RE: [xmca] nice, short article illustrating prolepsis

From: Cunningham, Donald James (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2006 - 06:26:14 PDT

Aren't we (we who study learning and development) determinists by
nature? Don't we want to understand the "causes" of things? Why is this
fatalistic? "Constraints" is just another version where we limit the
options to a manageable number without opening the Pandora's box of free
will. But the idea of cause is still implicated. There are causes for
things. Or do they just happen and we mere mortals try to figure out
why? Hobbes is no doubt spinning in his grave as I write!

One of the links I made from the article Peter forwarded was to some
work Sandra Scarr did a generation ago. If my creaky memory is correct,
she was looking at the literature on parenting and IQ. The usual
analysis looked at whether certain parenting styles led to kids with
higher IQs. Scarr looked at the opposite, whether kids with certain IQs
"caused" certain parenting styles. Which is the future, which is the

A little exercise I offer my students is to pretend that they now have
their Ph.D and are _experts_. They are asked a simple question, should I
spank my children. They all have strong opinions about the issue, what
leads to what, with both sides of the issue well represented. Then I
have them read a series of articles from 2002 (Elizabeth Gershoff wrote
the original piece) as well as news releases (including one from "Focus
on the Family") at the time. Do they now feel more confident in
answering the question? Most don't. They say things like, "It depends"!
So, the more we know, the more uncertain we are? Was Anthony Giddens
correct all along? Do we manufacture uncertainty? I'm not sure. Maybe it

Don Cunningham
Indiana University

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:53 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: Barbara Rogoff
Subject: Re: [xmca] nice, short article illustrating prolepsis

I guess I was more focused on the idea of constraints than
Don. You can guide
a horse to water, but..........

And in general, the idea that constraints are both enabling and
makes a lot of sense to me,
despite the seduction of relapsing into determinism.

It seems to me that the main thrust of the idea of prolepsis is to
introduced the idea that the (imagined, pro-jected)
future can influence the present. It speaks to the linkage between
mediational theories of development and
the idea of NON LINEAR dynamic systems. As I understand it
(inadequately, I
am certain), cultural contributions to
human nature and action are non-linear, creating uncertainty and the
possibility of agency all the time, even if our
common sense tells us it aint so.

Why else would anyone try to speak truth to power?

In the recent Middleton and Brown book there is a great discussion of
Bergson's ideas. he is much maligned, by, among
others, Russian cultura-historical psychologists. And of course, he can
interpreted in ways that make his ideas laughable....
(he is not alone in this respect!). But Middleton and Brown have some
material on the way that Bergson pointed to the
ways in which the built environment (like kids' rooms) influences their
mental life. In a recent article by cultural psychologists
Kitayama and ?? they discover that some of the differences between west
east that they assume come from the differently
built environments without realizing that Rheingold and Bergson were
before them.

No need for police but the discussion sure is worthwhile, for me at

PS. I will cc Barbara Rogoff on this exchange. I wonder if she
the idea of "guided participation" to imply that the
guidance determines the response.

On 4/18/06, Cunningham, Donald James <> wrote:
> I did, actually. I was struck by the phrase (on page 462) that the
> parents were "guided by some more compelling set of principles".
> What would the OED make of that?
> Don Cunningham
> Indiana University
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> On Behalf Of Mike Cole
> Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:19 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] nice, short article illustrating prolepsis
> Don-- Did you read the article?
> Anyway, who needs word police when we have the oed:
> Determinism: 1)The philosophical doctrine that human action is not
> but
> necessarily determined by motives, which are regarded as external
> acting upon the will.2) The doctrine that everything that happens is
> determined by a necessary chain of causation.
> Prolepsis: 1) The representation or taking of something future as
> already
> done or existing; anticipation; also, the assignment of an event, a
> name,
> etc. to a too early date; an anachronism, prochronism. 2) A figure in
> which
> objections or arguments are anticipated in order to preclude their
> answer them in advance, or prepare for them an unfavourable
> The
> anticipatory use of an attribute.
> What do the police think of this? Do we need to call in Ragnar
> Rommetveit to
> adjudicate?
> mike
> On 4/18/06, Cunningham, Donald James <> wrote:
> >
> > Hello Peter. The word police here. What is the difference between
> > prolepsis and determinism?
> >
> > Don Cunningham
> > Indiana University
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:
> > On Behalf Of Peter Smagorinsky
> > Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 1:55 PM
> > To:
> > Subject: [xmca] nice, short article illustrating prolepsis
> >
> >
> > Rheingold, H. L., & Cook, K. V. (1975). The contents of boys' and
> > girls'
> > rooms as an index of parents' behavior. Child Development, 46,
> 459-463.
> > Retrieved April 18, 2006, from
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon May 01 2006 - 01:00:12 PDT