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[Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science



Dear all , 
I think I did not receive Peter's first post (below) to which Larry reacted . I made efforts to figure out the content of the threads but it proved to be futile endeavour . With the matrix and the Johari Window concept I reached nowhere either . And even now I cannot establish a significant relationship between these concepts and the more familiar concepts Peter and Steve had presented at the Conference .

What I understood was this :

[[For diagnosis and/or treatment, we must rise to the concrete specific.]]


And this added to my difficulties . I wrote to a colleague offlist before Peter's posts part of which you can see here : 

1. Something I remember from Ilyenko and Davydov to the effect that when we ascend to the concrete , we have , in fact , passed the "specifity" , "individuality" . The individual or the specific just give us the appearance and the "many repeated similarities-Ilyenko" and here we are just on the surface and with the sensorial (Phenomenology) . It could just be our point of departure . When we reach the "concrete" , we are dealing with "universal" . Like the table as object which phantomizes us to be concrete while in actuality , it's no more than the abstract . We have to seek particularities in this piece (the essentials and the necessaries) which take us to the connections with others of akin genus which possess those same particulars , enabling us to generalize , then proved and reached the "universal" , which is more than general , let alone being "specific" . That's why Davydov recommends us to begin teaching the kids not with one token of a match stick as indicating and intending to teach number "one" and to teach "furniture" rather than the one item "table" as concrete . 
3.I think we should first differentiate between "contemplation" , "conceptualization" and "praxis" . Ilyenko in particular stresses on the term "contemplation" as the first phase of cognition which is defective , parallel with what I dub as superficial or sensorial , phenomenological . "conceptualization" is the second phase , the depths , the theorizing , the ascendance to the concrete as fore-mentioned and as so brilliantly explicated by Vygotsky , syncretic , complex and pseudo-concept and true concept . 


Now I should be excused by Peg Griffin as to my ignorance of the "reality" of the concepts and by Peter and Steve because for some unknown reason I have to propose that the vertical axis be reversed .

P.S. Many a time I've made efforts , asked others , to differentiate between ONTOLOGY and EPISTEMOLOGY ; yet I've stayed on the same spot . First thesis of Feuerbach tells us if it's the case that we imagine / conceive the objects there to themselves without any wrestling on our part to get involved with them , then science / genuine materialism would not present any meaning to us . All things arise from the wrestling and the involvement . On this point , too , in either case , our work and thinking power are involved except that with ontology , we try to conceive things as existent and trace them as external transformables in themselves while with epistemology we deal with the pertaining ideas as reflexions . Then , in the natural and physical sciences , by concrete we mean "of matter" , corporeal , while in philosophy and gnoseology which is the province of the second of our division , knowledge , concrete , of necessity , would mean conceptual , the highest and most valued categorial philosophical term .
In what ways am I completely mistaken ?
Best
Haydi 

      From: Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
 To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> 
 Sent: Friday, 4 September 2015, 21:02:50
 Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
   
Mike and Peg wrote an article (Cultural Amplifiers Reconsidered) where Shweder is referenced to show that when information is presented in a 2x2 table so that the data were simultaneously available THEN correct inferences almost always occurred. So Shweder concludes most adults have the Capacity to think correlationally buy are not "likely" to do so.
This shows the application of the grid confuses "likelihood" and "correlation" which contributes to what Shweder terms "magical" thinking which indicates a particular character.
Peg and Mike's question is:
"Why correlational thinking is not CHARACTERISTIC of everyday life thinking of educated adults who "have" the CAPACITY.

-----Original Message-----
From: "Peter Feigenbaum [Staff]" <pfeigenbaum@fordham.edu>
Sent: ‎2015-‎09-‎04 8:19 AM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science

Colleagues,

I'm intrigued by Peg Griffin's introduction of the 2 x 2 matrix into this
discussion for the purpose of thinking about the relationships between the
concrete-abstract continuum and the particular-general continuum. What
piqued my interest was the application of this particular matrix to the
discussion of Sachs, Luria, and Romantic Science.

