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[Xmca-l] Re: CHAT Discourse



"Project" is a key concept for me. It means "an activity" if you're an Activity Theorist. It is meant to be a very general term.

By "scientific project" I mean it is part of a larger project called "Science." It is not up to you or me to define "science", this is a project which has been going on for about 400 years in its modern form and more than 2000 years since it first got started. It has its own system of concepts, including its various, contested self-definitions. These are objective, inasmuch as your question has to be answered by studying the concepts by means of which science organises itself.

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


Lisa Yamagata-Lynch wrote:
Andy,

Out of curiosity, what do you mean by a "scientific project?" Do you mean a systematic process of observing and analyzing various data to come to some kind of understanding of how things work, do you mean somehow be able to understand what is believed to be most likely a true representation of how things work, both, or something else? Maybe I am not clear as I am thinking aloud, I am hung up with what do you mean part. Is it the process, representation, both or something else?

Lisa YL

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, Associate Professor Educational Psychology and Counseling http://www.lisayamagatalynch.net/ A532 Bailey Education Complex IT Online Program Coordinator University of Tennessee http://itonline.utk.edu/ Knoxville, TN 37996 https://www.facebook.com/utkitonline Phone: 865-974-7712

On Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 10:24 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    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/
    <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>


    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>
        [mailto: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/
        <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>


        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>
            <mailto: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/>
                <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>> <mailto: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/>
                        <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>>
                    <mailto: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