RE: [xmca] soznanie/osoznanie

From: Michael Glassman (
Date: Sun Feb 18 2007 - 13:45:56 PST

I'm reading your post and I'm wondering if the missing piece in Rawls' analysis is James' commitment to pluralisms. In this can perhaps it would be the recognition that the book guard is in some way a separate, acting entity who interfaces with others but is not an actual part of others. While the idea of pluralisms existed prior to James, maybe one of the big problems was how they were interconnected - usually perhaps through some greater power that maintained differences under a single umbrella. At least in the way I am looking at James right now he (and I suppose Peirce) wanted to make the argument that the world was pluralistic, but there are connections, but that these connections occurred through actions in the world. So humans are constantly interlocking their "consciousness" if we are using that word, because they need each other to accomplish things in the world. But the interlocking relationship is dependent on the action, but it is not pre-conceived or created or even suggested in any way by any greater organization or power. Thus the individual has the primary relationship to the object, and this is their perspective, perhaps their consciousness and it is separate and unique from others. But the individual's relationship to the object is in the context of the action with the object (meaning the object has no meaning to the individual outside of the action) - and then of course is in the context of any relationships the individual might have with others in actions related to that object (and here I suppose directed joint activity can incorporate any number of activities - whether it is achieving some goal, or protecting some perceived way of life, or something else). So when Garfinkel asks the book guard the questions, he is engaging the guard in an activity that is going to cause some interlocking of their perceptions of a common object. Of course the question becomes how interlocking, how much of a connection and why.
The danger in making the organization rather than the individual primary in understanding an individual's perception is, as I see it, twofold. The first is that it suggests control of the organization over the thinking of the individual in some way. The second is - where does this organization come from? Who creates it? Why does it deserve any sense of primacy?


From: on behalf of Ed Wall
Sent: Sat 2/17/2007 8:51 PM
To:; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] soznanie/osoznanie


     I'm never quite sure what contemporary empirical research is so
see what you think this is about. I was just reading a bit from
Garfinkel (Seeing Sologically) the other day. He is writing about the
'book guard' that polices the entrance/exit to Widener Library. He
has posed the guard some questions, it seems, of roughly "Who are
you? What of you do? Why don't you go reading you paper when these
people appear? And so on. Anne Rawls glosses his summary (25):
"Although Garfinkel refers to the embedding of identities in practice
as a "mode of consciousness," he does not treat it as conceptual or
cognitive in the ordinary sense. He describes a mode of consciousness
in details of action and not concepts. It is consciousness because it
involves an attitude toward life and the active interpretation of
ongoing affairs, not just responsive behavior. But it is not
reflective consciousness; it is the active consciousness of working
acts. The guard is so deeply absorbed in the practices-in doing
things in just this way-that when he is asked whether they could have
been done otherwise, he instructs the askers: He produces accounts.
He responds as if the askers had posed the question only because they
lack the most basic understanding of what he does (which is, of
course, from his perspective true)."
    Rawls goes on a bit later to say (62): "While Garfinkel's
treatment of identity does result in different modes of
consciousness, as does James's, the source of these differences lies
outside of the individual in specifiable orders of practices in
detail, and, therefore, "subjectivity" is rendered as an observable
social matter. Thus, treating the relationship between a perceiver
and an object of perception as a primary reality, as James did, is
from Garfinkel's perspective a mistake. The possibility of perceiving
objects as "objects of a sort" depends on the actor's location in a
social organization and their commitment to the situated expectations
belonging to that location. It depends on the response of the
"other." It is the practices in which actors are mutually engaged
that organize perception such that objects can be given to it as
objects of a sort."


