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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance [Language as a form]



I too liked Huw's comments, but for rather different reasons than his
compelling defense of what Basil Bernstein calls "strongly framed,
strongly classified" categories of knowledge. What I liked is the way
that he brought in Dickens, simultaneously enriching and undermining
his argument.

On the one hand, Dickens is the ultimate in blokish writers (I can't
think of a single likeable or even bearable female character in the
whole of his oeuvre). On the other, Dickens will begin a book (e.g.
"Hard Times") with a clear list of characters he intends to slate
(utilitarians and political economists) and then he'll attribute views
to them that are really quite the opposite of what they hold (real
utilitarians and political economists actually agreed with Mr. Sleary
that work is a curse and that "The people mutht be amuthed"). So in
addition to being a blokish writer, Dickens is a bit of an
intellectual slob (as opposed to a snob): a masher-together-er, to put
it more charitably.

But by bringing in Dickens I think Huw also brings in the
aesthetic--and even the ethical. And here what Huw says about strongly
framed and strongly classified (or "technical") categories of
knowledge is much less compelling. I have been arguing for a
perspective that is "trans-disciplinary" rather than
"inter-disciplinary", where inquiries into art and into science alike
can be based on themes like quantity, history and structure rather
than narrowly defined according to objects of study such as matter,
living things, society and consciousness; it seems to me that if
strongly framed and strongly classified categories of knowledge must
predominate in scientific categories (else it is hard to see how the
hiearchical structures Vygotsky sees as essential to science concepts
can emerge) then weakly framed and weakly classified categories of
knowlede necessarily predominate in aesthetic ones, and even in
ethical ones (which I believe are closely related).

We are reaching the end of the semester in my class on immersion
education, in which I adopted a syllabus idea I stole from Carol
Macdonald, to wit, that immersion classes might begin with classes
like Physical Education, Music and Mathematics (where word meaning is
not a central concern) and only end with classes like (Natural)
Science, Social Science and Ethics. That means that this week my
students are preparing immersion classes in ethics. One of my students
contested the idea that ethical education was for higher grades only,
so I asked her when she thought ethics education should begin.

She said that ethics education really begins with a mother holding a
newborn infant. On my way home from class, I thought of Martin's work
on the prisoner's dilemma, and how it fit, quite despite itself, into
a whole tradition of neo-Kohlbergian ethics education. And I was
reminded of Carol Gilligan's and Nel Noddings' critique of
Kohlberg--the critique that by emphasizing the autonomous individual
above the relational one, and "justice" above "caring", Kohlberg had
constructed a blokish ethics, for gentlemen only. It is also an ethics
for small businessmen rather than young mothers and teachers: Mr.
Sleary and his creator would have been amuthed.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 27 November 2014 at 20:46, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com> wrote:
> I have been reading McLellan's "new abridgement" of Capital recently.
> Probably my most powerful impression is the prevalence of the conditions
> Marx documents.  Unlike writers of fiction today, it is quite clear to me
> that his contemporary, Dickens, was barely required to lift a few stones to
> find the extremes of luck, fate and chance that he also portrays.  A
> second, more palliative, impression is the documentation of the source of
> so many of the problems arising in working conditions that remain with us
> today, albeit in more 'civilised' form.
>
> Regarding 'muscularity', I find it interesting to consider how technical
> utterances and work-a-day competences do tend to carry a certain kind of
> muscularity in a literal sense of holding steady.  To be technical is to be
> precise under varying conditions in which one holds those conditions steady
> and it is normal to hear technical discourse with some degree of
> articulatory stress and moderate facial tension etc.  Under such
> circumstances, one doesn't merely pile up the words in additive form but is
> concerned with their configuration and placement.
>
> On the business of the objectivity of consciousness and focal distinction
> between the experience of consciousness and that which yields it, I think
> we can make the same statement about any scientifically studied phenomena.
> We are not aware of the internally manifest form of any kind of internal
> calculus undertaken by a studied system, yet we may study it from without
> (with meter readings etc) and perform equivalent calculations and follow
> the transformations taking place.  Alternatively, we can study that
> calculus as a system itself, which will have, again, its own internal
> manifestation.  That's how we come to improve our approximations...
