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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance



Heavens, Vera! That really is the $20k question. (Greg will pay whichever of us gets there first!)

I'm in full agreement with your brief statement about this yesterday:

> I just would like to add a postscript to the discussion on consciousness and
> that is that what we experience as adults
> is a developmentally co-constructed process, and that so much of it is the
> consequence of early exchanges. That is why(among
> other reasons) it is so dynamic and open to change. The newborn is not aware
> of a conscious self,but of pain, hunger, comfort,
> all of which, together with eye-motion coordination, add up to  the
> beginnings of consciousness. Or that is how it appears to me.

Martin

On Nov 25, 2014, at 2:09 PM, Vera John-Steiner <vygotsky@unm.edu> wrote:

> Martin,
> 
> I like your description of consciousness, but I am still struggling with how
> we get there developmentally.
> Vera
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Martin John Packer
> Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 9:40 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance
> 
> Hi Miguel,
> 
> I completely agree! When we think about consciousness we tend to focus on
> visual perception, but if we close our eyes and allow ourselves to focus on
> touch and hearing I think we gain a much clearer sense of the way that
> consciousness is an aspect of our way of being in the world, an aspect of
> how we live in the world, and how consciousness is a 'reaching out' and
> 'grasping' in the world in which we live.
> 
> Martin
> 
> On Nov 25, 2014, at 11:19 AM, Zavala, Miguel
> <mizavala@exchange.fullerton.edu> wrote:
> 
>> To chime in:
>> 
>> The new born is aware, quite aware. Consciousness does not inhere 
>> solely in the individual child. It is in the deliberate set of 
>> practices that bring the child into-the-world, a world that already is
> 'co-constructed'.
>> In Indigenous traditions such as Mayan (Popol Vuh), in the beginning 
>> there is "sound"--rather than light.  Why isn't consciousness also in 
>> the ebb and flow of sound, what the being-in-the-world already, pre- 
>> seeing, becomes?
>> 
>> There might be a tendency in much of our work to privilege light as 
>> consciousness; but what happens when we "see" things differently.  I 
>> am reminded of precepts in Liberation Theology, where care for the 
>> other precedes politics and art (See Enrique Dussel). In other words, 
>> ethics as primary activity, yes, even prior to "creativity" or 
>> "reason" as the distance and closing between "subject" and "object".
>> 
>> Miguel
>> 
>> On 11/25/14 4:54 AM, "Haydi Zulfei" <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>>> Hi Vera,
>>> Respectfully !
>>> 1.  "developmentally co-constructed process" does contain the bigger 
>>> share of the truth . But...
>>> 2. The other side to "The newborn is not awareof a conscious self" is 
>>> that it is aware of some other things . The problem is with the very 
>>> 'being aware' for a newborn . It does not seem to be logical . The 
>>> whole thing Vygosky and his followers tried to do was to put some 
>>> thing between the two components of the formula Stimulus =====> 
>>> Response . Else what do we have to answer Vygotsky on his refutation 
>>> of reflexology , reactology , etc.
>>> 3. I think Vygotsky also uses 'feelings' of pain , hunger , comfort , 
>>> etc. Are not these 'reflexes' common to both animals and humans ? 
>>> Having said this , can we put the question "With respect to the 
>>> genesis (ignoring its being innate) of consciousness , is it a matter 
>>> of leaps and bounds or gradience ?
>>> 4. Then , we are left with "Eye-motion coordination" which takes us 
>>> to the idea that with so many things we know about the so-called 
>>> 'intelligence?!' of the animals , birds , etc. , could we specify it 
>>> to just human beings .
>>> 5. I got very pleased with the "add up to  thebeginnings of 
>>> consciousness" . This helps a lot . But out of Vygotsky's 'emotions' 
>>> I could not gather exact terms for the points on a continuum if any .
>>> amorphous what , intellect , irritability ??
>>> 6. If you are so kind to think of this also :
>>> a. you drive quite skillfully thinking of the xmca or whatever .
>>> b. You drive while the officer is testing you for certificate .
>>> c. You drive focusing on the manner you are driving with .
>>> Best
>>> Haydi
>>>    From: Vera John-Steiner <vygotsky@unm.edu>
