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Re: [xmca] How can we reply to this...

Hi Andy,

Thanks for this piece. First I have to say that I've been reading your book
"An interdisciplinary theory of activity" which is been a wonderful
intellectual journey for me. Thank you and congratulations!

You said Andy that "People interact with the world through culture, and
there were no human beings before culture, and no children born into a
culture-free world". And as an ontological premise I would say that if
culture is here from the start so are We. We exist, interact and that is
culture. So there is no culture prior to human beings, nor human beings
prior to culture, but both simultaneously. And for me this is important,
because We neither become cultural or individualist reductionists. My
worries are centered in the way We, within the cultural historical approach
could avoid the postmodern trap of extreme cultural relativism. What I find
in Gendlin's approach is a way to "rescue the human being" from 3rd person
artifacts, respecting at the same time his cultural and historical
structure. How can we explain otherwise cultural evolution in the lasts
couple of centuries or how can we explain creativity if we cannot rescue the
human being, our first person experiences and processes? In a Gendlin's
small text that I would love you to comment called "On the new epistemology"
(http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2173.html) he says

"In the regular notion, human beings have lost their instincts and are just
culture products. It's true when you look at human beings across cultures,
we don't share anything like as much as any animal species. Any given
species of animals sleep the same, have intercourse the same, eat the same
things. We have been varied and complexified, elaborated, made more
intricate and in different ways. We certainly have cultural routines. This
whole talk [this is in a conference] is going on in a cultural routine;
otherwise you wouldn't sit there and let me talk nonstop at you. But the
body starts out already as tissue with a great deal of internal organization
and then becomes an animal , in a evolutionary way of talking, in which
tissue processes are organized so the animal can move around and go after
something, and then it becomes culturally human."

You see, the way of looking at culture is different, the emphasis on human
beings as creators and molded at the same time by culture is the main point
here. In what degree we "exceed culture" or move the culture forward?


