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[Xmca-l] Re: The Ideological Footprint of Artifacts

When Vygotsky talks about the game of chess (in the lectures on play and
elsewhere), he remarks that every instance of imaginary play contains
abstract rules, and that every game of abstract rules contains an imaginary
situation. I think it's very easy to interpret this in a way that Andy
might call poetic: we imagine that the game of chess is a simulation of
war, that the rooks are castles of Camelot, the horses are mounted knights
like Launcelot and Gawain, and the King and Queen are Arthur and Guinevere.
(The Chinese version of chess--"elephant chess"--has a blank space between
the two armies, which is not a DMZ but rather meant to be the River Chu,
which once divided the warring kingdoms of Han and Chu before the
establishment of the Qin Empire, and of course instead of knights the
Chinese use elephants, instead of the king, a "general", and instead of a
rook, a "cannon".) When you go back into the cultural history of the game,
this is undoubtedly what you find (just as when you go back far enough into
the cultural history of virtually any word you find very concrete, or
"poetic" imagery: "dialectic" means "dialogue", and "ideology" means

Nevertheless, I am sure that is NOT what Vygotsky meant. The "imaginary
situation" he refers to in the game of chess is not a long shadow cast by
history but a real, concrete way in which a flesh-and-blood child has to
learn the game. Vygotsky means that the child has to pretend that it is
ONLY possible for the pawn to move one square. It is, of course, physically
possible for the child to move the pawn any number of squares. But the
child has to make believe that this is physically impossible. The same is
true of the diagonal movement of the bishop, the rows and columns
accessible to the rook, and the crooked jumps of the knights. This purely
imaginary restriction is what gives rise to the concepts of "taking" and
above all "covering" pieces that Vygotsky is interested in, because these
concepts are the rudiments of the conditional logic that transforms chess
into what Von Neumann describes as a form of calculation.

Similarly, I think that when Vygotsky says that every instance of
make-believe contains abstract rules, he doesn't simply mean that when
children play "House" there is an abstract rule that says that Daddy must
read the newspaper and cannot cook, while Mommy must cook and cannot read
the newspaper (though of course such rules do exist--I remember one of my
students describing in great detail the rules of a game called "Jeong Yuk
Jeom", or "Butcher Shop", which she and her friends had worked out when she
lived upstairs from a butcher shop--the rules for the unlucky child who had
to play the piece of meat were particularly exacting). I think that what
Vygotsky really means is that the words "attack" and "defense" applied to
chess (or, for that matter, soccer) do not simply imply a poetic metaphor.
They also imply abstract rules (and, once again, the concepts of "taking"
and "covering", which are pure chess concepts).

