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[Xmca-l] Re: Systems views [leontievactivity]
Wondering where Shotter stands on the the usefulness of science. Is there
value to be had in the scientific field of meaning? Or is it just a ruse?
E.g., is there value in seeing "social structure" and "class" in the world?
I believe Shotter would answer by saying that "social structure" and
"class" are ways of talking and carry values within these particular ways
of talking. He would want to FOCUS our attention on what is normally the
background within which our frames positing "social structure" and "class"
are ways of talking. He describes his approach as "rhetorical-RESPONSIVE".
Therefore talk of "social structure" and "classes" is a way of
participating in an ongoing dialogue that is *partially sedimented" and
He would say that academic discourses with their written language bias are
only able to exist as instructed discourses using analytic tools for making
de-cisions are always carried out within conversational realities which are
expressing particular values. By foregrounding this conversational ontology
Shotter hopes to reveal the contested argumentative, negotiated and value
informed collaboration within which all discourses and model building are
He uses the metaphor of partially sedimented centers of discourse where we
are INSTRUCTED in know-HOW exist within a background of ongoing spontaneous
conversational realities. He emphasizes that written modes of
communication emerge within conversational realities and take on an assumed
reality that occludes the hurly burly of the spontaneous dis-organized
background within which the instructed partially sedimented discourses
Greg, he would acknowledge the reality of "social structures" and "classes"
as ways of talking with REAL AND ACTUAL consequences. However he would say
they do not exist outside of our ways of talking which are open ended,
negotiated, and within which the talk of "social structure" and "classes"
I would guess he would say that "social structures" and "classes" as ways
of talking emerge within literately informed and instructed ways of talking.
All this social structure talk emerges within our de-cisions and ways of
talking. Now these ways of talk REALLY MATTER and have real existence in
He would not reject the talk of social structures but he would say they
come into existence within the background of our ways of talking.
His project is to FOCUS OUR ATTENTION on this hurly burly background which
is ALWAYS FORMING and foreground what has been invisible in plain sight. In
the language of phenomenology he is attempting to "say to show" LOOK,
FOCUS, the world is partially sedimented. We do require to be INSTRUCTED
and develop the tools to carry on within these partially structured
cultural historically formED worlds. These worlds exist.
How we talk about these worlds are not formed but formING. Without our talk
informing ourselves dialogically [he says joint action] our informed worlds
would cease to exist.
What Shotter wants to SHOW us [make explicit] is THIS background "field"
within which our centers of discourse using our psychological tools are
INSTRUCTED as "knowing-HOW".
Shotter emphasizes the tension within our ways of talking and he wants to
shift from *picture* meataphors of "frames" to alternative metaphors of
*voice* which come into existence THROUGH the response of the other.
KNOWING "from within" privileges the realm of values and asks if everyone
has a voice. This voice is not a subjective inner voice but rather a voice
which emerges within the hurly burly dis-organized places between the
centers of instructed discourse. To find one's voice only within the
discourses as already formed and instructed is to loose the vitality of
life within the hurly burly. In this "sense ability"
I would say he is developing a way of talking that shares Merleau-Ponty's
understanding that all analysis and "de-cision making" has LIMITS which do
not exhaust the EXCESS and SYNERGY OF LIVING existence lived within
expressive cognition. Both M-P and Shotter want to [using a gestalt
metaphor] shift or turn our FOCUS from the figured foreground with its
marked boundaries to the background and bring it to the fore.
This fore is where we "shape" the "social structures" and "classes".
Greg, this is my interpretation. I do not see it as questioning but adding
to CHAT. In this I may be naive or mis-informed. That is why I tune in and
try to focus on these other perspectives.
On Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 8:09 AM, Greg Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>wrote:
> Just thought I'd mention that it sounds like there are strong resonances
> between Shotter's ideas here and Goodwin's paper Professional Vision that
> Antti recently mentioned.
> In that piece, Goodwin looks at the processes of coding, highlighting, and
> the articulation of graphic representations. He shows first how these
> practices function in archaeology to define particular shadings of dirt as
> evidence of posts of a building (rhetorically the paper is brilliant - to
> start off with a neutral profession such as archaeology and then move to
> the much more emotionally charged issue of the police beating of Rodney
> King). Then he moves to the Rodney King case to show how the coding,
> highlighting, and representational practices of the police justified the
> brutal beating of Rodney King.
