[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] The Inimitability of Grammar



Well, of course, I sent out the results of the experiment without any
explanation because I believe that people should think for themselves.
But Mike is right--I am mildly insulted when I receive exhortations to
be relevant, be useful, and think for myself by agreeing with the
person insulting me.

Perhaps I shouldn't be. The truth is that I have been thinking for
myself for so long that I actually bore myself while still managing to
baffle the reviewers of prominent journals. And it is true that
sometimes--yea, often--I would rather think the way that Vygotsky did,
particularly since the way he thought seems more useful and relevant
to my work than the way that I do.

I would also like to think the way that Hannah Arendt did. One of the
interesting remarks she makes in support of the Kantian idea that evil
is always superficial and only moral good is genuinely profound is
that Eichman had not mastered the grammar of the German language, and
he speaks it rather the way that Arendt herself speaks English, even
though Eichmann is a native speaker of German. What Arendt means that
rather than consciously and deliberately master the intricate system
of German articles and case endings and genders, Eichmann takes a
shortcut--he simply memorizes phrases and uses them whole, the way we
do when we are speaking or trying to write a very complex foreign
language (in my case, Russian).

At first I thought this was merely the hauteur of a very educated
German Jew, the star pupil of Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers,
confronted with an unsuccessful peripatetic oil salesman who failed to
complete a high school education and used the extermination of the
Jews as a way of advancing a lackluster career. But Margaret Von
Trotta, who in the course of making the film "Hanna Arendt" also
subjected herself to thousands of hours of Eichmann testimony, makes
exactly the same remark. As a consequence of a lack of conscious
awareness of the way the German language works and a reliance on
memorized phrases, Eichmann's language is necessarily thoughtless and
cliche ridden.

Von Trotta's example is this. The judge asks Eichmann if the "Final
Solution" would have unrolled differently had their been "civic
responsibility", the judge is very clearly interested in whether
people like Eichmann, who essentially bear no ill will whatsoever
towards Jews and are simply doing a job that is somewhat more
lucrative and promising than selling oil, would want to change their
job if they were confronted with the kind of civic resistance that the
"Final Solution" encountered in, say, Denmark or Serbia or Bulgaria
(where local populations actively resisted the attempt to round up
Jews).

Eichmann makes no attempt to understand the question. He simply says
had it benefited from sufficient hierarchical organization, it would
undoubtedly have been more efficient and more efficiacious. But of
course the result is nonsense, because in this case "X" is precisely a
form of resistance to hierarchical organization. Eichmann does not
speak German; instead, German speaks him.

Bateson remarks that the reason why keeping a room tidy requires work,
but it just gets untidy by itself is simple entropy; there are many
more ways of being untidy than there are of being tidy (and when he
says this, what he is really showing us--almost perfectly--is the big
difference between the way we mediate reality and the way reality,
objectively, really is). In the same way, being grammatical requires
work, because there are infinitely many ways of being ungrammatical
and relatively fewer ways of being grammatical. We can, of course,
save work by replacing one psychological function (grammaticality)
with another (memory), but when we do this run up against Arendt's
biggest problem.

Arendt is shocked that Eichmann uses Kant to justify his actions and
even gives a reasonably good, though no doubt memorized, version of
the Categorical Imperative. She concludes that there are simply very
many ways of being evil, and relatively few of being good. The only
reliable method of telling the difference is to think and speak for
yourself. Paradoxically, or perhaps not so, this is something we do
not do well unless we actually listen to others and respond to them in
sentences that cannot be readily Googled.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies



simply want to advance their career,   So the I want people to think
for themselves. B