>Yes, James is in there alright.
>What about contemporary empirical research on these issues?
>On 2/12/07, Ed Wall <<>> wrote:
> He seems to be trying here to get at the idea of "steams of
>consciousness" and James's idea of "flights and perchings." He ends
>this section by remarking "With conflict of habits and release of
>impulse there is conscious search."
>>Interesting cross-polinating, Ed. I think the absolute
>>necessity of constant adjustment (in walking, for example)
>>is a design feature of human life (and not just human).
>>Perfect coordination can be striven for and approximated,
>>but not maintained for more than a short moment or the
>>result is loss of consciousness/death of sensation, maybe
>>something like Freudian death wish.
>>On 2/12/07, Ed Wall <<>> wrote:
>>>Dewey remarks in Human Nature (178-179) that
>>>consciousness might be thought of "as a kind of
>>>disease, since we have no consciousness of bodily
>>>or mental organs as long as they work at ease in
>>>perfect health." [As a somewhat aside: he goes
>>>on, "The idea of disease is, however, aside from
>>>the point, unless we are pessimistic enough to
>>>regard every slip in total adjustment of a person
>>>to his surroundings as something abnormal-a point
>>>of view which ... would identify well-being with
>>>perfect automatism. The truth is that in every
>>>waking moment, the complete balance of the
>>>organism and its environment is constantly
>>>interfered with and is constantly restored."]
>>>Would one, for example in Swedish, use "knowing
>>>together with" to translate this or does it just
>>>become incoherent?
>>>Ed Wall
>>>>Just a note from The North
> >>>
>>>>consciousness in Swedish is MED-VETANDE (knowing
>>>>together WITH) i.e. impossible for one -
>>>>possible for two (Feuerbach in T&L)
>>>>2007-02-12 kl. 06.09 skrev Mike Cole:
>>>>>On 2/11/07, Andy Blunden <
>>>>><>> wrote:
>>>>>>But "recognition" (in the relevant usages) comes from "cognate" -
>>>>>>i.e., of the same kin.
>>>>>>At 10:32 PM 11/02/2007 -0500, you wrote:
>>>>>>>Did you know that the root word both for the English KNOWLEDGE and
>>>>>>>"ZNANYE", Latin "GNOSIS" is the same Sanskrit "jna"? (remark
>>>>>>>Here is an interesting etymological view:
>>>>>>>Mike Cole wrote:
>>>>>>>>OK, here is the message on this topic. It has not appeared on the
>>>>>>>>where I looked for it. I
>>>>>>>>am trying to figure out why. Thanks to Ed Wall for pointing me to it.
>>>>>>>>There is a cluster of messages from David, Vera, Ana and Martin and
>>>>>>>>that seems to me
>>>>>>>>especially important and potentially generative.
>>>>>>>>Referring to the note I sent earlier with the analysis of the Russian
>>>>>>>>also knew Sanskrit, I questioned
>>>>>>>>the issue of so- as a prefix in Russian. ditto o-
>>>>>>>>And when we combine the two prefixes ( so-znanie/ o-so-znanie) what
>>>>>>>>created. Peter? MGU Aspiranti?
>>>>>>>>Anna S? ???
>>>>>>>>znanie =knowledge
>>>>>>>>so-znanie ~ co knowledge ????
>>>>>>>>o-so-znanie ~~ about-co-knowledge, concerning-co-knowledge???????
>>>>>>>>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>>>>>>>From: Martin Packer <<>>
>>>>>>>>Date: Feb 9, 2007 6:36 PM
>>>>>>>>Subject: Re: [xmca] Harried instructor seeks words of wisdom
>>>>>>>>To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>>>>>>>>I would certainly be interested in hearing more about the
>>>>>>>>you're making between responsiveness, awareness and consciousness.
>>>>>>>>To add to the (my) confusion, digging through my notes I've come
>>>>>>>>following note by translator Norris Minick in Thinking & Speech (p.
>>>>>>>>"By the phrase 'conscious awareness' we gloss the Russian osaznanie,
>>>>>>which V
>>>>>>>>carefully and consistently uses and distinguishes from the term
>>>>>>>>'consciousness.' Vygotsky clarifies the difference between the two at
>>>>>>>>several points in the textS the earlier translation of this volume
>>>>>>>>and languageS) rendered both terms as 'consciousness,' introducing a
>>>>>>>>confusion not to be found in the original Russian text."
>>>>>>>>The links to neuroscience are very interesting. If I understand it
>>>>>>>>correctly, Vygotsky's psychology was the study of consciousness and
>>>>>>>>physiology (the material basis of consciousness). The division of
>>>>>>>>developed between Vygotsky and Luria speaks to this, I think. Modern
>>>>>>>>neuroscience too often wants to treat consciousness as an
>>>>>>>>Vygotsky clearly viewed it as having a purpose: it has evolved
>>>>>>>>serves an important function. After my last message I recalled
>>>>>>>>insistence that consciousness appears when action meets an obstacle.
>>>>>>>>pretty confident he says this as early as Educational Psychology, and
>>>>>> >>late as T&S, but I can't track down specific citations at this
>>>>>>>>this links to David's comments about volition. Consciousness occurs
>>>>>>>>prereflective action is blocked, and we must deliberate, look around,
> >>>>>and
>>>>>>>>consider alternatives. A two-way link to volition: Cs arises from
