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[xmca] Plying Frames and the Planet of the Apes
it seems to me that we adopt incommensurate framings, not for the fun of it, but because we are trying to do very different things and we have very different interests.
You and I touched on this in our "Complicity" article where we pointed out that Western readings of a single word used by Vygotsky, namely обучения, tend to focus on learning, individual initiative, child-centredness, free enterprise, agency and entrepreneurship, while Eastern readings tend to focus on teaching, planning, curriculum implementation, collaboration, cooperation and collectivism. Yes, different framings, but framings that are separated by different interests rather than by theoretical or even empirical matters.
I am always impressed by the insistence on the embodiment of cognition by people who are equally insistent on its social and cultural basis. Not because I think there is an inherent contradiction (after all, social entities are bodies of bodies) but because to me a great deal of the talk of embodiment reflects the kind of bourgeois pessimism Volosinov complained about shortly after the turn of the nineteenth century.
Volosinov complained that when people lose faith in culture as an idea, they began to proclaim that, after all, culture is a chimera, and man is only an animal. Hence the summer blockbuster "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" in which man's scientific mastery of phylogenesis itself results in his own extinction and the reversal of the very direction of evolution. It's not the conflict of framing that bothers me; it is the conflict of actual interests which underlie the framing.
I think, actually, this is one of the things we can really gain from the article by Fernando Rey which we are discussing. It seems to me that the different interpretations of обучения that you and I noticed in our Complicity article have somehow gotten reversed. Today, Vygotskyans in the former Soviet Block and Cuba (I am thinking of the work of Mikhailov and Zinchenko, especially) have become much more subjectivist.
Our Eastern comrades are now more interested in the parts of Vygotsky that deal with consciousness, creativity, personality and imagination in their own right, separate from their genetic origins in nonconscious, noncreative, and unimaginative activity, and so have become much mrore hostile to the part of Vygotsky that tries to explain these origins in collective and collaborative forms of behavior. That is why Rey (and also Ernica, and Gunilla Lindqvist, and many other fine researchers) are putting more stress on Psychology of Art and on Thinking and Speech and less stress on the middle works, such as Tool and Sign.
In Chapter One of Tool and Sign, Vygotsky and Luria point out that the assertion by Kohler, that intellectualism is nowhere so bankrupt as when it tries to explain intellect seems paradoxical. I think that what we really need to stress here is that it only SEEMS paradoxical. In fact, any intellectualist attempt to explain intellect HAS to fail, because it is based on an assumption which, on examination, can only prove to be preformist. Any non-preformist, that is, developmental, explanation of intellect has to give it non-intellectual roots rather than intellectual ones.
Now, for me, exactly the same thing applies when we are talking about consciousness, about creativity, about imagination, and about personality. For example, the child is undoubtedly creative in being able to learn a language (far more creative, in absolute terms, than an adult novelist or poet). But conformity, not creativity, is his goal, and this is shown not only in the results but also in the paucity of the material the experience-poor child must work with, and the noncreative roots of the child's process of creativity.
So I am VERY interested in Tool and Sign and in Vygotsky's middle period. Does this show a different framing from Fernando Rey (and also from Martin)? I think it does. But I also think that the different framings stem from radically different, and perhaps even counterposed, differences in interest.
Do you know, Vygotsky and Luria use the word "обучения" in Tool and Sign in a third way that is prior to both learning and teaching? They speak of the practice effect we see in training as обучения and even apply it to apes. But of course when they do this their frame of interpretation and their theoretical interest is really totally different from showing that of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes: they mean only to show that обучения is one thing and development is another, because development must always have some possibilities present in the middle and the end that were not there to begin with.
--- On Sat, 8/13/11, David H Kirshner <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
From: David H Kirshner <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: [xmca] Living metaphor and conventionalized language
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Saturday, August 13, 2011, 4:18 PM
I was referring to the issue of internalization allegedly separating you
and David Ke: namely that he embraces it (in a particular sense
"referring not to a body but as to a nation, a country, a city, a
community, a family...or some particle thereof"), whereas you find it
Partly my question was aimed at understanding your positions better,
partly it was intended as a meta-level probe of our variety of academic
discourse: Do we ever disagree within a common frame, or do apparent
disagreements always turn out to reflect incommensurable framings that
we've adopted for the time being, though we can still see the sense in
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
On Behalf Of Martin Packer
Sent: Saturday, August 13, 2011 3:18 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Living metaphor and conventionalized language
Are you asking about 'consciousness' and 'thought'? My reply would be
the standard one: consciousness is the dynamic system of psychological
functions (as well as being our relationship with the world); thinking
is one of those functions.
Was it pointless to ask? :)
On Aug 12, 2011, at 3:54 PM, David H Kirshner wrote:
> Are these different material processes, or different perspectives on
> the same process, or is it pointless to ask?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> On Behalf Of Martin Packer
> Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 1:08 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Living metaphor and conventionalized language
> Larry, David...
> I don't like the word "internalization" because I can't see that
> anything internal is involved! As LSV put it:
> "Consciousness does not occur as a specific category, as a specific
> mode of being. It proves to be a very complex structure of behaviour"
> David Bakhurst describes well the 'radical realism' those guys were
> "Thought is conceived not as a barrier or interface between the self
> and the world beyond the mind, but as the means by which the
> individual enters into immediate cognitive contact with the material
> Thought, the mode of activity of the socially defined subject, reaches
> right out to reality itself" (1991, p. 261)
> If the "inner" is out there in the "outer," we've got the metaphors
> wrong, IMHO.
> On Aug 11, 2011, at 12:27 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
>> Of course, BOTH "internalization" and "appropriation" are metaphors.
> don't flee from the "internalization" metaphor the way that Martin
> does, partly because I think of it as referring not to a body but as
> to a nation, a country, a city, a community, a family...or some
> particle thereof. In this sense (a sense which I suppose is better
> captured by "interiorization" than by "internalization", just as
> "reflection" is better captured by "refraction") there is no duality;
> when you move from one nation to another you do not change worlds, nor
> do you change nations when you move from one city to another.
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