Re: [xmca] Zopeds at the cultural historical level

Date: Tue Dec 19 2006 - 06:17:12 PST


That was very well said. I believe the learner/development <->
socialisation/internalization dichotomy is why Vygotsky does not veiw Marx
as the answer for soviet psychology as he writes about in his "Crisis".


                      Andy Blunden
                      <ablunden who-is-at mira.n To:, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
                      et> <>
                      Sent by: cc:
                      xmca-bounces who-is-at web Subject: Re: [xmca] Zopeds at the cultural historical level
                      12/18/2006 04:19
                      Please respond
                      to "eXtended
                      Mind, Culture,

The parallel continues I think whatever it means.
Although the tenor of the "master-servant" dialectic is pretty clearly
posed as subordination of one of two mutually alien subjects by the other,
the outcome is freedom for the subordinated subject, although by this time
it has ceased to be the subject it once was. The idea is demonstrated in
Hegel's critique of both Hobbes' and Rousseau's conception of the state, in

which Hegel says that the State is the actuality and expression of every
citizen's freedom, not a constraint or restraint on that freedom. Getting
rights within a law-governed society is identical with internalising its
Nevertheless, I am left with the strong conviction that there is a
difference between learning/development and socialisation/internalisation
which needs to be got at. Perhaps the important thing is that the
conception of the learner as servant implies that the servant actually
reproduces the culture to which they have been subordinated, which famously

turns the tables on the master at the end. The master's quandry is that she

desires recognition from the servant, and obtains this only by
subordinating the servant, but what is desirable is only recognition from
an equal, so the master's (i.e.society's) desire for recognition (i.e.,
citizenship) can only be attained by the servant's turning of the tables. I

