Re: [xmca] Subject: Verb, Object

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jan 01 2008 - 17:32:41 PST

I was hesitant in responding to Luisa, and settled for a one-word response
because I think as the title of a book by Mike Cole, the words "Cultural
Psychology" have become associated with one (Mike's) tendency within the
family of tendencies from Symbolic Interactionism to CHAT to "Non-classical
Psychology". And I didn't want to narrow the field prematurely. That's all.
But also, yes, I'd like to hear what the author of a book with that title
meant by it! That's for sure.

At 07:55 PM 1/01/2008 -0500, you wrote:
>I take it that Andy's asking why this would not be discussed within the
>framework of Mike's book "Cultural Psychology," in which the meaning of
>that terminology, within his framework, is elaborated.
>On Tue, 1 Jan 2008, Paul Dillon wrote:
>>great, but would someone please tell me exactly what "culture" means.
>> Paul
>>Andy Blunden <> wrote:
>> Sure.
>>At 10:43 PM 1/01/2008 +0000, you wrote:
>>>... why not "cultural psychology"?
>>>Luísa Aires
>>>>Good question Mike. I never thought about that, and it is certainly in
>>>>ignorance of how these terms are used in academia generally.
>>>>I suppose by 'social psychology' I mean a current of psychology which
>>>>utilises a concept of 'extended mind' as its foundational principle. It is
>>>>always the case that other currents contribute insights which are not so
>>>>easily accessible from one's own (so to speak) - even if you don't accept
>>>>the principles of Psychoanalysis, there are still things to learn from it;
>>>>and the same goes for all currents and schools of psychology. But by
>>>>'social psychology' I mean a real psychology, that is practical and useful
>>>>in dealing with psychological problems and copes with the reality of
>>>>individual difference and so on. A 'social psychology' which sees
>>>>individuals as purely and simply instances of their social position does
>>>>not warrant the name in my opinion. And 'social psychology' in the sense
>>>>that Max Horkheimer (I think) used it, which deal only with the phenomena
>>>>of crowds and so on, is also 'not worthy' of the name.
>>>>So I am looking for a tool which can give me a way of understanding how
>>>>Zeitgeist is formed, how it is changed, practically how to intervene in
>>>>I do not expect a 'social psychology' to go further and provide me with a
>>>>social or political theory as such, but it need to be able to bridge the
>>>>gap, so to speak. Let's face it! If we can change the Zeitgeist which gets
>>>>people like George W Bush and John Howard elected in democratic countries,
>>>>into one in which genuinely good people get elected, then the rest will
>>>>look after itself and I can enjoy my retirement.
>>>>Why not a meta-psychology? Apart form my idiosyncratic dislike of "meta" I
>>>>don't want a metapsychology, I want a psychology which has a
>>>>which is sound and able to cope with the sociality of consciousness.
>>>>Why not a "science of human nature"? "Human nature" is such a problematic
>>>>term, it carries such a lot of unwanted 19th century baggage. And I am
>>>>interested in consciousness, not "nature" in general.
>>>>Sure, social psychology is a sub-discipline within psychology. There are
>>>>things which belong to psychology which are not centre-stage for me. Sure,
>>>>brain injury or other defects are a serious topic, as is child
>>>>etc., etc.. I guess I am talking about a psychology whose central thread
>>>>a social psychology rather than a neurobiology, for example.
>>>>I need a social psychology which recognises that social movements are not
>>>>just large numbers of people with the same feeling, but subjects, and
>>>>individuals are neither passive victims of social processes nor absolutely
>>>>free agents. But a *real*, practical, living school of psychology, with
>>>>people using it in designing curricula, healing depressed people, running
>>>>half-way houses, training teachers, organising self-help groups, etc.,
>>>>and doing real, experimental science with it, critiquing and improving its
>>>>concepts down the years.
>>>>Does that make sense?
>>>>At 05:14 PM 30/12/2007 -0800, you wrote:
>>>>>Andy-- This is the second time you have declared your goal to be
>>>>>questions within the framework of social psychology. Why do you use this
>>>>>term? Why not a
>>>>>meta-psychology? Why not a "science of human nature"?
>>>>>I ask because I am used to social psychology being viewed as a
>>>>>sub-discipline within psychology.
>>>>>The only dept of social psych I know of that takes on your questions
>>>>>seriously is at the LSE. One branch of cultural psychology in the US
>>>>>out of experimental social
>>>>>psychology here, but I do not think you have that in mind.
>>>>>This query is not to distract from the main line of discussion, but
>>>>>to locate what you are striving for better.
>>>>>On Dec 30, 2007 4:34 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>>>I think David and Peg's messages were out of sync., yes?
>>>>>>This all raises that most difficult of questions for a social
