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[Xmca-l] Re: The meaning of affordances



Haydi, sometimes for my own health and that of the list I need to take a break.

As to the question of whether the plank across the creek is an artefact. "Artefact" is meant to group together both tools and symbols, or rather things used as tools or symbols, so we cannot counterpose artefact to tool. An artefact can also be both a tool and a symbol, since the point is only ever its functional role in human actions, not its properties, and in this computer age, things can be playing both roles simultaneously.

At a trivial level of course the plank is an artefact. A plank is a product of human art. But what is of interest is the psychological role of the plank, that is what interests us. A constellation of stars is not a product of human art strictly speaking, but because these constellations have been identified and their shape, position and significance passed on culturally for use in navigation and astrology, we have to say that the constellations and the heavenly bodies generally, insofar as they are known and identified by their place in culture, are artefacts; and they figure as mediating artefact-symbols in human actions. Reading the stars is a culturally-transmitted, learned activity.

But what if we were talking about a tree which had accidentally fallen across the creek only the night before and was discovered by the walker for the first time? In crossing the creek using the fallen tree is the walker doing an artefact-mediated action? In my opinion, this is a question which can be resolved only by psychological investigation, not philosophy. A squirrel could run across the fallen tree just as much as a human, but does a human use the tree in just the same way as a squirrel? That is the question of interest. Or is the human being's knowledge of bridges and their function, and familiarity with stories about fallen trees and the use of timber in building all contributing to the decision to use the tree as a bridge and controlling the walker's action in playing Friar Tuck and Little John?

Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


Haydi Zulfei wrote:
Hi

First of all , so resentfully I wonder If I can demand Andy's return to the discussions !! No one can deny his great contributions to this Forum .

Second , I might have been lost completely in your words , terms , premises , and compositional nuances and colourings of your script as native speakers , etc.


Third , because of obvious sensitivities towards ANL , I've altogether put him to one side ; otherwise , in this concrete example of Michael , the triad , activity , action , operation are boldly in view .


Fourth , I suppose LSV himself in two or three chapters of the "History of Higher Mental Functions" has provided full response to our inquiries . Andy , in time , sent the first two chapters to all .

1. He , after preliminary remarks , puts heavy emphasis on use of tools and work activity in the parentheses and in italic characters . He emphasizes that use of tool very naturally gets significant just within the work activity process . Without the work activity we cannot expect much of it . Then , as most of the time , he time and again references Marx and Engels so as to prove his claims .


2. Mike is so and for good reasons enchanted in "rudiments" of culture phenomena (throwing dice and bones , knots , notches in the wood to remember speech) . Good for him and us all . Yes , Buridan's ass gets spoilt in its indecision But man through inventing stimulus-device gets to salvation . But the problem is how many times has Mike , our Boss and confirmed global figure no need for it to be documented , asked himself what went before that juncture of time for the man to become 'MAN' ?? At this moment we are with LSV and at a very critical point of time . No more return to 'culture' to prove 'culture' . LSV says the error for some is to recount the story of mental through mental while they should know that mental processes go parallel with 'social' processes . What I gather at this very point is that he expects us to infer that the 'our present man of some will' owes his man/ness and decisiveness to his previous work activity necessitating use of tools . It seems we cannot take the idea to the uterine because V focuses on use of tools for a baby of 6 or of 10-12 months of age . It seems , both phylogenetically and ontogenetically , that it's not the case that 'gestures' ' eye contacts' come of their own and because of the man/ness and for the tuning-up with the universe through sounds and hymns and angels , etc. Man worked for life , performed ups and downs , shook his extremeties (one pair of hand) , consumed ! collective yellings and gesturing (as concomitant of work) . V says we can distinguish independent history of natural processes and independent history of cultural development separately 'phylogenetically' but not ontogenetically . In ontology , nature and culture work simultaneously contrary to phylogenesis . One cannot with ease and comfort say whichone goes with whichone .

