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[Xmca-l] Re: The mirror has two candles



Huw:

Different people are engaged in this thread for different reasons.
Martin, for example, wants to establish that consciousness is
something we do, not someplace we are. Larry wants to establish that
there are hidden links joining up almost everything he reads. Haydi
wants to know what the precise borderline between inner speech and
"pure thinking" is. Gary wants to know whether the Acheluan hand axe
is somehow a doubling of the symmetry we notice in human faces. I
think that you are interested in a rather functionalist reading of
Leontiev that would allow him to be applied to AI concerns.

But my concern is different. With the help of my very hard working
graduate students, I bring out translations of Vygotsky's work in
Korean. A lot of these works have been edited with a very heavy hand,
and some of the annotations are innaccurate, speculative, and even
revisionist. This means that interpretations based on these works tend
to be partial, one-sided, and in places the very opposite of what I
think Vygotsky intended.

It's important for me to distinguish between problems of omission and
sins of commission. For example, when I read "The Psychology of
Preschool Children", edited by Zaporozhets and Elkonin in the early
sixties, I notice that Vygotsky is defended. But there are certain
glaring omissions: there are careful descriptions of the age periods
(sometimes disguised as 'leading activities") but no mention of the
Crises that divide them, there is a meticulous distinction between
instinctive and cultural practices, but no discussion of the higher
and lower psychological functions, there is a good deal of discussion
of mediation, but nothing much on the distinctive role of speech (the
example of a mediated activity is a prelinguistic child learning to
use a spoon).

This, along with their very respectful and appreciative reading of
Vygotsky, does suggest to me that Zaporozhets and Elkonin are treading
gingerly, trying their best to preserve Vygotsky in an early
"instrumentalist" form, in the hope that the full-blown theory can
someday be added before it is all lost to poor editing and annotation.
And that is, in fact, what has happened; if you read Elkonin's
writings from the seventies and especially Elkonin's work published in
the post-Soviet period, you can read about the crisis, about the
higher psychic functions, and even about the unique role of word
meanings.

Leontiev is a very different case. First of all, as we read in the
essay, he does not present even the early Vygotsky in an accurate or
even recognizable form; on the contrary, he is doing his very best to
distort and even falsify the Vygotsky of "Consciousness as a Problem
of the Structure of Behavior". Secondly, he is trying to supplant this
pseudo-Vygotsky with recognizable Stalinist ideas: instead of the
Crisis, the crisis-free assimilation of children to a
contradiction-free socialist society; instead of linked but distinct
lower and psychological functions, labor free of all 'idealist'
alienation, and instead of word meaning, tool use. (I might add,
instead of Marxist dialectics, a vulgar materialism, but I think that
Andy has that covered.)

Thirdly, and most important for me on an emotional level, Leontiev is
not trying to protect his colleagues; he is vilifying them. As I said,
I have seen this kind of behavior up close in 1989 and in the
aftermath. It's not something I like to talk about (for one thing it
is one of those unpleasant experiences that is almost impossible to
describe without producing either admiration or incredulity in the
hearer, and neither response is really to the point). But some day I
should like to write about it, for in addition to the ugly, indecent
falsehoods of people like our old Party Secretary and the
understandable rage and violence of the relatives of the victims,
there was (and it was far more common) the beautiful silence of decent
ordinary people who simply refused to listen and waited (and are
waiting still).

It's not simply on an emotional level that this is important. Like
Zaporozhets and Elkonin, Leontiev did outlive Lysenkoism and he did
have the chance to put right some of the wrong that he does us in this
essay, to once again place in our hands the slender reed of Vygotsky's
thought that he almost broke. But he didn't do that. Why not? I think
that in the case of Zaporozhets and Elkonin, it was easy--all they had
to do was fill in some of the gaps they had left in the early sixties.
But in the case of Leontiev, it would have involved self-reflection of
which he was no longer capable and an about-face that he could not
longer perform.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies


On 20 October 2014 08:00, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi David,
>
> I don't think anyone is going to argue against the paper's defamatory
> quality.  Everything he says against LSV can be taken with a pinch of salt
> if we assume he was trying to protect his colleagues.
>
> What remains is therefore what is countered and proposed with respect to
> the subject of the environment.
>
> Best,
> Huw
>
>
>
>
> On 19 October 2014 23:38, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> First of all, a word of appreciation to Martin for his candle in the
>> mirror and his delightful formulation of "Plump Materialism", and also
>> to Michael for recognizing the beauty of the image and using it to
>> revitalize a thread that was growing somewhat tiresome to me: no fault
>> of the participants; it was my own inability to see past "fatalistic
>> determinism", "captive to bourgeois theories", and ANL's other fatuous
>> formulae. As Mike points out, this is not just name calling: these are
>> blood libels.
>>
>> Secondly, let me put in a word for Andy's counter-blast. For those of
>> you who have not read it; it is available on Andy's academia.edu page,
>> and it's well worth a look:
>>
>>
>> http://www.academia.edu/7511935/The_Problem_of_the_Environment._A_Defence_of_Vygotsky
>>
>> Thirdly--can I draw attention to the top of page fourteen of ANL's
>> dishonest and dishonorable hatchet job? Here he rounds on Basov for
>> non-Marxist, idealist notion that humans in some way "double" the
>> natural environment. ANL returns to this theme at the bottom of the
>> page where he says:
>>
>> "To the animal, however, any “artificial” object created by humans is
>> simply
>> a natural object, it is nature because the animal’s relation toward it
>> will always
>> be an instinctive relation. Thus, of course, in reality there is no
>> doubling of the
>> environment. The environment as a whole is transformed into a human
>> environment,
>> that is, for the human being, into a social environment, based on the
>> fact that humans themselves relate to it in human terms, that is, as
>> social humans."
>>
>> Note the use of "Thus"; it marks a shameless non sequitur. First of
>> all, it is a non sequitur to say that because animals and very small
>> children treat i-phones as natural objects, THEREFORE there is no
>> doubling of the environment Secondly, it is a non sequitur to say that
>> the environment "as a whole" becomes a human environment (because
>> animals and infants do NOT see it that way??) without any trace of the
>> natural environment. But the biggest non-sequitur is the least
>> explicit: it is the insinuation that the process of social
>> idealization of nature that we call enculturation is prima facie
>> subversive of Marxism.
>>
>> Consider the following, from a great subversive of Marxism and primal
>> plump materialist:
>>
>> "We pre-suppose labour in a form that stamps it as exclusively human.
>> A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a
>> bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells.
>> But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is
>> this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he
>> erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a
>> result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at its
>> commencement." (Capital, Vol 1, Chapter III, Part 7)
>>
>> What is THIS if not a doubling of reality--a mirror with two candles?
>>
>> David Kellogg
>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>
>>
>> have a look:
>>
>>
>>
>> On 20 October 2014 00:15, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com> wrote:
>> > Here's an example memory paper abstract by Sereda (2011), titled "A
>> > Theoretical Model of Memory
>> > as a Mechanism for Systematically Organizing Individual Experience"
>> >
>> > "In order to improve the explanatory potential of activity theory, this
>> > article
>> > proposes a theoretical model of human memory as a mechanism for
>> > the systematic organization of individual experience, organization that
>> > is an essential condition for performing future activity. The model rests
>> > on the idea that the main factor in human memory is the motivational
>> > and semantic sets of personality and thus orientation toward the future
>> > (prospective orientation)."
>> >
>> > The storehouse metaphor as used in psychology merely reflects a rather
>> poor
>> > approach.
>> >
>> > Best,
>> > Huw
>> >
>> > On 19 October 2014 15:20, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu> wrote:
>> >
>> >> Hi Larry,
>> >>
>> >> I renamed this thread because it seems to be taking a tangent from the
>> >> very rich discussion on LSV and ANL, but perhaps it might circle back.
>> >> Anyway, I thought Martin's very interesting illustration deserves a
>> moment
>> >> of fame.  I wonder if memory is the right word in current
>> circumstance.  In
>> >> U.S. psychology memory is very often viewed as a storehouse of
>> information
>> >> where you send your messages back to retrieve information when needed to
>> >> apply to the current situation.  Do you think Pierce would see the
>> overall
>> >> process this way (did he actually talk about memory?)  For him it seems
>> it
>> >> would be part of a more active process of establishing relationships of
>> >> that which came before with that which is currently being explored.
>> >>
>> >> Michael
>> >> ________________________________________
>> >> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu]
>> >> on behalf of lpscholar2@gmail.com [lpscholar2@gmail.com]
>> >> Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2014 6:40 AM
>> >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> >> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: units of analysis? LSV versus ANL
>> >>
>> >> Michael Glassman and Martin and How
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> I want to ex-tend the exploration of *models* and *memories* and
>> >> *contextualism* as linked in Michael’s rejoinder to Martin.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Michael wrote “if ALL you can *see* [perceive] is what is IN the mirror
>> >> [metaphor of reflection AS mirroring] how do you “know” there IS a
>> mirror
>> >>
>> >> The IF IMPLIED is the ‘ALL’ .
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> However, is that “all there IS” in *seeing*?
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> IS “memory* also existent as an existent IN seeing?
>> >>
>> >> In other words, do *interpretants* ACTUALLY exist IN FACT? [as such]