>
> Best,
> Huw
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 27 November 2014 at 07:07, Patrick Jaki <patrick.jaki@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Am sad about the uncalled for attention. We can still debate robustly and
>> at the same time remain civil.
>>
>> Patrick.
>>
>> On 27 November 2014 at 08:48, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
>>
>> > Carol Et al
>> >
>> > It is a short holiday week in the US and I am on the road visiting family
>> > and friends. I have only limited access and am trying to think about what
>> > it means to have participants with such varied histories with the
>> discourse
>> > community and its topic and such varied backgrounds. Uncharted territory.
>> >
>> > For those who care to see XMCA continue, I suggest that you read and
>> > reflect on the 30+ history of this discourse community. The summaries
>> that
>> > I know of can be found at
>> > LCHC.ucsd.edu under history archives. There are two summaries there that
>> > go
>> > back to roughly 1983.
>> >
>> > Further comment without people stopping to familiarize themselves with
>> > prior history and without having participants ceasing to seek  solutions
>> to
>> > the current confusions in the iniatives taken by others rather than in
>> > collective action in which they share responsibility seems unlikely to
>> bear
>> > fruit that can nourish a productive future.
>> >
>> > All sorts of alternatives are possible.
>> >
>> > One alternative is not possible, and that is to eschew personal
>> > responsibility and lay it on the shoulders of a 76 year old "retired
>> > professor" whose inadequate understanding of the core issues of the role
>> of
>> > culture in the development have been thoroughly documented by numerous
>> real
>> > experts over decades.
>> >
>> > The record is there, open to all.
>> > Check it out. Then we can assess the future.
>> >
>> > Good luck to us all
>> >
>> > Mike
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com
>> > <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','carolmacdon@gmail.com');>> wrote:
>> >
>> > > Hi
>> > >
>> > > There have been some off list postings about this phenomenon. None of
>> it
>> > > complimentary.  This cannot be sorted out in one move.
>> > >
>> > > I propose that we move onto a different thread -  topic.
>> > >
>> > > Mike, would you like to start us off on something new?
>> > >
>> > > Carol
>> > >
>> > > On 27 November 2014 at 02:49, Martin John Packer <
>> > mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
>> > > wrote:
>> > >
>> > > > Andy, if you're going to retire, then retire. But don't aim one or
>> two
>> > > > more underhand blows behind the feint of retiring.
>> > > >
>> > > > Martin
>> > > >
>> > > > On Nov 26, 2014, at 7:24 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>> > > >
>> > > > > Well this bloke will retire again at this point. I thought for a
>> > brief
>> > > > moment there, I thought we had a breakthrough. Certainly, Huw's "real
>> > > > illusion" is perfectly apt to my mind (it's an expression Marx uses),
>> > or
>> > > > in  Eric Fromm's words, an illusion with "survival value." Martin
>> says
>> > > > "Consciousness is an objective process that *sometimes* can *give
>> rise
>> > > to*
>> > > > illusions." As Vygotsky says "For him psychology is partly
>> > > phenomenology."
>> > > > > Andy
>> > > > >
>> > >
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> > > > > *Andy Blunden*
>> > > > > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>> > > > >
>> > > > >
>> > > > > Bruce Robinson wrote:
>> > > > >> Henry,
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >> Your wife's question leads to another: who speaks for the silent
>> > > > majority, many of whom, like me, must be getting fed up with what
>> > David K
>> > > > calls a "rather blokish struggle for power over particular words'?
>> [Not
>> > > > Richard Nixon :)]
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >> Bruce R
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >> PS: You may also note that I have not changed the subject heading
>> of
>> > > > this message so that it bears no relation to the content. Something
>> > else
>> > > I
>> > > > find irritating...
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >> On 26/11/2014 17:16, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
>> > > > >>> Sister Analisa,
>> > > > >>> Thank you for responding! I was just talking to my wife (getting
>> > > > personal!) about the chat. She asked me, "How does anyone get to
>> > > > participate in the (XMCA) chat if only a few people take part?" I
>> > > wondered
>> > > > in my email below if too much was expected of written communication
>> in
>> > > the
>> > > > XMCA chat. With 800 people potentially taking turns, well...what is
>> > even
>> > > > possible logistically? Mike Cole has talked about this, and, I think,
>> > has
>> > > > some suggestions on how to deal with the bottlenecking. But even
>> small
>> > > > scale communication can be daunting. I watched, with my wife, a
>> Richard
>> > > > Linklater movie last night, "Before Midnight". Two people, face to
>> > face,
>> > > in
>> > > > a totally committed relationship, smart people, good people, trying
>> so
>> > > hard
>> > > > to get it right. Always a work in progress. But it's worth it. The
>> > > > alternative is despair. I am sure of this: This chat, which seems to
>> > get
>> > > > bogged down in abstractions, pure thinking in the mud, is really
>> > > > consequential beyond the sensitivities of academics. I said we
>> > > > >> va
>> > > > >>>  lue Vygotsky's "heroism", but that's too macho. I should have
>> said
>> > > > courage.
