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Re: [xmca] sensorymotor reguires gaps...?

Bill, Larry, Mike, Andy...
Larry is generous in many ways--but one of them is his editing. Notice what he did with what I wrote:
"(Language) can do this (break up sensorimotor unity) because it is introducing into
the reflex arc exactly what the motor theory of consciousness takes away:
volition, which is derived, paradoxically, from socio-cultural necessity.
The problem is that treating a response to a word as being similar to a
response to a noise, as Dewey does, does exactly the same thing."
At this point Larry covers for my incoherence with a discrete ellipsis. But what I meant was that by comparing the response to a word to the response to any other kind of noise, we also take away volition; that is, we take away the crucial distinction that in order to interpret a word as a word, we must impute volition to another person.  
I've taken the liberty of adding ellipsis and a question mark to Larry's subject line. To me, the ellipsis and the question mark suggest "...for what?" It seems to me that speech requires very different gaps, both intermentally and intra-mentally, than the kind of gap we require when we are walking down a narrow street and we are wondering whether to interpret the sound behind us as an approaching automobile or a truck.
I'm not disputing the idea that in general sensorimotor activity requires gaps. But I am disputing the idea that sensorimotor activity is a good way of describing the way in which we hear and respond to a word, an utterance, a turn of talk in a conversation, or a posting on xmca. 
Next term, by popular request, I get to go back to my old school, Seoul National Universiy of Education, to teach a class in classroom discourse once a week. I too have a gap to fill; it is the great gap between teaching Thinking and Speech on the one hand, and teaching ways of looking at and thinking about classroom discouse to elementary school teachers.
One way to handle this gap is to treat Thinking and Speech as a progressive attempt, increasingly successful as we approach Chapter Seven, to overcome the idea that language is just a stimulus or a signal or a perception like any other one: something that children attend to the same way they would attend to any other loud noise in a classroom.
Usually, Bill, what I do is to teach my teachers to think of language in terms of Hallidayan metafunctions (this is called the ideational, the textual, and the interpersonal, but we end up calling it the WHAT, the HOW and the WHO of an utterance). 
These metafunctions do map, fairly well, onto the three main intonations and the three main grammatical forms that teachers use when they are keeping their teaching talk canonical (that is, when they are NOT being indirect, using a question to give information, using a statement to make a request, or using a command to check integration (these are Jay Lemke's categories).
We use commands ("Look!" "Listen!") to get attention, which is a key interpersonal metafunction. We use statements ("This is Jinho.") to give informaton, which is the core of ideation. And we use questions ("Who is this?") to check integration of information and understanding, and so on.
Of course, we also use commands to check integration ("Tell me about..."). We use statements to get attention ("I want you all to be quiet"). And we use questions to give information all the time! But when we do it creates a certain gap between the intonation and the actual sense of what we are saying (which is why "May I have your attention please!" hardly ever actually sounds like a question. 
I always have a problem when we reach Chapter Seven, and Vygotsky brings in Paulhan's distinction between sense and signification. It seems to me that this distinction is too much liike the sensorimotor approach to language: "sense" is simply the sum total of all the "ideas" produced by a stimulus-word. "Signification" is the most stable, socially agreed, contractually canonical of these senses. We are back to the reflex arc interpretation of the word.
The reflex arc really is both bitty and dualist. As Dewey points out, it divides each act of attending into a one-hundred percent material stimulus, a one hundred percent mental idea, and a purely EXTERNAL synthesis of the two, the active response which is both mental idea and material reaction. And "sense" and "signification" fall too neatly into the "mental idea" to be much use in understanding Chapter Seven .(It works better if I interpret "sense" as "theme" and "signification" as dictionary denotation, but still....)
I think what I will do next term is to look very carefully at the three pre-verbal "planes" that Vygotsky talks about: the affective-volitional "feeling" plane, the plane of pre-verbl "thought", the plane of inner speech. There are gaps between them, of course ("How do you feel?" vs. "What do you think?", predication vs. nonpredication). But there is also some overlapping: they are manifestly three different ways of looking at the same speech act.
I sometimes think (feel? see?) that Halliday's interpersonal metafunction is mostly FEELING (because in a conversation we are reacting most directly to MOOD rather than to transitivity or to theme). The ideational metafunction is mostly THINKING (because in a conversation this is where we put together an actual representation we want to convey, and because transitivity, the choice of a verb and its choice of our arguments, is where that seems to happen in the clause).
And that means that inner speech is really where the ideational and the interpersonal have to be related in the form of a predication, which in Halliday is really called the predicator. The predicator is where theme becomes rheme, where old information becomes new, and where the "me" part of an utterance passes into the "you" part. It's the  "is" in "This is Jinho" and the "runs" in "Jinho runs". (But it is also the "mind" in "Mind the gap!")
David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies 

