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[Xmca-l] Re: Polysemy of "Community"

Yes, the embodiment is "not the precondition of man’s formation but its product."


On Aug 14, 2013, at 6:59 PM, mike cole wrote:

Colleagues-- Is there perhaps some relationship between the notions of
"shared artifacts" and "shared meanings?" If Mandelshtam forgot the word he
wanted to say, and thought,
unembodied, returned to the hall of shadows" what is the form of the
embodiment if not in something human-created, a paricular, historically sedimented, materialized configuration of the human voice that, dare we
consider it, ART-i-ficial?


On Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 9:16 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

That's an alternative way to go, Cliff, define "community" by "shared
meanings," but the upshot of that way is the counter-intuitive conclusion that kids and their parents belong to different "cultural communities."

There is one point which I must clarify though from your last words below: "The material form of an artifact may be universal in the sense that we may
all agree on the label for it. However, the artifact may have very
different meanings for us." No. The artefacts have a universal material form despite us having "different labels" for it. The foundation of natural science is that matter exist independently of human activity, obedient to natural laws which are knowable. And natural science has a right to exist; it is not a giant mistake. We *do* of course ascribe different meanings to
one and the same material form or object, but that is thanks to human
activity. The matter exists independently of our interpretation of it. This
is why I know I can rely on artefacts to provide a sound, universal
foundation for "community," and I leave it entirely open that a
multiplicity of meanings and actions are in conflict within the community.


Cliff O'Donnell wrote:

So I can see a problem with making "community" the subject matter, or
"unit of analysis" for a study;

We agree. That is why activity settings are the units of analysis we

one would have to first select an artefact or combination of artefacts,
(such as language and land) which serves to define the basis of the said "community." The point then is that the "community" is *not* defined by
shared *meanings*;

   So why define community by artifacts? Why not by shared meanings?

in fact, different components of the "community" may attach
diametrically opposite meanings to a given artefact (word, symbol, tool,
...) or even use it in ways which are quite incommensurable.

If community is defined by shared meanings, those with "diametrically
opposite meanings" would by definition belong to different cultural
communities (even if they did live in the same geographical unit).

But! the material form of the artefact is *universal* in what ever way
it is used, meant or interpreted. The *materiality* of artefacts is the foundation was what is *universal* in human life. Projects give us what is *particular* in human life (ascribing different meanings to one and the same artefact), and actions (not persons) give us what is *individual* in
human life, for the purposes of theoretical analysis.

The material form of an artifact may be universal in the sense that we may all agree on the label for it. However, the artifact may have very different meanings for us and these meanings may lead to quite different
actions and, as you point out, be the basis for conflict.



Clifford R. O'Donnell, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Past-President, Society for Community Research and Action (APA Division 27)

University of Hawai‘i
Department of Psychology
2530 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822