Re: [xmca] Banana Mediated Emotions

From: Vera Steiner <vygotsky who-is-at>
Date: Wed Jul 25 2007 - 11:14:48 PDT

In terms of prelinguistic developmental work, I suggest checking out
Patricia Zukow's papers on joint attention,
Mike Cole wrote:

> David and Michael--
> 1) David; I need to re-read the Gray et al "integration of emotion" paper
> for the complexity you point to. What most interested me in it was the
> idea
> of behavioral/anatomical/functional evidence to support the idea that
> " A
> functional integration of emotion and cognition would allow the goal
> directed control of behavior to depend upon the emotional context.
> Goal-directed behavior is a complex control function mediated neurally by
> prefrontal cortex and involves higher cognitive processes...... I am not
> sure I am on the same page concerning what they believe higher cog
> processes
> to be, but that will take more reading to determine.
> I have also encountered some interesting developmental work along these
> lines but have not had time to track it further. The general line of
> arguments seems to be carrying on the program that LSV was gesturing
> toward.
> 2. All. I have just, after an inexcusable oversight lasting more than a
> decade, found
> Herb Clark's book, *Using Language*. Does anyone know it? It starts by
> arguing that
> language arises from pre-linguistic joint activity. In fact, the entire
> first chapter is about
> joint activity. I have just started it, but it reads very much as is
> it had
> been written by
> Mescheryakov thus far. Does anyone know this work? Am I on the right
> track??
> mike
> On 7/24/07, Wolff-Michael Roth <> wrote:
>> Hi David,
>> when I refer to David McNeill's work, it is in particular to two
>> pieces, his 1984 or 1985 chapter where he writes about Vygotsky and
>> the 2002 paper that is clearly taking speech and gesture as a
>> dialectical pair sublated into a higher unit, of which each is a one-
>> sided expression.
>> Lilian Pozzer-Ardenghi and I have continued to explore communicative
>> units, and bring any meaning-making resource into it (Roth & Pozzer-
>> Ardenghi, 2006). We view all of these moments as constitutive of
>> meaning, which is not something to be pointed to in an unambiguous
>> way but more like a sense of how the world works. As Heidegger says,
>> words do not get meaning (or people construct meaning of words), but
>> rather, words ACCRUE to meaning, and the world is entirely shot
>> through with it.
>> So all the different moments--speech, gesture, prosody, position,
>> orientation, and the rates of all of these--do not act independently
>> but are subordinated to and constitute a higher order unit, none of
>> them expressing this higher order unit on its own (especially not
>> speech [language], to which we, in a phal-logo-centric culture want
>> to reduce everything) but rather only one-sidedly.
>> I like Holzkamp's analysis, which brings together motion,
>> emotiveional valence, motive, and motivation (you see the common
>> origin in all these words), and begins with a possible beginning when
>> one-cellular organisms correlate initially arbitrary motion with more
>> food concentrations, which are of higher valence. He then shows how
>> through episodes of quantitative and qualitative changes, we can
>> eventually get to anthropogenesis, where the motive of activity
>> becomes a new unit... and so on. In a paper a few years back, I
>> developed this approach.
>> I am not trying to be objectivist or subjectivist or materialist or
>> anything, just trying to make sense and understand. In a paper you
>> can do only so much within the limited amount of space (word
>> count).... Thus, Andy provided a label that an Australian colleague
>> of his would absolutely disagree; to this colleague, I am the
>> constructivist devil in person, subjectivist to the point of
>> poisoning our youth.... :-)
>> Cheers,
>> Michael
>> On 24-Jul-07, at 2:51 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
>> Dear (Wolff-)Michael:
>> Thanks for your reply, but above all thanks for your work on
>> science teaching which I've read with great interest (I've got an
>> article coming out next July in Language and Education which
>> references you). I've also closely followed your work on gesture
>> (particularly now that I'm reading a lot of McNeill's).
>> When I read McNeill on gesture, I always get this feeling that he
>> has to keep shaking things to keep them from separating. His view of
>> speech is as something completely arbitrary, segmental, symbolic and
>> systematic, and his view of gesture is completely iconic, holistic,
>> and jerry-rigged.
>> So in his latest book (Gesture and Thought, University of Chicago
>> Press 2005) he has to give up the idea of categorizing gestures into
>> iconics, metaphorics, emblems, deictics and beats. and he argues that
>> everything is everything else as well as itself. Unlike speech.
>> Unlike speech? When I first read "Emotion and Work" I was a little
>> taken aback by your use of the Praat program to measure the emotional
>> content of speech. I was even more taken aback by where you show that
>> intonation contours are co-constructed, broken off, and then
>> continued. Exactly what we'd expect if intonation were really just an
>> internalization of gesture, pointing with your voice instead of your
>> hands because you are using your hands to type at at computer, just
>> as people point with their eyes or tongues when their hands are full.
