Thanks, Michael, for a copy of your paper which takes the discussion in a
direction I did not anticipate on the basis of your note.
Here are some reactions and indications of why I think it relevant to the
Speaking of seeing "through" a graph to what the graph represents, Michael
This has an equivalent in visual perception. Although there are specks on my
glasses, I frequently do
not experience them in my perception; I have adapted to their presence and
see as if they did not exist.
This phenomenon applied to signs and referents is referred to as fusion or
transparency, and in prior
discussion is linked to blind man and his cane or a person using a hammer.
The blind man metaphor a la Bateson (from Cole, *Cultural Psychology*,
Gregory Bateson (1972) highlights the way in which mind is constituted
through human activity involving cycles of transformations between "inside"
and "outside" that are very reminiscent of Pepper's writing. "Obviously,"
Bateson writes, "there are lots of message pathways outside the skin, and
these and the messages which they carry must be included as a part of the
mental system *whenever they are relevant*." (p. 458, emphases added). He
then proposed the following thought experiment:
Suppose I am a blind man, and I use a stick. I go tap, tap, tap. Where do I
start? Is my mental system bounded at the hand of the stick? Is it bounded
by my skin? Does it start halfway up the stick? Does it start at the tip of
the stick (p. 459)?
Michael relates the shift from separation of sign and referent, or
non-transparent to transparent to the shift from action to operation. Seems
reasonable. But, exactly, is the nature of this process?
Bateson would relate it to a "difference that makes a difference." I have
been thinking about this problem in a somewhat different context that
relates the gradual appearance of transparency or fusion to forms of
coordination. I think this might be relevant to thinking about
transformations between actions and operations in the way that Michael
suggests but I am still gnawing at that bone. Some of the implications I
have drawn from this phenomenon, which relate to the fact that our own
culture is often invisible to us, e.g. transparent, can be found at
in the article by Cole and Levitin.
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