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

From: David Preiss (
Date: Thu Mar 24 2005 - 06:13:20 PST

After reviewing the thread I am not sure whether we are talking here of
destruction as thanatos or of as a restructuring of cognitive schemata.
It was in the latter sense, I was implying one can read the work of the
good developmentalists as taking destruction into account. In Piaget,
there is no growth without a change in cognitive schemas (or
epistemologies, if you want). In Vygotsky, there is no development
without sociocultural learning, that is, adoption of tools with a the
power to restructure thought (such as in the case of literacy). Siegler
has made a call to go beyond a cohort mentality in his book Emerging
Minds, although he is critical of both Piaget and Vygotsky as they would
not provide a clear explanation of change (for him). If we are talking
about destruction as the transformation of the way we see things in the
world and society, though, I think we can read the work of these three
guys as providing alternative accounts.
What do you think?

David Preiss
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile:
PACE Center at Yale University:
Phone: 56-2-3547174
Fax: 56-2-354-4844

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Cole []
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 9:21 PM
Subject: Re: foucault on slavery and politics --Psych/physical tools?


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

On Wed, 23 Mar 2005 15:32:11 -0800, IRAJ IMAM <>
> 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
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --
> -
> Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile:
> PACE Center at Yale University:
> Homepage:
> Phone: 56-2-3547174
> Fax: 56-2-354-4844
> E-mail:,
> -----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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