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[Xmca-l] Re: Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity
This question of the direction of interaction [or the approach] between
history and culture and the potential to make a case in either direction
[that history is the process OR history is the product] AND reciprocally
to be able to make a case [that culture can be assumed to be either
product OR process] is a fascinating observation on our ability to develop
I would like to bring in Seth Chaiklin's article [The zone of proximal
development in Vygotsky's analysis of learning and instruction] to explore
"functions" and their psychological "formation" as historical "products"
[or are the "functions" processes?]
On page 7 Chaiklin writes:
"Changes in historical *relations* would incline a researcher to predict
changes in psychological functions.... Similarly, none of the psychological
functions are 'pure' in the sense of a biologically-given *module or
faculty*. Rather they were *formed, both historically* in the phylogenetic
development of human societies and individually in the ontogenetic
development of the persons within these societies."
So, "functions" are not modules or faculties of biological organisms. They
are "psychological" phenomena that develop within historical and cultural
I have been reading about Lazarus, whose pupils were Dilthey and Simmel .
Lazarus (and Steinthal) had in the 1860's grounded *Volkerpsychologie -
covering language, culture, and social forms - *
[whose object was to be the psychology of societal human beings or human
Society is theorized as not a mere *sum *of all individual minds but rather
the *unity *of a plurality of individuals which exists in the "content or
form" of their activity.
I question whether the notion of "psychological functions" [perception,
memory, will, thought] which intersect and affect one another within
identifiable "periods" are actually an "outgrowth" of Lazarus
volkerpsychologie? Are "functions" that are experienced "psychologically"
historical "products" or historical "processes" or cultural "products", or
Are the "periods" identified universal products/processes or are the
"functions" which are experienced psychologically [inner sense] actually
Euro-centric social situations of development?
My question returns to Zinchenko's image of "oscillation" and Simmel's
notion of "interaction" as reciprocal [each process/product existing within
the orbit of the other as constellations]
Lazarus, in 1860's insists that
"within the large circle of society, smaller circles are formed ... These
circles, however, do not stand side by side but *intersect and affect one
another* in many ways. Thus within society, there emerges a highly
varied ... relationship of connection and separation (Absonderung)"
Does understanding "functions" which are experienced as "inner form"
involve empirical "facts" or are they more like "principles and laws"? [or
are they both?]
I chose not to use the phrase "age periods" as the term "age" may not be
necessary to answer my question trying to understand "functions" as "inner
sense" In Bahktin's terms could "functions" be experienced as "inner
I will return to Chaiklin and his thoughts on the object of "thought". On
page 5 he writes:
"From a psychological point of view the whole is described as an integrated
structure *of relationships* among developed and developing higher mental
functions acquired through material *interaction. *This psychological
description of a child focuses on *interrelationships *between functions,
rather than considering psychological functions in isolation. For example,
two year old children tend to be "directed" more by reaction to what they
can immediately perceive than by their willful formation of an *imagined
possibility (i. e. a thought)*"
And this definition of thought AS "imagined possibility" [described as "a
function" experienced as "inner form"] returns us to the place of the
"imaginal" within hope and the "not yet" formed"
Hope as a function experienced as "thought" interrelated reciprocally with
Zinchenko's oscillation that haunts his thoughts/imagination/possibility.
On Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 5:32 PM, mike cole <email@example.com> wrote:
> 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
> 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.
> On Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 1:10 PM, David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > I take it that "Cultural Historical" deliberately puts the cart before
> > horse: history is the process, and culture is its product. And why not?
> > Natural language semantics works this way too; you will find tht
> > 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;
> > is why we have unruly perfective "aspects" like "past-in-the-present"
> > "The worst has been averted"). But of course today's culture is
> > 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
> > meaning. Take, for example, such wildly disparate areas as computers on
> > 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
> > is broad enough (something like "information which is encoded within
> > 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
> > the others; what is the minimum number of balancings you have to do to
> > it? They treated the problem as "entropy of information", in other words,
> > as an essentially semantic problem, although of course entropy can also
> > 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
> > of affairs came about is that in the early sixties Chomsky divorced
> > theoretical linguistics from real world problems, by creating an object
> > study that was purely imaginary: "competence" as opposed to performance,
> > and the competence of a non-existent perfect native speaker in a
> > speech community to boot. Part of the discussion of Chomsky's
> > 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;
> > 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
> > 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
> > a flight from history: I am teaching a course in the history of TESOL
> > 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
> > 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 <email@example.com> 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
> > > 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
> > 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > > 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.
> > > > 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
> > > > 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
> > a
> > > > unified and unifying scientific theory. Not so with CHAT, which
> > > with
> > > > the linked notions of culture and history (where I take one is
> > > 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
> > > > 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
> > > 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
> > > 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
> > > 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
> > > > 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.