David Kellogg

On Sat, Jun 6, 2015 at 12:05 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> I think that's just a little too poetic for me, Mike.  I couldn't say.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> On 6/06/2015 1:02 AM, mike cole wrote:
>> So in David's use of the term, Andy, the ideological shadow of an
>> artifact is the shadow of the system of ideas that it
>> casts/embodies/affords...??
>> mike
>> On Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 7:51 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:
>> ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>     Well, this is the whole issue of the ambiguity in how
>>     people use the word "ideology" isn't it, Lubmir?
>>     You use "ideology" in the pejorative sense, therefore
>>     good science cannot be ideological, only bad science.
>>     Fair enough. But I would go part way to the way David
>>     uses the word, ideology is a system of ideas, and
>>     science most certainly is a system of ideas, and also
>>     characteristic of a certain social strata or
>>     institution, but not thereby self-serving, dangerous, etc.
>>     :)
>>     Andy
>>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>>     *Andy Blunden*
>>     http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>     On 6/06/2015 12:43 AM, Lubomir Savov Popov wrote:
>>         Hi Andy,
>>         Ideologies might include laws of nature (including
>>         the social nature of society) but this is not a
>>         requirement. Ideologies are systems of principles
>>         or ideas that justify political talk, action, and
>>         behavior in order to defend or obtain a bigger
>>         piece of the pie (put it simply).
>>         In this case, the natural science law by itself is
>>         not ideological. It becomes ideological when it is
>>         included in the body of an ideology, when it is
>>         appropriated by a group of people to serve their
>>         objectives. But this doesn't make a natural law
>>         ideological by itself. Now, you might say that the
>>         discovery or formulation of a natural science law
>>         might be influenced by political ideology. This is
>>         a completely different talk. Bolshevik ideology
>>         influenced the discovery of the principle of the
>>         leading role of the proletariat. You can tell me
>>         if this this is a real law in the social realm or
>>         an ideological construct. Certain social
>>         "discoveries" in totalitarian or authoritarian
>>         countries claimed to be based on science and to be
>>         scientific laws of nature, but in effect these
>>         were ideological constructions in disguise.
>>         There is a major difference between science and
>>         ideology as social institutions. The goal of
>>         science is to understand the world as it is (or
>>         the closest approximation); the goal of ideology
>>         is to defend our socioeconomic position at any
>>         rate, no matter what. Ideology can use science or
>>         might pretend to be using science, which is most
>>         often the case. If we mix science and ideology, if
>>         we idologize science, we make a dangerous mix that
>>         can kill billions of people (so far only a few
>>         hundred million in and around two world wars).
>>         Best wishes,
>>         Lubo
>>         -----Original Message-----
>>         From:
>>         xmca-l-bounces+lspopov=bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>         [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+lspopov
>>         <mailto:xmca-l-bounces%2Blspopov>=bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>] On Behalf Of
>>         Andy Blunden
>>         Sent: Friday, June 05, 2015 10:31 AM
>>         To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>         <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>         Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Ideological Footprint of
>>         Artifacts
>>         So for example, Lubomir, if a natural scientist
>>         formulates a law of nature which stands up to the
>>         test of time for over a century (e.g. Darwin), it
>>         surely is ideological, but would you claim that it
>>         reflects the interests of Charles Darwin (and
>>         maybe other biologists) and does not have within
>>         it a universal truth. (NB not = objective or
>>         universal truth, but "has within it" or "has a
>>         basis in universal experience,"
>>         etc.) Is it really all relative??
>>         Andy
>>         ------------------------------------------------------------
>>         *Andy Blunden*
>>         http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>         <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>         On 6/06/2015 12:19 AM, Glassman, Michael wrote:
>>             I don't know if this helps but in researching
>>             this term a few years ago with a student we
>>             found the term emerged right after the French
>>             revolution. Instead of basing a social system
>>             on the activities of the populace and building
>>             up from these there was a movement to base the
>>             political system on a set of ideals.  This was
>>             disparaged I guess by a number of the more
>>             intense revolutionaries and they began to call
>>             this group of idealists ideologues - leading
>>             to the idea of basing your vision of
>>             government (or expanded to almost anything) in
>>             a set of abstract ideals.  I believe it was
>>             Marx who remarked that these French ideologues
>>             were walking on their heads - the goal of
>>             Marxists was to flip them back over so they
>>             are walking on their feet again (I believe
>>             this is what people often confuse as Marx
>>             flipping Hegel on his head - I have never been
>>             able to find a quote that backs that up.  If
>>             anybody does know of it please let me know).
>>             Interestingly side note is that Thomas
>>             Jefferson was in France at the time and
>>             brought back the idea of ideology to the
>>             United States wanting to develop a system
>>             based on ideology and not practice.  The
>>             French eventually flipped over a few times,
>>             but in the United States we have been mired in
>>             ideology since Jefferson's return.
>>             Michael
>>             -----Original Message-----
>>             From:
>>             xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>             <mailto:ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>             [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+mglassman
>>             <mailto:xmca-l-bounces%2Bmglassman>=
>> ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>             <mailto:ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>]
>>             On Behalf Of Lubomir Savov Popov
>>             Sent: Friday, June 05, 2015 10:03 AM
>>             To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>             Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Ideological
>>             Footprint of Artifacts
>>             Hello everyone,
>>             A core definition of ideology in the political
>>             sense should highlight that it is a system for
>>             defending the social position/status that
>>             individuals and groups acquire in the economic
>>             process. All the rest is derivative. In that
>>             light, politics is also an instrument for
>>             defending or obtaining a desired position in
>>             the socio-economic process.
>>             In the professions, the word/term ideology is
>>             often used to denote a system of general
>>             believes and principles that drive
>>             professional decision making.
>>             Political ideologies affect design decision
>>             making and in that way affect the organization
>>             of artifact functions and morphology. And of
>>             course, professional ideologies drive this
>>             process overtly.
>>             Best wishes,
>>             Lubomir
>> --
>> All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes
>> you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something
>> that isn't even visible. N.McLean, *A River Runs Through it*