On Fri, Dec 24, 2010 at 4:17 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Ivo,
> Never having heard of Gendlin I consulted WIkipedia, at
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Gendlin and on this slender basis I
> could venture a few comments.
> That concepts are ways of understanding the world, rather than things
> existing in the world is hardly news. You would have to go back 500 years to
> find a "philosopher" to argue against this. The question is where you go
> with this.
> The example Wikipedia gives is gravity. Gendlin takes the observation
> "things fall" to be the basis of all concepts of "gravity" and says that
> this is the basis for gravity and the various historically arising theories
> of gravity, which modify the concept of gravity. Thus "Gendlin insists that
> 'gravity' is a concept and that concepts can't make anything fall. Instead
> of saying that gravity causes things to fall, it would be more accurate to
> say that things falling cause [the different concepts of] gravity.
> Interaction with the world is prior to concepts about the world."
> The thing is that more recent theories of gravity do not arise from the
> observation that things fall, but rather from much more developed systems of
> activity which have become possible only in recent times. Such theories
> co-exist with mundane concepts of gravity, just as developed scientific
> forms of activity co-exist with mundane forms of activity. So we would say
> it is not the _passive observation_ that things fall which underlies all
> concepts of gravity, but rather the historically and culturally developing
> _forms of activity_ which continuously cause the idea of gravity to be
> recast in new theories. "Interaction with the world is prior to concepts
> about the world" means "culture is prior to concepts about the world."
> People interact with the world through culture, and there were no human
> beings before culture, and no children born into a culture-free world.
> Vygotsky showed in his study of ontogenesis that the nature-given mental
> functions are recast and recombined in new Gestalten under the influence of
> participation in the social activity around them. Their minds are
> restructured, but still made up from the same nature-given functional units
> at base. If I have this wrong, others will correct me. I am not a child
> psychologist or even a psychologist of childhood. But I think this gives an
> opening to see how Gendlin's interesting innovations into therapy work.
> Another example, according to Vygotsky, "the subconscious" exists, but it is
> a construct which arises only in the course of later development. It does
> not - as it seems - preexist conscious awareness. It's a bit analogous to
> inner speech, which onotgenetically arises on the basis of speaking aloud.
> Even though everyone was quiet and nonetheless intelligent before they ever
> spoke, both onto- and phylo-genetically. It seems to me that Gendlin may
> well have a good technique for therapy, but that doesn't mean that the
> ontology and epistemology and theory of mind by means of which he
> systematises his understanding of it stands up to criticism.
> Does that make any sense to you Ivo?
> Andy
> Ivo Banaco wrote:
>> Hi Michael and all,
>> Thank you for your interest and quick reply. I am studying in Lisbon,
>> Portugal in ISPA (Higher *Institute of Applied Psychology). I have a
>> background in Economics (my undergraduate studies and master degree is in
>> Economics) but I did not quite fit in the mainstream way of looking for
>> economic issues. My long time interest in Psychology drove me to study on
>> my
>> own all that kept my attention in a rather random way. Discovering
>> Vygotsky
>> was like discovering a golden mine that could start to structure my
>> thoughts
>> about some issues, namely the relationship between mind, behaviour,
>> artifacts, economic and cultural structures, and how can all fit in some
>> dynamic Whole. *
>> *
>> *
>> *This quote about Gendlin came under a certain psychological tradition
>> related to the humanistic wave of Carl Rogers. Eugene Gendlin was a close
>> collaborator of Rogers and then carried forward his own original thought,
>> what can be called a existential humanistic and experiential psychology.
>> His
>> first book was "Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning"  *
>> http://www.amazon.com/Experiencing-Creation-Meaning-Philosophical-Psychological/dp/0810114275/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1293031026&sr=8-3
>> where
>> he talks about constructs like felt sense, or edge of awareness, where
>> language emerges from nonlanguage, from the intricacy of the bodily felt
>> felt meaning.
>> So in a sense he gives emphasis to experience and interaction first and
>> before culture. It's a living thing that is formed first, which is pre
>> cultural, cultural and more complex than culture. He says that the body,
>> the
>> human body is always more than any define form, from the start. He tries
>> to
>> find a 1st person science, that cannot be reducible to neuroscience,
>> economics, culture. He points directly to experience, the bodily felt
>> experience which allows human to act in the first place. So here the unit
>> of
>> analysis is the continuous experiencing.
>> I don't know if this helps to put Gendlin in context. My question is how
>> can
>> we avoid to be reductionist approaching the cultural dimension of the
>> human
>> being, that is not reducing humans to culture and vice-versa.
>> Ivo
>> On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 2:53 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Ivo--
>>> Where are you studying? gmail is such a general address!!
>>> If you have no existential doubts or gordian knots, start to get
>>> concerned
>>> about your state of mind. Perfectly normal and healthy. Existential
>>> uncertainty seems the lot of human kind.
>>> Without knowing a lot more, I can offer no interpretation, let alone a
>>> reply, to Gendlin's statement about big things and little things. Is
>>> reference being made to neuroscientific 50 millisecond little things and
>>> 100 millisecond big things?
>>> In light of issues discussed here (feel free to buzz the past decade or