3. Andy who is well aware of both CH and AT , on his sending of the four pages and then the said two chapters , disclosed a very important point neglected so far at the forum and that was the idea of the distinction between tool and sign so fruitfully and enormously discussed by V and the deep meaning that the simple diagram denoted . V says 'artifact' could be cheating and deceitful but no one cares ! They invariably use artifacts and through this , they ultimately remove 'material activity' from the domain altogether . V is everywhere clear with both 'cultural , ideal activity' and 'material activity' . Here is where quotes don't work . The one more return to the plus-thousand previous reflections . No loss really ! V , if necessary , prefers just 'mediation' .
4. With these in mind , I say for certain that here the plank is a tool not an 'artifact' because it is not a sign signaling any other genuine thing . It's all to itself . Also the light switch . And the whole activity is a material one . Life put it in the way . According to V sign activity affects one's own societal individual behaviour . We cannot generalize its effect to the border of transforming Nature . Man through speech , dialogue , discourse , talk , genre , etc. decides for the change in personal behaviour ; if this potential preparedness for individual behavioral change gets fossilized or ossified , then man will not reach the threshhold of the bigger act and the vast field of the Mother Universe with its motley rich material phenomena out of which each time he can select an object for a circle of activity : starting an activity with a probable cryptic 'motive' (what we don't yet know about which took him to the point of crossing) , with a conscious goal (reaching the other side) through a concrete action (crossing) operating according to the conditions at hand and on the ground (light switching , wrestling between the ideal and the material (object , subject , that is , thinking ideally about what to do with the whole thing and the plank , then observing with the help of the light acting on the object , again back to thinking if flaws are observed , etc. etc. no blending of objective and subjective whatsoever . And I wonder why taking affordance for a tool .


Soooooooooo much for one post . I considered spaces but wonder if it works . I'll also be very quiet and slow in replying !

Best Haydi

     From: mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> Sent: Tuesday, 2 December 2014, 11:26:46
 Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The meaning of affordances
My view?
The plank is for certain an artifact, no less than the light bulb. On what
grounds, or under what circumstances,  would you classify it otherwise?
What's gained, what's lost?
mike


On Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 10:45 AM, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
wrote:

Hi Annalisa, Mike, Huw

I tend to  be somebody who reacts better to concrete examples than
definitions.  I believe this also comes from Gibson's 1977 book,

You are walking across a field and come to a stream which you can to get
across.  You notice a plank across the stream.  It is wide enough for you
to keep your balance and thick enough to hold your weight, in using it you
recognize its affordance as a crossing point.  It is the intersection of
the movement, the perception of the plank, short term goal of the activity
(getting across the stream) - the recognition of the affordance comes in
the subjective use of the object (which is why it is neither subjective or
objective).  It is also important that you have the abilities (the correct
weight, the balance) to recognize the affordance, otherwise you pass the
plank by.

As far as perceived affordance.  I think I have this right - the perceived
is not in the person who recognizes the affordance (otherwise you are
right, that is wet water) it is whether there is an intention in the design
of the object.  So I create a light switch with the intention of designing
it as having a perceived affordance for somebody who wants to switch on a
light.  As you can see different from the relationship to the plank, where
there is no prior design.

Here is my question (perhaps answered in the Engestrom paper)

The light switch is certainly an artifact, but is the plank?

Michael
________________________________________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu]
on behalf of mike cole [mcole@ucsd.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2014 1:19 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The meaning of affordances

Those definitions help a lot Annalisa and touch on the fact that gibson
seemed to empty the organism (if one were so inclined to interpret him) and
he dismissed culutral mediation as secondary at best. Still, they share the
idea that a part of the structure that psychologist theorize as a located
inside of individual crania is in fact "our there" in the phylgenetically
and cultural-historically constitued environment. And that drove cognitive
psychologists, our co discussants, nuts. Until, "they got it" and then
sought to mold it to their own ends and pre-existing means.
mike

On Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 9:59 AM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:

I thought I'd do the honors and start a new thread on affordances, which
isn't related to Larry's discussion of basic images.

I figured as well to offer Gibson's words on affordances since it is a
word he invented to describe something he saw in the world. Of course the
life of affordances has been full of controversy, especially with regard
to
understanding what they are.