> Goodwin's key points resonate well with not just Shotter, but with Activity
> "The ability to build and interpret a material cognitive artifact, such as
> an archaeological map, is embedded within a web of socially articulated
> and, "Within such a framework the ability to see relevant entities is not
> lodged in the individual mind, but instead within a community of competent
> and further:
> "As argued by Wittgenstein (1958) a category or rule cannot determine its
> own application; seeing what can count as a "change of slope" or
> "aggression" in a relevant domain of scrutiny is both a contingent
> accomplishment, and a locus for contestation, indeed a central site for
> legal argument. Categories and the phenomena to which they are being
> applied, mutually elaborate each other (Goodwin
> 1992; Heritage 1984; Keller and Keller 1993),"
> I think Goodwin's account is interesting b.c. it is mostly descriptive of
> the phenomena. While pointing in some ways to the injustice of the Rodney
> King trial, he doesn't go so far as to say that the work of "professionals"
> is entirely a ruse. Rather, it seems like his point is that there are
> better and worse ways of doing it. E.g., the archaeologist student is able
> to engage with the materials herself while learning, whereas the jurist is
> expected to passively sit and listen to the testimony of "experts" (strange
> to think that "inquiry" - as in "an inquiry" - and legal proceedings could
> be linked - or, at least, this is a strange form of "inquiry" conducted
> entirely by "experts").
> Wondering where Shotter stands on the the usefulness of science. Is there
> value to be had in the scientific field of meaning? Or is it just a ruse?
> E.g., is there value in seeing "social structure" and "class" in the world?
> On Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 6:47 PM, Larry Purss <email@example.com> wrote:
> > Christine,
> > You are exploring structures and systems and whether the concept of
> > *system* develops in a *general* way or does it appear [making or
> > finding!?] immanantly within particular practices.
> > I will share a perspective from John Shotter who is attempting to make an
> > ontological case for *conversational joint activities. He critiques
> > *systems* thinking as a form of *scientific* thinking and he links it to
> > particular form of social practices that could exist only within literate
> > societies.
> > He is not making a case for *literacy* in general but literacy as used
> > within scientific communities. Here is a summary of his position, [coming
> > from a bias of conversational realities as the background within which
> > scientific and *systems* ways of *knowing* develop.
> > Shotter's account takes place as a response or answer to Bhaskar's
> > *realist* perspective on scientific knowledge. Shotter says Bhaskar [and
> > realists in general] neglect the TEXTUAL nature of the productive and
> > reproductive process in science. Bhaskar says the most important practice
> > supporting a science is its *methodology*: the assumption that proper,
> > scientific knowledge is ONLY acquired as a result of systematic thought
> > orderly investigation. Shotter says that this *methodology* only has
> > and only MAKES sense, within a context of other activities and practices.
> > Central among these other practices is the production of WRITTEN TEXTS.
> > professionally conducted science moves from text to text, usually
> > with the reading of already written text and ending in the writing of
> > further texts. Within the many forms of linguistic communication written
> > text has a special place. Texts can be used by readers [with the
> > appropriate prior showing training] to construct a meaning by reference
> > linguistic resources which the reader possesses within themselves. The
> > reader [as writer] carefully composes an interwoven sequence of written
> > sentences, structured within ITSELF [to a much larger degree than
> > conversational compositions] by essentially intralinguistic or
> > relations. Thus to a critical degree scientific text is a relatively
> > de-contextualized FORM of communication. Shotter says, to the extent
> that a
> > *scientific* theory is always something written and published and making
> > claims that things are not what they ordinarily seem to be, but are IN
> > REALITY something else, the theory is not intelligible in the same way as
> > terms are intelligible in ordinary conversational language.
> > If we want to be taken seriously in our scientific claims we need to be
> > INSTRUCTED in HOW [knowing-how] to *see* various social phenomena AS
> > a certain psychological character. Shotter gives examples to be able to
> > *see* social phenomena AS social structure, or AS social classes. Other
> > examples is to see social phenomena AS social representations, AS rules.
> > Being instructed in HOW to read scientific texts INSTRUCTS us in how TO
> > social life AS consisting in structures and systems.
> > What Shotter wants to add to this understanding is that science is also
> > conducted within a context of argumentation. Shotter says Bhaskar's
> > account lacks a certain *reflexiveness* and is biased toward propositions
> > and statements rather than metaphors.
> > Christine, not sure if my *turn* was a *swerve off course* but Shotter
> > holds up *systems* as an object and gives us another perspective on this
> > object of discussion.
> > Larry
> > On Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 6:36 AM, Christine Schweighart <
> > firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > > Jack,
> > > Perhaps a way of distinguishing significant aspects coherently across
> > > various sciences would be helpful.
> > > There is research in
> > > http://www.journals.elsevier.com/psychoneuroendocrinology/
> > >
> > > cortisol and memory work
> > > http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03064530/36/3
> > > cortisol and stress kind of work done in variable separating lab work;
> > > but not reaching to 'values'as a bridge to be able to work in the
> > > 'everyday' context in fieldwork.......
> > > http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453013002667
> > >
> > > developmental influence on structural capacities.
> > >
> > > http://www.psyneuen-journal.com/article/S0306-4530(12)00303-4/abstract
> > >
> > > Anyone with useful reading suggestions please send an email.
> > >
> > > Christine
> > >
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Visiting Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602