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[Xmca-l] Re: Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity



Hi David-

Good luck with the history of TESOL!

On the issue of culture and history as product and process.  I think there
is some value
in considering a complementary "other side" of your solution. A sort of why
not:

You write that: I take it that "Cultural Historical" deliberately puts the
cart before the
horse: history is the process, and culture is its product. And why not?

I get that. Artifacts are often thought of as products too. At a different
level of analysis, or maybe from a different temporal perspective, culture
is a process that spews out history as one of its products.

In a domain I know better than linguistics, I think it is perhaps useful to
think of Skinner's methods as also "defeating history" by creating an all
encompassing relevant history for the orgaism in the box. So as a graduate
student, curvers of particular reinforcement ratios for pigeons and
sophomore looked just alike.  There is a rumor this approach did not do so
well for language, but if I understood you correctly, Chomsky had his own
way of defeating history.

mike

On Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 1:10 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> I take it that "Cultural Historical" deliberately puts the cart before the
> horse: history is the process, and culture is its product. And why not?
> Natural language semantics works this way too; you will find tht "because"
> is much more common than "as a result" or even "so" in spoken language.
> Because we live here, it is the present that needs to be accounted fo; that
> is why we have unruly perfective "aspects" like "past-in-the-present" (e.g.
> "The worst has been averted"). But of course today's culture is tomorrow's
> history.
>
> I don't think that a theme is a "concept area". Halliday's point is that
> ANY concept area can be measured and treated mathematically, ANY concept
> area can be treated historically, and so ANY concept area can be treated as
> meaning. Take, for example, such wildly disparate areas as computers on the
> one hand and consciousness on the other. It is possible to treat both as
> ways of processing meaning, so long as we have a definition of meaning that
> is broad enough (something like "information which is encoded within other
> information").
>
> In 1954, my father and my mother published this paper together.
>
> http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.1721584
>
> As you can see, it's about the "odd ball" problem: you have twelve balls
> and and a balance, and you know that one of them is lighter or heavier than
> the others; what is the minimum number of balancings you have to do to find
> it? They treated the problem as "entropy of information", in other words,
> as an essentially semantic problem, although of course entropy can also be
> regarded as a purely physical phenomenon.
>
> I do not want to make exaggerated claims for applied linguistics. We are
> essentially a set of problems in search of a theory. But the way this state
> of affairs came about is that in the early sixties Chomsky divorced
> theoretical linguistics from real world problems, by creating an object of
> study that was purely imaginary: "competence" as opposed to performance,
> and the competence of a non-existent perfect native speaker in a homogenous
> speech community to boot. Part of the discussion of Chomsky's Cartesianism
> on the list is a discussion of that fundamental break, which, like
> Saussure's break, really did throw linguistics back to the pre-historical
> (i.e., thematically speaking, the pre-nineteenth century) age.
>
> Enrollment in linguistics departments cratered in response to this; nobody
> wanted to devote a career to studying arcane branches of X-bar syntax.
> Applied linguistics (and also perhaps Communication, since not everybody
> interested in language was willing to undertake a lifetime of exile) was a
> response to this. Applied ling begat TESOL, which in an effort to avoid
> becoming a nursing degree has become, alas, a kind of MBA for applied
> linguists. As you can see, the movement has been to move towards "real
> world problems" (and towards money) and away from theory. It has also been
> a flight from history: I am teaching a course in the history of TESOL this
> semester, and I am astonished at the number of books that claim that
> teaching English began in the twentieth century. We are going to start our
> course, next week, in 1413, when Henry Vth becomes King of England.
>
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign STudies
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 23 February 2015 at 13:50, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
>
> > I have had similar thoughts, David.
> > The Dept of Communication we set up after I came to UCSD is referred to
> as