>>> To: "'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>> Sent: Monday, 24 November 2014, 16:34:24
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance
>>> 
>>> Hi,
>>> 
>>> I just would like to add a postscript to the discussion on 
>>> consciousness and that is that what we experience as adults is a 
>>> developmentally co-constructed process, and that so much of it is the 
>>> consequence of early exchanges. That is why(among other reasons) it 
>>> is so dynamic and open to change. The newborn is not aware of a 
>>> conscious self,but of pain, hunger, comfort, all of which, together 
>>> with eye-motion coordination, add up to  the beginnings of 
>>> consciousness. Or that is how it appears to me.
>>> Vera
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu 
>>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Martin John 
>>> Packer
>>> Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 4:11 PM
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance
>>> 
>>> Well I think we are generally in agreement, Andy. However, there are 
>>> some points of difference that it might be worth exploring.
>>> 
>>> First, from the fact that consciousness is fallible it does not 
>>> follow that consciousness is completely an illusion.  If that were 
>>> the case, how could one come to judge its fallibility? How can you 
>>> state with certainty that "My consciousness is an illusion"? No, 
>>> consciousness is incomplete, and partial, but it can also be 
>>> educated. Importantly, consciousness can come to know itself. And 
>>> since I know the world not only from what I experience directly, in 
>>> the first-person manner, but also from what others tell me and from 
>>> what I read, I can become aware of the limitations of my own 
>>> consciousness in this manner. (Consciousness is both natural and 
>>> social, as I mentioned in a previous message.) I know, these are also 
>>> given to me in my consciousness, but I don't see that any insuperable 
>>> problems arise as a consequence.
>>> Unlike
>>> Descartes, I don't believe that an evil demon is bent on deceiving me.
>>> Consciousness is our openness to the world, as Merleau-Ponty put it.
>>> 
>>> Second, since consciousness is personal, I have to make inferences 
>>> about another person's consciousness. (With the exception of a few 
>>> occasions of experiencing things together with another - like dancing 
>>> salsa!) However, I also have to infer that, and rely on the fact 
>>> that, my own consciousness is a material process. My own 
>>> consciousness can be, and often is, outside my consciousness - this 
>>> is, in a nutshell, LSV's argument in Crisis. In just the same way I 
>>> come to learn that my digestion is a material process. I come to 
>>> learn that my life itself is a material process - there is no 'life 
>>> spirit' that animates me. Both life and digestion are, like 
>>> consciousness, first-person processes, and nonetheless material 
>>> processes. Perhaps I am helped in coming to these conclusions by 
>>> observing other people, whose processes of living and digesting I cannot
> experience directly.
>>> 
>>> Where is the paradox here? It seems to me the paradox lies with those 
>>> who say that experience is all in the mind, and yet at the same time 
>>> that we can know the world. That was Descartes' paradox, and it 
>>> remains the paradox, unresolved, of most of contemporary social 
>>> science.
>>> 
>>> Martin
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Nov 24, 2014, at 5:48 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> I'll try to explain it my way, why "consciousness is a material process"
>>> despite the fact that "matter is what exists outside of and 
>>> independently of consciousness" as you say, Martin.
>>>> 
>>>> In
>>>> https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch0
>>>> 1a .htm#A Marx said "My relation to my environment is my 
>>>> consciousness"
>>>> although he crossed it out in the manuscript. But why did he 
>>>> suddenly
>>> introduce the first person pronoun here?
>>>> 
>>>> Everything I know of the world, in any sense of the word "know," I 
>>>> know
>>> through my consciousness, but my consciousness is an illusion, a 
>>> phantom, and fundamentally different from that which is outside my 
>>> consciousness and reflected in it. Nonetheless it is what I use to 
>>> determine my actions in the world. I do not act exclusively through 
>>> conditional reflexes like a simple organism as an immediate material 
>>> process, but on the contrary, mediate my relation to my environment 
