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[Xmca-l] Re: CHAT Discourse



David,
CHAT is a scientific project. Insofar as it is science it must strive to produce empirically verifiable claims which are meaningful irrespective of the conceptual frame into which they are accepted. But as a project it is characterised by a system of concepts. People can agree on this or that hard experimental finding, but still not agree on the significance of that claim. We CHATters talk to one another, collaborate and argue over facts; all of this is possible only to the extent that we share concepts. "Facts" are the lingua franca of science. As worthy a goal as it is to lay out some agreed facts, I think it is ill-conceived to think that this is a means of consolidating a current of research like CHAT. You can call it philosophical or psychological, I don't think that makes any difference.
Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


David H Kirshner wrote:
Following on Andy's discussion of artefact mediation, it seems inherently a problem of CHAT discourse to distinguishing efforts to elaborate Vygotsky's psychology more fully, from efforts to solve the problems Vygotsky was addressing, de novo. In tandem, is ambiguity as to whether CHAT is a psychological or philosophical discourse.

I wonder, in the spirit of psychology, if advancement of CHAT would not be better served by embedding theoretical discussion in analysis of empirical data. The point, here, would not be to make CHAT more directly relevant to domains of application (though that would not be a bad thing). Rather, an empirical obligation might transmute (some) questions of theory into questions of methodology. In that way, CHAT could become differentiated into distinct psychological schools, each constrained by methodological strictures that also support a more homogeneous theoretical environment. At the same time, a wide-open CHAT community could look across these various schools to pursue broader philosophical problematics.

David

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 7:02 AM
To: Huw Lloyd
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: mediate perception and direct perception

Ah! I see!
As Hegel said: "There is nothing, nothing in heaven, or in nature or in mind or anywhere else which does not equally contain both immediacy and mediation." I have no great problem with anyone saying that anything is mediated by anything else, where it is appropriate. My problem is that the specific insight of Vygotsky, that artefact-mediation of actions provides an especially productive unit of analysis for science is lost if mediation in the broad sense is mixed up in CHAT literature with artefact-mediation to the point that artefact-mediation is lost. Still, I would prefer that if you were to make the point you were referring to you used some expression other than "mediation."

Artefact mediation of actions is a brilliant insight. I can do what I like, but to do anything (other than have dreams or thoughts) I have to use some material object to transmit my actions, so to speak - a tool, a word, a gesture, or whatever - but all these artefacts which I use, without exception, are products of the history and culture into which I was born. I can choose which artefact to use, but culture and history produce them. So every action I take is essentially cultural-historical as well as personal. Also, because artefacts are material objects, their physical form is the same for everyone, it is universal. So communication as much as miscommunication takes place through everyone interpreting the same material objects, artefacts, that I am using in my actions. How can they do that? Because they too mediate their actions with the same set of universal artefacts! So all human action is opened to cultural and historical analysis which is as objective as any branch of natural science. Wonderful, eh?

Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


Huw Lloyd wrote:
If you want to study how action changes then you need to study the history and production of the action. Under such circumstances, assertions that concepts cannot mediate (the production of) actions become more obviously false. If one has simplified, through "clarity", the action away from its genetic base then it may seem correct to assert that a concept cannot mediate an action.

The conservation tasks (e.g. conservation of volume) are an elegant way to demonstrate this.

Best,
Huw




On 15 September 2014 04:26, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    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
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
    <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>


    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> <mailto: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/>
            <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>
        <mailto: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