> > an "inter-disciplinary department." I much preferred to (and prefer to,
> > although my day for influencing
> > such matters is well past) refer to our task as building an "inter
> > discipline." I thought that perhaps mediation could serve as a unifying
> > concern.
> >
> > did you mean to say we should declare applied linguistics as the concept
> > home of chat and focus on a natural language semantics? Or is there a
> trans
> > disciplinary description that includes applied linguistics and natural
> > language semantics but perhaps has other contributing streams of thought
> as
> > well?
> >
> > right now cultural neurobiology seems to promoting itself as a
> > transdiscipline that is treads on chat.
> > *********************************
> >
> > For fun I wondered about the following from your note:
> >
> >  "culture and history (where I take one is product and
> > the other process)."
> >  Which is which?
> > Maybe a mobius strip?
> >  :-)
> > mike
> >
> > On Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 2:06 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > CHAT has been variously described as “multi-disciplinary” or
> > > “inter-disciplinary”. It seems to me that this formulation has left
> > > undefined the depth and nature of interaction between disciplines and
> > above
> > > all between CHAT on the one hand and discipline-based praxis on the
> > other.
> > >
> > > There's a similar problem in applied linguistics that might help. After
> > > Dell Hymes's critique of Chomsky, and of the separation of competence
> > from
> > > performance, applied linguists more or less rejected the idea of the
> > "ideal
> > > native speaker/hearer in a homogeneous speech community who knows his
> > > language perfectly". We all tried to include “real world problems” in
> our
> > > linguistics instead, and this meant including the other disciplines
> which
> > > have grown up around those problems: foreign language teaching,
> > > lexicography, and discourse analysis.
> > >
> > > Then Widdowson distinguished between a disciplinary “linguistics
> > applied”,
> > > where linguistic theory is simply applied to problems like forensics or
> > > compiling computer corpora, and a more multi-disciplinary “applied
> > > linguistics” where the relevance of linguistic insights to problems
> must
> > be
> > > mediated along with that of other disciplines, as we must in language
> > > teaching.
> > >
> > > For some purposes, that may not be a bad thing. In fact, the term
> > "applied
> > > linguistics" seems to suggest a many-splendored technology rather than
> a
> > > unified and unifying scientific theory. Not so with CHAT, which begins
> > with
> > > the linked notions of culture and history (where I take one is product
> > and
> > > the other process) and ends with theory. Theory suggests something
> rather
> > > more conceptual than complexive.
> > >
> > > Halliday argues that terms like “multi-disciplinary” and
> > > “inter-disciplinary” imply that the real work, or the “locus of
> > activity”,
> > > still belongs in the disciplines themselves, and that a
> > multi-disciplinary
> > > approach is essentially a matter of bridge-building, assembling various
> > > disciplines into what we might call a complex, that is, a grouping of
> > > disciplines which is complex by virtue of its many parts and highly
> > diverse
> > > links.
> > >
> > > Instead, Halliday proposes a much more conceptually unified perspective
> > he
> > > calls “transdisciplinary”, with an orientation “outwards” towards
> > > discipline-transcendent themes rather than “inwards” towards
> > > discipline-specific content. These different unifying themes have
> emerged
> > > at different moments in intellectual history.
> > >
> > > The earliest to emerge was mathematics which helped to unite the
> various
> > > branches of “natural philosophy” into physics in the seventeenth
> century,
> > > while in the nineteenth century the theme of evolution united the study
> > of
> > > botany, zoology, economics and eventually, through cosmological
> enquiry,
> > > even geology, physics and chemistry were annexed to the genetic
> approach.
> > > In the twentieth century, “structure” emerged as a theme uniting all of
> > the
> > > above to psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Today, according to
> > > Halliday, the emerging theme seems to be the science of meaning.
> > >
> > > It seems to me that the historical and cultural strands explain very
> well
> > > how the strands of CHAT came together in the last century. But maybe an
> > > applied linguistic engagement with natural language semantics in this
> > > century can provide CHAT an opportunity to participate in and perhaps
> > even
> > > lead the transdisciplinary project.
> > >
> > > David Kellogg
> > >
> > > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
> object
> > that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
> >
>



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