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



Hi--

Isn't "culture" ideas and strategies and identities, through which the chaotic sensual world takes a recognizable form? Even at very early ages, can there be an interaction between an object and a person that is not mediated through the specific culturally-informed objects around a child, and the specific sounds and patterns of human interaction a language affords? And isn't the internalization of culture, as mediated through history, environment, and the human form, a tool for survival? 

My own interest in these things is (intermittently) serious, in that I am interested in the ways in which societies dream to themselves through narratives. Stories we tell ourselves to guide our actions very often to me seem to be thinking in strings of culturally mediated complexes--like putting on shoes, which involves using the dead labor of centuries, and mixes in with a number of small steps like tying knots, which one observes and repeats, and which (if one forces oneself to be conscious of it, can think about, one can discuss), but which are generally not thought of in the action of performance. At some point, a knot "feels" right, a shoe fits a half-aesthetic purpose, and the foot is protected from the sharp things on the ground. But ground, shoe and foot are infused with history and experience, to such an extent that the physical artifact and the rational purpose of mediating the experience of walking is not nearly as interesting as the
 historical culture of its expression--indeed, the sociocultural activity in footwear often defeats rather than enhances the pragmatic use of the tool. I think, Andy, that is something you agree with, from what I read. But treating ideas as objects is so basic to human speech, and verbalized experience is so fully between us and unmediated sensation, that I am not sure I grasp how one can clarify the interaction between human and object without also treating as part of the core of that experience the mixture of shared preconcepts and conscious disciplines that typically inform any human activity. Shoes may be nearly a universal human artifact, but I don't see how one can really deal with them in any true sense without addressing culture. 


As for the science part, I would be interested in seeing more about a CHAT-informed science of mediation of events with culture (mediation in both its transmission and reconciliation purposes, as cultural complexes of social interaction, such as "American Exceptionalism," (not a complex? then what is it?) wend their way through time and events. But then, I have since childhood had a doubtlessly unserious interest in Asimov's Psychohistory idea. I have to wonder, though, given the rather pragmatic concerns of cultural interaction and remediation that certainly was part of the late 1920s, is that concern about culture so far away from Vygotsky? Certainly Eisenstein was interested in precisely a conscious intervention in culture mediated though artifacts of ideas and universal or culturally informed action. 


Regards,
Doug





________________________________
 From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> 
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 6:37 AM
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: mediate perception and direct perception
 

Sure Kate, "all action is mediated through culture," but that is not 
only a very general statement which is kind of bound to be true, but 
what is culture? Is the concept of culture something clearer and more 
definite and basic that the concept of "action"? How does it help us to 
know that "culture" is mediating all our actions?
Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/





Katherine Wester Neal wrote:
> I'm still working through all this and trying to keep up with the discussion, so please bear with me if this is simplistic. I am wary of blanket statements, but I think it is possible to say that all action is mediated through culture. Certainly for adults, I think culture is the medium through which everyone lives their lives. (I am not so sure this is true with children of all ages, but that's a different post.) Perhaps not? 
>
> Carol's examples really have me thinking this morning about what is or isn't mediated. I think even the sensation of being hungry is mediated; scads of advertising dollars are expended to make us think, at least in the U.S., that we are hungry all the time--not just for food, but also for more stuff. And in nearly every locale in the U.S., even the water is mediated: filtered by local authorities and pumped up with fluoride. That's not always true outside of the U.S., so following the "all action is culturally-mediated" statement, I would say the filtering and the fluoride are culturally-based actions that then themselves mediate how people act to fulfill a basic need. 
>
> Katie
>
> Katie Wester-Neal
> Doctoral Candidate
> University of Georgia
>
>
> On Sep 15, 2014, at 9:07 AM, "Dr. Paul C. Mocombe" <pmocombe@mocombeian.com> wrote:
>
> Carol,
>
> It would appear, to me at least, that the unmediated sensations you are referring to parallels kant ' s forms of sensibilities and understandings, which belong to the body and schopenhauer 's will.  I would agree that culture enframes them in a variety of ways.  However, do they not, as sensations, tie us down to the material world irrespective of the mediated ways we encounter them?
>
>
> Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> President
> The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
> www.mocombeian.com
> www.readingroomcurriculum.com 
> www.paulcmocombe.info 
>
> <div>-------- Original message --------</div><div>From: Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com> </div><div>Date:09/15/2014  8:39 AM  (GMT-05:00) </div><div>To: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> </div><div>Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: mediate perception and direct perception </div><div>
> </div>Hi Andy,
>
> This seems to be an all inclusive scheme which ties us down, but at the
> same time purports to account for "everything".  But are there really only
> universal artefacts? There must be at least the possibility of
> - misunderstanding (all though of course you (Andy) can do this;
> - as yet potential understanding
> - a total lack of understanding.
> And there is still the need to account for unmediated sensation - so if we
> are hungry, we need to eat; but the eating is mediated.  We need to take in
> fluid, but everything apart from water also seems to be mediated. (And of
> course we serve water in culturally mediated ways.)
> I am sure I have too simplistic a view which misunderstands your schema
> Andy, but I am trying to keep open Shotter's concerns.
>
> Carol
>
>  
>> On 15 September 2014 14:02, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>
>> 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
>>>      
>
>
>