Back in 2011, Steve Gabosh and I made a presentation at ISCAR using this
very same matrix. Steve came up with the idea of cross-tabbing the two
continuua after noting (during his careful reading of Vygotsky's *Collected
Works* (in English) that Vygotsky sometimes referred to the
concrete-abstract and the particular-general aspects of thinking as if they
were interchangeable, but at other times referred to them as if they were
denoting different qualities. To tease the qualities apart, Steve suggested
we arrange them as a 2 x 2 matrix. Doing so allowed us an opportunity to
explore Vygotsky's claims about concept development--with a particular
focus on the claim that uneducated adults think only in complexes. Pasted
below (and attached, just in case your email won't display it) is our
graphic rendition of how the syncretic, complexive, preconteptual, and
conceptual formations described by Vygotsky might be arrayed on this matrix.


[image: Inline image 1]

It never occurred to either of us that this same matrix might be a useful
tool for thinking about Romantic Science and the integration of the
nomothetic and the idiographic perspectives!

Very creative, Peg.

Peter



On Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 9:08 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Yes, that helps, Peg. I think it is what is often called a "heuristic" -
> your equivalent of Engestrom's Expanding Triangle.
> Thanks!
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> On 4/09/2015 7:11 AM, Peg Griffin wrote:
>
>> Andy, about what kind of tool:  For me, at this time, it is a tool for
>> thinking about romantic science, Sacks, and Luria.
>>
>> It's a tad like the problem of figure/ground illusion/perception --
>> except it's four panes instead of two.
>>
>> I want a tool to see if I can avoid confusing or conflating specific and
>> concrete as well as confusing or conflating general and abstract.
>> AND I want the tool to let me see together the dimension of
>> concrete/abstract and the dimension of specific/general.
>>
>> In the past I have used it to help me think about genetic primary
>> examples.
>> I am also now about to try seeing what I need  (maybe different
>> dimensions altogether, maybe more than four panes) to think about genetic
>> chimerism and social situations with multiple activities which are
>> coexisting...
>>
>> In a sense, yes, my use of the tool is always diagnostic -- showing me
>> what I stumble on in thinking -- and might bring a little progress
>> (treatment).
>>
>> Just like in the figure/ground illusions you can twiddle around a bit and
>> make things obvious that you couldn't "see".
>> I'm attaching here some different ways you can twiddle around with the
>> Johari window.
>> Does that help?
>> PG
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
>> xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy
>> Blunden
>> Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2015 11:09 AM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
>>
>> So this is a diagnostic tool, Peg?
>> Could you spell this out a little more for someone who still doesn't
>> grasp what you are talking about? :) andy intrigued.
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>> On 3/09/2015 12:52 AM, Peg Griffin wrote:
>>
>>> What I did not make clear is that the JoHari window is not really the
>>> same as a matrix.  It is a different kind of tool than I think David and
>>> Peter are thinking about.
>>> Here's the trick: You change the pane sizes to emphasize the one of the
>>> four panes you are currently acting on -- but all four panes are always
>>> there.
>>> So you can make the "concrete specific" pane HUGE by moving the top
>>> bottom inner divider far to the right and moving the left right inner
>>> divider far to the bottom.  Or you can move only one of the  dividers.
>>> And you can move the dividers without such extremes.
>>>
>>> Even if a diagnosis/treatment only does the first move I described,
>>> there's little abstract involved.  I don't mind that so much if the actors
>>> are involved in an emergency triage activity, but without the abstract you
>>> are going on observables very influenced by perceptual and cultural access
>>> of the actors and you might not even have the most useful template from the
>>> general to guide/evaluate your trials and errors.  So you'd better shift
>>> the panes pretty soon before things get way off base.
>>>
>>> You can also fool around with the arrangement of the terms that name the
>>> panes:  Do you get more out of concrete vs. specific or more out of
>>> specific vs. concrete (in David's terms the anchors for the cline).  Same
>>> for abstract vs. concrete or concrete vs. abstract.
>>> PG
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf
>>> Of Peg Griffin
>>> Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 2:55 PM
>>> To: 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
>>>
>>> As far as I understand those terms (nomothetic and idiographic), the
>>> combined motor method does unite them and so arrives at dual stimulation,
>>> given the non-accidental mosaic.
>>> But I don't know that my understanding goes far enough or too far!
>>> Peg
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf
>>> Of mike cole
>>> Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 2:08 PM
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
>>>
>>> Is that simultaneously uniting the nomothetic and idiographic, Peg? That
>>> is the way Luria talked about it.
>>> mike
>>>
>>> On Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 10:52 AM, Peg Griffin <Peg.Griffin@att.net>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>> Just in a short-hand:
>>>>
>>>> Concrete Specific:  Zasetsky (The man with the shattered world)
>>>>
>>>> Concrete General: People with traumatic brain injury during WWII
>>>>
>>>> Abstract General: Brain is a mosaic of specific domains with actions
>>>> that interact in dual stimulations (not pure will)
>>>>
>>>> Abstract Specific:  A man acts to recall using images; it fails on a
>>>> certain target.  The man starts appears to abandon the recall by
>>>> acting an intimately related system – e.g., reciting the alphabet.
>>>> But the recital is “interrupted” when it bumps into the original
>>>> recall target and the recall is successful.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> For diagnosis and/or treatment, we must rise to the concrete specific.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Sorry I don’t have time to develop this further but I am sure many on
>>>> this list do, and I know that Luria and Sacks did so in wondrous and
>>>> glorious instances.
>>>>
>>>> Peg
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> From: Andy Blunden [mailto:ablunden@mira.net]
>>>> Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 11:21 AM
>>>> To: Peg Griffin; 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'
>>>> Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Could you give an example, Peg?
>>>> andy
>>>>
>>>>    _____
>>>>
>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>>
>>>> On 2/09/2015 1:14 AM, Peg Griffin wrote:
>>>>
>>>> What has always helped me – and helps me appreciate Luria and Sachs –
>>>> with rising to the concrete is this funny little square I made (based
>>>> on the even funnier JoHari window after Joseph Luft and Harrington
>>>> Ingham, I heard). I can think better by working to fill in each of the
>>>> four cells in
>>>> the square about an issue of interest.  It helps me think about
>>>> genetically primary examples in mathematics curricula, too.
>>>>    Concrete      Abstract
>>>> Specific
>>>> General
>>>>
>>>> A romantic square,
>>>> Peg
>>>>
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
>>>> xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Rod
>>>> Parker-Rees
>>>> Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 4:55 AM
>>>> To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
>>>>
>>>> Thanks for posting this, Andy.
>>>>
>>>> I found Luria's account fascinating, particularly because of his
>>>> reference to 'the beauty of the art of science' and his observation
>>>> that 'The eye of science does not probe “a thing,” an event isolated
>>>> from other things or events. Its real object is to see and understand
>>>> the way a thing or event relates to other things or events'.
>>>>
>>>> We are able to communicate because we are able to agree (more or
>>>> less) on ways of organising experience into shareable categories but
>>>> our communication ranges across a whole spectrum of ways of using
>>>> these categories. Luria refers to classical and romantic branches of
>>>> science but he also acknowledges the differences between 'poetic' use
>>>> of language and more routine, formulaic forms of communication. The
>>>> romantic focus on an 'individual' can only ever be conducted in the
>>>> medium of a very un-individual language and no person's life could
>>>> possibly be understood without reference to relationships with other
>>>> persons which then spread roots and branches out to a forest of
>>>> connections, causes and consequences.
>>>>
>>>> David wrote of the impossibility of 'rising' to the level of theory
>>>> if one were to immerse oneself in the study of an individual case and
>>>> Luria cites Marx's description of science as 'ascending to the
>>>> concrete'. As Luria goes on to conclude 'People come and go, but the
>>>> creative sources of great historical events and the important ideas
