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

Douglas, yes, I do agree with that outline of yours about the penetration of culture into the minutiae of daily life, and of course, none of this can be understood other than through the culture. That was not my point. It's the difference between clarity and reduction, I guess. Culture is a very complex entity, about as complex as it gets actually, and it is also something, the definition of which is as contested as it gets. This contrasts with "action", "mediation" and "artefact" which are certainly open to misunderstanding but in a couple of lines it is possible to succinctly define them and in any given event actually specify them unambiguously. The definition of culture I like is "the constellation of artefacts shared by a community," (shared artefacts and community are mutually constitutive) in which "constellation" refers to the complex network of relations between all the artefacts which is established by the active use of the artefacts in activities within the community and constitutes them as artefacts. So actually when I behave like an old curmudgeon and insist on artefact-mediated action as a unit of analysis for CHAT and insist that an artefact is a material object fashioned by and used inhuman activity and actions include the processes of consciousness entailed in their performance, I feel I at least have my feet on the ground when I try to understand some complex cultural phenomenon. I don't think I have excluded anything and I don't think I have simplified anything.
*Andy Blunden*

Douglas Williams wrote:

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.


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