As usual, you "select" exactly what I was trying share. By focusing
selection of certain things (objects and the feelings/thoughts they
evoke, exemplars of concepts) from the material setting we return,
resounding creak and a crash, to the door of choice, of volition,
that gate of human freedom upon which all meaning (meaning,
must perforce hinge. And that door opens on text, without which we
speak of context.
I think that all text must be seen as more or less metaphorical,
really a way of saying that any way of saying can be more or less
Any wording is a "phonological" metaphor: that is, an attempt to
act of sounding stand for an act of thinking. Some wordings are
metaphorical; that is, more mediated, because there is metaphor on
metaphor, or mediation on top of mediation. If I say (or better
that Violetta is both a cross and a delicacy to the heart, then I
a complex act of sounding ("croce e delizia al cor") stand for an
thinking of three objects (a wooden cross, a Parisian patisserie,
pump for blood) which makes me think of three other things (torture,
delight, and a love which causes the whole universe to palpitate
to the other).
Ilyenkov's big problem was this: the orthodox, Pavlovian,
Vygotsky's legacy was that meaning was "objective" because it was a
signal system"--that is, a stimulus that made some kind of sensory
in the nerves that made some kind of higher response in the brain.
Ilyenkov could see perfectly well that this was just another
dualism: physical sensation in the nerves was a stimulus and
the brain was the response. So he turned us all inside out. Oh, yes:
meaning is objective alright, but not because it leads us to some
spark in the brain neurons; it's objective because it leads us to
activity in the environment.
MY problem is that this is only a reasonable description of how
might occur in infants. But most meaning is not like this: most
is conventional, not so much in the sense that it is
exactly what it isn't, as soon as we put it in context) but in the
that it leads us along links that, unlike those of activity, are
non-causal. It may make perfect sense to say that the word "clap"
leads, along a causal link, to the activity of clapping. But it makes
no sense to say that the word "croce" causes one to be nailed on a
or the word "delizia" fills one's stomach with French pastry, or
my thoughts and feelings are what cause me to sing in the shower.
they do, but that coincidence is conventional and not causal.
That's why it
is one thing to say (as Helen Keller did) that everything must have
but it is very different to say that anything can be a name (the
manifestly false, while the second is almost true).
Anything can be a name, and we need a name for this non-causal
between soundings, wordings, meanings, contexts, and material
Halliday likes the word "realization", and my supervisor, David Butt,
dislikes it for exactly the same reason. In English, the word
has TWO apparently opposed meanings. When we say that a word is a
is "realized" as a wording, or a wording is "realized" as a
are saying that there is a step away from ideality towards tangible,
physical, sensuous reality. But when we say that a sounding
wording, or a wording "realizes" a meaning, or a meaning "realizes" a
context, or that a context "realizes" a material setting, we are
precisely the opposite. We're not just looking at active and
of the same process: it's a different process. We are saying that the
wording makes us realize what is meant, and the meaning makes us
the context, and the context makes us aware of some element in the
setting. Even in the last case, "realization" is a step in the
awareness, that is, ideality, and not reality. Halliday sees these
different processes as linked (and so they are), and David thinks
more distinct (that too).
PS: For those who are curious about the references to wooden
French pastries, or who just want to hear a thumping good tune
two exquisite singers:
On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 8:34 AM, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I am slowly beginning to make some sense of where you are leading
the way you are qualifying the meaning of con/text to that which
particular phenomena that occurs as a particular kind of
*behavior**. It is NOT a general endorsement of activity or
The particular quality forming this **text/context** is this
process of *
*selection** that occurs within metaphorical ways of proceeding.
You do NOT see how activity which is NOT semiotic activity
selecting activity] and you do NOT see how behavior that is NOT
behavior [metaphorical selecting behavior] can possibly create
You are inviting [or calling] us to limit our understanding [or
interstanding] of text/context to a particular subset of
that **transforms** [through metaphorical selecting processes] the
We can speak or call something text/context only AFTER this
selecting kind of activity/behavior **constitutes** THESE texts/
Another interesting observation is that this kind of semiotic
forming texts/contexts **realizes** concepts and **realizes**
and **realizes** perceptions . The underlying metaphorical selecting
process of something becoming text/context AS semiotic mechanism
pretty much the same.
As you call to our attention, there is ONLY the forming of text/
when **something** has been metaphorically selected **as** a
process [which includes gestural metaphor, phonological metaphor,
This selection process occurs FOR creating both text and context
moves us towards **sense** and **shared meanings**.
And this returns us to Cultural Community psychology where culture
defined AS shared meaning.
