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[Xmca-l] Re: The Stuff of Words



David,
I’d like to take a crack at answering your question. I take it that you mean the first link explains in scientific terms with cutting edge tecnologies (in the domain of acoustic phonetics) what the Mongolian throat singer (in the second link) learned from infancy directly from older throat singers, who learned from even older throat singers, and so on. But throat singing and playing the fiddle in the second link are tecnological feats too. And the woman in the first link is pretty darned good. I’m guessing she spent time in Mongolia, maybe as a child. Also, am I right that being able to deliberately, and with great control, sing two notes at once is based on the same control you and I have in making vowels. And vowels are best understood through the tools of acoustics, as contrasted with the tools of articulatory phonetics. In other words I can’t explain vowels, or throat singing, without a lot of hardware, but I can explain consonants with nothing more than words. Is there something here about direct and mediated experience? Firstness the most direct (sensing?), secondness less so (feeling?) and thirdness (emoting) with lots of mediation? So, I am answering your question with a lot of questions. Maybe I’m trying to hang onto my firstness here, while dialoging and narrating? Juggling?

I really loved mashing these two beautiful demonstrations of how the human voice works. Thank you very much for sharing! 
Henry


> On May 9, 2017, at 5:18 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Larry:
> 
> One of my earliest memories--I must have been three years old or so--is
> climbing up a set of stairs in the University of Minnesota department of
> child psychology between the nursery school I attended and the laboratory
> where my mother was working on her PhD on childhood speech. Her experiments
> had something to do with dropping marbles into holes and getting M&Ms,
> although to be honest the only thing I really remember besides the
> stairs is the M&Ms and a conversation I had while climbing the stairs. I
> asked my mother why she was still at school (I was attending nursery school
> on the first floor and it seemed to me that at her age she should be
> somewhat higher than a room on the second floor). She said she wanted to
> understand how people learn to talk. I asked her why she didn't remember.
> She said she just forgot.
> 
> The way we normally communicate--the way we are all used to, and the way we
> all remember--is for somebody to say something about something to someone
> else, and that's thirdness. We don't normally start with firstness or
> secondness, the way that Peirce does. I think I wrote the way I wrote, and
> I started this posting the way I started this posting, because there is a
> kind of feeling of what happens to you as it is actually happening to you,
> and that is firstness. It's ineffable in the sense that in order to
> describe it to somebody you have to destroy it by changing it into
> secondness (dialogue) or thirdness (narrative); The feeling of what happens
> to you as it is actually happening to you can be shared--my mother was
> there--but not communicated--I never spoke with her again about this
> conversation, and although I am communicating with you about it, what I am
> communicating is not the conversation but something like a narrative about
> it. Because you can share it, I don't think it's that phenomenological
> astonishment that is so important to Husserl; it's not the pre-verbal
> prehension of color that Cezanne was trying to get at, but it is
> pre-narrative and even pre-dialogue: it's the stairs and the M&Ms and not
> the conversation. Peirce calls it "firstness", and he associates it with
> notions like experience qua experience, qualia, the redness of redness, and
> of course emotion, by which he really means feeling rather than higher
> emotions mediated by artworks.
> 
> When I look at the sea of sound on Praat, I am not experiencing the sound
> at all. Instead, I'm using an elaborate set of tools and signs to try to
> strip away the layers of meaning and wording and even the actual phonemes
> and just get at the bands of sound energy of which the phonemes (and thence
> the wordings and meanings) are made. The stuff of words is, after all,
> bands of acoustic energy. Polyphonic singers know this, and they are able
> to manipulate their vocal tracts in order to focus the four bands of energy
> into only two of them. Like this:
> 
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC9Qh709gas&t=237s
> 
> (Now, here's a question for YOU. I could have given you THIS as an example
> of polyphonic singing instead:
> 
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tVGei24TdQ
> 
> The singing is actually better. But it wouldn't have worked as well. Why
> not?)
> 
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
> 
> 
> 
> 
> On Wed, May 10, 2017 at 12:35 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
>> David,
>> I do hope we are going to get some more philosophy out of you. In
>> particular exploring the suff of words/wording.
>> 
>> I want to take this turn to “echo” your philosophical ways, that are in
>> pursuit of this [theme]. See your May 5th response to Greg
>> 
>> I will back from your forth and stay close to your philosophical wordings
>> upon *firstness, secondness, and thirdness* as INEFFABLE.
>> 
>> FIRSTNESS: -ICONIC
>> When I look at ‘sound waves’ [natural] on my Praat Spectograph, I am
>> trying to get at the sound stuff, the the noise, the *firstness* of the
>> stuff of words. To get at ‘this’ requires a very complex *combination of*
>> tools and signs to “get down to” [lp-penetrate?]  this level or layer of
>> this emerging *spectrum*
>> 
>> Moving “up” we apprehend/look at the *vocal tract* [which itself is no
>> longer ‘firstness’ as a physiological organ] but is now something brought
>> about by human “organization/patterning”
>> 
>> This firstness is the way of looking/apprehending wording [as] *iconic*
>> firstness.
>> 
>> SECONDNESS: - INDEX
>> 
>> Moving “up” to look/apprehend at word stuff as indexical.  This moving up
>> is *necessarily* relating to the vocal tract within this theme. This occurs
>> NOT through proximity or association but is necessarily related to the
>> vocal tract. [LP-integrated??]