Gibson's Affordances is a theory I find instrumental to connecting
outside
to inside experiences and I intuit that it is related to perezhivanie in
some fashion.

After reading the wikipage more closely, I regret offering a link to the
text there because it isn't very clear what Gibson means or what Norman
means. To me, a "perceived affordance" is like saying "wet water."

In any case, here are 3 quotes of Gibson in his own words, that I could
find:

The affordances of the environment are what it _offers_ the animal, what
it _provides_ or _furnishes_, either for good or ill. The verb "to
afford"
is found in the dictionary, the noun "affordance" is not. I have made it
up. I mean by it something that refers both to the environment and the
animal in a way that no existing term does. It implies the
complementarity
of the animal and the environment (Gibson, 1977/1986).

and

What is meant by an _affordance_? …Subject to revision, I suggest that
the
affordance of anything is a specific combination of the properties of its
substance and its surfaces taken with reference to an animal. The
reference
may be to an animal as distinguished from other species (Gibson,
1977/1986).
and

An important fact about affordances of the environment is that they are
in
a sense objective, real, and physical, unlike values and meanings, which
are often supposed to be subjective, phenomenal, and mental. But
actually,
an affordance is neither an objective property nor a subjective property;
or it is both if you like. An affordance cuts across the dichotomy of
subjective-objective and helps us to understand its inadequacy. It is
equally a fact of the environment and a fact of behavior. It is both
physical and psychical, yet neither. An affordance points both ways, to
the
environment and to the observer (Gibson, 1977/1986).

These quotes are important to keep in mind, I hope they help.

I might also suggest looking at Mace(1977) who described very carefully
how Gibson got from stimuli to affordance, given that people on this list
value history, learning, and development.

Kind regards,

Annalisa






________________________________________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
on behalf of Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 10:35 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: How *basic* are images?

I'd take a look.

Michael, utility or technical affordance might fit.  My equivalent of
your
perceived/discovered distinction is one of planned and technically
manifest.

Huw


On 2 December 2014 at 16:44, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
wrote:

I'd be interested in anybody else is.

Michael
________________________________________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
]
on behalf of mike cole [mcole@ucsd.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2014 11:39 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: How *basic* are images?

Interloper, Michael?

The discussions at UCSD preceeding Don's use of affordances and
cognitive
artifacts were accompanied by other, related papers. One by Engestrom
on
"when is an artifact" and one or more by Ed Hutchins. If people are
interested in pursuing this thread/topic the materials could be
gathered
up.

mike

On Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 8:09 AM, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu
wrote:

But it seems that Norman made two mistakes (and I like his idea).  He
actually cops to both of them.  The first was not to distinguish
between
affordances which are discovered and perceived affordances which are
designed.  I think this is related to the issue of artifacts.
Meaning
are
artifacts designed for perceived affordances or are they there to be
discovered through movement as (and this is probably the wrong word,
if
anybody knows the right one, help!!) organic affordances.  It is a
complex
question about artifacts I think because their meaning changes based
on
context, so something designed for perceived affordances in one
context
may
result in organic affordances in another context.

The second mistake he made, which turned out to be bigger - is that
he
was
not careful enough in differentiating between affordances and
constraints.
Again artifacts, are they designed to create perceived affordances or
are
they designed to create constraints.

Anyway, just something I have been thinking about lately, but the
mention
just spurred me to throw this up.  Hope I'm not being too much of an
interloper.

Michael
________________________________________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [
xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
]
on behalf of mike cole [mcole@ucsd.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2014 10:58 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: How *basic* are images?

Annalisa-

I like the Wikipedia phraseology better than my own, appropriation
not
discovery. For several years before he appropriated the notion of
affordances, Don Norman and colleagues at UCSD were dead set against
Gibson's ideas.  The change of views coincided with the advent of the
d-cog
idea which also has deep roots in chat.

