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Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)
- To: Vera John-Steiner <email@example.com>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)
- From: Huw Lloyd <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2011 00:20:41 +0100
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On 23 April 2011 21:48, Vera John-Steiner <email@example.com> wrote:
> I have been thinking about this distinction between act and product.
I have generalized my response to process and form.
> It seems to me that the process is primary but of course if it were not
> engaged with some more stable aspects of our reality, it would ethereal. So
> we move, constantly betweenrapid change, slow change, and tempory entities
> which reveal no dsicernable change.
I need a bit more context here please, Vera.
One way to think of the process/form distinction is the distinction between
verb phrases and noun phrases (I'm sorry if this is "teaching to suck eggs",
as I was a bit surprised by the "blank looks" from a few responses to this
stuff). That is, verb phrases describe systems of action and noun phrases
described systems of form. Hence when using a gerund, e.g. the noun
'learning' in "I like learning", we are referring to the classification of
acts of learning which, to us, is a system of form, as opposed to instances
of learning which is a system of process. For me this has bearing upon
language learning (and use) in infants.
As far as I can see, the process/form distinction only makes sense if we
apply it in the context of agency (i.e regulatory systems). If we have a
series of interacting processes and forms: P- F - P - F - P there is
nothing to stop us thinking of this as F - P - F - P - F other than our
treatment of Form as encoded as a static thing. Even the noun 'process' as
in "the process" refers to a thing whose identity does not change with
respect to the context of use.
> But we do know, that if we think along a long time-scale "products" too
> will be processes. This is why I am not afaraid to use the notion of
For me, the most useful notion of concept is concept-as-model. It's not
clear to me why it's useful to have a technical name for something that is
both concept-as-model and some other meaning without having a unique term
> Those are minimally changing processes within a particular activity system.
Sorry, I didn't take your reflections any further. An example might help me
> All this may have been said before, but we are still exploing
> concept-activity so this brief message may be relevant.
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Huw Lloyd" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
> Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 7:40 PM
> Subject: Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)
> On 21 April 2011 17:11, Martin Packer <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> On Apr 21, 2011, at 2:17 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>> > * The quotes you give seem to confirm for me that as a unit of an
>> activity, "act" is exactly the right term for his use of "word meaning."
>> I would say that making a meaning is an act. That speaking a meaning is
> act. But that the meaning itself is the product of an act. Likewise, I'd
> say that knowing as engaging with meaning is an act.
> Hi Andy,
>> LSV nowhere suggests that word meaning is an act. Word meaning, he says,
>> the "unity" of thinking and speaking, because when one uses a word (or
>> words) in speaking, one is necessarily generalizing, and generalization is
>> an act of thinking. That has the consequence, he argues, that by studying
>> word meaning as the unit of analysis one is able to investigate the
>> (dynamic, complex) relationship between speaking and thinking.
>> So what is word meaning?
>> LSV tells us it is the "inner form" of the word. LSV himself used the
>> notion of inner form before, in the Psychology of Art, where he explained
>> that a word has not two but three basic elements: its sound, or “external
>> form”; its meaning or significance [does anyone have the Russian to check
>> the translation here?]; and its “inner form.” This third aspect, he says,
>> to be understood as the etymological form that expresses the content. It
>> often forgotten or displaced. For example, the Russian word for "mouse"
>> signified "thief", and only by means of the inner form have the sounds
>> acquired the meaning “mouse.” The inner aspect is the “image” that a word
>> contains; it can be said to be the link *between* sound and meaning,
> If the ascii 'art' below appears badly formatted, try looking at it in a
> fixed sized font (such as courier).
> Form Process (Act)
> ------- -----------------------
> < --
> Make a meaning
> -- >
> Inner Form
> < --
> Make an "impression"
> -- >
> < --
> Make a sound (speak a meaning)
> between signifier and signified. The fact that LSV could also write of the
>> 'inner form' of a statue makes it clear that 'inner' here does not mean
>> 'inside'- for there is nothing special inside the marble. The form is
>> 'inner' in the sense that it is the 'internal' relation between material
>> idea (in the case of the statue) and between sound and meaning (in the
>> of the word). It mediates, in other words, between the *material* and the
>> *ideal* aspects.
>> But the term "inner form" is much older. Dilthey pointed out that
>> wrote in his Poetics of the “inner structure” of the tragedy, in an
>> that LSV knew well. Von Humbolt wrote of “innere Sprachform” as the way a
>> language shapes both the perception and the conceptions of its speakers.
>> seems to have been rethinking the Kantian relationship between receptivity
>> (sensibility) and creativity (reason); the forms that Kant proposed are
>> imposed by mind were, for Von Humbolt, provided by language.) Potebnya
>> argued that words carry not only a meaning, but also the past experience
>> the individual and the nation, through which all new experience is
>> Consequently a word usually has three aspects: an external form, a
>> and an internal form. In many cases the internal form is rooted in myth
>> hence, acts as a bridge between folklore and modern language. With time
>> consciousness of a word's internal form fades, and one of the tasks of
>> literature is to restore this consciousness.
>> Nice work, Martin. I previously interpreted Cassirer's "Mythical form"
> (influenced by Humbolt) to be representationally equivalent to feeling,
> which, if it holds, implies something like this:
> Form Act
> ---- ---
> < --
> -- >
> Inner Form
> < --
> -- >
> Vygotsky's Category?
> An alternative analysis, though, might be that there are systematic
>> metaphoric substitutions in any language, such as “love is a journey.”
>> of course is Lakoff's example, and Lakoff argues that metaphor is "a
>> conceptual system underlying" language, that provides an "ontological
>> mapping across conceptual domains." LSV doesn’t seem to be interested in
>> metaphor. To raise this point is to risk confusing our discussion, though,
>> because what Lakoff calls 'conceptual' here is not what LSV considers
>> conceptual. The kind of knowledge that metaphor provides through its
>> mappings is what LSV considers to be word meaning.
> Extrapolated from Beer, Decision and Control, page 111:
> Form Act
> ------- ----
> Isomorphic Identity
> Make a scientific comparison
> Make a "philosophical" comparison
> Make a poetic comparison
> This is not to say that there are no problems with LSV's account of
>> word-meaning. One problem is that, if meaning is ‘in’ a word, it is not
>> clear how it can differ for child and adult. It turns out that there is a
>> considerable literature on this issue in the context of Frege’s
>> between sense [which LSV translates as 'meaning'] and reference, and it
>> suggests one possible solution to the problem. Frege considered senses to
>> abstract entities, distinct both from referents, which are real objects,
>> from ‘ideas,’ which are psychological. Senses, then, occupy a “third
>> that is neither mental nor material. LSV did not draw such a clear
>> distinction, so that ‘meaning’ for him at one moment seems something
>> linguistic, at other times a matter of what someone “thinks.” According to
>> most readings of Frege each sign has a single, invariant sense which all
>> speakers of a language will “grasp” in the same way. But Frege
>> that people can differ in what they can “bring to mind” of a sense (I'm
>> drawing here on the work of philosopher Robert May, at UC Irvine). The
>> solution to the problem of framing LSV’s claims in Frege’s terms would be,
>> then, to suggest that child and adult necessarily grasp the same sense in
>> word or expression (because there is only one sense to grasp), but they
>> bring to consciousness different aspects of this sense.
>> That's quite enough for one message, I think!
>> I don't know Frege and Lackoff is on my shelf unread. Are there
> pieces you'd recommend?
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