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RE: [xmca] Operations, mental images and emotions (!)

Hi Manfred,

So I'm trying to get this right.  Are you saying there needs to be a metacognitive component to action, or perhaps activity.  I guess what is throwing me is that the cake experience is so close to the marshmallow experiment that metacognitive researchers often discuss.  Or does this mean at the least there is a metacognitive component to activity?  

From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] on behalf of Holodynski, Manfred [manfred.holodynski@uni-muenster.de]
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 2:40 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: AW: [xmca] Operations, mental images and emotions (!)

Ups, Martin,

this is where worlds collide :-) I'm arguing on the basis of developmental and psychological studies on infants and young children - and you are arguing from an adult and a sociological perspective  - and you are arguing with Marx to whom we can attribute only everyday concepts about the psychological development of young children.

Dear Mike, dear Martin, and dear other discussants,
When I use the term "mental image" I interpret it from a psychological perspective and I have concrete situations such as the following in mind:
Every situation in which a person is actually situated has specific affordances what the person could do in this situation. Seeing a delicious cake may suggest or force the person to eat it if she is at least a bit hungry. These affordances are a product of the cultural meanings of the situational cues and the person's history of learning. These learned affordances "exist" for the person that the perception of the situational cues are connected with learned actions how to deal with these cues and with emotional markers which contain a specific action readiness how to proceed in this situations towards the cues. No mental images are necessary to guide the behavior of the person, the connection of perceived (!) cues and the emotional action readiness guide the person's behavior.
The relevant question concerning the psychological usefulness of mental images is whether the person really eats the cake at once or whether she could inhibit this actual emotional action readiness and could imagine that it would be better to eat the cake at another time, e.g. in an hour when all family members will come together to eat cakes. When she is eating the cake now she will have no cake when all the others will eat cakes.
Young children do not have the psychological capacity to imagine these consequences of their actual emotional action readiness and the consecutive behavior because they could not mentally leave the actual situation and imagine the future situation in which it is more appropriate to eat the cake.
On the other side it is possible for a child to inhibit the impulse of eating the cake at once but the underlying mechanism is not the anticipation of a future situation (a reflective, goal-driven level of regulation) but the elicitation of fear (an emotional level of regulation) when caregivers punish their children for eating the cake outside the allowed circumstances.
So, the capacity of imagening another situational context as the actual perceivable one and to regulate the action not in line with the affordances of the actual (!) situation but of the affordances of an imagined (!) situation is a genuine human capacity that emerges during preschool age. This capacity needs signs (!) in order to actively create this mental image. Speech signs in the form of private and - at an advanced level - inner speech are one of the most effective psychological tools to create such mental images. And private speech emerges at around the third year of life.
If a person has already a lot of experiences with this kind of goal-driven regulation this process of imagening a future situation can also become an operation, e.g. the overlearned rule is: I only eat cakes together with my families, so my behavior is connected to situational cues; in the actual situation I am alone that means, I do not eat cakes and this connection is already overlearned, therefore I do not eat the cake.
Complicating the discussion a bit more: There are a lot of empirical and conceptual hints that adults are capable of four different levels of regulation. Putting it in a nutshell:
- an emotional level (the emotional action readiness is the psychological mean)
- habitual level (the overlearned connections between perception and behavior are the psychological means)
- volitional level (the imagined goal and self-instructions are the psychological mean)
- reflective level (the imagined goal and self-instructions concerning the regulation of own elicited emotional action readiness that force the person in another direction than the imagined goal: not eating the cake now...)


Prof. Dr. Manfred Holodynski
Institut für Psychologie in Bildung und Erziehung
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Fliednerstr. 21
D-48149 Münster
+49-(0)-251-83-34310 (Sekretariat)
+49-(0)-251-83-34314 (Fax)

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] Im Auftrag von Martin Packer
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 10. April 2013 20:03
An: <lchcmike@gmail.com>; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Betreff: Re: [xmca] Operations

Our discussion of whether or not infants can participate in an 'activity' (or 'project') seems to have centered around the question of whether an infant has the capability to "form a goal and then take appropriate premeditated action to realise that goal" (Andy), to form a "mental image" (Michael, though I think he was arguing against this), to have "an inner image of the future situation" (Manfred), to have a "psychic image" or a "conscious goal" (Leontiev).

I think this is a misleading way of framing the issue, for several reasons. Some of them I've already mentioned, or at least hinted at. Here is another:

What Marx actually wrote, in the Grundrise (at least as the English translation has it) was this: "consumption ideally posits the object of production as an internal image, as a need, as drive and as purpose. It creates the objects of production in a still subjective form. No production without a need. But first consumption reproduces the need" (p. 92).

This is in the context of a discussion of the teleological character of productive activity. Marx's central point is that the goal of production is always created by consumption (because reproduction is always necessary). In this passage he is describing the manners in which consumption can "posit" the object that is to be produced, and consequently the ways in which the goal of productive activity is defined.

I read this as indicating that, for Marx, "internal image" is only *one* way in which consumption can posit the object that is to be produced. Consumption (that is, for example, the hungry person) can *also* posit that object as a need, or as a drive, or as a purpose. These seem to me to be qualitatively quite distinct, from each other and from a "mental image".

The question really ought to be, can an infant form a need, a drive, or a purpose.


On Apr 9, 2013, at 3:27 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> Thank you Manfred. I have the same understanding of
> operation/conditions action/goals as you write about. It was a
> mistaken typo on my part in the orginal note that Andy kindly
> corrected, but in the flow of messages its hard discern.
> So starting with your clear statement my question becomes: how does it
> come about that operations proceed actions in early infancy and in
> what sense(s) is that true and why?
> mike

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