[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: [xmca] In-betweenly (Duet in Counterpoint)
On 6 September 2012 02:27, kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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.
Oh boy. Do I have to shave?
> 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.
I get your drift, I think, but I see more to it than that. Something that
mediates is something that is part of the system.
I have some studies lined up in which I may be able to demonstrate this
> 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?
This stems from your algebra plaintive. It's all contingent upon what you
wish to label and attribute identity to.
> 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
> 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
> 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.
> CONTRALTO: My
> 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
> 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.
No ambiguity intended...
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list