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[Xmca-l] Association and Mediation

I agree. At the level of *psychology*, there is no substantial difference between association and mediation, either concept can be used to arrive at the same conclusions and explain the same data. But what marks out the mediation approach is that it highlights one particular range of entities - the tools and signs which are cultural products, produced by earlier generations of human beings and passed down for us, bringing with them the wisdom of our forebears. That is, the difference is only in the *historical* perspective.
*Andy Blunden*

David Kellogg wrote:
Let me--while keeping within the two screen limit--make the case for
Vygotsky's obsession with discrediting associationism. I think it's not
just about mediation; as Michael points out, there are associationists who
are willing to accept that a kind of intermediary associationism exists and
some mediationists who are willing to accept that as mediation. Vygotsky
has far more in mind. How do we, without invoking religion, explain the
uniqueness of our species?

Is it just the natural egocentrism that every species feels for its own
kind? From an associationist point of view, and from a Piagetian
perspective--and even from a strict Darwinian one--true maturity as a
species comes with acknowledging that there is nothing more to it than
that: we are simply a singularly maladaptive variety of primate, and our
solemn temples and clouded towers are but stones piled upon rocks in order
to hide this. The value of our cultures have to be judged the same way as
any other adaptation: in terms of survival value.

Making the case for the higher psychological functions and for language is
not simply a matter of making a NON-religious case human exceptionalism.
It's also, in a strange way, a way of making the case for the vanguard role
of the lower classes in human progress. For other species, prolonging
childhood is giving hostages to fortune,and looking after the sick and the
elderly is tantamount to suicide. But because artificial organs (tools) and
even artificial intelligences (signs) are so important for our species, it
is in the societies and the sectors of society where these "circuitous,
compensatory means of development" are most advanced that lead our
development as a species. The wretched of the earth always been short on
rocks and stones to pile up and on the wherewithal for material culture
generally. But language and ideology is quite another matter: verily, here
the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

I think the idea of imagination is a distal form of attention is simply the
logical result of Ribot's model of imagination: he says there are only two
kinds of imagination: reproductive, and recombinative. So imagination is
nothing more than the recombination of concrete experiences, and nothing
really new can ever be imagined. But as Vygotsky says, when you hear the
name of a place, you don't have to have actually been there to be able to
imagine it. So there must be some artificial memory at work in word meaning.

You probably know the hoary old tale about Archimedes, who was given a
crown of gold and who discovered that the gold had been mixed with silver
by measuring the displacement of an equivalent quantity of gold. Well, we
now know that this method doesn't actually work: it's not possible to
measure the differences in water displacement that precisely. The method
that Archimedes actually used was much closer to the "principal of
buoyancy" which Vygotsky always talks about.

And how do we know this? Because of the Archimedes palimpsest, a velum on
which seven texts were written at right angles to each other. Because
parchment was so expensive, the velum was scraped and written over every
century or so, but because the skin it was made of was soft, the pressure
of the writing preserved the older texts below the new ones when the old
text was scraped off. And one of the lower texts is the only known Greek
copy of Archimedes' "On Floating Bodies".

Neither the relationship of these texts to meaning nor their relationship
to each other is a matter of association (and in fact they are related to
each other by a kind of failed dissociation). But it's quite similar to the
way that word meanings are reused and develop anew.

(Did I do it? Is this two screens?)

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies