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[Xmca-l] Re: Imagination

Hegel also gave a central place to imagination in perception.
*Andy Blunden*
On 8/12/2015 1:04 PM, Ed Wall wrote:

      I assume you have read Sartre on imagination; i.e. The Imagination. This gives what he considers a phenomenological take on imagination. However, I would consider a much more revealing take to be that of Edward Casey in Imaging (I am hoping that book you referenced will supplement that of Casey). The connection to Kant, by the way, critically preceded that of Mzerleau-Ponty and Sartre and that is why I was surprised to not see him mentioned.

       I agree that we all seem to be coming out in, more or less, the same place. Only the questions seem to differ.

On Dec 7, 2015, at  7:42 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

Seems to me that we have achieved pretty close proximity given that we
started from such different places. Part of the problem, as I indicated in
my prior note, is that I came to this problem late in life through my
teaching. It took a long time for my research/theory ideas drawn from
psychology and apprenticeships in anthropology and  activity-centered
research practices. But here I am.

So, happy to be wrong so long as I can see how it broadens my understanding.

I am not sure how to be more phenomenological than the description of the
flow from imagination to representation, but glad to encounter a dozen!
Affect and cognition are so entangled that sites where the abstractions can
be seen, seem hard to come by.

My proposal to take advantage of the structure offered by
identifying different threads of the topic they constitute was offered with
that goal in mind.

The connection to Kant I know about, and Ribot, but that is about it. I
learned that from the Russians who write about imagination.

Seems like there is an Indian tradition, or 6?


To the extent that these different traditions lead people to the same kinds
of conclusions seems interesting. Especially when the conclusions are
tightly bound to daily practice, as they are, for example, sometimes, in
good teaching.



On Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 4:57 PM, Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:

Larry and Mike

      Since you seem to agree with one another I will reply to both of you
in this email. First I note that I seeme to be involved in a conversation
that diverges a bit from where I started. This is probably good, but it is
a conversation that seems at a grain size that is a little larger than what
I can find immediately useful. That said, I often find that I need to, one
might say, assimilate a bit so as to find resonances that bear on the,
perhaps, pragmatic problem I tend to take up.

     Mike, I have read your article (and I am sure I will reread it). I
found it interesting although again it seems to occur at a large grain size
(I tend to be a bit more phenomenological in the way I look at things). A
few comments from my perspective; these are not! criticisms and are offered
in the hope that they might be useful.

      1. Dictionary definitions are a good place to start; however,
looking at how words are used (a philosophy of language, so to speak) often
does a better job of opening things up.

       2. I was surprised to find that Kant or Schelling did not make your
list of those influential in thinking about imaging; not to mention

       3. I have the impression you are using the term ‘stable’ as a
somewhat replacement of Vygotsky’s concrete; I like that as ‘concrete'
seems to have very different meanings for different people. I will try to
use it (and I may misuse it out of yet misunderstanding) in my replies

       4. When I read the blind/deaf section I thought of Hellen Keller. I
wonder if the only reason Suvorov considered such having a thin gap is
because he was too focused on seeing and hearing. I have a suspicion that
he was quite imaginative in the way I think about it and I am fairly sure
Keller was.

       5. I tend to think of the gap as too wide rather than too thin
although the metaphor of filling still seems reasonable

       6. In a way you don’t seem to quite come out and say it (or I
missed you doing so), but I agree that imagination is not necessarily
creative and I would add that it is quite everyday.

Larry, I will try to answer your comments or questions as they occur.


On Dec 6, 2015, at  4:41 PM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

Mike, I would be willing to re(turn) to re(read) and re(present)  our
notions as we sail under Dewey's arches to the (open see) a metaphor not
To continue with your reflection if image has some relation to how
others use text.

Actually I don’t think image has some relation to how others use text. I
twas speculating as whether there is some commonality between how Mike is
using using image and how others are using text. I said this because I
struggle against the tendency to make being vision primary in mathematics
and otherwise what Mike has written has little relevance to problems that
presently catch my attention.

Can we imagine human shared movement (itself) as text? In other words
can we (read) mutual   shared movements as choreography. The physical
gestures as the material having a quality like the shape of letters on the
page, or the acoustic resonance of the voice on the ear, or the visual
marks making a circle-like shape.

I have no great problem with any of this, but the grain size is too large.
That is why I tried to give you a particular example which I now realize
was not necessarily a good one because of how you appear to view
imagination. I don’t mean your perspective is lacking; it just seems to
result in  different questions than I would/do ask.

These different physical forms are not the foundational bedrock, they
are the material.
If we can imagine (texts) as not just scratches on parchment but as
having a deeper process,
Is it also possible to imagine (images) as not just visual perceptions
but rather having a deeper process.

My initial reaction is “Why are you saying this?" If I ever thought the
contrary, I can’t remember. This is just common sense. The interesting
thing about what you say is that you seem to  using ‘imagine’ in a non
visual fashion which was largely my initial point.