On 4 April 2014 01:35, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
> I believe David is commenting on Joseph's exhortation that we spend our
> time more usefully, Michael.
>
> hangin' out in southern california.
> mike
>
>
> On Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 2:15 AM, Michael <mlevykh@shaw.ca> wrote:
>
>> David,
>>
>> But what exactly does your "little experiment" mean?
>>
>> Michael
>>
>> -----------------------------------------
>>
>> Dr. Michael G. Levykh, Ph.D.
>>
>> Therapist, Affective Speech Remediation
>>
>> Psycho-Educational Consultant
>>
>> Voice Teacher, Vocal Coach
>>
>>  <http://www.autisticvancouver.com/> www.autisticvancouver.com
>>
>> 604.322.1019
>>
>> Sharpening the Ear for Better Communication
>>
>> and Socially Appropriate Behaviour
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of David Kellogg
>> Sent: April-02-14 11:48 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: vygotsky's theory and symbolic interactionism
>>
>>
>>
>> I just tried a little experiment. I googled "Think for yourself!" "Be
>>
>> relevant!" and "Be useful!" to see how many times someone has had,
>>
>> more or less, these exact sentiments in these exact words.
>>
>>
>>
>> Here's what I found:
>>
>>
>>
>> "Be useful!"  4,030,020 matches in .32 seconds.
>>
>>
>>
>> "Be relevant!" 607,000,000 in 0.26 seconds. (Much easier to find.)
>>
>>
>>
>> "Think for yourself!" 717 million mentions in only .040 seconds!
>>
>>
>>
>> David Kellogg
>>
>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On 3 April 2014 11:24, Lois Holzman <lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org>
>> wrote:
>>
>> > Joseph
>>
>> > I'd like to know more about you. I appreciate your comment on the current
>> "conversational thread."
>>
>> > Lois
>>
>> >
>>
>> > Lois Holzman
>>
>> > Director, East Side Institute for Group & Short Term Psychotherapy
>>
>> > 104-106 South Oxford Street
>>
>> > Brooklyn, New York 11217
>>
>> > Chair, Global Outreach, All Stars Project, UX
>>
>> > Tel. +1.212.941.8906 x324
>>
>> > Fax +1.718.797.3966
>>
>> > lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org
>>
>> > Social Media
>>
>> > Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter
>>
>> > Blogs
>>
>> > Psychology Today| Psychology of Becoming | ESI Community News
>>
>> > Websites
>>
>> > Lois Holzman | East Side Institute | Performing the World
>>
>> > All Stars Project
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> >
>>
>> > On Apr 2, 2014, at 12:49 PM, Joseph Gilbert <joeg4us@roadrunner.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>> >
>>
>> >> May I suggest that you-all emphasize your own questioning and thinking
>> rather than mainly referring to great innovators and thinkers of the past.
>> By concentrating on what has already been said by recognized authorities,
>> one stays mired in the past. It is natural for intelligent, conscious
>> beings
>> to have their own wonderings/questions. What are yours? Do you wish to
>> remake the world in any way? Would you like to have a peaceful planet for
>> your grandchildren? What needs to be done in order to achieve that? How
>> about a new perception, an updated world-view, based upon our best current
>> knowledge of human nature? Just as many Christians look backward to Jesus
>> to
>> chart their course, academicians in this current corporate state tend to
>> remain stuck in the already accepted arguments and premises established
>> long
>> ago. Please break free and really accomplish something useful with your
>> wealth of knowledge rather than mostly engaging in "small talk" among your
>> cohorts in an isolated i
>>
>>  vory tower. We (humanity) need all the help we can get. It seems you
>> should
>> be able to do more than split hairs among yourselves while the real needs
>> of
>> the world go unaddressed. Get back to the basics and build from there,
>> using
>> what you really believe to be true as your navigational instruments. Think
>> for yourselves! Be original! Be relevant! Be useful!
>>
>> >>
>>
>> >>               Joseph Gilbert
>>
>> >>
>>
>> >> On Apr 2, 2014, at 8:27 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> >>
>>
>> >>> Seems like you nailed it, Robert, (and Benjamin read it there?).
>>
>> >>>
>>
>> >>> The lesson I take away from this is that we are all "so-called
>> thinkers"
>> by
>>
>> >>> virtue  of the fact that our consciousness is mediated through culture.
>> The
>>
>> >>> imagined present never precisely matches the encountered future.
>>
>> >>>
>>
>> >>> In so far as there is an antidote to this characteristic of humans, so
>> far
>>
>> >>> as I can figure out, it is develop cultural practices that might be
>> called
>>
>> >>> "critical" in that they diverge from the common imaginary worlds.
>> Having
>>
>> >>> criticized, the preferred next step would be to test out your imagined
>>
>> >>> world in practice in order to discover its flaws.
>>
>> >>>
>>
>> >>> What do others conclude?
>>
>> >>> mike
>>
>> >>>
>>
>> >>>
>>
>> >>> On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 7:56 PM, Robert Lake
>> <boblake@georgiasouthern.edu>wrote:
>>
>> >>>
>>
>> >>>> See highlighted phrase below :-).
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>> Marx-Engels Correspondence 1893
>>
>> >>>> Engels to Franz Mehring Abstract
>>
>> >>>> ------------------------------