>> 
>> THIRDNESS: - SYMBOL
>> 
>> Moving ‘up” When organizing/patterning sound stuff so that the sound stuff
>> *stands for* a way of organizing/patterning other stuff. This other stuff
>> includes:
>> • Abstract models-in the making
>> • Actual categories of objects
>> • Wording phrases such as - sibling society as metaphorical
>> • Objects such as tables and lunchboxes and backpacks
>> 
>> David, this moving up the layers/levers within the [spectrum] are the way
>> the suff of words/wording ALL are: *ways of apprehending/looking.  They are
>> not associative stuff.
>> 
>> I find this philosophical explanation wery generative and germane.
>> Would you consider transferring from the linguistics discipline and
>> consider participating in the philosophical endeavors. Or do only madmen
>> move in this direction??
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
>> 
>> From: David Kellogg
>> Sent: May 8, 2017 3:09 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Stuff of Words
>> 
>> Vygotsky knew Marr. At one point, Marr took part in the weekly discussion
>> group that Vygotsky and Luria shared with Eisenstein. But of course
>> Vygotsky knew Blonsky, and liked him, and that didn't shield Blonsky from
>> more than one withering criticism from his good friend down the hall at the
>> Krupskaya Academy where they both worked.
>> 
>> (I am rather sceptical of the idea that Vygotsky was anything more than
>> culturally Jewish. But it is certainly true that the Russian Jews I have
>> known lie at the "engagement" end of Deborah Tannen's
>> "engagement-consideration" continuum. That is, we prefer to wear you out by
>> interrupting, disagreeing, and otherwise engaging with what you say rather
>> than wear you out by sitting and listening silently and considerately and
>> sometimes showing deference and considerateness by making absolutely no
>> reply. Greg although he is really a very good talker, tends to
>> the consideration end of the continuum while I am stuck at the extreme
>> engagement end, and it made our cooperation in Seoul on lectures including
>> Peirce...well, interesting.)
>> 
>> So I wasn't surprised to read THIS in the pedological lectures (p. 257 of
>> Vol. 5 of your English Collected Works):
>> 
>> "Что стоит в начале всякого символа? При всей фантастичности и при всей
>> спорности целого ряда положений теории Н. Я. Марра, одно положение мне
>> кажется бесспорно: первоначальные слова человеческого языка, как он
>> выражается — первое слово, обозначали все или очень многое. И первые
>> детские слова обозначают почти все. Но какие это слова? Слова типа «это»
>> или «то»; они приложимы к любому предмету. Можем ли мы сказать, что это
>> настоящие слова? Нет, это только индикативная функция самого слова; из нее
>> впоследствии вырастает нечто символизирующее, но пока слово, которое
>> обозначает все, есть просто голосовой указательный жест, он сохраняется во
>> всех словах, потому что каждое слово человека указывает на определенный
>> предмет.
>> 
>> 
>> "What stands at the source of each symbol? With all of the fantastic and
>> all the controversy of the range of propositions in the theory of N. Ya.
>> Marr, one proposition seems to me undeniable.: the first words of human
>> language, as he puts it—'the first word means everything or a great deal.'
>> And the first words of child speech mean almost everything. But what are
>> these words? Words of the type “this is” or “this”; they may be applied to
>> any object. Can we say that this is a real word? No, this is only the
>> indicative function of the word itself; from it subsequently grows
>> something symbolizing, but it is a word that is merely a vocal pointing
>> gesture, and it is retained in all words because each human word points to
>> a certain object."
>> 
>> Notice that the word "word" here doesn't mean "word"; that is, it means
>> "wording/meaning" rather than "orthographic word". As Ruqaiya Hasan liked
>> to say, "The meaning of 'not' is not in 'not'".
>> 
>> (Call it indexical, if you will, but I can't help but feeling, when I read
>> this passage, that Vygotsky likes Marr in the rather exasperated way that I
>> sometimes feel about--say--Greg.)
>> 
>> David Kellogg
>> Macquarie University
>> 
>> 
>> On Tue, May 9, 2017 at 1:24 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
>> wrote:
>> 
>>> Hi all,
>>> 
>>> on the question whether there can be a language having one word, David
>>> brings the example:
>>> 
>>> "What? That!
>>> Where? There!
>>> When? Then!
>>> 
>>> Now--take away the beginnings and endings, the "wh~" and the "th~" and
>> the
>>> "~t", "~re", "~n". SING the result; that is, RISE to ask and FALL to
>>> answer:
>>> 
>>> a?  a!
>>> eh? eh!
>>> e?  e..."
>>> 
>>> I find it interesting that, in these examples, the rising and falling
>>> belong to a situational relation between two: RISE is an invitation to
>> FALL
>>> and vice versa. It is the difference between the two what matters. And
>> this
>>> difference seems to be a 'correlation' (if I were to use the term David
>> has
>>> been using) of the very organic fact that actions have consequences and
>>> that it is this relation the minimal unit that living organisms are
>>> concerned about. If organisms (unlike stones) do register (encode) not
>> just
>>> actions and not just consequences, but relations between actions and
>>> consequences, the feature of language that David is pointing at seems to
>> be
>>> also a feature of organic life in general. I find this thought
>> interesting
>>> if we are to think of language as an expression of biology/culture
>> identity.