In conclusion **activity settings** and **behavioural settings**
general and do NOT highlight or illuminate the particular KINDS of
settings and behavioural settings that generate **sense** and
David, I hope I have done justice to your exploration of text/
If not I will continue to remain open to your calling me back to
topic and topos.
Sent from Mail <https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986> for
*From: *David Kellogg <email@example.com>
*Sent: *Sunday, March 20, 2016 1:33 PM
*To: *eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <firstname.lastname@example.org>
*Subject: *[Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion
Actually, that's just the kind of text I'm working with right now.
the plan. Every week, we give a nine month old baby a book. We ask
questions in two languages (because the baby has one Korean speaking
and one English speaking one):
a) English: What's this?
b) English: Is it a ...?
c) Yigot mueo ya? (What's this?)
d) ... yi ya? (Is it a ...?)
Sometimes we mix up the order. This goes on every week for the
years, as the child first figures out that a book is not edible.
contains pictures. That that the pictures are not just colors but
be signs. That beneath the pictures there are letters. That the
not just drawings but are meant to be symbols. That the symbols
settings, characters, and problems. That the problems can only be
means of dialogue, etc.
Now, the first time I tried this, the child simply could not
the object for any length of time. But the SECOND time I did it, the
literally could not look away from it! You could see that although
child had no idea what was being said, the child was might just be
to think some proto-language equivalent of "What's this?" "Is it
got mu eo ya?" "Chaek yi ya?" And after a minute or so, the child
up, as if to see whether the large person making so much noise
thinking something along those lines too.
So maybe THAT's text! And as you can see it doesn't matter at all
the text realizes concepts or feelings or just perceptions, the
semiotic mechanism is pretty much the same. But it seems that
text when something has been selected from the material setting by
human consciousness or consciousnesses for semiotic transformation;
only text when there some kind of "metaphor" (gestural,
lexicogrammatical) for context. It seems that it's precisely THIS
selection which transforms a material setting into a context, and
premature to speak of context before that happens. So for example I
wouldn't use the term context for the first week of work, only for
I think it's legitimate to talk about "social context" and "cultural
context", because I believe that context, like text, exists on a
instantiation. At one end, we have the relationship between a
situation (Malinowski) and a text (Halliday). That's the end I'm
now. At the other, we have the relationship between a context of
(again, Malinowski) and...and a whole language system (again,
gather that's the end at which the KEEP and the Community
projects in Micronesia and the Delinquency Research plans are
I don't see how "activity" or "behaviour" can ever realize context,
it is semiotic activity and semiotic behaviour, in which case we
well start looking around for text. That's where the garlic and
(Rod--I'm new at this stuff: watching infants crack the whole
anthropogenesis single-handed, I mean. That's how exciting it is,
and that's about how baffling it is too. I know you are an old
you give me any tips on what to read and advice about what to do
On Sun, Mar 20, 2016 at 10:14 PM, Rod Parker-Rees <
I was driven to respond to David's earlier comments about context
own understanding of this term is in the context of trying to
how preverbal children make sense (meanings framed by social and
contexts more than by systems of concepts). Here it is difficult to
separate a text out of the context, an 'individual' thought process
from the interactions in which it can occur.
It strikes me that Andy's point about the contexts in which
their meanings is particularly relevant here. The intersubjectivity
available to a caregiver-child dyad or within a family is of a
order to that available between otherwise unconnected speakers of
'same' language. Where one is rooted in a history of shared
common contexts the other is rooted in a history of more or less
abstracted ideas (concepts) which refer to experiences but 'from
rather than 'from within'. Knowing what someone else means is never
completely achievable and I think the positive consequence of
intersubjectivity has to be understood as a process, a conversation
than an answer. 'Feeling' with other people is not an achieved
means towards sharing understanding (I like the idea that the word
understanding is misunderstood - 'under' deriving from the same
'inter' and meaning 'among' rather than 'below' - to understand
is to stand IN it).
We can know ABOUT other cultures through reading about them or
films but how we know cultures in which we have stood is
different - I think. Meeting other people, or meeting with them,
our personal understanding by exposing us to different ways of
I think we have to recognise that thinking ABOUT ways of
be understood as a multi-layered thing, ranging from the thickest
of our lived and co-lived experiences to the ethereal
So sharing concepts out of context is doable but not achievable.
All the best,
From: email@example.com [mailto:
firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: 20 March 2016 10:34
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion
I don't know if the issue is having common interests, Cliff.
I think it's very productive, even necessary, that each little
has different concerns and shines light on different aspects of
But what we really need is shared concepts, through which we can
each other and collaborate. So it is good news that CC has
zone of proximal development, activity setting, shared activity
of genetic development.
