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[Xmca-l] Dualities and dichotomies



Maybe some linguistic clarification is required.

Dualism, itself, is not an assertion of two completely distinct systems.
 Such an assertion is a dichotomy.  Dualism simply upholds that there are
two useful set of abstractions (or systems) that have yet to be related to
each other.

Confusion arises when someone asserts that thoughts have no mass etc,
because there are people like me (and any adherent to dialectical
materialism) who consider such claims ridiculously silly.   So one
metaphysician's duality is a non-metaphysician's de-facto dichotomy.

Best
Huw





On 6 August 2014 06:34, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> "Dualism" is a very longstanding philosophical problem and from the time
> of Spinoza forward it has been recognised as a problem. In my view, this
> problem was not resolved until Hegel, though Kant made important steps
> in its solution.It is more that I am opposed to the cry of "dualism" as
> a slogan, and the unthinking condemnation of Descartes, for committing a
> kind of original sin. "Dualism" is where you say (more or less) the
> world is made up of two kinds of substances, ..." but the solution to
> the discovery that there are indeed in some given situation two opposite
> kinds of entity, is to work out how the two are mediated, i.e., by
> introducing a third, or by working out how the two mutually constitute
> one another or how one changes into the other and vice versa. How it is
> never solved is by (1) declaring it to be a false dichotomy, (2)
> inventing a neolog to mean both one and the other, (3) denying any
> distinction, or (4) subsuming one under the other. In the specific
> instance of the distinction between thought and matter the question is
> more difficult, because this question is the most fundamental of all and
> cannot be resolved in the ways other dichotomies are resolved. Although
> the way the problem is posed - "thought vs matter" - is problematic,
> i.e., the very posing of the question seems to imply that thought is a
> substance, it is an inescapable dichotomy because we live it every
> moment of the day. Aristotle did not know of this dichotomy, because he
> took it for granted that the world was just how it was reflected in
> thought and language and there was no reason to suppose that if we
> looked inside any person's head we would find anything different from
> inside anyone else's head. It just never occurred to the ancients to
> make "consciousness" an object of science. Anyway, I am happy to defer
> to what Vygotsky says in that chapter. I read it and re-read it annually.
>
> As to the language question, there is no doubt at all that we need
> specialised languages in specialised projects such as Psychology. But
> that definitively does not mean that researchers should start by making
> up words when they come across a difficulty. When the concept first
> appears, the word is usually already present. Problems like the relation
> between thinking and acting, between individual person's and their
> social environment have been around for millennia. They are not new
> problems. You would have to have very very good reasons to resolve these
> conceptual problems by making up new words. If you can't explain it in
> ordinary English, then you probably don't understand it.
>
>
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>
>
> Greg Thompson wrote:
>
>> So Andy, I take it that you approve of Cristina's opposition of dualism.
>> And as to the need to not rely on our natural language, I wonder if
>> Vygtosky is with Cristina (and me) on that one. In the Two Psychologies
>> essay that you shared (http://www.marxists.org/
>> archive/vygotsky/works/crisis/psycri13.htm), Vygotsky writes:
>>
>> "Høffding compares it with the same content expressed in two languages
>> which we do not manage to reduce to a common protolanguage. But we want to
>> know the content and not the /*language*/ in which it is expressed. In
>> physics we have freed ourselves from language in order to study the
>> content. We must do the same in psychology."
>>
>>
>> I'll confess to occasionally reading Vygotsky upside down (he often
>> introduces opposing positions without any indication that they are opposed
>> to his own), so maybe I've got it backwards. I certainly had some
>> difficulty discerning the proper context for this paragraph, but it seems
>> like it is straight through. Please correct me if I'm wrong here.
>> -greg
>>
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com
>> <mailto:greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>
>>     Andy,
>>     I'm a bit baffled by your response to Cristina. It seems fair
>>     enough to try to recover Descartes as not necessarily a bad guy.
>> But I didn't take that to be Cristina's point.
>>     It seems to me that she was arguing against Cartesian dualism - a
>>     particular way in which we Westerners (and we aren't the only ones
>>     who do this) divide up the world into various kinds binaries -
>>     subject/object, mind/body, nature/culture, emotion/reason, and so on.
>>     Are you advocating that these should be the governing categories
>>     of the human sciences?
>>     If so, then "real human language" will work just fine.
>>     If not, then the "real human language" called English will pose
>>     some significant problems for imagining things other than they are.
>>     Confused.
>>     -greg
>>
>>
