Re: [xmca] LCA-- transparency

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Sat Jul 02 2005 - 13:52:50 PDT

The analogy of transparency brings out that something is being used but
not attended to

Heidegger writes:
"Association geared to useful things which show themselves genuinely
only in this association, that is, hammering with the hammer, neither
*grasps* these being thematically as occurring things nor does it even
know of using or the structure of useful things as such" (p.69)
"The less we stare at the thing called hammer, the more actively we use
it . . ." (p. 69)

This is the same experience we have with eyeglasses. . . and I use this
analogy to talk about tools that become part of the person. . .

The term transparency is often used in the context of tools that do not
draw attention to themselves

I do note that the term is also used to denote processes that are
easily understandable, because one can "look through" (durchschauen,
German for understanding, durchschaubar, intelligible)


On 2-Jul-05, at 11:54 AM, Ed Wall wrote:

> This is not an answer to Mike's questions, but some questions and
> comments of my own.
> Questions re the word concrete. This comes, it seems, from the
> Latin concretus which means roughly grown together and, perhaps,
> carries the sense of adhering to practice (this is against abstructus
> which means roughly drawing apart or alienation). [I am not sure, by
> the way, what the Greek notion of concrete might be as regards
> something like practice.] So my questions: Do people mean something
> like this when they speak in English of concrete or abstract (I am
> never sure)? Do words that correspond to 'concrete' in Russian carry
> roughly the same connotations. How about abstract?
> Comments: I am not sure about the idea of transparent as that seems
> to connote looking (feeling, etc. ) through something. My reading of
> Heidegger, especially Being and Time, is that this is not what he is
> indicating. One doesn't look through the hammer to the nail, the
> hammer is part of the hammering as is the floor on which one stands,
> the lighting in the room, or the shirt on one's back. Hammering done
> competently is, in a sense, concrete. Something grown together with
> all the other. If the hammer head falls off while hammering, then
> there is a drawing apart. Abstraction, so to speak, occurs.
> It isn't that the metaphor of transparent doesn't bring some things
> into view (sorry, but I couldn't think of another way to say it), but
> how about seeing around something or behind something, through some
> opaque (or moderately opaque) something, etc (Hubert Dreyfus and some
> others re Merleau-Ponty talk about this)?
> Ed Wall
>> If the journal is online, I will read with interest and if it is not,
>> might you provide a pdf,
>> Michael?
>> I was starting from the cane and hammer examples, for which the
>> glasses metaphor does
>> not work well, at least for me.
>> When the blind man picks up the cane, it is not transparent and the
>> mind, in Bateson's rendering of the
>> discussion, stops at the fingers and palm of the hand. But with
>> habitual use, the "mind" or the "mind's eye"
>> moves to the end of the stick, to the sidewalk at its tip, and then
>> even further outward when walking on a
>> habitual path.... I can find an electronic version of the example if
>> it is not familiar. I would need to go to
>> the library to get Heiddeger.
>> What is it that makes the stick, as it were, become transparent, or
>> the handle of the hammer? Or, in the
>> case of the spike, that it is "seen through" to its source?
>> mike
>> On 7/2/05, Wolff-Michael Roth <<>>
>> wrote:
>> Hi Mike and others,
>> I used the word "transparent" in analogy to glasses that I wear and
>> that I do not notice. That is, in my practice, it is as if I was not
>> wearing these glasses, I am looking right through, they are
>> transparent. In the article where I develop this argument, I provide
>> an
>> example of a water technician who points to a spike on the graph and
>> says, "This is a clogged pipe". Of course, what she is pointing to is
>> not a clogged pipe, but an index pointing to the clogged pipe. In her
>> practice, therefore, she looks right through the spike and sees the
>> world, as if it was a pair of glasses allowing her to see the world.
>> I compare this to the infamous painting "This is not a pipe" by Rene
>> Magritte, and the analysis Foucault provided of it in "This is not a
>> pipe". ([drawing of a pipe for smoking] captioned "Ceci n'est pas une
>> pipe")
>> I also describe how the signs become transparent, after being the
>> object of inquiry initially, then become tools for analysis, and then
>> disappear, seemingly. I use triangle notations to show the movement of
>> the graphs (signs) in the process.
>> Roth, W.-M. (2003). Competent workplace mathematics: How signs become
>> transparent in use. International
>> Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 8(3), 161-189.
>> By the way, I started out trying to make a case for Ricardo
>> Nemirovsky's concept of fusion, but didn't get anywhere . . .
>> Michael
>> On 2-Jul-05, at 10:27 AM, Mike Cole wrote:
>>> An extra long wait on the tarmac in New York heading home gave me
>>> plenty of time to read the interesting articles
>>> by Wells, Halliday, and Hasan in preparation for participating in
>>> the
>>> discussion. But first I have started to read sequentially
>>> through the messages and want to pick up on some earlier points.
>>> A comnment from wolf-michael in the signs and tools discussion
>>> touches on an issue of great interest to me. Transparency.
>>> Here is the statement that set me off.
>>> one more comment--if a tool such a cane or hammer is transparent in
>>> use, then it is similar to my tongue or my arm or my leg, it is part
>>> of
>>> me and the world begins on the other end.
>>> Question: what are the conditions that produce transparency? Is
>>> there
>>> a consensual answer to this question?
>>> mike
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