All the senses share in this process and engage with physically
experienced phenomena but what is being gestured toward is that unifying
process that includes all the senses but is not itself the senses.

I would say that all senses can participate in this process. Also
physically experienced phenomena sounds a little too strong although
physically experienced phenomena seem to place constraints of a sort on
imaging. There is also, re Mike, the idea of stability as I don’t
physically experience a platonic circle.

To imagine the marks on paper as a (circle) to imagine the collated
pages of a  book as a (text) to imagine vocal acoustics as a dialogue, to
imagine mutual shared actions as an (activity)  may possibly have a
unifying basis in the image which is (created) as the vital animating
process lived (into).

Here is where my example wasn’t helpful. I did not mean one ‘sees' the
marks on the paper as a circle. One imagines the oval (marks is too large a
grain size) on the board as having certain properties consistent with those
of a platonic circle. This is why marking the center makes a sort of sense.
The teacher’s language seems to prove the imaging and the moving to new
stabilities. My experience is that a large number of people don’t make the

This imaging is multimodal and not reduced to the primacy of the visual

Imagine may or may not be multimodal. It may reference none of the sensory

The relation of this image process to the language process is also
multimodal and I suspect reciprocal.

This doesn’t seem to follow or, given my earlier comments, doesn’t follow
for me.

Larry, all of you said here is not an unreasonable perspective. It is just
one that, to a degree, I either don’t share or seems to be the wrong grain

-----Original Message-----
From: "Ed Wall" <ewall@umich.edu>
Sent: ‎2015-‎12-‎06 1:14 PM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Imagination


       My  wondering has more to do with your focus on the visual and my
examples may not of helped since it seemed. perhaps to be about the visual.
However, imaging that some poorly drawn thingy (or even well drawn) is a
‘concrete’ platonic circle doesn’t seem to be visual or, at least, it never
was for me. I have no problems with an image being a process. In fact,
assuming that it is static seems strange although I guess I can imagine it
       On the other hand, perhaps, you are using the term ‘image’ in the
way some use the word ‘text.’ That is, to take into account both external
and the , so called, internal senses. In that case, much of what you say
resonates with what I have been thinking. However, I am finding that
peeling way the visual from what you write is tricky.

On Dec 6, 2015, at  2:35 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

If I read you correctly Ed, my language belies my intent.

"An image" is not a static thing, it is a process. Think of Zinchenko's
experiments with fixed images in which he tricked the visual system that
prevented stabilized images from disappearing. He stabilized the image
(here reified as a projection on the retina) but changed its color, thus
defeating the retina's tendency to go grey. In those conditions, eye
movements continue to trace the spatial coordinates of the image as if
were continuing to "feel it."

These are very special circumstances, to be sure, but for they make it
clear that what is called an image is a process (according to Suvorov,
stepping away from the world and then stepping back into it, but then he
was blind and deaf).

What we designate as "the image" is some form of materialized
of the flow of into-image-making. Some structure in the flow of the
new. From just the blink of an eye to our image of the statue of
This is an old idea but it fits with my intuition. I first encountered
reading Dewey who refers to "the poet" on the topic of experience.

*Yet all experience is an arch wherehrough / Gleams that untraveled
whose margin fades / Forever and forever when I move. *

*Tennyson, Ulysses*

If you are interested, we could try to synch re/reading of some core
articles/chapters. This entire area of concern is of recent vintage for
and my ignorance is particularly keenly felt.


On Sun, Dec 6, 2015 at 12:02 PM, Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:


   As I indicated to Larry, I wonder somewhat about the privileging of
the ‘image’ in discussions of imagination. Additionally, although it
been awhile since I delved into enactivism (and I don’t think it was
of the
Russian kind) some of the theorists they seemed to draw on would
with such a focus; this also seems to apply to semiotics.
   I did order the book after an Amazon perusal - it seems useful! -
I have yet to read your paper slowly. However, despite a huge emphasis
mathematics education on visualization, I may be thinking less about
‘imaginal’ than you or Larry. That doesn’t mean that what you and
Larry are
talking about might not usefully factor in especially your point about
joint, mediated, activity.


On Dec 6, 2015, at  11:11 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

Thanks for having IMAGINATION in the subject line Larry et al

I'll venture that into-image-make in its embryonic beginnings builds
the already highly functional sensory system. Assume vision as the
system in question. We know that in an important sense, the "simple"
seeing what you might call a common object, for example your car in
driveway, or for an infant, the mother's face, involves temporal and
spatial discontinuities arising from saccadic eye movement that must
resolved by the nervous system or vision ceases, the process of image
formation ceases to function.

The Peleprat/Cole paper provides more substantiation for that
account. In thinking about imagination I turn to Zaporozhets,
non-Russians who I think of as promoting the idea of enactive
perception/cognition. It is also consistent with joint, mediated,
as the germ cell of human ontogeny. Or so the story might go.

