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

Of course physiology has its place in psychology. It's only that at the moment, focus on physiology is amost killing psychology. But we should mention, perhaps, that Vygotsky's close comrade-in-arms and fellow cultural pscyhologist, A R Luria, was one of the founders of modern neuroscience and the two of them attended lectures in medicine at the same time as they were teaching and researching psychology! According to Vygotsky, consciousness is the mediation between behaviour and physiology. But the problem is always how to investigate it and how is it formed and developed.

There are a lot of people on this list who would love to wax lyrical on creativity, Ivo, so I hesitate to answer. But being Christmas, maybe others are busy elsewhere! As I understand it, Vygotsky gave a very low value to both imitation and reflex as methods of acquiring new behaviours. In reality most of the time children have to *invent* new forms of behaviour. Of course, cultural communities arrange for it that children re-invent culturally-approved practices. But it is always a species of invention. Children find themselves in a situation where they have to figure out how to satisfy their burgeoning needs. Eventually they find the solution which is made available to them in their social position. But they don't always discover the same practice. Well, hardly ever really. And I guess the invention of new solutions to the problem of making a life in always slightly different circumstances leads to cultural difference, and after 500 generations it's no wonder that diversification is the result.

I heard a program about the disappearance of the Indigenous languages here in Australia, and they spoke of a case where a dozen different languages have been "let go" and the people who used to speak them now speak, not English, but another Indigenous language. Cases of "inventing" new common cultural practices of kinship and mythology under conditions of gradual genocide and the forcing of culturally diverse people into shared reservations and so on, has long ago been reported. So when necessary people can adapt and even undiversify in order to survive under new conditions.

But others should speak on this topic. David? Vera? Peter? ...


Ivo Banaco wrote:
Yes, it makes sense. I laugh when you say that "You don't need to delve into the depths of the body to find this". Yes, I see your point, but this delve into the depths of the body have some meaning to this investigation. It is not a pre-modern, mystic thing, it can add a lot, I think, to the understanding of activity (or the why we act the way we do). But this a whole new discussion. But "This participation in common activity is the secret to communication across cultural difference" it's a wonderful diversity in communion that is not too often emphasized. In this context how would you define creativity as a function of cultural development? How can we explain that different cultures exists in the first place, or that different practices evolve over time and others don't, etc.?


On Fri, Dec 24, 2010 at 1:44 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    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
        (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>
        <mailto: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
           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
           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
           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
           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
           mental functions are recast and recombined in new Gestalten
           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"
           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
           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
           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
               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
               related to the humanistic wave of Carl Rogers. Eugene
               was a close
               collaborator of Rogers and then carried forward his own
               original thought,
               what can be called a existential humanistic and
               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
               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
               of the human
               being, that is not reducing humans to culture and


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


                   Where are you studying? gmail is such a general

                   If you have no existential doubts or gordian knots,
                   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
                   let alone a
                   reply, to Gendlin's statement about big things and
                   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>
        <mailto: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
                       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>
        <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>>> wrote:

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

                           ---------- Forwarded message ----------
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                           Date: Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM
                           Subject: Transitioning From an Innovative
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                             [image: Title]
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                            Smuggling Authentic Learning Into the School
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                            Analyzing the discourse of eighth-grade
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                            Designing Transparent Teacher Evaluation: The
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                            This article explores a policy intended to
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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/> <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>

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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/>
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Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
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