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Re: [xmca] further thoughts on the book "Vygotsky in Perspective"

To me a central message, among many, Larry, was Do Not Reduce Mediation to
Instrumentalism. Seems like a key issue in the presumed development of LSV
thought from 1928-1934 and a key issue in LSV vs ANL.

On Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 8:50 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Mike and Martin
> What an amazingly pregant and fertile perspective  Bruno Latour expresses
> [enunciates] in this article exploring the relation between technology and
> morality. I do believe Bruno is enunciating a central theme that plays out
> within cultural historical and sociocultural concepts of "mediation".
> Mike I agree that this article could be put in dialogue with Miller and I
> hope we can do this together. However, for now I want to focus on
> amplifying Bruno's profound insights into functional ways of viewing
> reality and the place of technology in translating time, space, and agency.
> Where to begin?? There are so many openings he invites us as we enter the
> labyrinth. I want to jump in on page 251 where he talks about technology as
> the art of the "curve" [the DETOUR] and contrasts that with epistemology,
> the pursuit of the straight line. However, I'll resist and go back to page
> 248 where he is exploring "borders" and boundaries" [I imaginally add the
> metaphor of "hinges"  to borders and boundaries]  Bruno is pointing out it
> is becoming more difficult to trace the BORDER between "the empire of the
> human and the ealm of technologies. He writes,
> In any case, the IMAGE of a human being at the helm manipulating INERT
> objects, to achieve ends, through the INTERmediary OF 'efficient action ON
> matter' appears increasingly muddled. Technologies belong to the HUMAN
> WORLD in a modality other than that of instrumentality, efficiency, or
> MATERIALITY.... Technologies and moralities happen to be indissolubly
> mingled because, in both cases, the question of the RELATION OF ends and
> means is profoundly problematized."
> Bruno wants to give tecnology the dignity EQUAL to morality that
> challenges the common sense relation of tool TO intention.  Bruno wants to
> redine the "technical" FROM a SUBSTANTIVE to an ADJECTIVE. He writes,
> "It is pointless to want to define some entities and some situations as
> technical in OPPOSITION to others called scientific or moral, political or
> economic"
> Bruno then goes on to use the word "enunciation" in a sentence which I
> believe points to Merleau-Ponty's notion of "expression". He writes,
> Technology is everywhere, since the TERM applies applies to a regime of
> ENUNCIATION, or, to put it another way, to a MODE OF EXISTENCE, a
> PARTICULAR FORM of exploring existence, a particular form of the
> exploration of BEING - in the midst of many others.  If we are UNABLE to
> distinguish BETWEEN a technical object and a non-technical one, we should
> nevertheless be able to locate the dimension pertaining to technology in
> some entity. The regime of technology, if you wish, is DIFFERENT from
> another standpoint (scientific, rtistic, or moral) NOT in the way that a
> REGION of reality would differ from another, but in the way PREPOSITIONS
> differ amongst themselves, in much the same way as *in* is clearly
> distinguishable from *by*, although there is no particular domain of *in*
> that we cn separate from the territiory *by*."" [page 248]
> Bruno's term "enunciation" seems to express a relation similar to
> Merleau-Ponty's KEY concept of "expression" as modes of existence and
> being. This similarity invites further reflection. The above excerpt seems
> to be pregnant with new meaning.
> The next critical insight in the article I want to elaborate is how Bruno
> explores the relation of means and ends in functional enunciations.  He is
> describing the concept of "folding" and uses the example of a hammer.  He
> writes,
> "It is impossible to proceed AS IF the hammer *fulfilled a function* for
> it overflows the strict limits of THIS CONTAINER on all sides... With it
> [the hammer] in hand the possibilities are ENDLESS, providing whoever holds
> it with schemes of action that DO NOT PRECEDE the moment it is grasped...
> thanks to the hammer, I BECOME literally another man, a man who has BECOME
> *other*, since from that point in time I pass theough *alterity, the
> ALTERATION of that folding [Gibson's idea expressed via Bruno]... Thise who
> believe that tools are simple utensils have never held a hammer in their
> hand, have never allowed themselves to recognize the FLUX OF POSSIBILITIES,
> that they are suddenly able to ENVISAGE.... Far from PRIMARILY fulfilling a
> PURPOSE, they [humans] start by exploring heterogeneous universes that
> nothing, UP TO THAT POINT, could have FORSEEN and BEHIND WHICH trail new
> functions" [page 250]
> In other words functions are DERIVED FROM emerging technologies and
> technologies are NOT RESPONDING to functions.
