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Re: [xmca] Lewin and unification of the social sciences
- To: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Lewin and unification of the social sciences
- From: Greg Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2013 10:10:55 -0600
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Andy, I'm totally on board with you here. Must not have been clear in my
The massive human toll was felt by all. I think even Vietnam was more
widely felt than any of the recent American wars. America has managed to
hide its wars so that they are barely felt by the mainstream population. So
I see little chance of developing a civic generation anytime soon. But
maybe someone else can give me hope?
And as for "rooting", not sure what other meanings you'd add - the two I
had in mind were: 1. rooting - as in "cheering" for one's preferred team in
a sport and 2. rooting - as in what an animal does when it searches for
food (typically in the ground - like a pig searching for roots) and there
is 3. rooting - as an infant does when his cheek is stroked, he "roots" or
orients his head to the mother's breast so that he can nurse. Hadn't
thought of that third one, but maybe that works too...
Is there another meaning in Australia?
On Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 6:47 PM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Greg, people in the social cohesion business record that from the
> mid-1930s till the late 1950s (in the US) there was what they call "the
> long communitarian generation", after which life descended into liberalism,
> with signs of recovery only in the past couple of decades. As to the reason
> why, that is open to question. Ironically, it may well be due to the
> conditions of depression and war. But it was far wider than science. It
> affected every aspect of life from family stability, to church-going, to
> sport, to politics and union membership.
> Otherwise, I again am in total support of your thesis.
> But I guess "rooting" does not have the same meanings in the US as it has
> in Australia?
> Greg Thompson wrote:
>> A propos the previous conversation about the fracturing of the social
>> sciences into self-contained, self-sustaining units, I came across this
>> 1947 piece by Kurt Lewin.
>> I'm starting to think that there was something about the post-WWII
>> historical moment that encouraged this kind of work. Maybe something about
>> a shared and powerful ethic of working together to solve serious problems
>> facing humanity? (whereas today's social science tends to pick little
>> problems every here and there - XMCA researchers excepted, of course). Or
>> maybe there was a greater appreciation that social problems are real?
>> Lewin devotes a portion of his article to metaphysical questions of
>> existence - what objects does the mainstream public see as particularly
>> "real" today? (What is Latour's term for more or less "real"?). My guess
>> "genes and neurons" would be what people think of as the most real and
>> important objects in our lives. That's why brain researchers can publish
>> book after book about what "brain science" tells us about how to raise
>> better children or to stop war or whatever - and these books get gobbled
>> by publishers and the public. Most of the times the links between the
>> science and the suggestions are specious at best - usually much worse than
>> For most people today, I suspect that social and psychological phenomena
>> are nothing more than ghostly (geist-ly?!) apparitions. Makes it hard for
>> anyone to see the relevance of a "social theorist" to the problems facing
>> humanity today. Can't we just solve these problems with a pill? or by
>> rewiring the brain? or recoding the genes?
>> To put my position another way, it's not so much that I am AGAINST
>> neuroscience as it is that I am FOR social science. Or better, for both
>> neuroscience AND social science. That seems to me to be what Luria was up
>> to. And Lewin too...
>> (and btw, someone recently articulated this position very nicely on XMCA,
>> but I've forgotten who - apologies for not citing them...).
>> Rooting (in both senses) for the underdog.
> *Andy Blunden*
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602