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[Xmca-l] Re: Which comes first, context or text?
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- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Which comes first, context or text?
- From: Lplarry <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 10:31:45 -0700
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I am questioning if there exists undifferentiated experience which becomes differentiated. The not formed becoming formed.
Another way (approach) to this question is if consciousness (awareness) precedes self-consciousness. There may also be non-conscious phenomena?
Now intentional can mean either consciousness in general or self-consciousness in particular.
I was exploring your experience of the cloured flash AS a Surprise that was not an intentional act but I am suggesting this event occurring actually called you TO attention and by attending or focusing opening a space of intentionally acting. This is entering conscious experiencing but is not automatically self-conscious. What was surprising (and occurring on the periphery) was beyond intentional acts but then this phenomena became by this surprising event calling us to focus a call to intentionality where we are then selecting (differentiating).
The relation of intentional/conscious phenomena becoming self-conscious phenomena which includes naming phenomena ( genetic epistemology as the pursuit of a genuine praxis oriented epistemic ad/venture is a particular kind of naming) but situated in a wider horizon where something surprising fractures auto-nomos (automatic habitual naming).
This relation of surprise existing beyond the boundary of intentional acts can be understood as a calling us (to focus or attend). We can name this response of becoming conscious as intentional or we can limit intentional to the kinds of conscious awareness that becomes auto-nomos or naming phenomena.
This is a judgement call and how we decide determines and commits us to a particular notion of what intentional means.
This is an *existential* question.. By existential I mean an involved/engaged question, a question whose answer commits us to a particular way forward, and expresses uncertainty always open to surprise.
Existence occurring at the base of the mountain of clarity, not a movement of ascent.
The flashing colour as a surprise opens a moment within time and space calls us. The naming that seems simultaneous ( a bird) is conditioned by the setting or situation but the surprise as existential within being involved/engaged leads towards naming (often auto-nomos) but the naming is not the
Surprise. The naming is becoming committed within an uncertain surprising occurence of flashing colour that is/was unexpected. The naming is text and that way is the way of value tout court.
From: "mike cole" <email@example.com>
Sent: 2016-03-22 9:17 AM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Which comes first, context or text?
I could follow at least part of that. Sure is a multi-faceted discussion.
I want to ask about your assertion below.
However, this naming [an intentional act] was preceded by a *calling* to
focus from the periphery and this calling to focus on phenomena which show
up could be given multiple names depending on the particular culture of
My question is about the term intention. I seem to recall David using the
term "conscious" in a similar way. In what sense are you using the phrase,
"intentional act?" Didn't feel like i was expecting the flash of
orange/yellow light, I was looking at differences among finches. No
awareness of search for a word.
(Here Rod's important point that I come to the experience with a rich,
inescapable, tangle of concepts/words may be so interiorized that it is
barely accessible to conscious thought/manipulation.
On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 8:29 AM, Larry Purss <email@example.com> wrote:
> A very moving metaphor that carried me within lived experience AND concept
> systems. This metaphor also allows me to approach you and our article for
> discussion in a different *light*. [or should I say different *forms* of
> Mike [as] an accomplished traveller who with others [and among others]
> participates in a culture of sharing concept systems and delights in
> ascending mountains to attain the places of clarity and cool reason from
> which to as/certain the valley below.
> This place of *about* from which we may look *back* upon the verdant
> multiformed valley below.
> I will add an image of the sign of Capricorn to your metaphor. Capricorn
> is under [or with] the sign of the *fishgoat*. The fishgoat must FIRST
> descend into the depths of existence before ascending to the spiritual
> I also will add a question on the shifting movement between [focus] and
> Learning may often be developing the ability to focus [pay attention,
> concentrate, move between past, present future] but this may become so
> dominant an approach to phenomena that we loose sight of life and vitality
> moving within the periphery. Now this metaphor of focus/periphery boundary
> marking may indicate that we in modernity have become pre/occupied with
> focusing and there/fore perceiving the periphery has moved into the
> My question is if we can learn to develop the *art* of fluidly shifting
> between focus and periphery.
> Mike noticing the flash of colour illuminating the periphery and then Mike
> becoming intentionally focused upon “What is it? Is it a ???”
> Now in some cultures THIS flash of colour is an illumination OF my
> ancestor, or an illumination of a divinity as what is “calling” us to
> attention but in Mike’s culture of shared meanings he names what is
> calling him *an oriole*.