>> > > > >>>
>> > > > >>> The Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis is a powerful idea, often
>> > called
>> > > > the Whorf/Sapir hypothesis. Google it. Really. See what you think.
>> One
>> > > > gauge of the power of an idea is if it has found its way into popular
>> > > > discourse. I just this morning heard an NPR radio program (thanks
>> again
>> > > to
>> > > > my wife, who was listening when she heard something she thought I
>> would
>> > > be
>> > > > interested in) that dealt with the Whorf/Sapir hypothesis in its
>> strong
>> > > and
>> > > > weak form.
>> > > > >>>
>> > > > >>> Henry
>> > > > >>>
>> > > > >>>> On Nov 25, 2014, at 10:11 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <
>> annalisa@unm.edu>
>> > > > wrote:
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Dear Henry,
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Thank you for your reply.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> I don't think being personal (or even personable) requires being
>> > > > heated. Does this have to do with my comment of warmth as a sign of
>> > > welcome?
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> To speak about culture non-personally is not something I am
>> adept
>> > at
>> > > > doing. We are always speaking from where we stand, the culture that
>> we
>> > > are
>> > > > in or from, what-have-you.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Respectfully, I do not know what "linguistic relativity
>> > hypothesis"
>> > > > is. So please be patient with me while I connect this academic idea
>> you
>> > > > have offered to this conversation so that I can relate that to my
>> > > personal
>> > > > experience speaking on this thread, though clearly I'm not speaking
>> > > > literally right now, but it is speech from me, not a sock puppet with
>> > my
>> > > > voice thrown from the position of objective reality.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> You are talking about speaking two languages. But it seems we
>> are
>> > > all
>> > > > speaking English on this list. So I'm a bit lost right there what you
>> > are
>> > > > trying to say to me.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Then, you speak of metalinguistics and how it represents
>> different
>> > > > worldviews, if you don't mind me swapping your use of "perspective"
>> for
>> > > > worldview. There is a lot of time clearing muckups to get it right.
>> I'm
>> > > not
>> > > > sure that it ever gets right though, which troubles me. I have found
>> > that
>> > > > many people who have different worldviews communicate by "talking
>> to,"
>> > > > rather than "talking at." I feel, for example, you and I are talking
>> to
>> > > one
>> > > > another, despite our likely different POVs.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> I don't know what the "perish and dapple of Andy" means when you
>> > say
>> > > > that. From what I can tell he's trying to define something for
>> himself
>> > > > asking for the help of others. That's fine and I'm learning that
>> > > > definitions are very bas-relief for him. I think my interests are a
>> > > little
>> > > > different. So I'd prefer to orient to my interests, if that is OK.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Speaking of metalinguistics, rather than debate over
>> definitions,
>> > > I'm
>> > > > more interested in speaking to the very different people who are on
>> > this
>> > > > list. The rumor is there are 800 folks out there. Where are you? :)
>> To
>> > > > reference a highly academic quote from the Wizard of Oz:
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> "Come out, come out wherever you are, and meet the young lady
>> who
>> > > > fell from the star!"
>> > > > >>>> --Glinda, the Good Witch from the North (waves magic wand)
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> I'm curious how others have been inspired by Vygotsky and
>> > > > sociocultural theory, and even other manifestations of his ideas,
>> such
>> > as
>> > > > CHAT, etc and how people are using these approaches in their work.
>> What
>> > > is
>> > > > that like for you? And to be more specific, what is that like for
>> women
>> > > and
>> > > > people of color? I'm also interested in thinking-out-loud with others
>> > > about
>> > > > Vygotskian concepts that are not easy to understand; to employ in
>> real
>> > > time
>> > > > dialogue and social interaction to leap over zopeds together. Isn't
>> > that
>> > > > what a listserv is for? Or am I being too idealistic?
