[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Re: [xmca] In-betweenly (Duet in Counterpoint)



I think that there many things in our world and in our philosophy are linked but distinct. For that very reason, though, I don't think that they are linked in the same way or distinct in the same way.


I think that communication and cognition are related genetically. Because of this genetic relationship, there is a functional one at some point in development (gesture, egocentric speech, reading aloud, counting on your fingers). But because of their development, at some point there some structural links must die out. In the replacing of gesture with intonation and stress, in the replacement of egocentric speech with silent thinking, in the replacement of reading aloud with reading to yourself, and in the replacement of counting on our fingers with counting with words and eventually with mental calculation, the aspects of communication which are necessary for other-communication are replaced with structural features that enhance self-communication.


Now, to me the things you are talking about (subjective/objective, presence/absence, and mediated/immediating) are logical relationships. That is, they are philosophical models of real phenomena, and as such they tend to be structural descriptions and not genetic or functional. Yes, I do think that communication and cognition are siblings in a way that subjective and objective, presence and absence, and even mediated and immediating are not. 


Here's how I see it. Zebras and donkeys are both animals. But that doesn't imply that a zebra is a kind of donkey or that a donkey is a kind of zebra, or even that zebras and donkeys are two poles of a single construct, and that some donkeys are zebra-like and some zebras are donkey-oids. It seems to me that what we have to say is that zebras and donkeys are two variants of some third thing--something Vygotsky would call a "third step" or  "neoformation" or maybe just a "thing", because Vygotsky believed that the word would be ready when the concept is, and not until then.


I think that tools and signs are both mediating activities. But that doesn't imply to me that a tool is a kind of sign or that a sign is a kind of tool, or that things can be more toolish and less sign-y. What Vygotsky says is that tools and signs are two distinct variants of a third thing. And he notes that calling it "mediating activity" does not give a genetic relationship, but only a logical one. It's like saying that donkeys and zebras are both animals. It doesn't tell you which is the chlid and which is the parent.


One of my graduate students just came back from Shanghai where she was working with the Disney Company on their new "Disney English" programme. It's a programme which, like many English teaching programmes, is basically an idea built around a tool and not a sign, in this case an 'interactive white board" which children can use to "throw" Disney characters up on the screen. She is full of enthusiasm for the enthusiasm that children that children have when they do this (she was there for two weeks). But when I looked at the data she brought back, my heart sank--the "mediating activities" are really passivities; the "interactive white board" just relegates the kids to tool use and reserves making and using signs for the folks at Disney.


Ms. Han was very puzzled and even a little hurt at my cool response in class last night. I had always emphasized that gesture was tool and sign together, and that we know this because gesture has an inner relationship with stress and intonation. Now I was arguing that tool functions and sign functions can and should be separated in the course of development. 


So we looked at the board marker I had in my hand. The tip is a tool, not a sign. But on the side of the board marker, it says "MonAmi BOARD Marker" in English and then in Korean. These are signs, not tools. You can't write with the label and you can't read the tip. The two functions are completely distinct, and they remain functionally distinct even when they are structurally integrated, just like the interactive white  board and the Disney characters. When Disney says "interactive white board" they are being perfectly honest. The child can interact with the white board. But the child cannot interact with the sign, which appears to the child as a second person but is in reality not even a third. 


David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies


--------- 원본 메일 ---------
보낸사람: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
받는사람 : lchcmike@gmail.com,"eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
날짜: 2012년 9월 06일 목요일, 22시 05분 49초 +0900
제목: Re: [xmca] In-betweenly (Duet in Counterpoint)
David, a question that came to mind as I listened to the verse of the duet:
You sang:

BARITONE: Lewin's reply to Ach is that outside and inside are really not so
different. But if you believe that then you have to recognize that
cognition is a form of communication just as communication is a form of

Do you then have to believe that subjectivity is a form of objectivity just
as objectivity is a form of subjectivity?

Do you then have to believe that mediating is a form of immediacy just as
immediacy is a form of mediating?

I'm circling around reflections on Greg's *betweeness* or Mike's
exploration of *gaps* or Heidegger's reflections on *nothing*


On Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 9:16 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> System and systemic change do make a melodius duet, David.
> mike
> On Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 6:27 PM, kellogg <kellogg59@hanmail.net> wrote:
> > Sorry, Huw--I didn't see this. My new connection to xmca seems to be
> > generating a lot of bounces.
> >
> >
> >
> > I like the dialogue format: as you say, it is counterpoint: you are
> > singing contralto and I am going to baritone.
> >
> >
> > CONTRALTO: I can't say I have a problem with the phrase. Mediation can
> > refer to the
> > process of participation and regulation. Though I think you're perfectly
> > right to point out errors of a metaphysical treatment of it.
> >
> > BARITONE: I guess I have a problem with phrases in general, or perhaps
> > with phrasing. I love the suspense in reading Vygotsky, the fact that
> > (e.g.) in the second chapter of the "History of the Development of the
> > Higher Psychic Functions" he says he's going to talk about "rudimentary
> > functions" and then he doesn't actually give you an example until sixty
> > paragraphs later. I love the fact that in the fourth and fifth chapters
> > when he wants to introduce a "fourth step" of the self-control of
> behavior
> > by cultural means (beyond Buhler's stages of "instincti", "habit", and
> > "intelligent solution"), he just calls it "fourth step". Actually, I
> think
> > he never really gave this great book the (rather immodest) name "the
> > History of the Development of the Higher Psychic Functions"--that name
> was
> > probably just taken by the Soviet editor from the first five words of the
> > first sentence, a practice Vygotsky himself NEVER followed and which is
> in
> > many ways the very opposite of his real naming practice.
> >
> >
> >
> > I love the fact that in "Child Development", when he doesn't know what
> to
> > call something, he just says "neoformation". Or the fact that he never
> > actually decided on a name for his type of psychology (although he ruled
> a
> > number of names out, including "psychology of the higher functions",
> > "Marxist", "instrumental", and "cultural" psychology). I think that what
> > all of this means is that Vygotsky truly practices what he preaches when
> he
> > says (with Tolstoy of course) that the word is only ready when the
> concept
> > is. And sometimes not even then.
> >
> >
> >
> > Yeah, I guess mediation can refer to the process of participation and
> > regulation. But when it does that, it's a STRUCTURAL descriptor, or at
> best
> > a FUNCTIONAL description. What I am looking for is GENETIC EXPLANATION.
> > That is why "mediated" is a past participle; it's not "mediating". And
> > that's exactly what is missing here. Mind is not "mediated" until the fat
> > lady sings.
> >
> >
> >
> > CONTRALTO: If you wanted to hold mediation constant, as an interface and
> > as a
> > particular form of regulation, then it seems that the agency would be
> > distributed. You could then observe how the agency moves and is taken up
> > for a fixed form of mediation.
> >
> > BARITONE: When you say "hold mediation constant", you sound a distinctly
> > Saussurean note: a snapshot, an arresting of time. When you say an
> > "interface" you are imply that mediation is a membrane between inside and
> > out. But we are told that the mind ITSELF is mediated. Of course, that is
> > true at the end of development: everything that we find in the higher
> > psychological functions of the mind gets there through mediation. But
> what
> > about the other stuff? What exactly was there before all that mediated
> > stuff arrived?
> >
> >
> > CONTRALTO: Personally, I don't see gestalts as being undifferentiated.
> >
> >
> >
> > BARITONE: No, they are completely differentiated--at the end of
> > development. But the whole Gestaltist account of development is precisely
> > that they are undifferentiated at the beginning and they become
> > progressively differentiated. Otherwise, Gestaltism cannot recognize
> > development at all, since nothing can really exist outside of a Gestalt.
> So
> > the only way for development to take place is that Gestalts begin by
> being
> > undifferentiated. I think, actually, this is why Vygotsky ultimately
> > REJECTS Gestaltism: Vygotsky insists that differentiation happens because
> > of things happening to the Gestalt from the outside (specifically, the
> very
> > non-Gestalt, SYNTHETIC and even SYNTACTIC form of organization that is
> > language).
> >
> >
> >
> > What I really meant is that the Gestalists--and specifically the
> > Wurzburgers--sat in the same class, listened to the same teachers (Kulpe
> > and later Wertheimer) and even worked in the same labs and the used the
> > same instruments and were on the same side of a number of
> > controversies (Buhler and Ach were on the same side of the dispute
> between
> > Marbe and Wundt). But Gestalt included both Nazis (Ach and Folkelt) and
> > their victims (Selz, who was interned at Buchenwald and then died in a
> > cattle car on the way to Auschwitz, Lewin who had to leave behind
> > everything and take refuge in Iowa, Kohler, who refused to give the
> > required Hitler salute to start and end his classes, and left Germany
> when
> > his students were harrassed by stormtroopers after every class, Buhler,
> who
> > was mysteriously interrogated for six weeks and then left Austria never
> to
> > return.)
> >
> >
> >
> > Most of this was about Jews. Much of it was about politics (Kohler was
> not
> > a Jew). But some of it was about psychology--I think that when we look
> at
> > Ach and Lewin's discussion over "will", we have to admit that Ach is
> > looking for some kind of "determining tendency" outside the self, in the
> > task itself, and that idea of will imposed from the outside is precisely
> > what Lewin will not allow. Similarly, I think that when Vygotsky insists
> > that instinct and habit are different precisely in their heritability, in
> > their permeability to outside influences, he is writing not only about
> > Hitler, but also about Lysenko.
> >
> >
> >
> > CONTRALTO: I suppose the
> > point really is whether the author, and reader, have a developed notion
> of
> > system. System as some form of aggregated blob is insufficient.
> >
> >
> >
> > BARITONE: Yes, exactly. Sometimes counterpoint means perfect harmony.
> >
> >
> >
> > impression is that "commognition" serves to highlight the lesser known
> > conceptual aspects of communication, e.g. communication of a virus.
> Again,
> > the main thing is system and systemic change.
> >
> > BARITONE: Lewin's reply to Ach is that outside and inside are really not
> > so different. But if you believe that then you have to recognize that
> > cognition is a form of communication just as communication is a form of
> > cognition.
> >
> >
> >
> > I love the ambiguity between your singular subject and your plural
> > complement: "the main thing IS system and systemic change", where these
> two
> > things are really just one. Perhaps, actually, we should sing this little
> > duet at two different tempos--an adagio and an allegretto.
> >
> >
> > David Kellogg
> >
> > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > <kellogg59@hanmail.net>
> > __________________________________________
> > _____
> > xmca mailing list
> > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> >
> >
> __________________________________________
> _____
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list