>>> 
>>> I am laying this thought here without much knowledge of linguistics, but
>> I
>>> thought that this may resonate with what the discussion is unfolding,
>>> particularly the question on indexicals as per, for example, Greg's last
>>> comments. Does it?
>>> 
>>> Alfredo
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>> on behalf of Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>>> Sent: 08 May 2017 04:28
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Stuff of Words
>>> 
>>> The reason why I picked out icon/index/symbol of all the
>>> many firstness/secondness/thirdnesses Peirce offers us is
>>> that all the rest are found in Hegel and systematically
>>> elaborated there. But not icon/index/symbol. As you know
>>> Greg I am not one of those that think that The Phenomenology
>>> is the only book Hegel wrote, so I will refer you to the
>>> Science of Logic, chapter on the Concept (a.k.a. Notion).
>>> 
>>> Andy
>>> 
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Andy Blunden
>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>>> 
>>> On 8/05/2017 12:12 PM, Greg Thompson wrote:
>>>> Andy (and others),
>>>> 
>>>> I agree that Peirce seems a good complement to Hegel.
>>>> 
>>>> One interesting bit where there seems to be some overlap
>>>> is in Hegel's interest in what Silverstein calls, using
>>>> Peircean language, "referential indexicals" (these are
>>>> signs which have referential value but their referential
>>>> value is primarily indexical - pronouns are a classic
>>>> example, but see my next sentence for more examples). I
>>>> can't recall where I saw this in Hegel's writing but it
>>>> seems like he has a bit somewhere on "Here, This, Now" (as
>>>> translated). Do you recall where this is? Or what Hegel is
>>>> "up to" in that section? I've always wondered.
>>>> 
>>>> As mentioned above, Silverstein makes quite a bit of the
>>>> importance of referential indexicals in everyday talk. He
>>>> calls them the "skeleton" on which we hang the rest of
>>>> discourse (and without which, our discourse would be
>>>> meaningless). And closer to home, in Stanton Wortham's
>>>> essay Mapping Participant Deictics, Wortham makes the case
>>>> for the importance of mapping participant deictics in the
>>>> talk of a classroom. He argues that you can understand
>>>> quite a bit about the social structure of a classroom by
>>>> following how different participant deictics are deployed.
>>>> 
>>>> Anyway, back to Hegel, Andy, I'd be interested to hear
>>>> about Hegel and his Here, This, Now.
>>>> 
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> -greg
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> On Sun, May 7, 2017 at 6:32 PM, Andy Blunden
>>>> <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>    Oh Henry I don't see Peirce as Linguist. Only a
>>>>    Linguist would see Peirce as a Linguist, because they
>>>>    see everything as a branch of Linguistics. I see
>>>>    Peirce as a Philosopher. And he could claim to be
>>>>    utterly incapable of managing his own life as the
>>>>    foremost qualification for being a philosopher. Peirce
>>>>    was a Logician who invented two different schools of
>>>>    philosophy: Pragmatism and Semiotics.
>>>> 
>>>>    I value Peirce's Icon/Index/Symbol in particular
>>>>    because it is a logical triad which Hegel never
>>>>    theorised and it nicely complements Hegel helping us
>>>>    understand how Logic is in the world. For Peirce,
>>>>    Semiotics is something going on in Nature before it is
>>>>    acquired by human beings, which is an idea I
>>>>    appreciate. He is also worthy of praise for how he
>>>>    overcame all kinds of Dualism with both his Semiotics
>>>>    and his Pragmaticism.
>>>> 
>>>>    A total madman. A real Metaphysician,
>>>> 
>>>>    Andy
>>>> 
>>>>    ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>    Andy Blunden
>>>>    http://home.mira.net/~andy <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>
>>>>    http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-
>>> decision-making
>>>>    <http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-
>>> collective-decision-making>
>>>> 
>>>>    On 8/05/2017 3:22 AM, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>        David and Andy,
>>>>        I have seen Peirce’s categories firstness,
>>>>        secondness and thirdness on the chat before, and
>>>>        certainly you were part of that discussion. I
>>>>        would like to understand that better, also how it
>>>>        relates to the three categories of signs (iconic,
>>>>        indexical and symbolic). I have been reading your
>>>>        “Thinking of Feeling” piece and wonder how that
>>>>        might relate, which I hope so, since it would
>>>>        bring development into the mix. Also (sorry!),
>>>>        Andy’s Academia articles on political
>>>>        representation and activity/social theory are
>>>>        probably relevant in some way, though Andy
>>>>        probably sees language as a figure against a
>>>>        larger ground and a linguist (like Peirce) turns
>>>>        the figure/ground relationship around?
>>>>        Henry
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>            On May 5, 2017, at 4:01 PM, David Kellogg
>>>>            <dkellogg60@gmail.com
>>>>            <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>            Greg:
>>>> 
>>>>            (As usual, I don't see the problem. I usually
>>>>            don't see these problems
>>>>            until the tide is well and truly over my head.)
>>>> 
>>>>            Meaning is simply another word for
>>>>            organization. Organization is always
>>>>            present and never separable from matter: it's
>>>>            a property of matter, the way
>>>>            that the internet is a property of a computer.
>>>>            Sometimes this organization
>>>>            is brought about without any human
>>>>            intervention (if you are religious, you
>>>>            will say that it brought about divinely, and
>>>>            if you are Spinozan, by
>>>>            nature: it amounts to the same thing, because
>>>>            "Deus Sive Natura").
>>>>            Sometimes it is brought about by human
>>>>            ingenuity (but of course if you are
>>>>            religious you will say that it is the divine
>>>>            in humans at work, and if you
>>>>            are Spinozan you will say that humans are
>>>>            simply that part of nature which
>>>>            has become conscious of itself: once again, Ii
>>>>            think it amounts to the same
>>>>            thing). So of course there are not two kinds
>>>>            of substance, res cogitans vs
>>>>            res extensa, only one substance and different
>>>>            ways of organizing it (which
>>>>            in the end amount to the same thing).
>>>> 
>>>>            You say that discourse particles like "Guess
>>>>            what?" and "so there" and
>>>>            "because" and "irregardless" and "what you say
>>>>            to the contrary
>>>>            notwithstanding" are "indexical". I agree,
>>>>            insofar as they depend on their
>>>>            relationship to the context of situation for
>>>>            their meaning. You say that a
>>>>            Southern drawl is indexical, and that the
>>>>            relationship of jazz or blues or
>>>>            hiphop to blackness is indexical. I agree,
>>>>            insofar as they satisfy the
>>>>            condition I just mentioned. But "because" is
>>>>            also a symbol, and a
>>>>            Southerner still sounds like a Southerner when
>>>>            he/she moves to New York
>>>>            City (and in fact you can argue they sound
>>>>            more so). In Africa, jazz and
>>>>            blues and hiphop in Africa are related to
>>>>            Americanness and not to
>>>>            blackness.
>>>> 
>>>>            So your division of signs into just three
>>>>            categories is too simple, Greg.
>>>>            In fact, if you really read your Peirce, you
>>>>            will discover that there are
>>>>            tens of thousands of categories, but they are
>>>>            generated from three
>>>>            ineffable primitives ("firstness",
>>>>            "secondness", and "thirdness"). So for
>>>>            example all words are symbols insofar as you
>>>>            have to know English in order
>>>>            to understand "Guess what?" or "because". But
>>>>            some words are
>>>>            symbol-indices, symbols that function as
>>>>            indexes, because they depend
>>>>            on the context of situation for their meaning.
>>>>            Without the symbolic
>>>>            gateway, they cannot function as indices. My
>>>>            wife, for example, cannot tell
>>>>            a Southerner from a more general American
>>>>            accent, and I myself still have
>>>>            trouble figuring out who is an Australian and
>>>>            who is an FOB bloody pom.
>>>>            Similarly, my wife doesn't see the blackness
>>>>            in hiphop--it sounds like
>>>>            K-pop to her.
>>>> 
>>>>            I don't actually think that any signs are
>>>>            associative or "prehensive"; I
>>>>            think that they are all different ways of
>>>>            looking or apprehending. So for
>>>>            example you can apprehend a wording as a
>>>>            symbol: a way of organizing sound
>>>>            stuff so that it "stands for" a way of
>>>>            organizing other stuff (sometimes
>>>>            lunchboxes and backpacks, actual categories of
>>>>            objects and sometimes the
>>>>            abstract models-in-the-making that Andy calls
>>>>            "projects"). You can also
>>>>            look at wording as index: not as something
>>>>            that is "associated" to the lips
>>>>            and tongue by juxtaposition or proximity or
>>>>            even continguity but rather
>>>>            something that has a necessary relation to the
>>>>            vocal tract (which is itself
>>>>            not a physiological organ, but something
>>>>            brought about by human
>>>>            organization). But when I look at sound waves
>>>>            on my Praat spectrograph and
>>>>            think of the shelving sea, what I am trying to
>>>>            get at is the sound stuff,
>>>>            the noise, the firstness of the stuff of
>>>>            words. I'm not Cezanne: I don't
>>>>            think there is any way of doing this with my
>>>>            eyes or ears alone: I think it
>>>>            requires a very complex combination of tools
>>>>            and signs to get down to
>>>>            firstness. But as Spinoza would have said if
>>>>            he had breakfast with
>>>>            Bacon, the head and the hand are not much by
>>>>            themselves, but nobody
>>>>            has ever really shown the limits of what they
>>>>            can do when they put each
>>>>            other in order and start to organize the world
>>>>            around them.
>>>> 
>>>>            (And that is about as much philosophy as you
>>>>            are going to get out of me,
>>>>            I'm afraid. The tide is galloping in....)
>>>> 
>>>>            David Kellogg
>>>>            Macquarie University
>>>> 
>>>>            PS: What I am absolutely certain of is this:
>>>>            mediating activity is not
>>>>            absent in sign use, pace Alfredo or
>>>>            Wolff-Michael, but it is very different
>>>>            from mediating activity in tool use, for the
>>>>            same reason that painting is
>>>>            different from wording: in painting you CAN
>>>>            leave out the human (if you are
>>>>            doing a dead seal for example, or if you are
>>>>            Rothko or Jackson Pollack--but
>>>>            keep in mind that the former committed suicide
>>>>            and the latter murdered two
>>>>            innocent young women). But in wording you
>>>>            never ever can. Wording can feel
>>>>            unmediated--in fact it has to feel unmediated
>>>>            or it doesn't work very
>>>>            well--but in reality it's even more mediated
>>>>            than ever.
>>>> 
>>>>            dk
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>            On Sat, May 6, 2017 at 1:09 AM, Greg Thompson
>>>>            <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com
>>>>            <mailto:greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>>
>>>>            wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>                David (and others),
>>>> 
>>>>                In the interests of disagreement (which I
>>>>                know you dearly appreciate), your
>>>>                last post included this:
>>>>                "Words don't "cause" meaning: they provide
>>>>                material correlates for meaning
>>>>                and in that sense "realise" them as matter."
>>>> 
>>>>                I was with you up until that point, but
>>>>                that's where I always lose you.
>>>> 
>>>>                I know it is a rather trite thing to say
>>>>                but I guess it really depends on
>>>>                what you mean by "meaning". If by meaning,
>>>>                you mean some plane of existence
>>>>                that runs parallel to the material stuff,
>>>>                then this seems to be a bit of
>>>>                trouble since this leaves us with, on the
>>>>                one hand, "matter" (res extensa?
>>>>                noumena?), and on the other hand "meaning"
>>>>                (res cogitans? phenomena?).
>>>>                Matter is easy enough to locate, but where
>>>>                do we locate "meaning" as you
>>>>                have described it?
>>>> 
>>>>                This reminds me of Saussure's classic
>>>>                drawing on p. 112 of his Cours
>>>>                (attached) in which "the indefinite plane
>>>>                of jumbled ideas" (A in the
>>>>                diagram) exists on one side of the chasm
>>>>                and "the equally vague plane of
>>>>                sounds" (B) exists on the other side of
>>>>                the chasm. Each side is
>>>>                self-contained and self-referential, and
>>>>                never the twain shall meet. Worlds
>>>>                apart.
>>>> 
>>>>                And this ties to the conversation in the
>>>>                other thread about the
>>>>                ineffability of meaning (as well as Andy's
>>>>                Marx quote about a science of
>>>>                language that is shorn from life). My
>>>>                suspicion is that this supposed
>>>>                ineffability of meaning has everything to
>>>>                do with this Saussurean approach
>>>>                to semiotics (i.e., meaningfulness).
>>>> 
>>>>                Peirce's triadic view of the sign offers a
>>>>                different approach that may give
>>>>                a way out of this trouble by putting the
>>>>                word back INto the world. (p. 102
>>>>                of the attached Logic as Semiotic).
>>>> 
>>>>                Peirce offers three kinds of relations of
>>>>                representamen (signifier) to
>>>>                object: iconic, indexical, and symbolic.
>>>>                The symbol is the relation with
>>>>                which we are most familiar - it is the one
>>>>                that Saussure speaks of and is
>>>>                the one that is ineffable or, in
>>>>                Saussure's words, "arbitrary", i.e.
>>>>                "conventional". It is the stuff of words,
>>>>                the meaning of which is found in
>>>>                other words (hence the sense of
>>>>                ineffability). With only the symbolic
>>>>                function, the whole world of words would
>>>>                be entirely self-referential and
>>>>                thus truly ineffable (and this is why I
>>>>                like to say that Derrida is the end
>>>>                of the Saussurean road - he took that idea
>>>>                to its logical conclusion and
>>>>                discovered that the meaning of meaning is,
>>>>                well, empty (and thus
>>>>                ineffable)).
>>>> 
>>>>                But Peirce has two other relations of
>>>>                representamen to object, the iconic
>>>>                and the indexical. In signs functioning
>>>>                iconically, the representamen
>>>>                contains some quality of the object that
>>>>                it represents (e.g., a map that
>>>>                holds relations of the space that it
>>>>                represents or onomatopoeia like "buzz"
>>>>                in which the representamen has some of the
>>>>                qualities of the sound of the
>>>>                bee flying by). With signs functioning
>>>>                indexically, the relationship of
>>>>                representamen to object is one of temporal
>>>>                or spatial contiguity (e.g.,
>>>>                where there is smoke there is fire, or
>>>>                where there is a Southern twang,
>>>>                there is a Southerner, or, most
>>>>                classically, when I point, the object to
>>>>                which I am pointing is spatially
>>>>                contiguous with the finger that is
>>>>                pointing).
>>>> 
>>>>                Now if I follow the argument of another of
>>>>                the inheritors of Roman
>>>>                Jakobson's legacy, Michael Silverstein
>>>>                (yes, Hasan and Halliday weren't the
>>>>                only inheritors of this tradition -
>>>>                Michael was a student of Jakobson's at
>>>>                Harvard... and he does a great impression
>>>>                of Jacobson too), then we can
>>>>                indeed locate a ground of the word (i.e.,
>>>>                the symbolic function) in the
>>>>                more primitive (i.e., rudimentary)
>>>>                indexical function.
>>>> 
>>>>                But that argument is always a bit too much
>>>>                for me (if there are any takers,
>>>>                the best place to find this argument is in
>>>>                Silverstein's chapter
>>>>                "Metapragmatic Discourse, Metapragmatic
>>>>                Function," or in less explicit but
>>>>                slightly more understandable article
>>>>                "Indexical Order and the Dialectics of
>>>>                Sociolinguistics Life").