>>>> and deeds remain' so, in this sense, what matters is the contribution
>>>> individuals make to something bigger and more enduring than
>>>> themselves but Luria also writes that 'Romantics in science want
>>>> neither to split living reality into its elementary components nor to
>>>> represent the wealth of life's concrete events in abstract models that
>>>> lose the properties of the phenomena themselves'.
>>>>
>>>> I think Luria's account of Sherashevsky's mental experience is
>>>> particularly interesting because it may reveal something about how
>>>> all minds work, albeit that Sherashevsky's 'limen' may have been 'set'
>>>> lower than most people's, allowing him to notice the sensory
>>>> associations which words bring with them in a way which, for most of
>>>> us, may occur only at a pre-conscious level. This provides a
>>>> particularly powerful reminder of the inescapable fact that every
>>>> person's use of a shared language (whether of words, gestures,
>>>> behaviours or any other units of meaning) is just the surface of a
>>>> pool of connections and associations which can never be shared with
>>>> or known by anyone else. However romantic our focus may be, we can
>>>> only go so far in understanding another person's understanding and
>>>> much less far in communicating that to other people (knowing someone
>>>> is a very different thing from being able to share that knowledge in
>>>> a rich and meaningful way). And of course, on the other side of the
>>>> spectrum, classical scientists who pretend that their knowledge is
>>>> entirely pure and untainted by the personal associations that swirl
>>>> beneath the limens of their knowing are just inventing stories!
>>>>
>>>> I apologise for rambling but I am particularly interested in what
>>>> lies beneath the concrete because of my focus on how very young
>>>> children are able to make sense of a world which, for adults, is so
>>>> powerfully dominated by abstractions.
>>>>
>>>> All the best,
>>>>
>>>> Rod
>>>>
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.ed
>>>> u
>>>> ]
>>>> On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
>>>> Sent: 01 September 2015 05:17
>>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
>>>>
>>>> Try this, in Word this time.
>>>> Andy
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>> On 1/09/2015 1:32 PM, mike cole wrote:
>>>>
>>>> ​It might be helpful to this discussion if someone would post the
>>>> chapter on Romantic Science from Luria's autobiography which MUST be
>>>> somewhere public in pdf. It appears that I do not have one.
>>>>
>>>> After reading what the person said, then discussion of the ideas
>>>> seems appropriate. Ditto Sacks, who has written a couple of extended
>>>> essay's on his view of Romantic Science.
>>>>
>>>> It is true that the Russian psychologists, erudite as they were, were
>>>> not sociologists. Nor were they anthropologists. The nature of their
>>>> enterprise encompassed those fields and more.
>>>>
>>>> Doing Romantic Science and immersing oneself in the individual case
>>>> in no way excludes inclusion of sociology, anthropology, in their work.
>>>> Nor does Luria argue so.
>>>>
>>>> mike
>>>> ​
>>>>
>>>> On Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 7:29 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com
>>>> <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com> <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>      I think the problem with this view of romantic science
>>>>      is that it
>>>>      completely precludes building a psychology on a
>>>>      sociology. In that sense
>>>>      (and in others), Vygotsky wasn't a romantic scientist
>>>>      at all. Vygotsky
>>>>      certainly did not believe in "total immersion in the
>>>>      individual case"; such
>>>>      an immersion is a refusal to rise to the level of
>>>>      theory. I'm not sure
>>>>      Luria was romantic that way either: "the Man with a
>>>>      Shattered Mind" and
>>>>      "The Memory of Mnemonist" are really exceptions.
>>>>      Remember the main
>>>>      criticism of Luria's book "The Nature of Human
>>>>      Conflicts" was always that
>>>>      it was too quantitative.
>>>>
>>>>      There are, of course, some areas of psychology that
>>>>      are well studied as
>>>>      case histories. Recently, I've been looking into
>>>>      suicidology, and in
>>>>      particular the work of Edwin Shneidman, who pioneered
>>>>      the linguistic
>>>>      analysis of suicide notes (and who appears to have
>>>>      been influenced, as
>>>>      early as the 1970s, by Kasanin and by Vygotsky's work
>>>>      on schizophrinia).
>>>>      Now you would think that if ever there was a field
>>>>      that would benefit from
