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[Xmca-l] Re: How *basic* are images?



Mike:

I'm afraid I'm thinking like a painter. As soon as a painting is a finished
image, it's finished; it's not the object of painting but the result of
painting. I sometimes gawk at my own paintings, but it produces a rather
disagreeable feeling, like sitting on a toilet in a dirty outhouse staring
at a fly speckled ceiling, and I hope that the feeling for people looking
at the painting is very different,

So here's the idea. Imagination is a process...the process of forming an
image from things that are not images, or at least not the kind of image we
are interested in forming. Of course, in some cases, you form an image from
another image, by looking at a live model and trying to paint it. But even
these limit cases, where an imagined image is created from a perceived
image, involve considerably more than "combinatorial" imagination; the
resulting image is not a kind of Galton photograph of many different
perceptions of the object. What we are really doing is realizing an
intention, and that intention almost by definition involves something that
is not reducible to perceptions or experiences.

I think the Gestaltists believed in structures, but that only Vygotsky
believed that the structures were essentially neoformations along the lines
of linguistic productions: entirely novel structures built of resources
that were simultaneously ideal and material. They weren't neoformations out
of nothing, and they weren't neoformations out of the lower functions
either; they were assisted by cultural productions, for sure, else they
could not take the obviously verbal forms that they do; e.g. Michelangelo's
struggle between the angels is, at bottom, a story handed down from the
Bible. But they aren't reducible to cultural productions either, else the
child couldn't stare up at Michelangelo's ceiling and still make some sense
of his or her own out of it without knowing the Bible story.

(My wife, growing up in China, had no access to Bible stories at all. She
then read the King James Bible as part of her training in seventeenth
century English literatures, alongide Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Ben
Jonson. Then, one day in Venice, we were in the Cathedral at San Marco, and
they turned the ceiling lights on, so you could see the ceiling mosaics,
and she could see Noah, drunken and abandoned by his two sons, and the tree
of life, and all the rest, and she turned to me and muttered in Chinese
that this is what the ancients had in mind. She meant that quite literally,
or rather non-literally; this was how cultural functions were transmitted
to illiterates when only perception could be used.)

 David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 30 December 2014 at 05:19, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> I am responding here to David Ke's message of Nov 30th in which he
> recommends an article by Robert Pepperell relevant to the topic of
> imagination (as I imagine it!). I found a lot to think about and recommend
> the article to those interested in the topic.
>
> Pepperell's interest seems relevant to the topic of imagination because he
> deliberately creates images that incite the viewer to identify objects but
> are, in so far as possible, devoid of objects ("indeterminant stimuli").
> Such paintings, he reports, induce active efforts to make sense of the
> painting in terms of something the person has encountered before. He
> reports that
>
> not only are particular loci in the brain recruited in response to
> indeterminate stimuli, but that the attempt to decipher such stimuli leads
> to enhanced overall coordination in brain activity: “This suggests that V4
> plays a key role in resolving indeterminate visual inputs by coordinated
> interaction between bottom-up and top-down processing streams” (p. 275).
>
> The word, imagination, comes up only once in the article, in connection
> with the work of Gombrich..... but a lot of the studies and discussion in
> the paper seem quite relevant to this topic.
>
>
> One additional issue came up that has me thinking. David wrote:
>
> 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.
>
> My question. Aren't mental images processes? If not, what are they?
>
> mike
>
>
> On Sun, Nov 30, 2014 at 10:53 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> 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> 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 <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >
> > on behalf of Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> > > 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 as an object
> that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
>