>>>> 
>>>>                Vygotsky's argument is quite a bit more
>>>>                elegant and comprehensible: in
>>>>                ontogeny meaningfulness begins with the
>>>>                index, first as the index par
>>>>                excellence, pointing (something that, as
>>>>                Andy has previously pointed out,
>>>>                might not be exactly how things go in a
>>>>                literal sense, but the general
>>>>                structure here works well, I think, as a
>>>>                heuristic if nothing else - words
>>>>                are first learned as indexes, temporally
>>>>                and spatially collocated, "bottle"
>>>>                is first uttered as a way of saying
>>>>                "thirsty" and then later to refer to a
>>>>                co-present object; note this is also why
>>>>                young kids get discourse markers
>>>>                at such a young age (and seems incredibly
>>>>                precocious when they do!), since
>>>>                discourse markers are primarily
>>>>                indexical). The indexical function is the
>>>>                rudimentary form that then provides the
>>>>                groundwork for the development of
>>>>                the symbolic function.
>>>> 
>>>>                So then, in this Peircean(Vygotskian)
>>>>                approach, the meaning of signs is not
>>>>                ineffable, there is a grounding for words,
>>>>                and that grounding is the
>>>>                indexical, the "word"/sign that is both in
>>>>                the world and of the world.
>>>> 
>>>>                This seems to me a way of putting meaning
>>>>                back into matter. And perhaps
>>>>                speaking of words as the material
>>>>                correlates of meaning can be a useful
>>>>                heuristic (i.e., how else can we talk
>>>>                about meanings and concepts given our
>>>>                current set of meanings/concepts?). But we
>>>>                should also recognize that if it
>>>>                becomes more than an heuristic it can lead
>>>>                us astray if we take it too far.
>>>> 
>>>>                I'd add here that I think one of the
>>>>                greatest opportunities for CHAT to
>>>>                make a contribution to social science
>>>>                today is in its conceptualization of
>>>>                "concepts" (and, by extension,
>>>>                "meaningfulness"). I think that perhaps one
>>>>                of the most taken-for-granted aspects of
>>>>                social science today is the idea
>>>>                that we know what "concepts" are. In
>>>>                anthropology, people easily talk about
>>>>                "cultural concepts" and typically they
>>>>                mean precisely something that floats
>>>>                around in some ethereal plane of
>>>>                "meaningfulness" and which is not of the
>>>>                material stuff of the world. Yet, this
>>>>                runs counter to the direction that
>>>>                anthropology is heading these days with
>>>>                the so-called "ontological turn"
>>>>                (I'll hold off on explaining this for now
>>>>                since this post is already
>>>>                running way too long, but I'll just
>>>>                mention that one of the aims of this is
>>>>                to get to a non-dualistic social science).
>>>>                CHAT's conception of the concept
>>>>                seems to me to offer precisely what is
>>>>                needed -- a way of understanding the
>>>>                concept as a fundamentally cultural and
>>>>                historical thing, rather than
>>>>                simply as an "ideal" thing. The concept is
>>>>                the holding of a(n historical)
>>>>                relation across time (cf. Hebb's synapse
>>>>                or Peirce's sunflower). Concepts
>>>>                are thus little historical text-lets.
>>>> 
>>>>                Okay, that was too much. Perhaps I will
>>>>                find some time in the future to
>>>>                return to that last part, but there is no
>>>>                time to develop it further now.
>>>> 
>>>>                Anyway, I'm glad that I finally had the
>>>>                opportunity to catch up to these
>>>>                conversations. Delightful reading/thinking.
>>>> 
>>>>                I'll keep reading but no promises that
>>>>                I'll be able to comment (as a young
>>>>                scholar, I need to be spending my time
>>>>                putting stuff out - and unlike the
>>>>                rest of you, I'm no good at
>>>>                multi-tasking... it's either one or the other
>>>>                for me).
>>>> 
>>>>                Very best,
>>>>                greg
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>                On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 4:18 PM, David
>>>>                Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com
>>>>                <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com>>
>>>>                wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>                    Well, yes. But if present day
>>>>                    conditions are the REVERSE of the
>>>> 
>>>>                conditions
>>>> 
>>>>                    under which Vygotsky was writing--that
>>>>                    is, if the present trend is to
>>>>                    subsume labor under language instead
>>>>                    of the other way around--don't we
>>>> 
>>>>                need
>>>> 
>>>>                    this distinction between signs and
>>>>                    tools more than ever? That is, if
>>>> 
>>>>                sloppy
>>>> 
>>>>                    formulations like "cultural capital",
>>>>                    "symbolic violence", "use/exchange
>>>>                    value of the word" are erasing the
>>>>                    distinction between a mediating
>>>> 
>>>>                activity
>>>> 
>>>>                    which acts on the environment and a
>>>>                    mediating activity which acts on
>>>> 
>>>>                other
>>>> 
>>>>                    mediators and on the self, and which
>>>>                    therefore has the potential for
>>>>                    reciprocity and recursion, isn't this
>>>>                    exactly where the clear-eyed
>>>>                    philosophers need to step in and
>>>>                    straighten us out?
>>>> 
>>>>                    I think that instead what is happening
>>>>                    is that our older generation
>>>>                    of rheumy-eyed philosophers (present
>>>>                    company--usually--excluded) are too
>>>>                    interested in the "tool power" of
>>>>                    large categories and insufficiently
>>>>                    interested in fine distinctions that
>>>>                    make a difference. But perhaps it
>>>>                    is also that our younger generation of
>>>>                    misty-eyed philosophers are, as
>>>>                    Eagleton remarked, more interested in
>>>>                    copulating bodies than exploited
>>>>                    ones. Yet these fine distinctions that
>>>>                    do make a difference equally allow
>>>>                    generalization and abstraction and
>>>>                    tool power, and the copulating flesh
>>>> 
>>>>                and
>>>> 
>>>>                    the exploited muscles are one and the
>>>>                    same.
