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[Xmca-l] Re: Higher Mental Functions

Hi Denise,

This is a really interesting research approach.  It reminds me of some of the photo research that is done by participatory action researchers, but seems more successful than most.  Were the people the adolescents took photos of also migrant workers  - not necessarily adolescents?

From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] on behalf of Andy Blunden [ablunden@mira.net]
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2014 6:50 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Higher Mental Functions

Great technique, Denise. Adapting the method of dual stimulation
Engestrom uses in workplaces, I think?

Vygotsky was a bit hard on the idea of "words being Tools" etc. He says:
'True, such common expressions like “language is a tool of thinking,”
“auxiliary devices of memory” (/aides de memoire),/ “internal
technique,” “technical auxiliary device” or simply auxiliary devices
with respect to any psychological operation /(Geistestechnik –
“/spiritual technique,” “intellectual tools,” and many others), are
found in abundance among psychologists, are devoid of any specific
content, and have scarcely any meaning beyond a simple metaphoric,
picturesque expression of the fact that some objects or operations or
others play an auxiliary role in the mental activity of man.'

He says the analogy works in two respects - both tools and signs are
used in mediated activity, and both are artificial, i.e., produced by
human beings for the purpose. But he emphasises that their function is
opposite: tool-mediated actions are directed outwards at controlling
nature, sign-mediated actions are directed inwards, at psychologically
controlling behaviour, whether one's own or another's.

He emphasises that the function of the sign rests on the natural
foundation of "signalisation" in the brain, that is to say, the sign is
used for the purpose of creating new connections in the brain. So that's
what you're doing with this procedure - you're reprogramming people's
brains and giving them images and words they can use to further
reprogram their own brains.

*Andy Blunden*

Denise Shelley Newnham wrote:
> Dear All
> I will be presenting a paper in KL city December 2014 about bullying
> and suicide. I carried out formative resesarch with 35 migrant
> adlolescents. There were three phases:1) they answered a questionnaire
> adapted from Cozier and Dimmock; 2) two weeks later I gave them a
> disposible camera and asked them to take a photo of others that they
> found different (ethical procédures were followed). We then met and I
> filmed whilst they discussed the why of their images. The images did
> not portrhay (to my mind) anythink unusual. However, if a person had
> replied that he or she suffered from being called dirty and ugly etc
> they would describe the person in the image as looking dirty, smelly
> and ugly. I played extracts of their discussion back to them at a
> later interval and they were given their questionnaires to read. The
> result was spectacular and they as a group designed a work group that
> would from then on help others that were suffering from the same
> problems.
> I am sharing this as I am really interested by the connection between
> what forms of bullying they recieved and the way that they had made
> sense of this and then projected it onto another. Two of the persons
> did not do this, their images were neutral and their comments
> positive, however, in their questionnaire they confessed to thinking
> at regular intervals that the only way out was suicide
> So I find the discussion above interesting about words being Tools,
> signs, knowing their genesis etc in order to work out sense making and
>  development
> Denise
> 2014-11-21 2:36 GMT+01:00 mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu
> <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>>:
>     Yes, this is something that all of us should keep in mind.
>     mike
>     " the relationship
>     between tools and signs is that they both belong to a logical
>     category, mediating activity, but their precise structural, functional
>     and genetic relationship has to be worked out.
>     ​"
>     mike​
>     On Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 4:03 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>     <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>     > Thanks David. That sounds like it. I knew I could rely on you. :)
>     > 'Twas a popular idea. Hegel said "speech is the tool of reason".
>     > https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/se/ch01.htm
>     > Andy
>     >
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     > *Andy Blunden*
>     > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>     >
>     >
>     > David Kellogg wrote:
>     >
>     >> Andy:
>     >>
>     >> Take a look at the end of Chapter Two, the Research Method Chapter,
>     >> pp. 60-62 in the English Collected Works. It's not that he
>     objects to
>     >> the term "artifacts"; he doesn't use the term. It's that he
>     objects to
>     >> the analogy between them being reduced to an identity, and on this
>     >> basis does not agree that "language is a tool of thinking" or that
>     >> language is an 'auxiliary device of memory". He also objects to
>     >> Dewey's phrase that language is a "tool of tools", and points
>     out that
>     >> it is a bad paraphrase of Aristotle. He says that the relationship
>     >> between tools and signs is that they both belong to a logical
>     >> category, mediating activity, but their precise structural,
>     functional
>     >> and genetic relationship has to be worked out.
>     >>
>     >> David Kellogg
>     >> Hankuk Univeristy of Foreign Studies.
>     >>
>     >> On 18 November 2014 19:32, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>     <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>     >>
>     >>
>     >>> For those of you who rely on marxists.org
>     <http://marxists.org> for their Vygotsky reading, I
>     >>> have
>     >>> scanned a couple more chapters from Volume 4 of the LSVCW today:
>     >>>
>     http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1931/research-method.htm
>     >>> http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1931/
>     >>> analysis-higher-mental-functions.htm
>     >>>
>     >>> I was looking for material where Vygotsky discusses the
>     relation between
>     >>> sign-mediation and tool-mediation (and other types of
>     mediation!) and
>     >>> these
>     >>> chapters seemed to be necessary. I could not find the passage
>     where he
>     >>> expresses some antipathy to calling both signs and tools
>     "artefacts". I
>     >>> was
>     >>> sure I read this somewhere. Can anyone recall where that could
>     have been?
>     >>>
>     >>> Andy
>     >>> --
>     >>>
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     >>> *Andy Blunden*
>     >>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>     >>>
>     >>>
>     >>>
>     >>
>     >>
>     >>
>     >
>     >
>     --
>     It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
>     object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.