Re: [xmca] LCA-- transparency

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon Jul 04 2005 - 11:07:43 PDT

Sasha-- When the blind man picks up the stick it is not yet an object and it
is not yet transparent and according to Bateson's interpretation,
the mind ends at the fingertips that are feeling the stick. Only when it is
in habitual use in an enviroment does it become transparent such that
"mind" now extends to its tip.

It seems that within a Vygotskian framework transparency might be the
equivalent of "thoroughly internalized" and in AT terms, it has become,
as Michael R, Ed (I think) and others have called an operation.

On 7/3/05, Alexander Surmava <> wrote:
> Hi Mike and All,
> There is another way to explain the phenomenon of transparency of a tool.
> If we are proceeding from the Ilyenkov-Spinozian understanding of thinking
> as the mode of action of the so-called "thinking body". (The alternative to
> this Spinozian approach are the countless attempts to understand thinking as
> manipulation with conventional signs or symbols. L.S.Vygotsky itself
> balanced on the edge of two above mentioned approaches. The drama of his
> theoretic search turns quite clear as well as designing from this point of
> view.)
> "The cardinal distinction between the mode of action of a thinking body
> and that of any other body, quite clearly noted by Descartes and the
> Cartesians, but not understood by them, is that the former actively builds
> (constructs) the shape (trajectory) of its own movement in space in
> conformity with the shape (configuration and position) *of the other body*,
> coordinating the shape of its own movement (its own activity) with the shape
> of the other body, *whatever it is*." (E.V.Ilyenkov Dialectical Logic Ch.2)
> a tool like hammer or a blind person's cane turns to be the very humans
> organ which actively conforms the shape of an external subject ("predmet").
> "When the blind man picks up the cane" the cane is the subject itself.
> When he begins touch the "the sidewalk at its tip" the subject is the
> sidewalk and cane plays role of a human's (inorganic) organ. Here is the
> point where der Hund begraben. Here Ilyenkov have seen the key to the
> dialectic as well as materialistic approach to the most difficult problems
> of theoretical psychology.
> By the way Petr Yakovlevitch Galperin made a mistake when trying to
> understand the tool mediated activity he took a tool as a subject, as
> PREDMET. In such word usage
> the substantial distinction between PREDMET as a target of special
> (thinking) activity and any accidental extrasomatic thing disappears.
> Sorry if I've turned the common conversation in an inappropriate
> direction. The cause of it lays not in my evil will but in difficulties of
> intercultural communication J.
> Cheers,
> Sasha Surmava
> Alexander V. Surmava
> Ph.D. Assistant Professor
> The Russian State University for the Humanities
> The Vygotsky Institute of Psychology
> Liapidevskogo str. 8-2-274
> 125581 Moscow, Russia
> tel./fax: (095) 455-88-24
> e-mail:
> ------------------------------
> *From:* [] *On
> Behalf Of *Mike Cole
> *Sent:* Saturday, July 02, 2005 9:45 PM
> *To:* Wolff-Michael Roth
> *Cc:* eXtended Media, Culture, Activity
> *Subject:* Re: [xmca] LCA-- transparency
> 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), 161189.
> 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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