Re: [xmca] Some thoughts on some issues in Hasan's papers

From: Ed Wall (
Date: Wed Jul 06 2005 - 09:47:37 PDT

Hi Phil

   I can take no credit for the first bit you attribute to me as it is
quoted from Ruqaiya's introductory email. However, I was quite taken
by it and by what else was said. I do wonder a little about what it
means to say someone comes pre-disposed to learn decontextualised
language structure as 'decontextualized' seems, to an extent, a
matter of degree. However, there is no question that this can be
quite unhelpful. I wonder if education isn't, in a sense, (both
positive and negative) a series of contextualizations.

    As to the business about listening (a modest monomania of mine :-)
and, intentionally, having some to do with SFL with the recent help
of Eggins and others) and Gemma Corradi Fiumara: she is a Spanish
philosopher and has written a number of books that have been
translated - The Other Side of Language is one (it was out of print,
but I haven't checked lately); The Metaphoric Process is another. She
has some of the same interests as Julia Kristeva - eg.
psychoanalysis. Heidegger writes something similar in Being and Time
(not surprising as she has built on some of what he had to say)
although speaking about another aspect of discoursing:

Keeping silent authentically is possible only in genuine discoursing.
To be able to keep silent Dasien must have something to say-that is
it must have at its disposal an authentic and rich disclosedness of


>Hi Ed,
>A late response - I wonder how "intersubjectivity" fits in with your
>problem? A colleague of mine (who I believe is lerking here) is
>designing a study of teacher-student intersubjectivity, in which I
>am sure attention and engagement will figure. You say "Some effort
>is needed to create a way of meaning that turns out to be meaningful
>to all, not just to those who come pre-disposed to learn
>decontextualised knowledge structures" - in my context of language
>teaching, this is probably the single biggest challenge, especially
>as values of language knowledge are credited to traditional
>grammatical descriptions and rules - I am sure Wittgenstein would
>shudder in his suit ;-) Of course, the Bernstein view is from a
>different time and social space, but there are aspects that surely
>can be shared.
>Ed, you also said "listening, I think, has a lot to to do with the
>ideational, the interpersonal, and the textual aspects of saying" -
>you are in sync with the (I am not sure what abbreviation to use any
>more - let me use SFL, and hope an SFL'er may suggest a more
>appropriate acronym, since we are at a serious cross-disciplinary
>border crossing, as Mike just mentioned) SFL view of the most
>fundamental language functions that constitute human semiosis.
>Thanks for your questions - they kept me awake last night! But
>importantly, could you elaborate on, or provide a reference on
>Corradi Fiumara? This will certainly add a layer to our discussions.
>On 05/07/2005, at 6:49 AM, Ed Wall wrote:
>>As I read Ruqaiya's nice analysis of mediate, my thoughts wandered
>>to Hegel (and Kierkegaard for that matter) and his use of the term.
>>Charles Taylor notes
>>In Hegel's usage we can speak of something as 'immediate' when it
>>exists on its own, without necessarily being related to something
>>else. Else it is called 'mediate.' If on the level of ordinary talk
>>and not of speculative philsophy I speak of somebody as a man, I am
>>speaking of him as something 'immediate,' for (at this level of
>>talk anyway) a man can exist on his own. But if I speak of him as a
>>father, or brother or son, then he is seen as 'mediate,' for his
>>being one of these requires his relation to someone else.
>>and was wondering how/if Vygotosky was influenced.
>> However, my interest was quite captured by Ruqaiya's last
>>paragraph as education is a place I where spend much of my
>>thinking. Especially the bit
>>Obviously, semiotic mediation can only succeed if the receiver
>>receives with understanding; a condition for understanding is the
>>recruitment of attention and engagement. Why should we expect that
>>pupils coming from distinct social positions will all have the same
>>notions of relevance, the same urge for engagement with the same
>>'knowledge'. Some effort is needed to create a way of meaning that
>>turns out to be meaningful to all, not just to those who come
>>pre-disposed to learn decontextualised knowledge structures.
>>Here she speaks about the 'receiver' and the 'recruitment of
>>attention and engagement.'
>> Heraclitus writes
>> not knowing how to listen, neither can they speak. They are at
>>odds with what
>> they have most continuous involvement
>>The Greek word legein means 'to say', but it also has the sense of
>>laying down or gathering together. Hence, listening, I think, has a
>>lot to to do with the ideational, the interpersonal, and the
>>textual aspects of saying. But, as Corradi Fiumara remarks (in the
>>Other Side of Language)
>>In the readiness to understand there is precisely an effort to
>>follow up the inner consequentiality of someone's expressions: the
>>disposition that gives life to a 'listening event'.
>>So there is this critical business of 'engagement' and what might
>>be termed anticipation. This last has something to do with
>>relevance, but relevance sounds, given Corradi Fiumara, almost too
>>bland and there are times, it seems, when the seeming irrelevant or
>>unanticipated is what is engaging or has life.
>> Anyway, much of my time is spent trying to mix relevance and the
>>potential for engagement into mine and my students curriculum so
>>relevant :-) conversation and thoughts related to semiotic
>>mediation would be most helpful.
>>Ed Wall
>>> much clipped
>>>The implied issue:
>>>This issue has to do with what is often offered by way of example
>>>as the paradigm examples of semiotic mediation relevant to the
>>>development of higher mental functions. I have maintained in both
>>>papers offered here for discussion that the examples are limited
>>>to knowledge of the kind that is relevant to "official" pedagogy
>>>such as logical reasoning, concept formation and so on. I would
>>>make two points: First, this emphasis on what counts as the most
>>>important materials for the making of developed minds is solely
>>>"ideational" in terms of Halliday; it is traditionally highly
>>>valued and has played an enormous role in our "exosomatic
>>>evolution". It dfinitely empowers manipulation and control of the
>>>universe. But this urge for control and manipulation has perhaps
>>>now become dysfunctional since it is being emphasised at the cost
>>>of our regard for the 'other'. If our conception of what
>>>constitutes "higher" mental function is limited to such phenomena
>>>of mental life and if this is accompanied by a disregard of the
>>>other, which is endemic to our educational systems -- in fact
>>>pretty much to our society as a whole -- then I fear that instead
>>>of evolution of the species, it may in fact push the human race
>>>towards the brink of extinction. The second point implied in this
>>>paper but developed a little more in the other (semiotic mediation
>>>in pluralistic societies...) is the relevance of paying attention
>>>to what is mediated completely unconsciously day in and day out in
>>>the life of young children and what therefore enters into the
>>>formation of their notions of what counts as relevant. Obviously,
>>>semiotic mediaiton can only succeed if the receiver receives with
>>>understanding; a condition for understanding is the recruitment of
>>>attention and engagement. Why should we expect that pupils coming
>>>from distinct social positions will all have the same notions of
>>>relevance, the same urge for engagement with the same 'knowledge'.
>>>Some effort is needed to create a way of meaning that turns out to
>>>be meaningful to all, not just to those who come pre-disposed to
>>>learn decontextualised knowledge structures. While saying this, I
>>>realise that there is a very strong trend whereby to talk of
>>>difference is more culpable than to participate in perpetuating
>>>difference, which we all do, willing or unwillingly.
>>>Over to you all!
>>xmca mailing list
>xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Aug 01 2005 - 01:00:57 PDT