Re: foucault on slavery and politics --Psych/physical tools?

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Wed Mar 23 2005 - 17:20:59 PST


What gets destroyed in a Piagetian account? In a Vygotskian account?
In Siegler's account? What is lost?

On Wed, 23 Mar 2005 15:32:11 -0800, IRAJ IMAM <> wrote:
> David,
> Having personal interest in learning and developing theories, I am not
> qualified to say "if the issue of destruction has been quite well
> addressed." I take your word for it. I know in other fields it is not the
> case.
> In general, my interest is in evaluating kinds of social changes that occur
> in the field of human services (programs, clients, funders, community).
> Evaluation being a kind of 'learning' practices that can generate useful
> local knowledge to assist program development (rather than its dominant role
> as data collection police in 'performance management', 'best practices', and
> other disciplining technologies used by a centralized power).
> Destructive power as a force is more seen having a negative function for its
> shifting effects, rather than theorizing the utility of it. Obviously, any
> destructive force, for its shifting effects, comes with a political
> authority that legitimates both its use and effects. Put differently, there
> is a need for a sovereign to say "this destruction is good for you."
> iraj
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Preiss []
> Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 5:30 AM
> To:
> Subject: RE: foucault on slavery and politics --Psych/physical tools?
> Iraj,
> I think that the reference to learning is very interesting. But my
> intuition runs in the opposite way. It seems to me that all the great
> and insightfull developmentalists have made of change the main topic of
> their research and have challenged the classic cohort kind studies and
> their experimental versions of it (the kind of studies that say 5.3
> monts babys do this which 5.2 months babys could not). Vygotsky
> addressed the issue of change via the concept of ZPD. Piaget through the
> problem of cognitive adaptation (the dialectic between assimilation and
> accomodation), Bruner has made of socialization a tool of cognitive
> change as has done Nelson. So has done Siegler through his mycrogenetic
> studies. So, I think the issue of destruction has been quite well
> addressed.
> David
> David Preiss
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: IRAJ IMAM []
> Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2005 5:15 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: foucault on slavery and politics --Psych/physical tools?
> "This is also related to Yrjo's idea of development as "breakikng away."
> There is a real dialectical dilema ... One the one hand, a newborn is
> helpless and must be "enculturated" ... but in order for there to be
> adaptive/transformative change,... there must be creation of the new, a
> "going beyond" that destroys at least part of what nurtured it."
> Mike, I am not familiar with Yrjo's idea. But one utility of a paradox
> is that it forces us to think about its contradictory process, from
> which an outcome emerges. As you show, learning involves both production
> (of something new) and destruction (of something old). Not knowing much
> about learning theories, there seems to be much more attention being
> paid to the production side of the learning and not much to the
> destruction side (there is a similar mapping in spatial and economic
> theories). Put differently, the 'value' of destruction is under
> estimated in the process of change. How do you teach people to "break
> away?"(perhaps military training/learning is an exception. They make it
> clear from the beginning that this is not home or school, forget what
> you know, you know nothing, we teach you the real stuff). And that is an
> example of someone else is destroying something in us, in order to plant
> his. Is there a self-determined model of destruction in learning? Does
> ZPD provide a space for it?
> On the production side for innovation, Nonaka suggests an interesting
> model for new knowledge production and adult/organizational learning
> (based on innovative companies in Japan and the US).
> He seems to suggest a sort of ZPD for nurturing newborn ideas. Using
> Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida, he suggests one must provide "ba"
> --a shared and caring space--for the new ideas to develop from tacit
> forms of knowledge to explicit ones.
> iraj
> Perhaps we need to add Freud and Luke Skywalker to the discussion? (A
> thought brought about by another of my kin, the 6 year old variety).
> mike
> On Tue, 22 Mar 2005 09:56:24 -0800, IRAJ IMAM <>
> wrote:
> >
> >
> > "a stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true
> > politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of thier own
> > ideas....this link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what
> > it is made and we believe it to be our own work."
> >
> > -----
> > Thanks Mike for sharing.
> >
> > This is a good example of utilizing [your] categories of 'physical'
> > and 'psychological' tools, and evaluating their effectiveness from the
> > stand point of ruling over people. Two social technologies of control:
> > Capture their body by physical force and assuming that the mind is
> > captured too
> (eg,
> > use of torture). Or, capturing their minds and assuming that their
> > bodies will follow (eg, advertisements/propaganda of all sorts). In
> > fact, all social spaces use both technologies.
> >
> > Looking at it spatially, the question becomes 'where' to start--from
> > the physical/real space or the virtual/imagined space of people. Since
> > both spaces are interconnected in our activities, the question then
> > becomes
> about
> > learning (and performing). Perhaps similar 'learning' targets and
> > social technologies are involved in empowering and in enslaving.
> >
> > One tends to destroy the old learning and produce a new one in an
> empowering
> > social space. The other also tends to destroy the existing and
> substituting
> > it with a new learning. the difference is the former is open and
> > reflective--thus empowering and self-determined. The other has to
> > remain seductive, hidden, and must produce a deceptive space in order
> > to work.
> But
> > it needs to produce two spaces: one that appears self-determined to
> > the 'user' while the other is producing a captured (but hidden) social
> > space (eg, The Matrix).
> >
> > This just seemed related to the prior discussion about
> > 'empowering/enslaving' learning spaces in classrooms.
> >
> > iraj imam
> >
> > The Center for Applied Local Research
> > 5200 Huntington Ave., Suite 200 Richmond, CA 94804
> > Telephone: (510) 558-7932 FAX: (510) 558-7940
> > e-mail:
> > Web:
> >
> > "The defence of free speech begins at the point when people say
> > something you can't stand. If you can't defend their right to say it,
> > then you don't believe in free speech." Salman Rushdie, 7/2/2005
> >
> >

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