>>>> 
>>>>                    Take, for example, your remark about
>>>>                    the Fourier transform performed by
>>>> 
>>>>                the
>>>> 
>>>>                    ear (not the brain--the inner ear
>>>>                    cochlea--I can see the world centre for
>>>>                    studying the cochlea from my office
>>>>                    window). Actually, it's part of a
>>>> 
>>>>                wide
>>>> 
>>>>                    range of "realisation" phenomena that
>>>>                    were already being noticed by
>>>>                    Vygotsky. In realisational phenomena,
>>>>                    you don't have cause and effect,
>>>> 
>>>>                just
>>>> 
>>>>                    as in cause and effect you don't have
>>>>                    "association". Words don't "cause"
>>>>                    meaning: they provide material
>>>>                    correlates for meaning and in that sense
>>>>                    "realise" them as matter. Meaning does
>>>>                    not "cause" wording; it correlates
>>>>                    wording to a semantics--an activity of
>>>>                    consciousness--and through it to a
>>>>                    context of situation or culture, and
>>>>                    in that sense "realises" it.
>>>> 
>>>>                    So in his lecture on early childhood,
>>>>                    Vygotsky says that the
>>>> 
>>>>                stabilization
>>>> 
>>>>                    of forms, colours, and sizes by the
>>>>                    eye in early childhood is part of a
>>>> 
>>>>                two
>>>> 
>>>>                    way relationship, a dialogue, between
>>>>                    the sense organs and the brain. The
>>>>                    reason why we don't see a table as a
>>>>                    trapezoid, when we stand over it and
>>>>                    compare the front with the back, the
>>>>                    reason why we don't see a piece of
>>>>                    chalk at nighttime as black, the
>>>>                    reason why we have orthoscopic
>>>> 
>>>>                perception
>>>> 
>>>>                    and we don't see a man at a distance
>>>>                    as a looming midget is that the
>>>> 
>>>>                brain
>>>> 
>>>>                    imposes the contrary views on the eye.
>>>>                    And where does the brain get this
>>>>                    view if not from language and from
>>>>                    other people?
>>>> 
>>>>                    David Kellogg
>>>>                    Macquarie University
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>                    On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 11:55 AM, Andy
>>>>                    Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>>>>                    <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>                        Personally, I think the first and
>>>>                        most persistently important thing is
>>>> 
>>>>                to
>>>> 
>>>>                        see how much alike are tables and
>>>>                        words.
>>>> 
>>>>                        But ... Vygotsky was very
>>>>                        insistent on the distinction
>>>>                        because he was
>>>>                        fighting a battle against the idea
>>>>                        that speech ought to be subsumed
>>>> 
>>>>                under
>>>> 
>>>>                        the larger category of labour. He
>>>>                        had to fight for semiotics against a
>>>>                        vulgar kind of orthodox Marxism.
>>>>                        But we here in 2017 are living in
>>>>                        different times, where we have
>>>>                        Discourse Theory and Linguistics while
>>>>                        Marxism is widely regarded as
>>>>                        antique. As Marx said "Just as
>>>> 
>>>>                philosophers
>>>> 
>>>>                        have given thought an independent
>>>>                        existence, so they were bound to make
>>>>                        language into an independent
>>>>                        realm." and we live well and truly
>>>>                        in the
>>>>                        times when labour is subsumed
>>>>                        under language, and not the other way
>>>> 
>>>>                    around.
>>>> 
>>>>                        Everyone knows that a table is
>>>>                        unlike a word. The point it to
>>>> 
>>>>                understand
>>>> 
>>>>                        how tables are signs and word are
>>>>                        material objects.
>>>> 
>>>>                        Andy
>>>> 
>>>>                        (BTW David, back in 1986 I walked
>>>>                        in an offshoot of the bionic ear
>>>>                        project. The ear has a little
>>>>                        keyboard that works like a piano
>>>>                        keyboard
>>>> 
>>>>                    in
>>>> 
>>>>                        reverse, making a real time
>>>>                        Fourier transform of that air
>>>>                        pressure wave
>>>> 
>>>>                    and
>>>> 
>>>>                        coding the harmonics it in nerve
>>>>                        impulse. The brain never hears that
>>>>                        pressure signal.)
>>>> 
>>>>                        ------------------------------
>>> ------------------------------
>>>>                        Andy Blunden
>>>>                        http://home.mira.net/~andy
>>>>                        <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>
>>>>                        http://www.brill.com/products/
>>> book/origins-collective-decision-making
>>>>                        <http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-
>>> collective-decision-making>
>>>>                        On 3/05/2017 7:06 AM, Alfredo
>>>>                        Jornet Gil wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>                            David (and or Mike, Andy,
>>>>                            anyone else), could you give a
>>>>                            bit more on
>>>> 
>>>>                    that
>>>> 
>>>>                            distinction between words and
>>>>                            tables?
>>>> 
>>>>                            And could you say how (and
>>>>                            whether) (human, hand) nails
>>>>                            are different
>>>>                            from tables; and then how
>>>>                            nails are different from words?
>>>> 
>>>>                            Alfredo
>>>>                            ________________________________________
>>>>                            From:
>>>>                            xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>>>                            <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
>>>>                            <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.