No hidden  history i know of, but interesting connections among the
notion
of affordance and artifact seem worth considering. A discussion  of
these
connections can be found, among other places, in

  Cole, M. & Engeström, Y. (1993). *A cultural-historical approach to
distributed*
*cognition*. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognition:
Psychological
and
educational considerations. New York: Cambridge University Press.

mike





On Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 9:53 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
wrote:
Hi Mike,

It was my hope to not post more today, but I I have been denied
that
wish!
Yes, I am aware that "dcog" and "chat" have important connections.
I
was
not aware however that Don Norman discovered affordances. I learned
about
Gibson's affordances in Gardner's book The Minds New Science
(1985).
Is there some history that is not part of the common story?

I looked here for clarity:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance

Is it possible that you mean affordances and how they relate to
cognitive
artifacts?

There are no rocks here, maybe only Nerf footballs, as done in
play,
and
even joy!

When I am done with Paul's paper I do intend to speak, however
until
then
I will remain with the ineffable.

Kind regards,

Annalisa
________________________________________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <
xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
on behalf of mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu>
Sent: Monday, December 1, 2014 10:39 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: How *basic* are images?

The histories of dcog and chat are intertwined, Annalisa. And,
co-incidently, Don Norman discovered affordances and cognitive
artifacts
right about that time at UCSD.  If it were possible to find a
source
that
makes these connections visible and available to read about it
might
be a
step in the direction of your earlier suggestion of some sort of
intro
for
newcomers to the discussion.

I have been reading The paper that Paul sent. I fear I need a
newcomer's
introduction to many of the dense cluster of thinkers he is seeking
to
sort
out! The centrality of class comes through clearly, but I am
insuficiently
read in too many places to feel I understand well. Help wanted!

A sculptor friend has a t shirt that nails our dilemma "so many
rocks,
so
little time"!

Mike

A

On Monday, December 1, 2014, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
wrote:
Martin!

Perhaps the day we stop employing the phrase "mental
representation"
is
coming closer!

For me, this brings us closer to truly understanding Gibson's
theory
of
affordances.

This is what it's like for me to read David's contributed
article.
But
I
wonder if it is possible for you, Martin, to explain why it is
important
not to use the phrase,"mental representation" in the article.

I suspect there is a history here, and I do not mean to pull a
grenade
pin, I just want to understand because I am a newcomer to the
list.
If
you
can trust that that is my intention by asking, I will look
forward
to
your
reply, Martin.

Let me just add that I am putting two and two together that being
at
UCSD
and it being the home to Distributed Cognition, that that
influences
your
position, not that it necessarily shapes it, but that you find
community
in
it (which I suppose can still shape, but it seems more voluntary
phrased
that way).

Kind regards,

Annalisa
________________________________________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <javascript:;> <
xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <javascript:;>> on behalf of
Martin
John
Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co <javascript:;>>
Sent: Monday, December 1, 2014 4:28 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: How *basic* are images?

An interesting article, David. One way in which it is
interesting,
to
me
at least, is that the phrase "mental representation" is not used,
even
once. Instead the author writes of the way that we "read" images
in
the
world around us - material representations - and he tries to
define
the
"interpretational space" within which this reading takes place.

Martin

On Dec 1, 2014, at 1:53 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com
<javascript:;>> wrote:

Larry, Annalisa:

People sometimes ask my wife if it was "love at first sight"
when
we
met. She answers--quite truthfully--that she has no memory of
anything
except the price of the shoes that I wore (a kind of shoe
available
for a standard price all over China) She does not even remember
whether they were new or old (they were pretty new; it was the
beginning of the semester). I think I would describe this as a
non-image based mental representation.

As Larry says, the issue of whether all mental representations
are
images was a very hot one--back in the late nineteenth century.
In
fact, it was the key issue for the Gestaltist revolt against
Titchener
and against Wundtian psychology: for Wundt and his disciples,
everything was image based, and the Gestaltists demonstrated
that
many, if not most, of our mental operations are genetically
anterior
to images, and have more to do with processes, else we would
not
have
time or ability to process complex problems in real time.