--- On Wed, 1/25/12, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
Subject: [xmca] sensorymotor reguires gaps
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 7:18 AM

David and Mike
I decided to open up a new thread to repond to David by returning to your
article developing the centrality of gap formation for the imaginal

David. you wrote,

Here's what I think. Dewey's attack on the reflex arc was an attack on its
bittiness and its dualism only, not on its inapplicability to language. He
thought the idea that the reflex arc has a clear beginning in sensation, a
clear middle in thinking, and a clear end in action was wrong. He saw the
mind as sensorimotor unity (hence the motor theory of consciousness, and
functional psychology).  Sensorimotor unity is not a good theory of
language. For one thing, it's not a social theory or a cultural theory;
it's purely individual and physiological. Actually, LSV and ARL point out
(Chapter Three of Tool and Sign) that language has the effect of BREAKING
UP this sensorimotor unity! It can do this because it is introducing into
the reflex arc exactly what the motor theory of consciousness takes away:
volition, which is derived, paradoxically, from socio-cultural necessity.
The problem is that treating a response to a word as being similar to a
response to a noise, as Dewey does, does exactly the same thing. Worse, it
creates a view of language

As I read this passage a gap openned in my thinking and a few random
thought poured into the gap.

After reading Mike's article on the "fragmenting" and gap forming processes
at the micro micro level as a process which opens up space and distance for
IMAGINATION  my thoughts have been alighting on notions of "negating" or
"negativity" at the heart of consciousness at all heterochronic and
heterospatially "ways" of orienting to the world.
Your example of language fragmenting the sensory motor in order for
volition is also creating a GAP for imagination.

Merleau-Ponty's suggesting that perceiving is the body  "grasping the
world" at optimal DISTANCES. In an art gallery moving clser or further from
a painting to perceive its Imaginal meaning.

Aposhia [NEGATING consciousness] where the eyes perceive, and the visual
part of the brain registers the sensory input BUT there is no CONSCIOUS
re-solving thes inputs into images. [go to PBS broadcasting and see the
discussion on aposhia on Monday's ongoing series on the brain]  This
dysfunction is known as "negating awareness". The person "sees" and
"registers" the sensory motor data, and the visualmotor areas of the brain
light up but NO conscious awareness.

Bahktin's notion that the VITAL aspect of understanding" is the RESPONSE of
the other. Without the response  which ACTUALIZES and re-solves
understanding there is no understanding. In other words between the
understanding and the response a gap opens in which imagination emerges.

The notion of volition as distancing from the object [a gap forming] within
which imagination arises within the gap and the reflectively
phenomenologically emerging moves into the world as creative acts.

Mike, as you can TELL :-)) [see / understand]  your article has the
POTENTIAL to bear multiplel fruitful dialogical understandings & responses
which have the potential to "re=solve" situations in our ongoing dwelling
in the world

The question still to be pondered within this notion of imaginal volition
is how much of this imaginal process is under the control of the sovereign
self and how much is a dance of understanding & RESPONSE  BETWEEN persons.
The answer to THAT question brings us back to moral questions of particular
"stances" or "dispositions" or character or personality as we give more or
less priority to "identity" or "difference" [alterity]  Patchen's book
"Bound BY Recognition" as Greg points out offers an alternative Western
perspective which goes back to Greek philosophy.


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