I currently have my bet on the emergence of the semiotic function and
human possibility for symbolic communication is co-incident and
co-constitutive of distinctly human imagination.

in brief

On Sun, Dec 6, 2015 at 8:42 AM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

Ed, mike, Michael,
I will push my question to an earlier time period.
Age 2 months.
The baby (perceives) mom's activity and introduces her.own activity .
With this mutual activity is the baby forming an image, moving into
image and becoming an (imaging) human as het nature?
Will say more but where does (image) have its embryonic origin?

-----Original Message-----
From: "Ed Wall" <ewall@umich.edu>
Sent: ‎2015-‎12-‎05 4:48 PM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Imagination or Fantasy


  I wan’t looking at the title, but, yes, ‘or’ can be inclusive or

  I don’t think of it as a detour; that doesn’t seem to make sense if
understand Vygotsky correctly.

  I, personally, don’t equate ‘physical' and ‘concrete’;’ perhaps I
wasn’t clear. In any case, I’ve never completely understood the
tendency to
think of the physical (i.e. a thing in itself) as somehow
The best I can do is imagine that in a certain cultural historical
and at a certain stage of development people act as if certain things
‘concrete.’ This includes the 'physical world' (whatever that is?).

   I’m not quite sure where you are going with the development of
systems and concrete-like or even cultural historical.

    Fantasy is a complicated word so I don’t know what you mean when
you allude to “assume that or let’ involving fantasy. My answer,
would be neither is necessarily imaginal or fantasy

    Since I have no clear idea what you mean by system or fantasy in
your email, I can’t give a reasonable answer to your final question.
approximate answer might be “no”; however, I can imagine other
possibilities (smile).


On Dec 4, 2015, at  4:04 PM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:


The title imagination (or) fantasy
Is different from
Imagination (equates) with fantasy.
To move from the physical concrete though a detour (a
and return to the mathematical concrete.
Is the same word (concrete) shift meaning in this transfer from the
physical to the mathematical?
If mathematics is actually a (system) that has emerged in historical
consciousness then is it reasonable to say that the physical
which exists prior to the human understanding and the mathematical
(concrete) which is a cultural historical system emerging within the
imaginal are both (concrete) in identical ways?
It seems that systems (develop) and become concrete-like.
Is this the same meaning of concrete as the physical which
To (assume that or to let) involves the imaginal and fantasy.
Is there a clear demarcation between the imaginal and fantasy. Does
imply it does not (actually) exist while the other implies the actual
be mapped onto the physical with systems?
Is there a clear demarcation between systems and fantasy?

-----Original Message-----
From: "Ed Wall" <ewall@umich.edu>
Sent: ‎2015-‎12-‎04 11:05 AM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l]  Imagination or Fantasy


For various reasons I have been thinking about a kind of
that might be subsumed under statements like “assume that,” “let,” or
“Imagine that” (and these may be, in fact, very different statements
although, under certain circumstances, might be the same.” In doing
so I
came across something written by Vygotsky in Imagination and
the Adolescent (ed Rieber) p163: “It is characteristic for
it does not stop at this path, that for it, the abstract is only an
intermediate link, only a stage on the path of development, only a
the process of its movement to the concrete. From our point of view,
imagination is a transforming, creative activity directed from a
concrete toward a new concrete.”
I find this quote very interesting in view of a previous discussion
on the list regarding Davydov’s mathematics curriculum in that I am
wondering whether part of what is going on is that children are being
to “imagine." I have other mathematical examples of this join the
elementary school that are possibly a little more obvious (if
interested I can give them off list). Anyway, one reason for my
is that for so many people mathematics is not concrete; i.e. there
is no
stepping from concrete to concrete; the sort of get stuck, so to
the abstract. So let me give two examples of what I am wondering
then a question.
My first example:  It is possible that we would all agree that to
a winged horse is imagine a winged horse as there is no such thing.
In a
somewhat like manner, a simple proof that the square root of two is
fraction begins with “Assume that the square root of two is a
This is not so thus, in sense, one must imagine that it is true and
look at the consequences (the square root of -1 is perhaps another
example). This seems to be a case of concrete to concrete through
imagination and this type of proof (a proof through contradiction)
seems to
be very hard for people to do.
My second example: The teacher goes up to the blackboard and draws
something rather circular and says “This is a circle.” She then
draws a
point somewhat towards the center of the planar object and says,
its center.” She then says “Every point on this circle (waving her
the object on the blackboard) is equidistant from the center.” None
is true, but somehow we are meant to behave as if it were. Each step
seems to go through imagination from the concrete to the concrete.
, I
see that I am really saying from the physical concrete to the
concrete. Perhaps Vygotsky wouldn’t allow this?)
[I note by the way Poul Anderson took on the consequences of a
So my question, as Vygotsky seems to identify imagination with
fantasy (this may be a fault of the translation), what would Vygotsky
called my examples? A case of sheer conceivability or something else?
is, I note, good reason to call it imagination, but I’m interested in
take on what Vygotsky’s take might be.
Ed Wall


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


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