I think it is even more true that of forms of thinking that are
genetically posterior to images. I hesitate to recommend more
reading
to anybody, because of course Larry is far more well read than
I
am
(particularly on phenomenology) and Annalisa sometimes feels
like
she's being sent to sit facing the corner with a book. So do
NOT
read
this article--instead, look at Figure 11.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3157022/

The artist, Robert Pepperell, uses the general color structure
of
Michelangelo’s painting to suggest images without using any
actual
images: by color and shape, which some part of our cultural
experience
associates with Renaissance paintings.  Pepperell then
deliberately
frustrates these guiding images by refusing to give them any
recognizable figures upon which to focus.

However, the child staring up at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel
fresco
for the first time finds himself in the opposite situation. He
or
she
can discern quite clearly the fighting figures in the painting
and
wonders who they are and why they are fighting, but does not
notice
the color structure or see anything particularly meaningful in
it.
David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 1 December 2014 at 10:39, Annalisa Aguilar <
annalisa@unm.edu
<javascript:;>> wrote:
Hi Larry and David,

Am I butting in? I hope if I am, it is a welcome butting in!

I don't know that we can say that "basic guiding images" are
at
the
root of all thinking.
Perhaps it is safer to say that people think differently,
based
upon
previous conditioning and interactions with their caretakers, in
combination with their biological makeup? Vera has a coined a
phrase
I
like
a lot called "Cognitive pluralism." She has written a paper on it
by
the
same title and you may find interesting it if you don't know it.
With this in mind, it is possible that _some_ people think as
Hackett
describes, but I don't know if it is how all people think. Have
you
already
given an example of Hackett's work that you recommend? I'd be
willing
to
take a look.
As I understand, the topic of mental representations is
controversial.
It is likely controversial because no one likes it when someone
says
"this
is how all humans think." Of course, that is just my humble
observation.
It may just be that thinking is a dynamic process and whatever
that
process is, is particular to the necessity to the situation at
hand?
Just a
thought.
What is it that appeals to you about this model,
metaphoricity?
(BTW, a metaphor need not be image based!)

Kind regards,

Annalisa


________________________________________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <javascript:;> <
xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <javascript:;>> on behalf of
Larry
Purss <
lpscholar2@gmail.com <javascript:;>>
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2014 11:33 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l]  How *basic* are images?

David K
I mentioned Chris Hackett, and I recently referenced Peirce.
My
reason
for
exploring these authors is I have been following a path
pursuing a
basic
question.

Are basic guiding images at the root of all thinking?

Chris Hackett's answer is: "thinking never EXCEEDS the basic
guiding
images
upon which thinking rests"

The recent dialogue between Andy and Martin exploring
appearances
and
illusions was also exploring this theme.

Hackett is outlining what he understands as a new
phenomenological
path
that places guiding images at the root of thinking. He names
this
process
*metaphoricity*.

Hackett believes metaphoricity names the irreducible
image-character
of
the
*spontaneous event* of meaning.

He goes on to suggest that the "intending subject" - which he
brackets -
finds itself implicated in this guiding image.

AND

it is *in* this guiding image that the *intending subject*
finds
the
meaning of its very self.

Exploring the notion of "first things* Hackett proposes this
image-character IS a new *objectivity* that only the notion of
metaphor
can
invoke. In other words the notion of *seeing as* is implicated
in
*objectivity*

This new objectivity for Hackett is the root of thinking.

Reason at the point of becoming conscious and in command of
itself
*in*
the
mode [path] of the concept
occurs AFTER the *constitution* of meaning through guiding
images
has
been
established.

In other words meaning through guiding images mediates the
path
of
conscious verbal thought in command of itself which is derived
from
the
image-character of the guiding image.

I hesitate to open this thread because of how controversial
this
topic
may
become [again]

However I will take the risk as I continue to be held by this
basic
question. I want to repeat that Hackett is exploring these
images
as
occurring as *events* and in his speculations the images
emerge
spontaneously prior to intentional consciousness.

This is not the phenomenology of Husserl [which is
transcendental]
and
is
not the phenomenology of Heidegger [which is hermeneutical].
It
seems
to
have an affinity with Peirce and speculative musings.

I also realize this question may already be answered in
Vygotsky's
writings
and may be pulling us away from the historical concerns of
XMCA. I
personally am following this path for now.

Larry



--
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with
an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.


--
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with
an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.


--
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.


--
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.