> Mike is travelling within and approaching this flash of colour AS
> something and giving this something a name. However, this naming [an
> intentional act] was preceded by a *calling* to focus from the periphery
> and this calling to focus on phenomena which show up could be given
> multiple names depending on the particular culture of shared meanings.
> What seems to me a key question is David’s question. Is this way of
> travelling together *value tout court* or is travelling [this way]
> primarily a *production with exchange value*?
> Cliff explores the development of *fields* as a *space* of shared
> meanings. I am suggesting a metaphor of [house] as overlapping the metaphor
> of [fields]. Fields trace a different path for travelling or approaching
> phenomena. The arena or stage of genetic epistemology which may originate
> with Kant and transcendental questions as ways to pro/ceed. [emphasis on
> This is a path through re/presentations that call us by giving names to
> substances which then accompany as the substances that become already given
> prior to undertaking our travelling together. We are now moving through
> shared *fields*. [scientific disciplines]
> The question then becomes where should we build our dwelling homes?
> Should humans live primarily upon the mountain peaks of *about* abstracted
> high above the valleys [or depths] or should we primarily dwell within the
> valleys and depths and on occasion ascend the mountain?
> Rod, your metaphor of ascent and descent *trails* or *traces* a wide arc
> through history [both east and west]. The Tao as [the way]. In the West
> *spirit* as ascent to the heights.
> Is this way of expressing [sense] and [meaning] *value* tout court moving
> within phenomena? Is this way of moving or proceeding more about [calling]
> than [naming]? Or [being - called]. In other words is calling [as itself]
> *being* or the things themselves *doing* the calling and then we name
> these things [as] something?
> Is Cliff’s article which is an exploration of living within *fields* more
> generally a way of proceeding [as] a kind of living which occurs *within*
> genetic epistemology [which we can trace back to Kant].
> Is this way [as a particular way of pro/ceding forward and not a general
> way] which is expressing a *value* actually *a* particular *value*? [tout
> Is genetic epistemology as a form of existence at its foundational basis
> actually meta/phorical? Something [as] something else? Transcendental
> notions [including notions of intersubjectivity] as able to be traced back
> to Kant as a philosophical practice. A particular path up the mountain but
> not the mountain itself.
> Embracing genetic epistemology [as] a way to proceed [through naming
> phenomena as a way of knowing] but not loosing sight that this way of
> focusing through naming occurs by bringing the periphery that is calling us
> [for example a flash of colour becoming “an oriole”] into a particular
> kind of focus.
> Is it possible to relate to the periphery as a practice of
> undifferentiated experience travelling with relating through focusing
> [paying attention to differentiated phenomena]?
> My bias is to suggest that human being/becoming is a form of travelling
> together in close proximity to the Neanderthals singing the world [vocal
> and motor gesture]. We have added complexity but where is the singing today?
> Intersubjectivity as a phenomena of calling others [joint action, joint
> attention] prior to being a naming phenomena.
> Genetic epistemology as a way is already moving [and has moved] in the
> direction of ascent to *about* and *abstraction* from which we can see with
> clarity. However, as Rod says, iis it time to bring this way of travelling
> back to earth to be grounded within the earth or watery depths.
> Not sure if this is too eccentric and idiosyncratic a reflection but is
> how I was intersubjectively called to answer or address this community of
> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
> From: Rod Parker-Rees
> Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 1:27 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Which comes first, context or text?
> I would say that for you, as an already accomplished participant in a
> culture of concept systems, the sharing of your oriole experience might
> well be with a whole host of internalised others. As adults we can share an
> experience with our friends without needing them to be there ('X and Y
> would love this') - and of course social media allows us to share
> experiences with remote friends, though I am not sure that the pleasure of
> sharing is of quite the same order - maybe it is more so for digital
> My interest in 'which comes first' is really ontological - I would have to
> argue that for any individual person context always comes first because we
> are born into a pre-existing (albeit fluid) culture. I am also inclined to
> go along with Steven Mithen's contention (e.g. in 'The Singing
> Neanderthals') that interactions and relations, first expressed through
> movements and vocalisations, must have preceded any form of language.
> An image which I particularly like is of a mountain rising out of lush,
> verdant valleys. Down in the valleys life is abundant, rich and complicated
> but as one ascends the mountain the vegetation gives way to ice and snow.
> The air becomes clear and cold and one can see for miles. Climbing is a
> very direct form of abstraction, lifting oneself out of the muddle of
> context to be able to see further and more clearly. But you can't live up
> there for long. Very young children live in the foothills but they don't
> have to find their own ways up to higher places because they are able to
> see their parents and siblings making the ascent.
> For me it is a particular challenge to try to imagine what it is like to
> be a two-year-old, not yet able to lift oneself out of one's immediate
> context to think 'about' things but instead able to think in and with the
> things and people and interactions that make up one's environment or
> context. I would argue that it is easy to forget this 'withness thinking'
> as John Shotter calls it, once thought is marshalled by more or less shared
> concept systems. Even the most abstract of thinkers still have to come down
> the mountain sometimes to engage with other people, to eat, wash and sleep
> and these contexts of lived practice are also internalised, like the
> opinions of our friends, and become part of our own relationships with our
> All the best,
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:
> email@example.com] On Behalf Of mike cole
> Sent: 22 March 2016 00:27
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Which comes first, context or text?
> Dear Colleagues.
> I did not intend to offer the oriole example as an example of foreground
> and background, David. Rather, what I was after was the process of an event
> becoming a semantic event. I was under the influence of the discussion of
> fon/phonem and Rod's questions about which comes first.
> My example seems to fit Rod's specifies the process as I experienced it
> pretty well. An initial flash of unexpected light for which there is no
> name that becomes lexified as "the male oriole!" But the issue of sharing
> is a little problematic. Standing in the backyard, not talking aloud, with
> whom was I sharing an event being woven into a semantic event? The semantic
> event happened, but the sharing?
> It seems important that Tomsello's monumental corpus of work should find
> its way into this discussion. And Nelson's too.
> Anyway, thanks to all for bringing round this topic. That it should occur
> mutually relevant to community psychology and to whatever this list
> represents, seems non-accidental.
> PS- On the question of context and figure/ground, I will send around three
> uses of the metaphor of context as rope. Their variety of
> origins/applications of the metaphor strike me as worth thinking about and
> speak to David's characterization of my views.
> On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 3:31 PM, Rod Parker-Rees <
> R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk> wrote:
> > This is helpful, David but I am not sure that your cline, as I understand
> > it, fully recognises the asymmetries of texts framed in systems of
> > and texts framed in 'real' things and interactions. For the infant there
> > no significant distinction between the attention and activity and the
> > knowledge which subtends them. Concepts, categories and words allow
> > multiple instances to be woven into nameable ideas which can exist
> > any particular 'real' context and can therefore be shared but whether we
> > think lived experience is reduced or elevated to shareable knowledge,
> > knowledge can only be understood if it is given colour and vitality by
> > 'spontaneous concepts'. So the wordy, abstractable text depends on every
> > hearer/reader/participant's ability to connect shared branches with
> > roots - breathing meaning into it but when meaning is shared directly, in
> > shared attention, for example, it does not depend on participants'
> > to make connections with the branches of a system of concepts. It may be
> > possible to put this sort of 'face to face' meaning sharing into words
> > (though inevitably this will involve some reduction or elevation) but
> > translation is not a necessary part of the experience of the text.
> > I have a feeling that weather is already half way reduced/elevated, a
> > generalisation which can describe an experience shared by many, even if
> > has not attained the level of generalisation required for thinking about
> > climate. Shared attention may be something more contained - a flash of
> > lightning, a gust of wind or a flurry of snow on the face of that beast!
> > It seems to me that what is required for an event to be woven into a
> > semantic event is just that its noticing is shared. When infants
> > that a previously undifferentiated 'Great We' can be differentiated into
> > 'my attention' AND 'your attention' they can delight in the experience of
> > 'locking on' which is felt when attention is shared. I am still very
> > uncertain about the boundary beyond which an event can be thought of as
> > semantic. I suspect that the felt familiarity of a situation which has
> > shared before (like Andy's book sharing but not necessarily with anything
> > as texty as a book) may be enough to produce a sense of 'Ah, I know what
> > expect here' which might convert an experience into a kind of experience,
> > elevating it (or reducing it) out of the weather of context.
> > It is difficult to form uncertain ideas into texts which stand a chance
> > sharing meaning with people I have never even met but grappling with
> > posts does sometimes bring me up with a flash of connection (or what
> > to me like connection!). I did like the footprints in the snow.