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Umberto Eco suggests there is both ORPHIC knowing/seeing [when Picasso
>> >> paints THAT PARTICULAR yellow shoe in a painting the SINGULARITY of THAT
>> >> experience IS “orphic”
>> >>
>> >> POETS and artists are “biased” to privilege THIS WAY of knowing
>> [Peirce's
>> >> secondness as orphic and possibly orphaned]
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> HOWEVER, Umberto Eco suggests that this orphic “knowing* is also
>> >> *indicative* [indexical] of further *interpreting* AND THIS TYPE of
>> >> *knowing* EX-TENDS Orphic knowing. [Peirce's tiredness]
>> >>
>> >> Now in Peirce's metaphysics THIS interpreting creating interpretants
>> also
>> >> is EXISTING as facts.
>> >>
>> >> Is this transforming orphic [what IS present] TO forming *interpretants*
>> >> AS *something* that actually exists {through the interpreting process}
>> >> INCLUDE memory but that IS NOT ALL.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>  IS creative imagining potentially existent?  that goes BEYOND memory?
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> I believe Umberto Eco’s question of a deeper knowing than orphic/orphan
>> >> knowing *things-in-themselves* EX-tending BEYOND the orphic
>> [secondness] to
>> >> INCLUDE interpreting and forming actual *interpretants* [tiredness]
>> must be
>> >> considered within the memory process.
>> >>
>> >> This returns to *models* that are necessary but NOT ALL there *is*.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> The *relation* between *orphic* knowing and *interpreting* knowing
>> seems a
>> >> KEY question [and may ex-tend back into metaphysics?
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Larry
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Sent from Windows Mail
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> From: Glassman, Michael
>> >> Sent: ‎Saturday‎, ‎October‎ ‎18‎, ‎2014 ‎5‎:‎18‎ ‎PM
>> >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Hi Martin,
>> >>
>> >> That's a very interesting metaphor, but let me see if I can take it a
>> step
>> >> further.  Basically you seem to be saying that Vygotsky is making a
>> >> mechanistic argument - I'm not talking about the more colloquial
>> expression
>> >> of mechanistic but the one that Pepper talks about in World Hypothesis.
>> >> You are looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection of a candle -
>> but
>> >> you are making the assumption that there must be a mechanism that is
>> >> causing the reflection of the candle.  You cannot know this mechanism
>> >> itself - it is too difficult to reach - but you can build models that
>> bring
>> >> us closer to understanding. This I think is almost exactly how Pepper
>> >> discusses this root metaphor.  Our goal as scientists is to find the
>> >> mediate description of the underlying mechanism.  This
>> >> Pragmatists/Conextualists would say this is dualism - not the dualism
>> you
>> >> get from Formism where you depend on your mind to bring you closer to a
>> >> known but unreachable ideal, but in the sense that there is this
>> mechanism
>> >> that exists that is somehow separate from and causing the reflection in
>> the
>> >> mirror.  So the Contextualist asks, if all you can see is what is in the
>> >> mirror how do you know there is a mirror.  That is the only information
>> you
>> >> have and you have to base all interpretation of the world on that
>> >> information - to suggest you are looking at a reflection is an
>> assumption
>> >> based on a belief system that there must be causing what you are
>> seeing.  I
>> >> think you are right, Vygotsky wants to assume the mirror, but in the end
>> >> doesn't that suggest a dualism to his thinking.
>> >>
>> >> Michael
>> >> ________________________________________
>> >> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu]
>> >> on behalf of Martin John Packer [mpacker@uniandes.edu.co]
>> >> Sent: Saturday, October 18, 2014 6:38 PM
>> >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> >> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: units of analysis? LSV versus ANL
>> >>
>> >> Hi Michael,
>> >>
>> >> LSV points out that no proper science sets out to study appearances.
>> Every
>> >> science studies entities that exist, in order to *explain*  appearance.
>> One
>> >> of his examples is from the science of optics. When we place a burning
>> >> candle in front of a mirror there *appears* to be a second candle
>> burning
>> >> behind the mirror, or 'in' the mirror. The scientist doesn't study that
>> >> second candle. What he or she studies is the first candle, and the
>> mirror,
>> >> in order to discover principles by which to explain why an 'image' of a
>> >> second candle appears, apparently located 'in' the mirror.
>> >>
>> >> It's the same with the mind. It *appears* to us (at least to those of us
>> >> raised in western, scientific cultures) that our thoughts and feelings
>> >> exist in a special, internal, subjective, hidden place that we call "the
>> >> mind."  A scientific psychology, says LSV, needs to try to explain how
>> that
>> >> appearance is possible. It's not too difficult, in fact: our verbal
>> >> thoughts, our private subvocal speech, is possible, first, because we
>> can
>> >> use vocal speech to direct our own actions and second, because a fibre
>> >> bundle called the arcuate fasciculus forms between Broca's area and
>> >> Wernicke's area (to considerably simply the neuroanatomy and
>> >> neurofunctioning).  The appearance of a "mind in the head" is a *folk*
>> >> psychology: it is simply one way, among several, in which people try to
>> >> make sense of an experience that they have; it is the way our own
>> >> psychological processes *appear* to us. Scientific psychology cannot
>> study
>> >> the mind, any more than it can study the second candle. It can, however,
>> >> set out to *explain* the mind, and that is part of what LSV did.
>> >>
>> >> Martin
>> >>
>> >> On Oct 18, 2014, at 8:11 AM, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
>> >> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> >  I sort of feel like (at this point) Vygotsky did open himself up for
>> >> being critiqued for going inside the head.  It was a choice, I don't
>> think
>> >> he was willing to give up the idea of individual development (which I
>> think
>> >> you have to do if you are going to escape dualism - because what
>> develops
>> >> if you can't say there is something inside the head that develops
>> (remember
>> >> I am suggesting individual development here).
>> >>
>> >>
>>
>>