I think we need to be very conscious of the dangers inherent in
appropriating expressions like these though. You pointed out that
early days of CC, "'cultural psychology' was generally practiced as
'cross-cultural', largely as comparison studies", but everything
your paper tends to suggest "culture" is still understood and
this sense. Consequently it is very easy to miss the meaning
"culture" in CHAT, which, after all, originated in pretty much a
mono-cultural situation. One word can index different concepts.
interdisciplinarity is only achieved by means of shared concepts.
the other hand, since the content of a concept is ultimately the
system of practices to which it is indigenous, it seems almost as
concept can only be shared when the broader context of its use is
Along these lines, it was a little while before I realised that you
using the word "intersubjectivity" with quite a different meaning
would. It seems to denote empathy. "Intersubjectivity involves
feeling the same emotions and values in the same situations," and I
even know it means to "feel values."
Connected with this the description of joint action, turned out
sharp contrast to my conception of it. As I see it, collaboration
preferred term, rather than "joint
action") necessarily entails both moments of conflict as well as
cooperation. Harmony and bliss are great things, but I think they
rather cheaply purchased simply by everyone marching in step.
I suspect that these two examples of shared words indicating
concepts are connected to the hope of mutual appropriation by
having a "center of commonality."
On 20/03/2016 12:28 PM, Cliff O'Donnell wrote:
Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Alfredo. Roland and I thought
that although CC and CHAT have many common interests, most folks
each appeared to be unaware of the other (judging by the
of common citations). As described in our article, we and
our colleagues have been influenced by CHAT and have used CHAT
concepts in our research and intervention programs.
As for influence in the opposite direction, perhaps the KEEP
Seymour Sarason's work, and some of Maynard's work with
Also Kurt Lewin is a source common to both CC and CHAT. I too
interested to hear of additional influence in the opposite
You are correct that Delta Theory builds on psychosocial systems
Vygotsky as an important source. Delta Theory boldly attempts to
universal theory of how change occurs using Delta as the symbol
I'm pleased that you found the discussion of cognitive science,
psycho-neurology, and a potential center of commonality in
of interest! That is the goal of the article, i.e., to show how
commonality of CC and CHAT have the potential to form that
with developmental, educational, cognitive, and neuro-psychology.
Hopefully this discussion format will facilitate interest in the
On Mar 19, 2016, at 6:17 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
Thanks Cliff and Mike for sharing this interesting article. I was
familiar to cultural community psychology and this and the other
papers in the symposium do a great job introducing and concisely
describing the field, and how it evolved from community to
As I was reading, I wondered how much the influence of CHAT
literature had influenced the development of community psychology
itself from the start. As I progressed in my reading, I then
clear references to these influences, which even meant the
the publishing of Roland's work, I assume, due to the important
that Vygotsky's publications meant for the project. But then I
wondered on what had been other sources. What were other
influences to the field? I'd be interested to know about them in
because, while the paper discusses many examples in which CHAT
input to CC, I would like to know more about the (possible)
the other direction.
Also, I found interesting the mention of a new center of
in psychology in general. I was glad to see, however brief,
to research in cognitive science and psycho-neurology. In your
Delta theory is mentioned as a move forward towards
the case of CHAT, this was pursued by means of developing a
scientific discipline based on dialectical materialism and the
sociogenetic method. Delta theory (I just had a very brief first
contact) seems to build upon the notion of psychosocial systems.
sounds very much in line with Vygotsky, who surely is a central
source. Again, here I would love to hear what other insights/
are involved that may provide new insights to those more
CHAT but not so much with CC and Delta theory.
<email@example.com> on behalf of mike cole
Sent: 18 March 2016 02:39
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Article for Discussion
We thought it appropriate to put up for discussion the paper by
Roland Tharp and Cliff O'Donnell from the most recent issue of
Roland wanted to stimulate discussion among what he and Cliff
people with a strong family resemblance. He passed away before
part of the discussion could take place.
Roland and Cliff argue for the mutual relevance of Cultural
Psychology and Vygotskian inspired research in the approach
to often in these pages as CHAT, not only because it is an
for cultural-historical activity theory, but because we have a
tradition of chatting here about the ideas in papers that
In this case, Cliff is intending to send this message and an
invitation to people from Community Psychology to join in. May
celebratory of Roland's long life seeking to promote growth
get your copy at
Enjoy, and of course, send along to others you think might be
Its legal, free, above board, and, hopefully, interesting!
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch
Clifford R. O'Donnell, Ph.D.
Past-President, Society for Community Research and Action (APA
University of Hawai'i
Department of Psychology
2530 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
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