>>>> 
>>>>                edu>
>>>> 
>>>>                            on behalf of David Kellogg
>>>>                            <dkellogg60@gmail.com
>>>>                            <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com>>
>>>>                            Sent: 01 May 2017 08:43
>>>>                            To: eXtended Mind, Culture,
>>>>                            Activity
>>>>                            Subject: [Xmca-l]  The Stuff
>>>>                            of Words
>>>> 
>>>>                            Gordon Wells quotes this from
>>>>                            an article Mike wrote in a
>>>>                            Festschrift
>>>> 
>>>>                for
>>>> 
>>>>                            George Miller. Mike is talking
>>>>                            about artefacts:
>>>> 
>>>>                            "They are ideal in that they
>>>>                            contain in coded form the
>>>>                            interactions of
>>>>                            which they
>>>>                            were previously a part and
>>>>                            which they mediate in the
>>>>                            present (e.g.,
>>>> 
>>>>                the
>>>> 
>>>>                            structure of
>>>>                            a pencil carries within it the
>>>>                            history of certain forms of
>>>>                            writing).
>>>> 
>>>>                    They
>>>> 
>>>>                            are material
>>>>                            in that they are embodied in
>>>>                            material artifacts. This principle
>>>> 
>>>>                applies
>>>> 
>>>>                            with equal
>>>>                            force whether one is
>>>>                            considering language/speech or
>>>>                            the more usually
>>>> 
>>>>                    noted
>>>> 
>>>>                            forms
>>>>                            of artifacts such as tables
>>>>                            and knives which constitute
>>>>                            material
>>>> 
>>>>                    culture.
>>>> 
>>>>                            What
>>>>                            differentiates a word, such as
>>>>                            “language” from, say, a table.
>>>>                            is the
>>>>                            relative prominence
>>>>                            of their material and ideal
>>>>                            aspects. No word exists apart
>>>>                            from its
>>>>                            material
>>>>                            instantiation (as a
>>>>                            configuration of sound waves,
>>>>                            or hand movements,
>>>> 
>>>>                or
>>>> 
>>>>                    as
>>>> 
>>>>                            writing,
>>>>                            or as neuronal activity),
>>>>                            whereas every table embodies
>>>>                            an order
>>>> 
>>>>                imposed
>>>> 
>>>>                    by
>>>> 
>>>>                            thinking
>>>>                            human beings."
>>>> 
>>>>                            This is the kind of thing that
>>>>                            regularly gets me thrown out of
>>>> 
>>>>                journals
>>>> 
>>>>                    by
>>>> 
>>>>                            the ear. Mike says that the
>>>>                            difference between a word and
>>>>                            a table is
>>>> 
>>>>                the
>>>> 
>>>>                            relative salience of the ideal
>>>>                            and the material. Sure--words
>>>>                            are full
>>>> 
>>>>                of
>>>> 
>>>>                            the ideal, and tables are full
>>>>                            of material. Right?
>>>> 
>>>>                            Nope. Mike says it's the other
>>>>                            way around. Why? Well, because
>>>>                            a word
>>>>                            without some word-stuff (sound
>>>>                            or graphite) just isn't a
>>>>                            word. In a
>>>>                            word, meaning is solidary with
>>>>                            material sounding: change one,
>>>>                            and you
>>>>                            change the other. But with a
>>>>                            table, what you start with is
>>>>                            the idea of
>>>> 
>>>>                    the
>>>> 
>>>>                            table; as soon as you've got
>>>>                            that idea, you've got a table.
>>>>                            You could
>>>>                            change the material to
>>>>                            anything and you'd still have
>>>>                            a table.
>>>> 
>>>>                            Wells doesn't throw Mike out
>>>>                            by the ear. But he does ignore the
>>>> 
>>>>                    delightful
>>>> 
>>>>                            perversity in what Mike is
>>>>                            saying, and what he gets out
>>>>                            of the quote
>>>> 
>>>>                is
>>>> 
>>>>                            just that words are really
>>>>                            just like tools. When in fact
>>>>                            Mike is
>>>> 
>>>>                saying
>>>> 
>>>>                            just the opposite.
>>>> 
>>>>                            (The part I don't get is
>>>>                            Mike's notion that the
>>>>                            structure of a pencil
>>>>                            carries within it the history
>>>>                            of certain forms of writing.
>>>>                            Does he
>>>> 
>>>>                mean
>>>> 
>>>>                            that the length of the pencil
>>>>                            reflects how often it's been
>>>>                            used? Or is
>>>> 
>>>>                    he
>>>> 
>>>>                            making a more archaeological
>>>>                            point about graphite, wood,
>>>>                            rubber and
>>>> 
>>>>                    their
>>>> 
>>>>                            relationship to a certain
>>>>                            point in the history of
>>>>                            writing and erasing?
>>>>                            Actually, pencils are more
>>>>                            like tables than like
>>>>                            words--the idea has
>>>> 
>>>>                to
>>>> 
>>>>                            come first.)
>>>> 
>>>>                            David Kellogg
>>>>                            Macquarie University
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>>                --
>>>>                Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>>>                Assistant Professor
>>>>                Department of Anthropology
>>>>                880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>>>                Brigham Young University
>>>>                Provo, UT 84602
>>>>                http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>>>>                <http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson>
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> --
>>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>>> Assistant Professor
>>>> Department of Anthropology
>>>> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>>> Brigham Young University
>>>> Provo, UT 84602
>>>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>>> 
>>> 
>> 
>>