>> Intonation is indubitably part of speech; nobody has to keep
>> shaking intonation and speech to get them to stay together. But this
>> means that McNeill's description of language as being segmented,
>> compositional, lexicon-based, syntactic, arbitrary and unilinear is
>> all wrong.
>> It's rather hard to see how speech could ever express emotion if
>> it were the way McNeill imagines it. It can only express emotion if
>> it is a little more the way McNeill imagines gesture to be: iconic
>> and improvisational.Speech with expressive intonation and evaluative
>> overtones is really a lot more like gesture then like lines of
>> computer code.
>> In fact it seems to me that with a whole range of emotions (which
>> we might call the "higher emotions" by analogy with the higher
>> psychological functions that Vygotsky posits) are not only expressed
>> by speech but mediated and constructed by speech, so permeated with
>> speech that language is as much a part of the emotion as bodily
>> feelings or even more.
>> These include all the emotions that Vygotsky writes about in the
>> Psychology of Art, but they also include the sort of emotions that
>> are central to ethics education (that's my big project this summer).
>> And it seems to me that with these language-mediated emotions, the
>> relationship between "feelings" and "emotions" that Damasio claims
>> has to be reversed.
>> Damasio really thinks that "feelings" come very much after the
>> fact: they are "subordinated" to bodily states, to use the expression
>> that so annoyed Andy. (I'm not sure why we can't say "subordinated",
>> since Marxists certainly do use the term "superstructure" and base,
>> and a base is be definition logically prior to a superstructure.) But
>> in your data it seems to me that feelings come into being through
>> their expression.
>> Damasio thinks that we have some way of evaluating events for
>> their emotional content without actually reacting emotionally to
>> them, as when you see a car headed toward you and turn away without
>> thinking or even feeling very much and the emotion that attends on a
>> narrow brush with death comes very much after the fact. But in your
>> data it seems to me that Jack needs to UNDERSTAND verbal interactions
>> first before he can evaluate their emotional content: Jack needs to
>> COMPREHEND (yes, consciously!) the lukewarm response of his superiors
>> before he can experience disappointment and react with cynicism.
>> I guess I don't think Jack's experience is a matter of chickens
>> and eggs, or even of knowing that one was successful mediating a
>> bodily state which then mediates performances that are far beyond
>> normal. That would be true if there were no social dimension to
>> success; that is, if it were not dependent on explicit, conscious,
>> even verbal recognition.
>> (To tell you the truth, I was a little saddened by the ending of
>> the article.The idea of Jack and Ellen living from hand to mouth and
>> from grant to grant does not seem to me to bode at all well for the
>> future of their project or even of their current high morale. Here in
>> Korea, every primary school teacher is a national civil servant with
>> permanent tenure, and this is an extremely important part of their
>> high social status, their desirability as marriage partners, and of
>> course their self-esteem. It even has a noticeable effect on my
>> graduate students; since they do not really require their MAs for
>> advancement, they are quite willing to undertake risky research
>> projects, like our current one on ethics education! The whole idea
>> teaching ethical principles using rewards and punishments is not a
>> little self-contradictory, and so is the attempt to stimulate
>> intellectual adventurousness with carrots and sticks.)
>> One of my grad students was playing a game with her kids called
>> "Find the Banana" which involved hiding a banana behind some cards
>> (which represented activities and days of the week) and then guessing
>> which card had the banana by asking "Can you go swimming on Monday?"
>> "Yes/no" The problem was that the kids kept turning around and
>> peeking when she hid the banana, and so the game was over too
>> quickly. In fury, she seized the banana, peeled it and devoured it
>> before the children's appalled eyes. She then brandished the banana
>> skin and told the children they would henceforth have to play for an
>> empty peel.
>> Soon the banana skin became a kind of trophy, a little like the
>> World Cup. When one team one the banana skin, it was displayed
>> proudly and prominently on the team leader's desk until the next team
>> won it back. The banana had gone from being a pure use value to an
>> exchange value, from a means to a physical state of well-being to a
>> signifier of social status alone.
>> From that point on the children saw no point in peeking to see
>> where the banana peel was hidden.The first priority was now last, and
>> the last priority was now first; obeying the rule on not peeking was
>> now a precondition for the social signficance attendant on winning
>> the Golden Banana Skin, and the idea of consuming the banana dwindled
>> into insignificance. The corresponding emotions also underwent a
>> transition, from the lower banana-mediated emotions to the higher
>> banana-peel mediated emotions. So you see it is not just academics
>> who intellectualize these things!
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Wed Jul 25 11:19 PDT 2007

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