>>>>      total immersion in the individual case, this is one.
>>>>      But Shneidman says
>>>>      that suicide notes are mostly full of trite, banal
>>>>      phrases, and as a
>>>>      consequence very easy to code--and treat quantiatively
>>>>      (one of his first
>>>>      studies was simply to sort a pile of real and
>>>>      imitation suicide notes and
>>>>      carefully note the criteria he had when he made
>>>>      correct judgements). And of
>>>>      course the whole point of Durkheim's work on suicide
>>>>      is that the individual
>>>>      case can be utterly disregarded, since the great
>>>>      variations are
>>>>      sociological and the psychological variables all seem
>>>>      trivial, transient,
>>>>      or mutually cancelling when we look at suicide at a
>>>>      large scale (as we must
>>>>      these days). Shneidman says he has never read a
>>>>      suicide note he would want
>>>>      to have written.
>>>>
>>>>      David Kellogg
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>      On Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 9:21 AM, Andy Blunden
>>>>      <ablunden@mira.net  <mailto:ablunden@mira.net> <mailto:
>>>> ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>      > As little as I understand it, Larry, Oliver Sacks'
>>>>      style of Romantic
>>>>      > Science was his complete immersion in the individual
>>>>      case before him, and
>>>>      > development of a science of complete persons. The
>>>>      paradigm of this type of
>>>>      > science was Luria. A limit case of "Qualitative
>>>>      Science" I suppose. The
>>>>      > opposite is the study of just one aspect of each
>>>>      case, e.g. facial
>>>>      > recognition, and the attempt to formulate a
>>>>      "covering law" for just this
>>>>      > aspect.
>>>>      > Andy
>>>>      >
>>>>      ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>      > *Andy Blunden*
>>>>      > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>>        <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/> <
>>>> http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>>>      > On 1/09/2015 8:40 AM, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
>>>>      >
>>>>      >> Mike,
>>>>      >> I recall in an obituary in the NYTimes that
>>>>      naysayers were cited in
>>>>      >> reviewing Oliver Sacks’ life work. I am wondering
>>>>      if some of that push back
>>>>      >> was related to his practice of romantic science,
>>>>      which, if I understand
>>>>      >> from things Andy has written, involves immersion in
>>>>      the phenomena of
>>>>      >> interest in search of a unit of analysis. Goethe,
>>>>      for example, immersed
>>>>      >> himself in the phenomena of living things. His
>>>>      writing prefigures the cell
>>>>      >> as a unit of analysis, but the technology of
>>>>      microscopes could not confirm
>>>>      >> such a unit until later on. Your contrasting Bruner
>>>>      and Sacks makes me
>>>>      >> wonder if the subject, not just the object, is at
>>>>      issue. Different styles
>>>>      >> of research bring different construals. This may be
>>>>      the bane of
>>>>      >> objectivist, empiricist science but does it really
>>>>      make Sacks less of a
>>>>      >> researcher and just a lowly clinician?
>>>>      >> Henry
>>>>      >>
>>>>      >>
>>>>      >>
>>>>      >>> On Aug 30, 2015, at 7:02 PM, mike cole
>>>>      <mcole@ucsd.edu  <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>
>>>> <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>      >>>
>>>>      >>> Hi Laura-- I knew Oliver primarily through our
>>>>      connections with Luria and
>>>>      >>> the fact that we
>>>>      >>> independently came to embrace the idea of a
>>>>      romantic science. He was a
>>>>      >>> shy
>>>>      >>> and diffident person. You can get that feeling,
>>>>      and the difference
>>>>      >>> between
>>>>      >>> him and Jerry Bruner in this regard in the
>>>>      interview with them that
>>>>      >>> someone
>>>>      >>> pirated on
>>>>      >>> to youtube.
>>>>      >>>
>>>>      >>> Jerry is very old but last heard from by me,
>>>>      engaging intellectually all
>>>>      >>> the while.
>>>>      >>>
>>>>      >>> mike
>>>>      >>>
>>>>      >>> On Sun, Aug 30, 2015 at 5:18 PM, Laura Martin
>>>>      <martinl@azscience.org  <mailto:martinl@azscience.org> <mailto:
>>>> martinl@azscience.org>>
>>>>      >>> wrote:
>>>>      >>>
>>>>      >>> Thanks, Mike. A number of years ago I had the
>>>>      privilege of spending an
>>>>      >>>> evening with Sacks when Lena Luria was visiting
>>>>      Jerry Bruner and Carol
>>>>      >>>> Feldman in NY.  I stood in fo

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