>>> so
>>> in the archives for context) where do this fit?
>>> mike
>>> On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 4:21 AM, Ivo Banaco <ibanaco@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Dear xmcaonaughts,
>>>> As a new kid on the block, recently researching in Cultural Psychology
>>>> and
>>>> wanting to do my Phd thesis in this area, I still have "existential
>>>> doubts"
>>>> and big gordian knots. Having read different kinds of literature in
>>>> different traditions in Psychology I still have troubles in replying to
>>>> sentences like this by the existential philosopher and psychologist
>>>> Eugene
>>>> Gendlin:
>>>> "Any little thing, any big thing is precultural, because it is tissues
>>>> and
>>>> it is animal life, and it's culture and it's also after culture, more
>>>> complicated than culture. The body is this much more complex, much more
>>>> intricate system from the start."
>>>> Any thoughts?
>>>> Best regards,
>>>> Ivo Banaco
>>>> PS: I wish you all a merry Christmas and a great 2011.
>>>> On Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 5:03 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> Several of the articles on show below appear of interest to various
>>>>> xmcaonaughts.
>>>>> mike
>>>>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>>>> From: Teachers College Record <no-reply@tcrecord.org>
>>>>> Date: Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM
>>>>> Subject: Transitioning From an Innovative Elementary to a Conventional
>>>>> High
>>>>> School
>>>>> To: Recipient <mcole@ucsd.edu>
>>>>>   [image: Title]
>>>>>  [image: Subscribe Today] <http://www.tcrecord.org/Subscriptions.asp>
>>>>>  [image: transparent 13]
>>>>>   Freely-Available This Week
>>>>> Articles
>>>>>  Smuggling Authentic Learning Into the School Context: Transitioning
>>>>> From
>>>>> an
>>>>> Innovative Elementary to a Conventional High
>>>>> School<http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=15227>
>>>>> by Renée DePalma, Eugene Matusov & Mark Smith
>>>>>  Analyzing the discourse of eighth-grade graduates from an innovative
>>>>> elementary school as they transition to conventional high schools
>>>>> revealed
>>>>> distinct response patterns characterizing concurrent projects of
>>>>> self-actualization and institutional achievement. Our analysis suggests
>>>>> that
>>>>> a certain critical ambivalence toward credentialism and competition can
>>>>> be
>>>>> part of a healthy strategy for school success, particularly for those
>>>>> from
>>>>> marginalized groups who do not wholly buy into the (predominantly White
>>>>> and
>>>>> middle-class) historically rooted traditions of conventional schooling.
>>>>>  Designing Transparent Teacher Evaluation: The Role of Oversight Panels
>>>>> for
>>>>> Professional Accountability<
>>>>> http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=15053>
>>>>> by Jennifer Goldstein
>>>>>  This article explores a policy intended to improve the quality of
>>>>> teaching
>>>>> by improving the quality of teacher evaluation. It examines a Peer
>>>>> Assistance and Review (PAR) program, and specifically one aspect of the
>>>>> program-its oversight panel-asking how an oversight panel alters the
>>>>> practice of teacher evaluation. The core argument of the article is
>>>>> that
>>>>> oversight panels have the potential to fundamentally alter the
>>>>> transparency
>>>>> of the teacher evaluation process and, in turn, the nature of
>>>>> accountability.
>>>>>  Book Reviews
>>>>>  Multiliteracies in Motion: Current Theory and
>>>>> Practice<http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16226>
>>>>>  by David R. Cole and Darren Lee Pullen (eds.)
>>>>> reviewed by William Kist
>>>>>  ------------------------------
>>>>>  Citizenship Education and Social Development in
>>>>> Zambia<http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16227>
>>>>>  by Ali A. Abdi, Edward Shizha, and Lee Ellis (eds.)
>>>>> reviewed by Monisha Bajaj
>>>>> ------------------------------
>>>>>  Persuading Fred: An essay review of recent books by Stanley Fish,
>>>>> Louis
>>>>> Menand, and Martha
>>>>> Nussbaum<http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16228>
>>>>>  by
>>>>> reviewed by James Donald
>>>>> ------------------------------
>>>>>  Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public
>>>>> Schooling<http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16229>
>>>>>  by David F. Labaree
>>>>> reviewed by Floyd M. Hammack
>>>>>  <http://www.tcrecord.org/voice.asp>
>>>>>  Henry Braun discusses his paper, co-authored with Irwin Kirsch and
>>>>> Kentaro
>>>>> Yamamoto, "An Experimental Study of the Effects of Monetary Incentives
>>>>> on
>>>>> Performance on the 12th-Grade NAEP Reading
>>>>> Assessment."<http://www.tcrecord.org/content.asp?contentid=16008>
>>>>> Commentaries
>>>>>  In Praise of Slow Reading<
>>>>> http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16238>
>>>>> by Thomas Newkirk
>>>>> This commentary argues against the high valuation schools place on
>>>>> reading
>>>>> speed, particularly on high sakes tests like the SAT. In penalizing
>>>>> slower
>>>>> readers, these and other tests put at a disadvantage students who
>>>>> approach
>>>>> their reading in a deliberate and thorough way. The ideal should not be
>>>>> speed but the *tiempo guisto*, the pace at which we are most attentive
>>>>> and
>>>>> effective-and this pace will vary depending on the individual and the
>>>>> task.
>>>>>  2010 NSSE Yearbooks and Call for Proposals for Future
>>>>> Yearbooks<http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=16120>
>>>>> by
>>>>> The editors of the Teachers College Record announce the yearbook topics
>>>>> for
>>>>> 2010 and issue a call for new proposals.
>>>>> ------------------------------
>>>>> To unsubscribe from this newsletter, please browse to:
>>>>> https://www.tcrecord.org/MyAccount.asp?uid=100293&pwd=1384520
>>>>> __________________________________________
>>>>> _____
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> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
> MIA: http://www.marxists.org
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