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

I'll take a look at that talk tomorrow if I can. But let me respond to what you have said here.

On the one hand we are co-temporal with culture. How did we get the anatomy to speak and use tools, except that for millions years we did so without adequate "equipment"? But this does not mean we are "only" culture. Cultural practices always build artefacts out of nature-given material, according to its laws. To be an artefact is always to be subject to the laws of nature. There is no dichotomy between nature and nurture, material and ideal. In both cases, the categories fully overlap.

But on the other hand, the "postmodern" idea of an absolute noncommunication given cultural different is an absurd lie. The fact is that despite cultural difference, people always manage to work together, live in the same states under the same governments, exchanging products and collaborating in shared products. This participation in common activity is the secret to communication across cultural difference. You don't need to delve into the depths of the body to find this. Wave after wave of migration across the world has seen to it.

Of course we do have a lot in common in our physiology, but how far that goes is hard to tell. Practice, and the undertsanding of that practice, is the way to resovle these mysteries.

Make sense?

Ivo Banaco wrote:
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 <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    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?

    Ivo Banaco wrote:

        Hi Michael and all,

        Thank you for your interest and quick reply. I am studying in
        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,
        artifacts, economic and cultural structures, and how can all
        fit in some
        dynamic Whole. *
        *This quote about Gendlin came under a certain psychological
        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"  *
        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
        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.


        On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 2:53 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com
        <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>> wrote:


            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.
            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?


            On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 4:21 AM, Ivo Banaco
            <ibanaco@gmail.com <mailto: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

                "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 <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>> wrote:

                    Several of the articles on show below appear of
                    interest to various

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    *Andy Blunden*
    Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
    Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
    Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
    Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
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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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