think many teachers would recognise something in this. Certainly, so long
as the dominant subject is conceived of as a parent or teacher, "the only
way UP is OUT" applies.
I don't know. I think I just need to mull on this for a while.
At 07:47 AM 17/12/2006 -0800, you wrote:
>Andy-- When you write:
>Hegel does not talk about "assisting" the
>learning subject, but rather of subordinating them.
>I think you get near the heart of Yrjo's thought experiment in
>as breaking away" and
>socialization theories (which, heaven help us, are often the implicit
>theories behind talks concerning
>zopeds). The adults in Yrjo's (Hoag's) story are seeking to "raise
>up/normalize" the children by subordinating
>them to a social order with lots of rules and strictures as the means to
>their "development", e.g. growing up
>to replicate that order. Breaking away is the only way UP as well as OUT.
>But, of course, such subordination
>is talked about as benevolent assistance.
>What makes it all very complicated even in the ontogentic case is that
>subordination and assistance are so
>closely related to each other. The duality of structure? After all, the
>of the method of dual stimulation,
>in Vygotsky's words, is to "subordinate oneself to an external stimulus"
>a means of achieving self control
>"from the outside" in order to break free of local situational
>As problematic as this is at the ontogenetic, intergenerational level, it
>simply gets more so at the culturalhistorical
>Might not institutions such as, for example, the National Academy of
>Sciences, be a social instrument whereby certain
>individuals are chosen to act as more knowledgable peers, who society uses
>as a means to its own self development?
>Or, if one approves less secular social instrumentalities, the synod of
>Thoughts for a spinkly sunday morning where the sun is making its
>reappearance after a too-brief visit of some rain.
>On 12/17/06, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
>>I don't know, Hegel was theorising modernity not multiculturalism. But
>>according to Hegel social learning is not a process of imitation, or
>>civilisation "rubbing off" on people, but of the production and use of
>>artefacts of a society in the production of the needs of that society
>>according to its laws. True, Hegel does not talk about "assisting" the
>>learning subject, but rather of subordinating them.
>>At 06:07 PM 15/12/2006 -0800, you wrote:
>> >Andy,
>> >
>> > I totally agree with your extended analysis of Hegel. The problem
>> > that when we look at the reality of the relations that arise between
>> > conquered and conquerers the patterns of assimilation are really quite
>> > different. The conquered often "shuck and jive", move slowly,
>> > into smaller and smaller universes where they preserve the core of
>> > identity prior to being conquered. Eric Wolf called this the "gods
>> > beneath the altar". As I remember Benjamin's "Theses on Historical
>> > Materialism", he pointed to this: histories are stopped but not
>> > necessarily eliminated, these chronological frameworks within which
>> > phylogenetic zopeds exist, but they are waiting to begin again.
>> > isn't unilinear, something Marx saw quite clearly in the ethnological
>> > studies he was undertaking at the end of his life. For Hegel, history
>> > was unilinear and Reason was the telos toward which everything
>> > and historical moved. Not so Marx.
>> >
>> > Another important thing I remember about the hegelian master-slave
>> > dialectic concerns the role of work in developing the universal
>> > that later becomes the basis of the post-feudal civilizations. Very
>> > materialistic really.
>> >
>> > The question I think about a lot, especially in light of the "andean
>> > cosmovision" movements, of which Evo Morales is a happy surfer, is
>> > whether the elements that have been conserved can be developed again
>> > their own dynamic, that the "other" way of putting the pieces together
>> > can become a dynamic in it's own right. There is a very advanced
>> > movement down here in that direction. Right now, the City of Villa el
>> > Salvador, originally a "squatter's settlement" to the south of Lima
>> > (something very comparable to El Alto's relationship with La Paz in
>> > Bolivia) is hosting a "Reawaken the Native Gods (wakas)" reunion,
>> > inviting shamans from the highlands to Paracas (the third most
>> > ceremonial site at the time of the Conquest) for three days to pray
>> > dance and revitalize those spiritual forces. A lot of people here
>> > in that direction which isn't a simple nationalism since it is
>> > pan-Andean, refers to the non-European, to another ontology as one
>> > puts it.
>> >
>> > Like I said, I don't think Hegel sheds much light on this process or
>> > how the conquered manage to preserve that sense of identity in codes
>> > resist rational penetration.
>> >
>> > Paul
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >Andy Blunden <> wrote:
>> > Paul, I let my contribution to this thread drop, because I wasn't
>> >much a compare-and-contrast of Hegel's master-servant and Vygotsky's
>> >was useful. But anyway ...
>> >
>> >The essence of the master-slave dialectic is this (IMO): the master
>> >incorporates the material energies of the servant into its own system
>> >needs and their satisfaction, so that all the artefacts of the
>> >subject are destroyed as artefacts and their materiality (the land,
>> >products, etc and the bodies of the human individuals) is re-organised
>> >part of the subjectivity of the coloniser (their meaning is changed),
>> >virtue of the dominated people labouring under the direction of the
>> >meeting the master's needs according to the methods of the master, the
>> >servant's lands and bodies being redefined as resources for meeting the
>> >needs of the master. The servant not only loses all control of their
>> >activity, but are forced into activity which they neither understand
>> >see the need for. Thus the "unhappy consciousness." But as Paul says,
>> >performing the activity defined by the coloniser's subjectivity, they
>> >become officienados in that activity, thus arises (development and)
>> >self-consciousness.
>> >
>> >The servant's material activity mediates between the master's needs
>> >(consciousness) and their satisfaction in the form of culture; the
>> >culture and consciousness mediates between the slave's activity and
>> >consciousness of that activity.
>> >
>> >The shared core of this conception with Vygotsky's ZPD is that of the
>> >dominant culture, represented by a dominant subject, determines both
>> >activity that the 'learner' must perform and the needs being fulfilled;
>> >doing without understanding leads to understanding of doing,
>> >the non-subject becomes a free and equal member of the dominant
>> >culture by learning to reproduce it by their own activity.
>> >
>> >For Hegel this is the dialectic by which *self-consciousness emerges*;