> > All the best,
> > Rod
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:
> > email@example.com] On Behalf Of David Kellogg
> > Sent: 21 March 2016 20:57
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Which comes first, context or text?
> > Rod:
> > I think the word "context" will work just fine. We just have to see a
> > cline of instantiation, from the context of culture (the speech community
> > as a whole, seen as the sum total of all the persons who speak a
> > and the context of situation (the elements of the context of culture and
> > the elements of a material situational setting which are selected to be
> > semanticized in a given exchange). This cline of instantiation between
> > context of culture and context of situation is exactly what Malinowski
> > describes in the long addendum he appended to "The Meaning of Meaning"
> > in Ogden and Richards, except that Malinowski is not so clear about
> > distinguishing between a material situational setting and a context of
> > situation.
> > Halliday (who was a big influence on Stephen P. Witte) describes the
> > relationship between context of culture and context of situation as being
> > like weather and climate: two different perspectives brought about by two
> > different timescales on one and the same phenomenon. The difference in
> > timescale does mean that in a context of culture certain phenomena which
> > will call cultural and social are foregrounded and other phenomena which
> > will call interpersonal and psychological are backgrounded, while in a
> > context of situation, we find things the other way around: the
> > interpersonal and psychological is made explicit and thus tends to get
> > foregrounded while the cultural and social are left implicit and
> > backgrounded. This is not that different from climate and
> > weather: with climate, what is decisive is the angle of the sun and the
> > extent to which the earth retains solar radiation and what is accidental
> > the patterns of air movement, while with weather what is decisive is the
> > pattern of air movement and the incidence of solar radiation is...well,
> > incidental.
> > Mike likes to say that foreground and background "create each other" I
> > think that's one reason he is so taken with his orioles and with
> > McDermott's spirals/concentric circles. I am less taken with these: taken
> > too far, they set my dialectics against my materialism. To me the reason
> > why the infant must give up proto-speech and learn mother tongue as a
> > SECOND language is because in the long run climate determines weather
> > rather than the other way around; in a language, the context of culture
> > ultimately mightier than the context of situation even though (and even
> > precisely because) the context of culture is really nothing more than the
> > sum total of contexts of situations.
> > But let us apply Mike's principle here. If context and text really do
> > create each other (and if they evolve, as you and Katherine Nelson and
> > Vygotsky describe, out of an undifferentiated joint attention) then we
> > should be able to find a counterpart to text at one end of the cline of
> > instantiation as easily as we do at the other.
> > So we do. The counterpart to a context of situation is, of course, a
> > so long as we see text as a semantic event and not simply the recording
> > thereof in paper and ink. Text is what people like to call discourse, but
> > such is the conservatism of academics we tend to associate text with
> > writing rather than with thinking and with speech. If that were text,
> > though, infants would have to wait for half a decade for it, and they
> > don't. Text is semantic; we have text wherever we have the analysis of a
> > setting into a context and the sharing of that analysis through
> > communication. Text is the beast itself and not simply its footprints in
> > the snow.
> > And the counterpart to a context of culture? It's just the sum total of
> > everything that a speech community writes, reads, speaks and understands:
> > it's the sum total of text produced in a language. But my point was that
> > it's text, or anyway the socio/cultural equivalent of text (and in some
> > cases, e.g. the Torah or the Confucian Classics, it's literally reducible
> > to a handful of written texts). It's not just "behaviour", or "activity",
> > or "production".
> > It's not behaviour because it's more about knowing than doing. It's not
> > activity because it's not defined by single goals. And it's not
> > because there is no exchanging of labor and capital, no production of
> > commodities, no use or exchange value, just "value" tout court. But it's
> > value to which every infant is invited to partake, and in at least one
> > the infant's understanding of what is going on with the context of
> > is more accurate than ours. Infants, unlike adults, appear to assume that
> > since attention and even activity is shared, the knowledge which subtends
> > them must be shared as well.
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> > On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 8:01 PM, Rod Parker-Rees <
> > R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk> wrote:
> > > David,
> > >
> > > I have opened a new strand to avoid distracting from the discussion of
> > > the Tharp and O'Donnell article.
> > >
> > > If we go back to the roots of text in weaving it makes sense that, in
> > > the wider sense to which you allude, text is always between people. It
> > > is when people connect
[The entire original message is not included.]