная природа <<Я>>. Ср. Rollenspiel (ролевая игра). <...> ребенок имеет уже <<Я>>, но не осознает его, имеет внутренние процессы, но не сознает их -- в игре prise de conscience о себе и своем сознании <...> Обозначение <<Я>> в игре, осознание мысли, <<я хочу>> -- в игре <."> Парадокс <<Я>>: в игре то радует, что я хочу, эгоцентри-ческая деятельность; но здесь же ограничение изнутри от своего мо-ментального <<Я>>. (23.1, 291) См. Возраст, Игра, Понятие See: "prise de conscience о себе" The actual references:* 33.1: Эйдетика // Хрестоматия по ощущению и восприятию. М., 1975.С. 275-281 (1930) * 5.2: Обучение и развитие в дошкольном возрасте // Выготский. М.,1.С. 123-134 (1933) * 23.1: Из записок-конспекта Л.С. Выготского к лекциям по психоло-гии детей дошкольного возраста // Эльконин Д.Б. Психология игры. М., 1978. С. 289-294 (1933) ************************ II - From "Seven Years Crisis" (Tom IV): "В 7-летнем возрасте мы имеем дело с началом возникновения такой структуры переживаний, когда ребенок начинает понимать, что значит <<я радуюсь>>, <<я огорчен>>, <<я сердит>>, <<я добрый>>, <<я злой>>, т. е. у него возникаетосмысленная ориентировка в собственных переживаниях. Точно так, какребенок 3 лет открывает свое отношение с другими людьми, так семилетка открывает сам факт своих переживаний. Благодаря этому выступают некоторые особенности, характеризующие кризис семи лет.1. Переживания приобретают смысл (сердящийся ребенок понимает, что онсердит), благодаря этому у ребенка возникают такие новые отношения к себе, которые были невозможны до обобщения переживаний. Как на шахматной доске, когда с каждым ходом возникают совершенно новые связи между фигурками, так и здесь возникают совсем новые связи между переживаниями, когда ониприобретают известный смысл. Следовательно, весь характер переживанийребенка к 7 годам перестраивается, как перестраивается шахматная доска, когда ребенок научился играть в шахматы. 2. К кризису семи лет впервые возникает обобщение переживаний, или аффективное обобщение, логика чувств. Есть глубоко отсталые дети, которые на каждом шагу переживают неудачи: обычные дети играют, ненормальный ребенокпытается присоединиться к ним, но ему отказывают, он идет по улице,и над ним смеются. Одним словом, он на каждом шагу проигрывает. В каждом отдельном случае у него есть реакция на собственную недостаточность, а через минутусмотришь -- он совершенно доволен собой. Тысячи отдельных неудач, аобщего чувства своей малоценности нет, он не обобщает того, что случалось уже много раз. У ребенка школьного возраста возникает обобщение чувств, т. е., если с ним много раз случалась какая-то ситуация, у него" (page 379, S.S. Tom. IV - 1984) "возникает аффективное образование, характер которого так же относится к единичному переживанию или аффекту, как понятие относится к единичному восприятию или воспоминанию. Например, у ребенка дошкольного возраста нет настоящей самооценки, самолюбия. Уровень наших запросов к самим себе, к нашему успеху, к нашему положению возникает именно в связи с кризисом семи лет.Ребенок дошкольного возраста любит себя, но самолюбия как обобщенногоотношения к самому себе, которое остается одним и тем же в разных ситуациях, но самооценки как таковой, но обобщенных отношений к окружающим и пониманиясвоей ценности у ребенка этого возраста нет. Следовательно, к 7 годамвозникает ряд сложных образований, которые и приводят к тому, что трудности поведения резко и коренным образом меняются, они принципиально отличны от трудностей дошкольного возраста. Такие новообразования, как самолюбие, самооценка, остаются, а симптомы кризиса (манерничанье, кривляние) преходящи. В кризисе семи лет благодаря тому, что возникает дифференциация внутреннего и внешнего, что впервые возникает смысловое переживание, возникает и острая борьба переживаний. Ребенок, который не знает, какие взять конфеты -- побольше или послаще, не находится в состоянии внутренней борьбы, хотя он и колеблется. Внутренняя борьба (противоречия переживаний и выбор собственных переживаний) становится возможна только теперь. (etc.)"