>>     On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 9:07 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>>     <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>
>>         Cristina,
>>         There is far too much in your message to deal with on an email
>>         list. What I usually do in such cases is simply pick a bit I
>>         think I can respond to and ignore the rest. OK?
>>
>>         I think *real human languages* - as opposed to made up
>>         languages like Esperanto or the kind of mixture of neologs,
>>         hyphenated words and other gobbydegook fashionable in some
>>         academic circles - can be underestimated. Sure, one must use
>>         specialised jargon sometimes, to communicate to a specialised
>>         collaborator in a shared discipline, but generally that is
>>         because the jargon has itself a long track record. Don't try
>>         and make up words and concepts, at least, take a year or two
>>         about it if you have to.
>>
>>         Secondly, Descartes was no fool. He was the person that first
>>         treated consciousness as an object of science, and the many of
>>         those belonging to the dualist tradition he was part of wound
>>         up being burnt at the stake for suggesting that the world was
>>         not necessarily identical to how it seemed. So I'd say, better
>>         to suffer association with Descartes than make up words and
>>         expressions. The Fascist campaign launched against him in the
>>         1930s was not meant to help us. He deserves respect.
>>
>>         For example, my development is not the same the development
>>         some project makes. And no amount of playing with words can
>>         eliminate that without degenerating into nonsense. I must
>>         correct something I said which was wrong in my earlier post
>>         though. I said that the relation between projects was the
>>         crucial thing in personality development. Not completely true.
>>         As Jean Lave has shown so well, the relation between a person
>>         and a project they are committed to is equally important,
>>         their role, so to speak. Take these two together.
>>
>>         Motives instead of motivation is good. More definite. But I
>>         don't agree at all that Leontyev resolves this problem. For a
>>         start his dichotomy between 'objective' motives, i.e., those
>>         endorsed by the hegemonic power in the given social formation,
>>         and 'subjective', usually unacknowledged, motives, is in my
>>         view a product of the times he lived in, and not useful for
>>         us. The question is: how does the person form a *concept* of
>>         the object? It is the object-concept which is the crucial
>>         thing in talking abut motives. Over and above the relation
>>         between the worker's project of providing for his family (or
>>         whatever) and the employer's project of expanding the
>>         proportion of the social labour subsumed under his/her
>>         capital. The relation between these two projects doubtless
>>         seems to the boss to be the difference between the worker's
>>         subjective, secret, self-interest, and his own "objective"
>>         motive. But his point of view is not necessarily ours.
>>
>>         Have a read of Alasdair MacIntyre on extrinsic and intrinsic
>>         motives, too.
>>
>>         That's more than enough.
>>         Andy
>>
>>         ------------------------------------------------------------
>> ------------
>>         *Andy Blunden*
>>         http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>         <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>
>>
>>
>>         Maria Cristina Migliore wrote:
>>
>>             Greg and Andy,
>>
>>             Thank you for your comments.
>>
>>
>>             Greg, I absolutely agree with you about the difficulties
>>             of overcoming our
>>             western language and thoughts, so influenced by the
>>             Cartesian dualism.
>>             Andy, I hope to be able to show a bit how I connect
>>             activities in what
>>             follow.
>>
>>
>>             About my attempts to overcome a dualistic language: I tend
>>             to prefer to
>>             talk about a) single development (as suggest by Cole and
>>             Wertsh) instead of
>>             individual and activity (or context or project)
>>             development; b) dimensions
>>             of a phenomenon instead of levels of a phenomenon
>>             (micro-meso-macro); c)
>>             motives instead of motivation.
>>
>>
>>             However it happens that I need to swing between ‘my’ new
>>             language and the
>>             ‘standard’ one, because I am living in a still Cartesian
>>             world and I need
>>             to be understood by people (and even myself!) who are (am)
>>             made of this
>>             Cartesian world.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>     --     Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>     Assistant Professor
>>     Department of Anthropology
>>     882 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>     Brigham Young University
>>     Provo, UT 84602
>>     http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>> Assistant Professor
>> Department of Anthropology
>> 882 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>> Brigham Young University
>> Provo, UT 84602
>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>>
>
>
>