>> >is the dialectic relating subjective consciousness and objective
>> >consciousness.
>> >
>> >I don't know if that help anything or not. I'm not sure.
>> >
>> >Andy
>> >At 01:45 PM 15/12/2006 -0800, you wrote:
>> > >mike,
>> > >
>> > > I've just gone back to read some xmca posts -- been computer
>> > > for a bit and stuck to using internet cabinets in Lima for very
>> > > stuff. I had erased a lot of messages but found that I hadn't read
>> > > one you originally posted, to which I'm now replying, probably
>> > > it until I could read more carefully. Then I went to the xmca
>> > > check the thrread in detail and found it had bifurcated, someone
>>posted a
>> > > reply, changing the subject name to something about more competent
>> > > peers. That thread grew a lot and I haven't read all those messages
>> > > I'm not sure whether the original thread concerning
>> > > zopeds continued there.
>> > >
>> > > The way you phrased the problem was quite clear and Andy's response
>> > > about conquest and colonization most interesting. resonating with an
>> > > earlier exchange around the book about native american science. In
>> > > 1500s the conquering Europeans were arguably less culturally
>> > > many fields of human practices (engineering, mathematics, astronomy,
>> > > agriculture, institutional administration, just to mention a few)
>> > > the people they conquered. They really only had an advantage in
>> > > weaponry. And there was absolutely no zoped functioning in either
>> > > direction it seems, just a master-slave relation. For Hegel that
>> > > relation turns into a pyrrhic victory followed by the esse"Unhappy
>> > > Consciousness" in which the dominated slave realizes its own nce to
>> > > the negation of the Individual and the true universality of
>> > > as something trans-individual. The slave realizes that s/he is the
>> > > of the Master. I always recall the scene from the movie Spartacus
>> > > Roman general asks: Who is Spartacus? and one by one all of the
>> > > rebelling slaves stand up and claim to Spartacus. Then they are all
>> > > crucified, of course. But that transition isn't an example of a
>> > > Hegel isn't much help here.
>> > >
>> > > The problem of more advanced cultural forms is certainly an
>> > > one, but when I wrote the query concerning the historical dimensions
>> > > the zoped, I wasn't really thinking about the problem in quite the
>> > > you phrased it, that is I wasn't really thinking about more or less
>> > > advanced cultures as defined in terms of specific practices (I don't
>> > > think it would be possible to specify that one culture is superior
>> > > another in any absolute sense, but yes at the level of specific
>> > > practices), I was really wondering about the transmission of customs
>> > > habits that seems to occur without any conscious teaching involved,
>> > > which is part of the package when a child is learning the basics,
>> > > historical dimension that moves at the backs of people, without
>> > > knowledge or awareness. I don't see how we can doubt that this goes
>> > > e.g., learning racism implicitly in nursery rhymes, learning the
>> > > individualism (looking out for good old number one first) also seems
>> > > qualify as something that isn't so much taught as a specific skill
>> > > imparted by a more knowledgeable member of the group, but as a
>> > > to learning itself within certain cultures, just as learning that
>> > > family comes first is dominant in others. It's very clear to me that
>> > > there is a big gap between people's real morality and their ideal
>> > > that practicality (living in the world with the skills we've
>> > > usually the reason given to explain the difference between the
>> > > two. Yeah, it'd be great to turn the other cheek but in reality no
>> > > does because that's just not the way the world works.
>> > >
>> > > If such is the case, that these dimensions, primarily moral and
>> > > ones, are transmitted first in this kind of "blind" way , then the
>> > > modification of these levels must depend on something other than the
>> > > of direct teaching that characterizes a zoped.
>> > >
>> > > Perhaps the examples given by Yrjo point in this direction more than
>> > > realized and I'll have to go back and look at that: but as I
>> > > these "expansions" involved breaking out, destroying old structures,
>> > > clearing a space for new ones. What bigger space than a raft on the
>> > > Mississippi River? The idea that a zoped is a conversation with a
>> > > seems very useful to me, the question of course: what is that
>> > > future? Andy's statement that phylogenesis is about "pulling oneself
>> > > by the bootstraps" enters here. But really, how is it possible to
>> > > teleology?
>> > >
>> > > Lately I've been very much impressed what could be called
>> > > traumas", events and processes extending over a period of time, that
>> > > leave what I can only describe metaphorically as topography within
>> > > the rivers of consciousness/mind flow. This a result of living again
>> > > the Andes where a suppressed past is constantly whispering beneath
>> > > present day-to-day activities. There are major traumas: the Conquest
>> > > the Americas , extirpation of idolatries=attempted destruction of
>> > > indigenous belief systems, whose effects are still reverberating
>> > > 500 years, and there are lesser ones, like the social-political
>> > > that lasted in the Central Andes for about 15 years (1980-1995) but
>> > > effects shape the way parents relate to their children, silences,
>> > > those things left unsaid, The same song sung by both sides of the
>> > > Flor de la Retama. .
>> > >
>> > > When Zlatcko addressed my initial post in which I suggested that
>> > > Freire's notion of situation-limits (something he got from Karl
>> > > had a bearing in the question of what happens in a zoped, he brought
>> > > the point of sufficiently grounded evidence as to what might be the
>> > > phylogenetic strands of development. This is quite difficult to
>> > > obviously. The vanguard of the proletariat lacks any meaning when
>> > > can't really identify a proletariat. China inundates the world's
>> > > with well-made and embarrrasingly inexpensive goods that undermine
>> > > industrial working classes of Europe and America. We come back to
>> > > cultures--where do we find the universal basis? is there one?
>> > >
>> > > Hegel's unhappy slaves found the universal meaning through work
>> > > was of course social activity. Perhaps the very course, as Ilyenkov
>> > > suggested, is something that's laid out there before us, that some
>> > > of the larger society will instinctively understand in its teleology
>> > > by their position within the system.
>> > >
>> > > This all written in the old notion of xmca where half-baked ideas
>> > >
>> > > Paul Dillon
>> > >
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