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[Xmca-l] Re: Imagination or Fantasy



Nothing to worry about.  It has the ring of celestial humour. :)

Best,
Huw

On 8 December 2015 at 01:27, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> Ed and Huw.
>
> The best English descriptions of Davydovian math education is in the work
> of Jean Schmitau. She has articles in a couple of places, one in MCA. She
> has fuller accounts that are, I believe, referenced there. Otherwise,
> Galina Zuckerman, whose English is terrific, is the person I would turn to
> in search of concrete, detailed, description.
>
> Can we keep this thread on imagination? Maybe Imagination in Education
> could be a thread?
>
> Maybe Imagination and Indian Philosophy could be another subject line?
>
> Following the threads and the way they mutually inform each other in the
> course of the discussion would be facilitated, for me at least, by keeping
> Imagination as the lead word to be followed by constituent "and"
> identifier.
> As in Imagination and Indian Philosophy.
>
> Can we self organize to have such a complex discussion using the existing,
> to hand, technologies? The topic of imagination seems a fitting one on
> which to try out the idea. A great variety of histories appear to lead to
> this common discussion point, but they are almost mutually interpretable (
> I know zero about Indian philosophy + what I am reading here.
>
> I do know that the when Varela, Rosch, and others at Berkeley ignited the
> embodied cognition movement, it was Eastern religions that they drew upon.
>
> mike
> On imagination. What is the precise reference for the concrete-concrete
> form of imagination? I found the discussion about distinguishing fantasy as
> a form of imagination very helpful.
>
> On Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 5:05 PM, Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
>
> > Annalisa
> >
> >       What I would like to see is an analysis of imagination or
> > representation from the point of view of each of the six systems of
> Indian
> > philosophy: Nyaya; Vaisheeshika; Sankhya; Yoga; Karma Mimansa; and
> Vedanta.
> > It is said that knowledge is true only when it is acceptable in the light
> > of each of these six systems. I had thoughts about doing such an analysis
> > in the past, but realized it would be quite! nontrivial. Are you applying
> > (smile)!
> >
> > Ed
> >
> > > On Dec 7, 2015, at  12:05 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
> wrote:
> > >
> > > Greetings,
> > >
> > > I would like to offer a few ideas to the mix in this discussion about
> > imagination vs. representation.
> > >
> > > Representation as a word has posed a problem in understanding modes of
> > thought and cognition, and most of all, and I realize I am preaching to
> the
> > choir, it tends to commodify the thought as an object as-if coming off a
> > conveyor belt, a finished product in isolation. And as Mike points out,
> > there is no conveyance of affect in this thought factory of
> > representations, nor cultural-historical influences.
> > >
> > > The usage of "representation" also has tended to give legs to the
> > mind-brain, which hasn't been helpful in our understanding (I'm sorry to
> > mix my metaphors, but I think it makes a great picture). The brain
> becomes
> > the CPU of the body.
> > >
> > > I'd also like to offer a few concepts that derive from Vedic theory of
> > mind, and these are the vritti, and the samskara.
> > >
> > > Vritti translates roughly from Sanskrit as "thought-modification." I
> > find this concept incredibly powerful for many reasons.
> > >
> > > First, it bypasses all Cartesian artifacts and constructs in how we
> > think about mind.
> > >
> > > Second, it copes nicely with the problem that Ed and Mike are
> discussing
> > text vs image.
> > >
> > > Third, it seems to have intuited neurological activity in the brain and
> > body, thus uniting mind with movement, embodied thinking, affective
> > thought, etc.
> > >
> > > And there are likely other benefits that I've not yet considered.
> > >
> > > So what is a vritti?
> > >
> > > In the Vedic paradigm, as I understand it, the mind is very subtle
> > material, like light is subtle, and thus it interacts with the gross body
> > while both are interacting with the world. Considering the mind as
> material
> > means that it is not separate from the body, it is just more subtle and
> > therefore we are talking about degrees of physicality rather than mind
> > being an entity that exists somewhere else and a body is connected to
> that
> > mind through the pineal gland, etc, which to this day I've never been
> able
> > to get my head around. ;)
> > >
> > > The second concept that is useful is samskara, which is an impression
> in
> > the mind. We can be born with samskaras, but also activities and thoughts
> > can create samskaras. Some can be deeper and more fixed, or transient and
> > shallow, or anywhere along those two continuums.
> > >
> > > Further, the notion of samskara as impression can be useful when
> > considering obsessive thinking, plasticity, and various forms of
> learning.
> > I don't think samskara need be fixed to the mind, perhaps also to the
> body,
> > but I'm not sure.
> > >
> > > Considering samskara, it might be useful to think of the way sand can
> > have impressions made upon it by the wind or the tide or... a child's
> > shovel and pail.
> > >
> > > When the child creates a sandcastle with the tools of the shovel and
> > pail, at that very point the sandcastle becomes is recognizable, it is
> > considered a vritti (and the word crowns the deed). Likewise when the
> child
> > takes the very same sand destroying the castle and then creates a
> starfish
> > and it becomes recognizable as such, then it is another vritti. The
> > important takeaway here is that the material *does not change*, but the
> > shape *does*. That's why it is a "thought-modification."
> > >
> > > Clay as material could be another useful metaphor, in that sense. The
> > potter at the wheel takes a lump of clay and makes a vase and then
> > transforms the vase into a bowl, and finally a plate. Analogously, these
> > would be three vrittis.
> > >
> > > However, the reason the vritti need not be visual is that its material
> > is "mind" itself (consider mind "as-if sand" or "as-if clay"), with mind
> > itself processing all perceptual information. With the same "sand" it
> > creates the thought-shapes for sound, touch, smell, and taste, not only
> > sight. But these are combined, not isolated as individual percepts in any
> > kind of units.
> > >
> > > This also gets away from the traps of right-brain/left-brain theory, as
> > come to think of it.
> > >
> > > Memory and doubt are also aspects of mind, and this might be where the
> > affect comes in, because of the recognition of language, emotional
> content
> > from the past, meaning, etc, all these various mental processes become
> part
> > of the vritti.
> > >
> > > I'd also like to offer that Kant's notion of givenness also helps in
> > this conception, because it is the appearances of external objects we
> > perceive and feel that as-if shape the vritti as well as memory, doubt,
> > recognition, and so forth. In this sense there is a kind of overlap of
> the
> > external world onto the mind. But the reverse can be true as well. That
> is,
> > the mind can "as-if" overlap onto the world. I'd say this is imagination.
> > It could also be fantasy, but that seems to have a different affective
> > stance than imagination. Imagination still possesses that self-awareness
> > that it is imagined. Fantasy seems to not have that in its extreme
> > manifestation, thereby taking what is imagined in place of the external
> > world.
> > >
> > > I'm not sure what the technical term is for the moment of neural
> > activity when we see the brain light up in a particular pattern in the
> > brain (and likely body, but we lack the means to detect this as we do
> with
> > an fMRI scan of the brain), but it does have a particular shape when
> there
> > is, say, more visual stimulation than aural. The "material" of that
> thought
> > is an electrical impulse, which is subtle, like light.
> > >
> > > So I think these terms are very insightful, and they can help free us
> > from Cartesian conceptions and that's why I like them so much. They also
> do
> > not conflict with Vygotsky's work, as far as I can tell.
> > >
> > > Kind regards,
> > >
> > > Annalisa
> > >
> >
> >
> >
>
>
> --
>
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch
>