(page 380. S.S. Tom IV - 1984) ********************* Well, here in this second quote, I'm no so insecure as about the "conceptof Ya". Because I understand that there is something related to yourdiscussion, in important ontogenetic terms... I only remain don't contributing about the own "name" that you search for... But the process itself seems to be within the same semantic field. Thank you, and forgive me the interruption. Best wishes.Achilles,from Brazil *************Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 21:03:45 -0400 Subject: Re: [xmca] Question From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com CC: Mike - I can relate to a LOT of trouble. Both notions are used in many differentways in the contexts of development and learning. A few weeks ago,during Vygotsky Summer School, Gennadiy Kravtsov and I had a long conversation about my cross-cultural research on reflection or as you say "reflexia".Hetalked about reflection/reflexivity in the context of"self-consciousness"and we discussed reflexivity as a condition for the development ofself-consciousness. He believes that the notion of "self- consciousness" ( that I distinguish from reflexivity) was never developed fully incultural-historical tradition. Knowing that there is still lack ofbridge between Russian and the rest of the world cultural-historical research, Iwanted to learn whether there are studies that connect reflection ("reflexia") and self-consciousness. It is interesting that you mentioned both "reflexia" and "self-consciousness' in the context ofmeta-cognition.It seems to me that learning activity theory conceptualized reflection asametacognitive process, although Vygotsky never discussed it as acognitive,or metacognitive process. There is also an important language difference, Russian language doesn't have an everyday use of the word reflection, it only exists as a philosophical or psychological notion. Part of this conversation was discussion of the nature of higher psychological functions. I am still puzzled with what Vygotsky meant byfunction ( Seth Chaiklin and I posed this question in 2002 and as wediscussed recently and are still looking for an answer...:-), but Gennadiand I believe that reflection and will are not higher psychologicalfunctions. We are in the process of developing a proposal for the ISCAR symposium on these issues. In any case, I was just wondering if there are studies on the developmentofself-consciousness and/or reflexivity that are not necessarily rooted in Russian philosophical thought.As you can see, I am in the state of questioning, so directions forfurtherquestioning will be highly appreciated. Elina On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 7:49 PM, mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: Elina--I spent a great many sessions with Russian grad students who wereinterested in this issue. We had a LOT of trouble with the fact that there seem tobeawhole lot of words that appear to refer in overlapping ways with "self-consciousness." Terms in the family of reflectivity, reflexivity cameup a lot among the Russian students, but they were trying hard tofigureoutwhat the right English words were for whatever Russian term was beingused.Not just "samo-soznanie" was used in their conversations as well,with meta-cognition slipping in along with "reflexia." I am unsure what to suggest. What is occasion for the question? mikeOn Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 9:14 AM, Larry Purss <email@example.com >wrote:ElinaI wanted to express my appreciation of the quote you sign off with by Tagore. It captures the central imperative of foregroundingcontextandtraditions in the emergence of self-consciousness [the string] BUTthatwithout the string there is no violin.I find myself often reflecting on the implications this perspective elaborates. One suggestion I would like to suggest on the emergence of self-consciousness is Andy's vimeo podcast on the Historical roots of cultural-historical theory. [Hegel is central] Larry On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 6:23 AM, Elina Lampert-Shepel <firstname.lastname@example.org>wrote: Hi, everyone,I would appreciate if anyone can recommend publications on self-consciousness in cultural-historical tradition. I aminterested inanyreferences on this issue. Thanks in advance, Elina --I have on my table a violin string. It is free. I twist one endofitanditresponds. It is free. But it's not free to do what a violin stringissupposed to do - to produce music. So I take it, fix it in myviolinandtighten it until it is taut. Only then is it free to be a violinstring.-Sir Rabindranath Tagore_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca--I have on my table a violin string. It is free. I twist one end ofit anditresponds. It is free. But it's not free to do what a violin stringis supposed to do - to produce music. So I take it, fix it in my violin and tighten it until it is taut. Only then is it free to be a violin string. -Sir Rabindranath Tagore _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca-- I have on my table a violin string. It is free. I twist one end of it and itresponds. It is free. But it's not free to do what a violin string is supposed to do - to produce music. So I take it, fix it in my violinand tighten it until it is taut. Only then is it free to be a violin string. -Sir Rabindranath Tagore _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca