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Re: [xmca] Measuring culture

Larry and Rob:
I wasn't really accusing Rob Lake of being a structuralist succubus--I think I would probably not accuse him of anything except an incurable affability, an attitude of ready openness towards people and ideas that I often wish I had more of. 
I was responding to the TED talk on N-grams, which seems to me an example of corpus linguistics redux: the behaviorist fallacy that with infinite instantiation we approach the idea of infinite potential.To me the idea that a very large number of instances is a "snapshot" of meaning potential denies future development; the future is not something that actually shows up in snapshots.

Yes, I guess I see in Larry's Gadamer summary some overlap with what I had to say too, but it's really because the Gadamer stuff seems to me  to lap overmuch, like the Odyssey's shelving sea. I feel that I'm floundering, and I really need some examples of what it might mean to leap out of one's own historicity and above all some examples of why one might wish to do such a thing.
Here are some examples that occurred to me just in the last twenty four hours. See if you agree that they are what Gadamer means. If so, I am more than interested.
 I sometimes use children's counting rhymes to teach my teachers about metricity (they are bound to the written word and find it hard to 'feel' the stress-unstress patterns of English, and this is one of the things that makes it hard for them to grasp prepositions and articles as they bound by in the unstressed sound stream).
My students and I came up with the following, which goes fetchingly with a painting by Delacroix and has a lot of the 'near rhymes" that Chinese poets love (Chinese poetry is rather more tonal than rhyming):
"Will you race?" the lion said
"I will bless the fastest beast"
So the rabbit ran his best
And the lion ate him last
Now, try this:
a) "Will you race? the lion said.
b) "I will bless the fastest beast," the lion said.
If you are a native speaker of English, like me, you probably have UP intonation when you say the reporting clause, viz. "the lion said" in a) but not in b). My wife, who is not a native speaker of English, does not intone EITHER reporting clause upwards.
What we can say is that for me, and for most English speakers, the subjective viewpoint of the lion leaks into the reporting clause. Volosinov argues that this is quite a recent historical phenomenon--it's a product of the breakdown of the idea of the all-seeing narrator, and the birth of quasi-direct discourse (and also the extremely recent invention of the quotation mark).
On the Seoul subway, the announcer uses (the Korean equivalents of)  "left" and "right" to indicate which door is opening when the subway reaches a stop. Since most of us are facing the side of the train rather than facing forward or back, this deictic is essentially ambiguous. However, it never causes any confusion whatsoever, because the hearers always adopt the point of view of the train driver, no matter how they are standing. 
I have observed the same response in allegedly "egocentric" children, who consider that left and right used by the teacher always assumes that the teacher is facing the children, even when this contradicts their own left and right and even when the teacher is facing the blackboard.
Yesterday evening I sat down with a former supervisee who is studying gesture. Although I am no longer involved in research with children, I am still very interested in this topic, because I can see in the videos that he has brought that the children are using gestures for three quite specific purposes:
a) They are using gesture to locate the stress--even when the word itself is absent because the child cannot recall it.
b) They are using gesture to try to displace a misplaced stress. Because they are very used to reading, stresses come monotonously at the ends of sentences, and they use gesture to move the stress towards the new information in the sentence.
c) They are using gestures to enact meaning--they are trying to replace meaningless 'beat' gestures with pointing gestures or metaphorics (e.g. the ubiquitous 'container' gesture we see all over the TED talk!)
Mr. Kim, on the other hand, insists they are using gesture for one purpose only--to recall words that they cannot remember. When I ask him how this works, he gives me a quote from Ausubel and says that the sentence is stored in various places in the brain and the gesture helps to assemble it. 
I point out that there can be no empirical evidence whatsoever to back up such a claim (we cannot dissect the child's brain and recover pieces of sentence from it, and even if we could it would hardly explain how gesture might reassemble them). And there is actually quite a bit of evidence that contradicts it (e.g. the child says "Let's go picknee" instead of the correct "Let's go on a picnic" and one can hear another child whispering the wrong sentence to him just before he uses it).  But he will not look beyond his Ausubel. 
Frustrated, it occurs to me that Mr. Kim really has a EUROPEAN rather than an ASIAN idea of the social: families do grow out of the legal association of individuals, and nations from leagues of city states. So too do sentences grow out of the various functions of the human mind/brain. He will write a very good thesis, I am sure. But I am also very glad that I am no longer supervising it!
David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
--- On Fri, 4/20/12, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Measuring culture
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Friday, April 20, 2012, 6:08 AM

David, Robert

The following quote on narrative is also exploring similar terrain to

Ubiquitous, stories have encouraged narratologists to expand their purview
beyond the literary corpus and take the "narrative turn," embracing fields
as diverse as psychology, sociology, ethnology, history, the law, corporate
management, digital technology, and more. But whatever the universals
common to all narratives, literary scholars, psychotherapists,
sociologists, ethnologists, historians, jurists, advertising executives and
AI experts view narrative in significantly different ways and as serving
purposes that may be wholly at odds from one field to another. What, then,
is the influence on narrative of genre – not necessarily in the sense of
traditional literary scholarship, but possibly in that of "speech genres"
(Bakhtin), those "relatively fixed forms" that bridge the gap between units
of language or other signifying systems and discourse in its prolific
manifestations? Then, too, is the question of narrative in non-verbal forms
– the plastic arts and music – but also narrative in its pluri-medial
forms.  Yet other questions arise. If, as Barthes stressed nearly half a
century ago, narrative is a universal anthropological phenomenon, to what
extent is it constitutive of culture? Can similar lines of inquiry be
pursued with regard to *homo narrans*, the storytelling animal?

In particular I want to amplify this section of the above quote

*those "relatively fixed forms" that bridge the gap between units of
language or other signifying systems and discourse in its prolific
manifestations? Then, too, is the question of narrative in non-verbal forms
– the plastic arts and music – but also narrative in its pluri-medial

Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics invites us to enter  horizons of
understanding which mediate  the *relatively fixed forms* [historically
formed traditions] *in* which we dwell [and which constitute the
prejudice-structures of ALL understanding].  Gadamer would caution us that
in the *narrative turn* we don't become fixated on methodologies of
understanding but rather focus on unveiling the interPLAY between the
historically constituted prejudice-structures and the living hermeneutical
situation of the present moment.


On Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 10:07 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi David,
> I'm  trying to understand the play of language as structure and metaphor.
> It is Gadamer I'm trying to decipher. The aspect of Barfield's
> writing  that helps me understand Gadamer is how the power of metaphor,
> which is generated in living expression, seems to have more *passion* than
> more conventional consensual meanings that develop through shared use of
> the metaphor over time as the metaphor develops more collective meaning. IF
> this quality of metaphor is accurate, then maybe the reason why Gadamer is
> attracted to the texts of ancient Greece is the living metaphorical images
> and figures generating and expressing the *passion* of poetic vision.
> I want  to summarize a section of a book of Gadamer's writings that gives
> a sense of his project.
> Gadamer's project was to *see through* the myth of a  universalist notion
> of hermeneutics as objective. His project was to question
> the ontological ground of *philosophical* hermeneutics.  Gadamer comments,
> "the question is not what we do or what we should do, but what
> happens beyond our willing and doing".
> This question of how we are constituted within the horizon of historical
> temporality that is beyond our self-control. Gadamer wants to free us from
> the methodologisms that pervade modern thought,  For Gadamer horizons of
> understanding constitute the interpreter's own immediate participation *in*
> tradtions that are not themselves the object of understanding but the
> *condition* of the horizon's occurence. No method can free one from this
> condition.
> Gadamer is critical of the project of  hermeneutics as an attempt at a
>  disciplined reconstruction of the historical situation in which a text
> originated, as the object of hermeneutics. This search for objective
> universal hermeneutical understanding as an approach is biased or
> prejudiced towards a *critical* stance that is a methodologically
> *controlled* interpretation and makes understanding a product of the
>  discipline of hermeneutics.
> For one example, Dilthey identified the meaning of the text or action with
> the subjective intention of its author. Starting from the content
> [documents, artifacts, actions,] of the historical world the task for
> Dilthey was to recover the original life-world. For Dilthey the knower
> *negates* the temporal distance that separates him from the text and
> becomes cotemporaneous with the text.
> For Dilthey the knower's own present situation has only a negative value
> and the text is privileged. Dilthey views prejudices and distortions as
> blocks to valid understanding and therefore the interpreter must attempt to
> *transcend* one's own limitations and prejudices. Historical understanding,
> according to Dilthey IS the action of subjectivity, purged of all
> prejudices and it is achieved in direct proportion to the knower's ability
> to *set aside* his own horizons by means of an effective historical method.
> The subject, through priveleging a particular hermeneutical method,
> extricates himself from the entanglements of history and the prejudices
> which come from these entanglements. What the interpreter negates, is his
> own present as a VITAL extension of the past.
> This methodological alienation of the knower from his own historicity is
> PRECISELY the focus of Gadamer's criticism. Gadamer rejects that a knower
> can separate or leave his immediate situation merely by adopting an
> *attitude* [an ideal of understanding] that asks us to overcome our present
> as if our own historicity is an accidental factor. For Gadamer, THIS factor
> is an ontological awareness and the knower's present situation is
> constitutively involved *in* any process of understanding. Gadamer takes
> the *boundness* of a  present horizon and the temporal gulf that IS
> separating him from his object to be the productive ground of ALL
> understanding rather than a factor to be overcome. our prejudices do not
> cut us off from the past but initially open it up to us.
> In his own words, Gadamer states,
> "The historicity of our existence entails that prejudices, in the literal
> sense of the word, constitute the initial directedness of our whole ability
> to EXPERIENCE. Prejudices are the biases of our openness to the world"
> Shaped by the past in an infinity of unexamined ways, the present
> situation is the "given" in which understanding is rooted and which
> reflection can never entirely hold at a critical distance and objectify.
> This is the meaning of Gadamer's "hermeneutical situation". The givenness
> of the situation cannot be dissolved into critical self-knowledge in a way
> that the prejudice-structure of finite understanding might disappear.
> Gadamer argues,
> "To BE historical means that one is not absobed into self-knowledge.
> Prejudice and tradition define the ground the interpreter himself occupies
> when he understands.  The historical hermeneutics of the late 19th and
> early 20th centuries, with its affirmation of the historicity and
> RELATIVITY of every human expression and perspective reaching us from the
> past, stopped short of affirming the interpreter's *own* historicity along
> with that of his objects. This for Gadamer inevitably leads to an
> experience of alienation that distorts what actually takes place *in*
> aesthetic and historical interpretation. [David, I read your post as making
> a similar point]
> What Gadamer asks us to *see through* [unveiling] is that the dominant
> ideal of knowledge involves a powerful prejudice that controls most
> philosophy.  This fate has befallen every hermeneutical theory that regards
> understanding *as* a reproductive procedure and duplication of a past
> intention.  For Gadamer understanding is not reconstruction but rather
> *mediation*. We are conveyors of the past into the present. Understanding
> remains essentially a mediation or translation of past meaning into the
> present situation. Gadamer's specific emphasis is on the fundamental
> continuity of history as a medium encompassing every subjective act and the
> objects it  apprehends.
> Understanding is an event, a movement of history itself, in which neither
> interpreter or text can be thought of as autonomous parts.
> Gadamer writes,
> "Understanding itself is not to be thought of so much as an action of
> subjectivity, but as the ENTERING into an event of transmission in which
> past and present are constantly mediated.. This movement is what must gain
> validity within the project of philosophical hermeneutics. In the past
> hermeneutics was too dominated by the ideal of a procedure, a method.
> This was a summary from the introduction to Gadamer's writings by  David
> Linge the editor and translator  of a book of Gadamer's writings titled
> {Philosophical Hermeutics}
> David, I see places of overlap with your comments, so thought I would
> bring Gadamer into the conversation.
> Larry
>  On Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 6:26 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:
>> Linguistics is stalked by a terrible succubus, the succubus of
>> structuralist reification. I guess the worst example of this is the
>> Chomskyan "revolution", a technical means of diagramming sentences which
>> people mistook for the way in which people actually formulated them.
>> When this was clearly disproved by psycholinguistic experiments in the
>> sixties and seventies, it was immediately replaced with exactly the
>> opposite idea: that potential language and real language are exactly the
>> same thing; that is, everything that can be said actually is being said or
>> has been said somewhere in the world. Ergo corpus linguistics, the
>> linguistics of ever-larger computer corpora, is the real thing. I think
>> that the "five million books" idea is just the latest instantiation of
>> this opposite idea, which is ultimately behavioristic.
>> As Andy says, real philosophy, and real science, is what starts where
>> the popular myth, the current Zeitgeist ends. The problem is that the
>> NEXT big thing, the NEXT popular myth, also starts where the current
>> Zeitgeist ends; behavioristic "realism" in linguistics started exactly
>> where the structuralist succubus expired (and, I might remark
>> parenthetically, it started up precisely because we did not listen to
>> Merleau-Ponty's remark to the effect that structuralism's main crime was
>> not valuing structure ENOUGH to link it firmly enough to value).
>> I'm afraid that's how I read the Owen Barfield quote Rob and Larry refer
>> to below (though I'm ALSO afraid I will not have time to track it down and
>> read it in context). It seems to me we are in danger of going back to the
>> structuralist succubus: we are in danger of reifying the language system
>> and attributing all of linguistic creativity to this great bag of God
>> sentences.
>> I don't believe language is an abstract system that is capable of
>> generating any and all sentences. I believe in language that is still warm
>> from the lips and breath of living breathing humans, and I believe that
>> there is no actual poetry without an actual poet (whether that poet is
>> wearing laurels or just wearing a baking cap and an apron). But I also
>> don't believe that language and all of its poetic moments are just the sum
>> total of everything that ever has been said, is being said, or even will be
>> being said by living breathing people.
>> If this seems like a contradiction, then it is only because we are not in
>> the habit of thinking of potential as truly infinite (mathematicians had a
>> similar problem explaining what it really means when we say something like
>> given an infinite number of opportunities, everything that can happen will
>> happen).
>> Every unit of language, from sounds to words to the most complex and
>> intricate of wordings, is both a car horn and a traffic light. That is,
>> there is always some element (what Volosinov calls 'theme" and Vygotsky
>> calls "sense") that is mutable and negotiable, where you have to look over
>> your shoulder and see if you know the guy who is honking.
>> In sounds, intonation and stress are like this. In words, the prefixes
>> and suffixes and particles and pronouns. In sentences, subgrammatical
>> fragments like "What about you?". But in language generally, this is the
>> predominant nature of spoken discourse, and that is why it is consistently
>> missing from the Google N-grams base (which would have you believe that
>> swearing was invented in the late twentieth century).
>> Then there is this other element (what Volosinov calls meaning proper and
>> what Vygotsky calls "signification") that is quite fixed and systematic.
>> Red always means stop and green always means go (although the precise
>> meaning of yellow depends on where you are with relation to the
>> intersection).
>> In sounds, vowels and consonants are like this. In words, the common
>> nouns and workaday verbs, the independent morphemes of all kinds. In
>> sentences, the independent clauses that make up the overwhelming majority
>> of our (non-novelistic and non-dialogic) written text. This is where we
>> find all of our dictionary meanings,  (and, alas, almost all of the
>> meanings in the N-gram system).
>> The infinite potential of language, which is what the poet exploits and
>> which is why language is not reducible to the sum total of everything that
>> has been, is, and will be said, is the product of the way these systems
>> interact. So there is no contradiction. But if there were, it would only be
>> a contra-diction; it would still be perfectly true.
>> David Kellogg
>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>> --- On Thu, 4/19/12, Robert Lake <boblake@georgiasouthern.edu> wrote:
>> From: Robert Lake <boblake@georgiasouthern.edu>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Measuring culture
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Date: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 6:45 AM
>> Hi Larry,
>> I am intrigued with the passage from  Owen Barfield.
>> Which book is that found in?
>> RL
>> On Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 1:53 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> > Andy,  thanks for this post which I find exploring experience and
>> culture.
>> > These insights of Dewey's seems to parallel  themes I've been reading in
>> > Gadamer's perspective on prejudice .
>> >
>> > especially the section,
>> >
>> > It [experience] is filled with interpretations, classifications, due to
>> > sophisticated thought,
>> >  which have become incorporated into what seems to be fresh, naive
>> >  empirical material. It would take more wisdom than is possessed by
>> >  the wisest historic scholar to track all of these absorbed
>> >  borrowings to their original sources. If we may for the moment call
>> >  these materials prejudices (even if they are true, as long as their
>> >  source and authority is unknown), then /philosophy is a critique of
>> >  prejudices/.
>> >
>> >
>> > I would like to juxtapose, or put in play, these insights of Dewey's
>> with a
>> > quote from Owen Barfield,
>> >
>> > More particularly, it (i.e. pleasure) can be aroused by a language
>> which is
>> > at an earlier stage of development than the one which is our own,
>> because
>> > it is the nature of language to grow less figurative, less and less
>> couched
>> > in terms of imagery, as it grows older.  We notice, we relish figurative
>> > quality in older language, and we EXPERIENCE this figurative element in
>> the
>> > same way in which we experience those new metaphors which poets make for
>> > us. But it does not follow from this (and this is where most of the
>> > philologists of the 19th Century and the early twenties have really made
>> > their mistake) it does not follow from this that that figurative
>> element,
>> > that presence of living memory, that we find in earlier language was
>> made,
>> > invented, created by the individual genius of a poet.  On the contrary,
>> it
>> > couldn't have been.  It was simply there in the language as such; it
>> was a
>> > 'given' kind of meaning, a 'given' kind of imagery.
>> >
>> > I also want to bring in Emily's comment posted today,
>> >
>> >  I just wanted to call attention to play as in the way play ' plays '
>> us...
>> > Gadamer talks about this in Truth and Method, noting that  when we
>> engage
>> > in in play, play can overtake and seem to become something more that the
>> > participants.
>> >
>> > As I read Dewey's, Barfield's, and Gadamer's notions of experience I
>> see a
>> > theme of experience and expression as playful.
>> >
>> > Larry
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > More parti
>> > On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 9:37 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>> wrote:
>> >
>> > > Wagner, your post sent me into my book of the writings of John Dewey,
>> > > where I became happily lost for half an hour. I couldn't find the
>> maxim I
>> > > was looking for, but this one will do:
>> > >
>> > >   "Experience is already overlaid and saturated with the products of
>> > >   the reflection  of past generations and by-gone ages. It is filled
>> > >   with interpretations, classifications, due to sophisticated thought,
>> > >   which have become incorporated into what seems to be fresh, naive
>> > >   empirical material. It would take more wisdom than is possessed by
>> > >   the wisest historic scholar to track all of these absorbed
>> > >   borrowings to their original sources. If we may for the moment call
>> > >   these materials prejudices (even if they are true, as long as their
>> > >   source and authority is unknown), then /philosophy is a critique of
>> > >   prejudices/. These incorporated results of past reflection, welded
>> > >   into the genuine materials of first-hand experience, may become the
>> > >   organss of enrichment if they are detected and reflected upon. If
>> > >   they are not detected, they often obfuscate and distort.
>> > >   Clarification and emancipation follow when they are detected and
>> > >   cast out; and one great object of philosophy is to accomplish this
>> > >   task." (PJD 276)
>> > >
>> > > The quote I was looking for and couldn't find made an allusion to
>> Hegel's
>> > > famous aphorism:
>> > >
>> > >   "As for the individual, every one is a son of his time; so
>> > >   philosophy also is its time apprehended in thoughts. It is just as
>> > >   foolish to fancy that any philosophy can transcend its present
>> > >   world, as that an individual could leap out of his time or jump over
>> > >   Rhodes." (Pref. Phil Rt.)
>> > >
>> > > and went on to say that while no philosophy worthy of the name can
>> simply
>> > > reflect the prejudices of its own times, it is given by its own times
>> the
>> > > prejudices against which it must protest. Those who are blindly swept
>> > along
>> > > by the fashions of the times are quite incapable of doing this and are
>> > not
>> > > worthy of the name of philosophy or science.
>> > >
>> > > Andy
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > Wagner Luiz Schmit wrote:
>> > >
>> > >> Hello,
>> > >>
>> > >> I don't know if you already saw this... I am still thinking about it
>> and
>> > >> what to say about it...
>> > >>
>> > >> http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/**pt-br/what_we_learned_from_5_**
>> > >> million_books.html<
>> >
>> http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/pt-br/what_we_learned_from_5_million_books.html
>> > >
>> > >>
>> > >> A new tool or a new way to reduce human to numbers? In some places i
>> > >> already see scientists from fields like neuroscience, evolutionary
>> > >> psychology and etc pointing to me and saying "Marx? Vygotsky? Gosh
>> you
>> > are
>> > >> obsolete and should be in a Museum". And they have funding...
>> > >>
>> > >> Just trowing toughs...
>> > >>
>> > >> Wagner Luiz Schmit
>> > >> ______________________________**____________
>> > >> _____
>> > >> xmca mailing list
>> > >> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>> > >> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/**listinfo/xmca<
>> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca>
>> > >>
>> > >>
>> > >>
>> > >>
>> > >
>> > > --
>> > > ------------------------------**------------------------------**
>> > > ------------
>> > > *Andy Blunden*
>> > > Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/**toc/hmca20/18/1<
>> > http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1>
>> > > Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>> > > Book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/**product/1608461459/<
>> > http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608461459/>
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > ______________________________**____________
>> > > _____
>> > > xmca mailing list
>> > > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>> > > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/**listinfo/xmca<
>> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca>
>> > >
>> > __________________________________________
>> > _____
>> > xmca mailing list
>> > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>> >
>> --
>> *Robert Lake  Ed.D.
>> *Assistant Professor
>> Social Foundations of Education
>> Dept. of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
>> Georgia Southern University
>> P. O. Box 8144
>> Phone: (912) 478-5125
>> Fax: (912) 478-5382
>> Statesboro, GA  30460
>> *Democracy must be born anew in every generation, and education is its
>> midwife.*
>> *-*John Dewey.
>>  __________________________________________
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