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>> Source: *Marx and Engels Correspondence*;
>>
>> >>>> Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
>>
>> >>>> First Published: *Gestamtausgabe*;
>>
>> >>>> Translated: Donna Torr;
>>
>> >>>> Transcribed: Sally
>>
>> >>>> Ryan<http://www.marxists.org/admin/volunteers/biographies/sryan.htm
>> >in
>>
>> >>>> 2000;
>>
>> >>>> HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.
>>
>> >>>> ------------------------------
>>
>> >>>> London, July 14, 1893
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>> Today is my first opportunity to thank you for the *Lessing Legend*
>> you
>>
>> >>>> were kind enough to send me. I did not want to reply with a bare
>> formal
>>
>> >>>> acknowledgment of receipt of the book but intended at the same time to
>> tell
>>
>> >>>> you something about it, about its contents. Hence the delay.
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>> I shall begin at the end -- the appendix on historical materialism, in
>> which
>>
>> >>>> you have described the main things excellently and for any
>> unprejudiced
>>
>> >>>> person convincingly. If I find anything to object to it is that you
>>
>> >>>> attribute more credit to me than I deserve, even if I count in
>> everything
>>
>> >>>> which I might possibly have found out for myself - in time - but which
>> Marx
>>
>> >>>> with his more rapid *coup d'oeil* (grasp) and wider vision discovered
>> much
>>
>> >>>> more quickly. When one has the good fortune to work for forty years
>> with a
>>
>> >>>> man like Marx, one does not usually get the recognition one thinks one
>>
>> >>>> deserves during his lifetime. Then if the greater man dies, the lesser
>>
>> >>>> easily gets overrated, and this seems to me to be just my case at
>> present;
>>
>> >>>> history will set all this right in the end and by that time one will
>> be
>>
>> >>>> safely round the corner and know nothing more about anything.
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>> Otherwise there is only one other point lacking, which, however, Marx
>> and I
>>
>> >>>> always failed to stress enough in our writings and in regard to which
>> we
>>
>> >>>> are all equally guilty. That is to say, we all laid, and *were bound
>> to
>>
>> >>>> lay*,
>>
>> >>>> the main emphasis, in the first place, on the *derivation* of
>> political,
>>
>> >>>> juridical and other ideological notions, and of actions arising
>> through
>> the
>>
>> >>>> medium of these notions, from basic economic facts. But in so doing we
>>
>> >>>> neglected the formal side -- the ways and means by which these
>> notions,
>>
>> >>>> etc., come about -- for the sake of the content. This has given our
>>
>> >>>> adversaries a welcome opportunity for misunderstandings, of which Paul
>>
>> >>>> Barth is a striking example.
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>> Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker
>> consciously,
>>
>> >>>> indeed, but with a false consciousness.
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>> On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 9:24 PM, Martin John Packer
>>
>> >>>> <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>wrote:
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>>>> Wikipedia attributes the phase to Engels.
>>
>> >>>>>
>>
>> >>>>> Martin
>>
>> >>>>>
>>
>> >>>>> On Apr 1, 2014, at 8:13 PM, Douglas Williams <djwdoc@yahoo.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>> >>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>> Hi--
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>> The term false consciousness is from Walter Benjamin in a 1930
>> review
>>
>> >>>> of
>>
>> >>>>> Siegfried Kracauer's Die Angestellten, drawing from Marx. The idea in
>>
>> >>>> Marx
>>
>> >>>>> is described in terms of alienation and estrangement from real
>> objects
>>
>> >>>> and
>>
>> >>>>> activity.
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>
>> https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>> ________________________________
>>
>> >>>>>> From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>>
>> >>>>>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>
>> >>>>>> Sent: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 5:14 PM
>>
>> >>>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: vygotsky's theory and symbolic interactionism
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>> Tom, so far as I know, the term "false consciousness" was invented
>> by
>>
>> >>>>>> feminists in the 1970s and was never used by Marx, and I don't think
>>
>> >>>> the
>>
>> >>>>>> concept is consistent with his ideas, as expressed in the Theses on
>>
>> >>>>>> Feuerbach which you quoted, for example.
>>
>> >>>>>> Andy
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> >>>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>
>> >>>>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>> Tom Richardson wrote:
>>
>> >>>>>>> ... In the first place, it should be noted that Marx, like Spinoza
>> and
>>
>> >>>>> later
>>
>> >>>>>>> Freud, believed that most of what men consciously think is "false"
>>
>> >>>>>>> consciousness, is ideology and rationalization; that the true
>>
>> >>>>> mainsprings
>>
>> >>>>>>> of man's actions are unconscious to him.
>>
>> >>>>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>
>>
>> >>>>>
>>
>> >>>>
>>
>> >>
>>
>> >>
>>
>> >
>>
>>