>>>>>>>>activity, and serves to reorganize that activity. Cs gives us the
>>>>>>to do
>>>>>>>>what is hard to do, what needs to be done, what at first grasp seems
>>>>>>>>impossible to do.
>>>>>>>>And while I'm cutting and pasting from my notes, this is from the
>>>>>>>>of Educational Psychology:
>>>>>>>>"Man has set himself the goal of becoming master of his own feelings,
>>>>>>>>lifting the instincts to the heights of consciousness and making them
>>>>>>>>transparent, of stretching the thread of will into what is concealed
>>>>>>>>into the underground, and to thereby lift himself up to a new stage,
>>>>>>>>create a 'higher' sociociological type, a, so to speak, super-man."
>>>>>>>>None of this gives my students a *definition* of consciousness. But
>>>>>>>>one has to be satisfied with a *history* of it, a story that
>>>>>>>>it comes into being and then departs again.
>>>>>>>>On 2/9/07 11:24 AM, "Vera Steiner"
>>>>>>>><<> > wrote:
>>>>>>>>>I sent my message on consciousness before reading Martin's "harried
>>>>>>>>>instructor seeks words of wisdom." It is a fine discussion, and my
>>>>>>>>>apologies for not referring to it in my somewhat differently focused
>>>>>>>>>comments.In my class last night, I tried to differentiate between
>>>>>>>>>responsiveness, awareness and consciousness, a hard task, but if
>>>>>>>>>is interested, I would be willing to struggle with it some more in
>>>>>>>>>discussions. Right now, I have to leave the house and the computer,
>>>>>>>>>Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>Trying to get the worms out of one can I seem to have opened
>>>>>>>>>>think David may have rescued me before I started to ask. Trying to
>>>>>>>>>>why studying consciousness was important to Vygotsky, I started
>>>>>>>>>>assertion that for him (and me too) consciousness is in our
>>>>>>>>>>the world. I suppose that all animals have consciousness, perhaps
>>>>>>>>>>plants in some sense, since they respond to changes in the
>>>>>>>>>>& night; the movement of the sun) and so must sense these in some
>>>>>>>>>>human consciousness is, one supposes, much more complex, and it
>>>>>>>>>>If consciousness is in our interactions, not in our heads, that is
>>>>>>>>>>when we are trying to avoid dualistic thinking. And, yes, Vygotsky
>>>>>>>>>>trying to give a materialistic account of consciousness, which at
>>>>>>>>>>seems pretty contradictory.
>>>>>>>>>>Psychology today generally doesn1t consider consciousness: in one
>>>>>>>>>>might study memory, in another perception, in a third language, and
>>>>>>>>>>> From Vygotsky1s point of view this has divided up something
>>>>>>>>>>all, in my conscious existence I am thinking at one moment,
>>>>>>>>>>something the next, then imagining something, talking, ... and even
>>>>>>>>>>account divides consciousness up too much. So the proper study of
>>>>>>>>>>consciousness is the study of all these functions in their
>>>>>>>>>>interrelationship. It is, I said, only to keep things simple that
>>>>>>>>>>focuses mainly on thinking and talking in the book we are reading.
>>>>>>>>>>I said some more. I said it in (bad) Spanish and now I can1t
>>>>>>>>>>And they said, okay, very good, but what was Vygotsky1s definition
>>>>>>>>>>'consciousness1? Give us a definition of consciousness, and keep it
>>>>>>>>>>and formal. They said this with a (collective) smile, so I know
>>>>>>>>>>expecting a dictionary definition, even before reading David1s
> >>>>>message.
>>>>>>>>>>I wasn1t able to give a (good) answer.
>>>>>>>>>>David, for me, too, consciousness is not cognition. I completely
>>>>>>>>>>you that volition is crucial for Vygotsky. (For example, I think
>>>>>>>>>>position on scientific concepts is misunderstood when people say
>>>>>> >>such
>>>>>>>>>>concepts enable self-control; V is clear that it1s the other way
>>>>>>>>>>self-control, mastery of one1s own psychological functions, makes
>>>>>>>>>>concepts possible.) But I1m not entirely comfortable *equating*
>>>>>>>>>>consciousness with volition. I guess for a first shot I1d say that
>>>>>>>>>>is a relation between consciousness and functions that lack
>>>>>>>>>>One thing I like about this formulation is that it includes the
>>>>>>>>>>that consciousness is social, intersubjective, and that
>>>>>>>>>>roots in control-by-others. And I do believe that this was
>>>>>>>>>>position (in-itself; for-others; for-itself). But - having put it
>>>>>>>>way -
>>>>>>>>>>one has to distinguish carefully between consciousness and
>>>>>>>>>>self-consciousness, no?
>>>>>>>>>>Enough for one day. I1m off for enchiladas. More words of wisdom
>>>>>>>>>>collective consciousness will be much appreciated!
>>>>>>>>>>p.s I think Osimbologia may be a Nahuatl word. ;) I saw a
>>>>>>>>>>Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary the other day. Any takers?
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>>>>>>>/151 W. Tulpehocken St./
>>>>>>>/Philadelphia//, PA 19144///
>>>>>>>/(h) 215-843-2909/
>>>>>>>/ana who-is-at < <> >
>>>>>>><mailto: <mailto:<> >>/
>>>>>>>/ <
>>>>>>>xmca mailing list
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