>>> through my consciousness, which I learn, is not 100% reliable, 
>>> because it is just an illusion, but is reliable enough and in any 
>>> case is more effective thanks to socially constructed mediation, than 
>>> nervous reflexes.
>>>> 
>>>> But *your* consciousness is also outside my consciousness, and 
>>>> therefore I
>>> must regard it as material, and if I am to get to know it, I rely on 
>>> the fact that it is a material process, arising from your behaviour 
>>> and your physiology, and although *like anything* I cannot have 
>>> unmediated access to it, I can learn about it only through material 
>>> interactions, the same way in that sense that I learnt your name and 
>>> age.
>>>> 
>>>> But you are of course in the same position. A world of phantoms and 
>>>> illusions is all you have to guide your activity in the material 
>>>> world, too. Vygotsky says that the confusion arises "When one mixes 
>>>> up the epistemological problem with the ontological one". That is 
>>>> the relation between consciousness (an illusion) and matter 
>>>> (interconnected with all other processes in the universe) is 
>>>> actually an epistemological one, that is, of the sources and 
>>>> validity of knowledge, and not an ontological one, that is a claim 
>>>> that consciousness is something existing side by side so to speak 
>>>> with matter. So it is important that while I recognise that for any 
>>>> person the distinction for them between consciousness and matter is 
>>>> absolutely fundamental, I must regard their consciousness as a 
>>>> material process, explainable from their physiology and behaviour.
>>>> This is not a trivial point. Consciousness is not neuronal activity.
>>>> Neuronal activity is the material basis, alongside behaviour, of 
>>>> consci
>>> ousness, but the world is not reflected for me in neuronal activity, 
>>> which I know about only thanks to watching science programs on TV. 
>>> Consciousness is given to me immediately, however, and I am not aware 
>>> of any neuronal activity there.
>>>> 
>>>> So yes, what you said was right, "consciousness is a material process,"
>>> but I think it unhelpful to leave it as a paradox like that. And I 
>>> admit it is unhelpful to be rude. Perhaps we both ought to exercise 
>>> more restraint?
>>>> 
>>>> Andy
>>>> 
>>>> --------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> --
>>>> --
>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Martin John Packer wrote:
>>>>> Don't get your point, Huw. A rectangle is generally defined as 
>>>>> having
>>> unequal sides, in contrast to a square, so that's not helping me.
>>> Obviously
>>> (I would think) I am not saying that consciousness is the entirely of 
>>> matter.
>>>>> Perhaps you can help me in my struggle...
>>>>> 
>>>>> Martin
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Andy,
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> I don't see that being rude advances the conversation.  When I 
>>>>>>> assert a position here in this discussion I try to base it on an 
>>>>>>> argument, and/or in sources that we all have access to. I'm 
>>>>>>> certainly not trying to cloud any issues, and I don't think that 
>>>>>>> arguing from authority (one's own assumed) dispels the clouds.  I 
>>>>>>> guess I simply don't have access to "a whole tradition of science."
>>>>>>> :(
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> To respond to your other message, yes, I am arguing that 
>>>>>>> consciousness (and thinking) are material processes. They are 
>>>>>>> consequences of (certain kinds of) matter in (certain kinds of) 
>>>>>>> motion.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Against whom am I arguing? I am arguing against all those 
>>>>>>> psychologists who argue that consciousness (and thinking) are 
>>>>>>> mental processes - processes which they believe take place in 
>>>>>>> some mysterious realm called "the mind" that is populated by 
>>>>>>> "mental representations" of the "world outside." I deal with 
>>>>>>> people who make this argument on a daily basis. They believe that 
>>>>>>> the proper
>>> object of investigation for psychology is "mind,"
>>>>>>> and so they have no interest in setting, or culture, or practical 
>>>>>>> activities.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Yes, Haydi's message is the portion of Crisis that I pointed to 
>>>>>>> in my last message.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Martin
>>>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>> 
>> 
> 
> 
>