> Seems to be an important distinction which challenges common sense. Bruno
> then commnts on the term "mediation" when he writes,
> "The term mediation always runs the risk that its message could be
> INVERTED and one could turn whatever makes it impossible to transfer a
> meaning, a cause, or a force INTO precisely what MERELY carries a force, a
> cause, or a meaning. If we are not careful, we could REDUCE technologies to
> the role of INSTRUMENTS that MERELY give a more durable shape TO schemes,
> forms, and relations WHICH ARE ALREADY PRESENT in another form and in other
> Bruno is pointing to the awareness that *devices* are not simply
> "What they [devices] exactly DO, what they suggest, NO ONE KNOWS" [page
> 250]
> Bruno then adds "the mediation of technology experiments with what must be
> called BEING -AS - ANOTHER" [page 250]
> This brings me to the last term that I found fascinating as Bruno explores
> *detour*. He writes,
> "It seems to me that it is more adequate to speak ABOUT technologies in
> the mode of the *detour* than in that of *instrumentality*. Technology is
> the art of the curve, or what, following Serres, I have called
> *translation*.  If we go in a straight line, AS EPISTEMOLOGY DOES, we do
> not need it... Ingenuity begins with Deedalus, prince of the labyrinth,
> that is, with the UNEXPECTED branching-out which at first DISTANCES from
> the goal [Bruno references Frontist-Ducroux for this idea]"
> Bruno is exploring technical problems as *detours*, entering the
> labyrinth, NOT as instruments fulfilling functions.  Technology PREVENTS us
> from having DIRECT access to goals.
> This ends my brief summary of Bruno's enchanting opening up of the notion
> of *mediation* as the curving path of detours. He challenges functional
> *enunciations* with an alternative exploration of mediation and technology
> as modes of *expression* that detour from the straight and narrow path and
> plunge us into labyrinths.
> If interested I can post an article that explores the "Medussa Myth" as
> also exploring DIRECT and INDIRECT modes of expression. .
> I hope that others put these ideas in play with Miller and activity theory.
> Larry
> On Mon, Mar 5, 2012 at 8:01 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>> With respect to the concept of mediation, Martin Packer was kind enough to
>> send along the attached article by Bruno Latour on Moralilty and
>> Technology.
>> A key idea is that mediation cannot be reduced to instrumentalism. I think
>> it could interestingly be put in dialogue with Miller.
>> mike
>> On Mon, Mar 5, 2012 at 7:18 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
>> > Martin reminded me of the discussion on xmca [July 13 2011] when the
>> book
>> > "Vygotsky in Perspective" was discussed.
>> > The aggressive tone and stance Ronald takes towards CHAT positions is
>> > extremely rude and provocative.
>> >
>> >  He attacks Mike, Wertsch, Anna Stetsenko, and others who explore
>> Leontiev
>> > and Luria as complementary to Vygotsky. Ronald labels these authors as
>> > creating an "alternative" theory so removed from Vygotsky that they are
>> no
>> > longer true believers.
>> > For this reason alone I was tempted to not read further.
>> >
>> > But I was curious from reflecting on "book collections" as material
>> "media
>> > objects"  how the interplay of Ronald's perspective would engage
>> Activity
>> > theory.
>> >
>> > I was reading through the introduction on Google books and on page 17
>> > of Ronald's introduction I became intrigued by Roland's understanding of
>> > mediation.  He is offering a bipolar or "duplex" conception of
>> subjectivity
>> > in which of-ness [awareness] ANCHORS the present and consciousness
>> > history and destiny. He argues that mediation is often associated with
>> > DIRECT overt forms of instruction. Roland suggests a 2nd order of
>> mediation
>> > in which tools [as the products of human action] REFLECT [in their
>> design
>> > and structure] the conscious awareness of their makers.  A 3rd level of
>> > mediation is elaborated in the social structures CONSTITUTED by the
>> > relations between people and the relations between people and their
>> > products.
>> >
>> > So far so good. This is all straight forward but it was the the next
>> > section of his argument I found interesting.
>> >
>> > Roland suggests mediation is the antithesis of "agency"
>>  MIS-understanding
>> > is a KIND of understanding but the persons are UNAWARE that their
>> > understandings are mis-perceived [and therefore cannot make the
>> necessary
>> > changes for understanding] Roland then states,
>> >
>> > "In order for mediation efforts to produce new understanding - it is
>> > necessary to alter the way a person EXPERIENCES a situation by
>> facilitating
>> > new actions - including mental actions  or ways of thinking that
>> provide a
>> > NEW FOCUS of conscious awareness.
>> >
>> > All forms of mediation operate according to the same fundamental
>> > psychological principles that entail,
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > It is this "dual" process of BOTH "leading" and "being lead" that I
>> found
>> > interesting as a reciprocal movement of both breathing in and breathing
>> out
>> > in mediational processes. Both agency and loosing agency.  [Both
>> "passive"
>> > and "active"??]
>> > What Ronald is exploring may be "common sense" to many others on this
>> list
>> > serve but I read this as a possible link to Gadamer's notion of all true
>> > understanding as beginning with a  willingness to be unsettled  in the
>> > dialogical process of not understanding [letting go of pre-judices] and
>> > being open to the perspective of the other which opens a space for
>> "fused
>> > horizons" of understanding. Ronald, interpreting Vygotsky from his
>> > perspective seems to be circling around similar themes of leading and
>> being
>> > lead.
>> >
>> > Ronald, though writing ABOUT this reciprocal process, obviously does
>> not in
>> > practice actualize this openness. How he dismisses others [especially
>> > CHAT]  in this book is proof of his prejudices but he may still have
>> some
>> > valid points to contribute from his close eading of Vygotsky.
>> >
>> > I hope its ok to return and pick up a previous thread from last July
>> even
>> > from an author without good manners:-))
>> >
>> > Larry
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