Re: [xmca] LCA-- transparency

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Sun Jul 03 2005 - 07:10:19 PDT

Hi Mike and all,
I am re-reading Leont'ev, and he says some interesting things about
those examples we were tossing around--I had completely forgotten about
all of this. He writes about the physician probing for a bullet in the
body of the patient:

p. 37:
the end of the probe with which he
touches the bullet appears to be “sensitive” - that is, his sensing
seems to be
paradoxically mixed in with the world of external things and not
localized at
the boundary “probe-hand” but at the boundary “probe-perceived object”
(the bullet). The same thing happens in any other analogical situation,
instance, when we perceive the roughness of the paper with the tip of a
sharp pen, find a road in the dark with the help of a cane, etc.

So the sensing happens at the end of the probe, just as the blind
person senses the street with the end of the cane (see also Bateson, my
comments about sensing the road with the end of the wheel)--If it
appears as if the boundary between myself and the object is at the end
of the probe, cane, tire, then these stand in the same relationship to
me as my finger that moves about to touch and sense the roughness of
the paper, road, bullet, etc.

The upshot is this: We call the hand a mediating tool; or, in expert
use, some tools are extensions of ourselves that do not (in
consciousness) mediate what we do. But this is a dualistic
description--the hand both mediates and is part of the subject, just as
psychic reality is part of the subject and mediating its activity


On 2-Jul-05, at 10:45 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

> 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:
>> 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
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > xmca mailing list
>> >
>> >

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