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[Xmca-l] Re: mediate perception and direct perception

Clarification is absolutely necessary for communication at a distance as Vygotsky pointed out when he said that experience must be greatly simplified before it can be represented in word mediated concepts but engaged communication is much fuzzier - most of what we know about the people we know (as persons rather than through their publications!) is not easily accessible to conscious elaboration (tacit knowledge). But then again most of what we know about a particular concept may also be tacit knowledge (a vague sense of how others feel about this concept, who might be excited about it, who is likely to know and care about it, who may be outraged by it, who has used or misused it in the past, etc.). There is always a risk that simplification aims to strip away this social sense which hangs around concepts in different ways for each of us. Like pinning a butterfly to a board, it makes things easier to observe but it may remove what makes those things interesting (the body and vitality which Vygotsky argued was brought to scientific concepts by their connection with spontaneous, bodily experienced 'concepts').

Rather than thinking in black and white terms of clarity and obfuscation (chiaroscuro) we should perhaps consider where clarity is useful and where it is more appropriate to accept and value fuzziness.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: 15 September 2014 04:27
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: mediate perception and direct perception

he, he, Huw!
For me, reduction, simplification and typology are the very problems that need to be remedied by clarification! and I really don't think obfuscation is ever helpful, generally being used to obscure the genesis of phenomena. Distinction is not equal to separation.
I really don't know what you are referring to with product and history.
Perhaps you could explain?
*Andy Blunden*

Huw Lloyd wrote:
> I agree about precision, but not with a call for "clarity".  Reduction
> to clarity is a projection or reification of the need for simplicity.
>  Simplicity usually entails typologies or other simplistic devices
> which prevent the conception and perception of genetic relations.
>  Actually in cases such as these we are interested in (clarifying) the
> entanglements between artefacts and mind.  I think It would be equally
> appropriate and meaning-prompting to state that one needs to obfuscate
> (see darkly) too.
> I think it is this "need for simplification" which leads me to
> disagree with the 2nd paragraph.  For example, why separate the act
> from its production and history?
> Of course, if one had the discipline to de-couple clarity from modes
> of simplicity, then we wouldn't have the problem.
> Best,
> Huw
> On 14 September 2014 07:02, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>     My impression, Greg and David Ki, is that in the CHAT tradition
>     specifically, as opposed to the English language in general,
>     mediation refers to *artefact-mediation*. Of course, every action
>     is both mediated and immediate, and in many discursive contexts,
>     "mediation" is a concept which may be evoked quite legitimately,
>     but with no special significant for the use of CHAT. In social
>     theory, for example, mediation of activities by other activities
>     or institutions is as ubiquitous as mediation of actions by
>     artefacts is in the domain of psychology. But if the topic is
>     psychology, I think artefact-mediation is so central, that I
>     prefer to spell it out and use the term "artefact-mediated" rather
>     than the vague term "mediated".
>     I have come across usages like "mediated by such-and-such a
>     concept." Like Alice in Wonderland one can use words to mean what
>     you like, but I find a formulation like this in the context of
>     CHAT problematic, because it is using the idea of "mediation" in
>     the most general sense in a way which obscures the fact that a
>     concept is not immediately present in any act of communication or
>     any other act, and therefore *cannot mediate actions*. Artefacts,
>     such as spoken words, which may be signs for a concept, can of
>     course mediate an act of communication. But the point is that a
>     word is not universally and unproblematically a sign for any one
>     concept. It means different things to different people. Concepts
>     are not artefacts. Artefacts are universal in their materiality,
>     but particular in their meaning. So when we have a concept in mind
>     when we use a word in communication, the communication is mediated
>     by the word not the concept, and it is a mistake not to be aware
>     of that.
>     So I would prefer it if "mediation" were always used in qualified
>     way so that its specific meaning is made clear.
>     Andy
>     PS. And David Ki is completely right in his comment, too.
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     *Andy Blunden*
>     http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>     Greg Thompson wrote:
>         Does "mediation" only apply to language and culture?
>         Or does it include nerve fibers? (in which case we would need
>         to include
>         reflexes)
>         And does it include our socio-contextual surround as in
>         Bateson's man with
>         the stick? (in which case, we would need to include newborns).
>         Just wonderin'.
>         -greg
>         On Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 2:48 PM, David H Kirshner
>         <dkirsh@lsu.edu <mailto:dkirsh@lsu.edu>> wrote:
>             Thanks for replies.
>             I'm recalling several years ago Jim Greeno decided to stop
>             talking about
>             situated cognition because the pragmatics of adjectival
>             use implies there
>             has to be a contrasting non-situated cognition. He now
>             speaks of
>             situativity theory. It seems, with the exception of
>             physical reflexes (and
>             perhaps pre-conscious infant activity), all human action
>             is mediated (and
>             perhaps a lot of non-human action, as well). So, it's
>             worth noting that
>             "mediated action" doesn't specify a kind of action, but
>             rather a
>             theoretical assumption about all human action; though
>             there seems to be
>             some variation in interpretation of what that assumption
>             entails.
>             David


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