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> I have tried to speak in an open, easy, and immediate manner, to
>> > > > allow others to engage. But I fear that engagement is never going to
>> > > happen
>> > > > because all that persists are conversations about definitions, or
>> > whether
>> > > > nothing can come from nothing, and voila! subsequent debates ensue.
>> Or
>> > > > someone will say, "We already discussed this 20 years ago!" Which
>> > means I
>> > > > missed the party, I suppose. Unfortunately, if I disagree with a
>> > position
>> > > > because I interpret differently, then I'm told to go read something
>> > > without
>> > > > really a clear explanation why I'm supposed to go read something.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> I don't really agree with the approach of "read this," as an
>> > > academic
>> > > > argument. Anyone is free to use it, and I have myself, but because I
>> > know
>> > > > how obtuse that can be, I couch it with my reasons why I think it
>> would
>> > > be
>> > > > a good read for that person, and what I think there is learn from
>> > > reading.
>> > > > I think the "read this" approach, when it is offered with the tone of
>> > > "now
>> > > > go eat your vegetables!" fails in the making of speech between
>> people.
>> > > All
>> > > > it does is shut things down.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> If the reading truly is relevant, it seems far more productive
>> in
>> > > the
>> > > > moment of speech to cue a person what to look for, to supply a
>> context,
>> > > > especially when referencing an entire book, for example, or the link
>> to
>> > > an
>> > > > entire website full of texts.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Your assessment in the physicality of language is something with
>> > > > which I am completely in agreement. Especially since we all seem to
>> > agree
>> > > > with the material aspects of language. So the question at hand is a
>> > > matter
>> > > > of form. Form has an aesthetic but also has a purpose. Are we
>> throwing
>> > > > ropes or throwing boulders? If throwing boulders, where does that
>> need
>> > to
>> > > > throw boulders come from? If throwing ropes, then at least
>> connections
>> > > are
>> > > > being made for those who might not be very clear about ideas and who
>> > may
>> > > > require a helping hand.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Then there's the old, but handy, elliptical comment, something
>> > like
>> > > a
>> > > > boomerang... meant to be subtle or ironic at the expense of someone
>> who
>> > > may
>> > > > not understand.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> At this point, I'd to emphasize that being ignorant is not being
>> > > > stupid, but it seems someone who is ignorant is frequently treated as
>> > > > stupid (um, on this list). This "phenomenon" has made me reflect upon
>> > how
>> > > > little time is spent upon the nature of ignorance in education and
>> the
>> > > > dynamics of ignorance in speaking. Every one of us is ignorant about
>> > most
>> > > > things in the world. And yet being ignorant is seen as an
>> > embarrassment,
>> > > a
>> > > > deficiency, a lapse in character. I vehemently disagree with this
>> > > reception
>> > > > to ignorance. Even Einstein said something like, "The more I know,
>> the
>> > > more
>> > > > I see how much I don't know." Such an aggressive position toward
>> > > ignorance
>> > > > is nothing but hurtful, even arrogant. Arrogance is a blister, a
>> > defense
>> > > > mechanism from previous hurt. A person who is honest about one's own
>> > > > ignorance is a very strong person and is showing a willingness to
>> learn
>> > > > something. I think all teachers will agree that a person who knows
>> one
>> > > > doesn't know is an easier student to teach tha
>> > > > >> n
>> > > > >>>   one who doesn't know one doesn't know.
>> > > > >>>> Iconicity is something I can hang my hat on. I see it is related
>> > to
>> > > > pointing. What I like about pointing is that it is a gesture, which
>> > > implies
>> > > > movement, in the way the word is also movement. I hope I have made
>> > > > sufficient personal connections to your concepts without the heat.
>> > Thank
>> > > > you for offering them to me.
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Kind regards,
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>> Annalisa
>> > > > >>>>
>> > > > >>>
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >>
>> > > > >
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > --
>> > > Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
>> > > Developmental psycholinguist
>> > > Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
>> > > Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa
>> > >
>> >
>> >
>> > --
>> > It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
>> > object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
>> >
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> *Patrick Jaki*
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> *P. O Box 505 WitsJohannesburg2050South Africa*
>>