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

Absolutely.  At least considered from the perspective of writing, at least in the Mid-East invention (separate from  independent inventions in several other places).  It all started with stones used to count agricultural products, which then transformed into little clay pebbles of various shapes, into impressions on a clay matrix, into cuneiform letters. These little stones of no particular meaning to anybody had to come to have shared meanings for the objects to be able to use them for communicative purposes, and not just individual mnemonic purposes--but that too means assigning meaning to the object,; it is just not yet shared. In the practices of coming to share assigning meaning to ever more elaborate artfully produced signs among groups using texts in pursuit of their activities is the history of literacy. 
How is that for placing written language right in the heart of Vygotsky's and CHAT's experimental line?

----- Original Message -----
From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:00 pm
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Polysemy of "Community"
To: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>

> 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?
> perhaps?
> mike
> 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.
> >
> > Andy
> >
> >
> > 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
> >> use.
> >>
> >>  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.
> >>
> >>     Cliff
> >>
> >>
> >>
> > --
> >
> >