>>>>>>that wants to deal with the tasks I am asking it to deal with, how do
>>>>>>deal with the knock-on effect of an action, which is predictable from
>>>>>>on-high, but unknown to the actors themselves? We rely on the basic
>>>>>>that what goes on in the head first went on between people - whether
>>>>>>form given to it by Fichte, Hegel, Marx, CS Peirce or Vygotsky. What
>>>>>>Hegel's Logic about? About the underlying "logic of events", how this
>>>>>>that policy or statement or whatever ultimately leads to this or that
>>>>>>problem which was at first invisible. Life experience will tell you
>>>>>>but if you don't have life experience, it will happen according to the
>>>>>>logic of events anyways and you should learn. Basically, I think we
>>>>>>only make sense of this if we get right away from the idea of the
>>>>>>"individual-as-subject" but remember that no subject exists other than
>>>>>>and through individual human beings.
>>>>>>With the ANL example of the child and the father, I have always had
>>>>>>with "examples" and methods which presuppose a leader or a father or a
>>>>>>facilitator, a person who knows what the experimental subject or
>>>>>>self-help group really needs to do, and organises things accordingly.
>>>>>>course, I understand that all you teachers and teacher-trainers, child
>>>>>>psychologists, etc., work and have a responsibility to work in
>>>>>>that circumstance. But I do not think this is the paradigmatic
>>>>>>relationship. The father can only do his bit in "leading" the child
>>>>>>activity where its "best interests" will be served if the father can
>>>>>>a kind of transmitter of life experience, and kind of short-cut the
>>>>>>for the child. So it is not the father's technique which is the
>>>>>>but the bitter life experience which the child may or may not have as
>>>>>>result of choosing to do this or that.
>>>>>>At 07:54 AM 30/12/2007 -0800, you wrote:
>>>>>>>Dear Andy and Peg:
>>>>>>>Here's some stuff from my notes; I happen to know that Andy can't
>>>>>>>ahold of a copy of ANL's Problems of the Development of the Mind. I
>>>>>>>I don't get those funny marks that always show up when I paste in...
>>>>>>>p. 402 ANL points out how 'only understandable' motives for
>>>>>>>such as wanting to get a good mark can be replaced by 'really
>>>>>>>motives such as doing it so you can go out to play. However, after
>>>>>>>weeks of really effective motives, it is also possible that the
>>>>>>>will find that the only understandable motives become really
>>>>>>>e.g. the child will leave off doing homework because it¡¯s untidy
>>>>>>>child is now afraid of getting a bad mark.
>>>>>>>p. 403: ANL writes: 'It is a matter of an action¡¯s result being
>>>>>>>significant in certain conditions than the motive that actually
>>>>>>>it. The child begins doing its homework conscientiously because it
>>>>>>>to go out quickly and play. In the end this leads to much more not
>>>>>>>that it will get the chance to go and play but also that it will get
>>>>>>>good mark. A new "objectivation" of its needs come about which means
>>>>>>>are understood at a higher level.'
>>>>>>>'The transition to a new leading activity differs from the process
>>>>>>>described simply in the really effective motives becoming in the
>>>>>case of
>>>>>>>a change of leading activity, those understandable motives that
>>>>>exist in
>>>>>>>the sphere of relations characterizing the place the child can
>>>>>>>only in the next higher stage of development rather than in the
>>>>>>>relations in which it still actually is. The preparation of these
>>>>>>>transitions therefore takes a long time because it is necessary for
>>>>>>>child to become quite fully aware of a sphere of relations that are
>>>>>>>for it.¡±
>>>>>>>ANL compares a child¡¯s performance in a school play with the
>>>>>>>learning of study as an independent activity. The child begins the
>>>>>>>play as an assignment, and later continues for the approbation the
>>>>>>>receives during a successful performance. As with learning to study
>>>>>>>good mark instead of just studying for the opportunity to go out and
>>>>>>>play, a ¡°merely understandable¡± motive has now become ¡°really
>>>>>>>effective¡± and a new activity is established.
>>>>>>>But only in the case of independent study (according to ANL) is
>>>>>>>activity developmentally significant (¡°objectively¡±) because the
>>>>>>>is not going to become a professional dramatist (if the child were,
>>>>>>>the performance in the play would be study). Thus only in the latter
>>>>>>>can we say there is a new leading activity.
>>>>>>>Here's what I make of this:
>>>>>>>a) ANL really does NOT interrogate the subject as to the object
>>>>>>>orientation of the activity: the object (study, the completed play)
>>>>>>>indeed given in advance. As far as ANL is concerned, ONLY Chaiklin's
>>>>>>>"objective" ZPD exists, and there is NO subjective ZPD. But Andy's
>>>>>>>of "immanent critique" is NOT an objective critique; it has to do
>>>>>>>following up (just like Sarah's) the subject's way of seeing things
>>>>>>>seeing where it leads.
>>>>>>>b) In the development discussion (San Diego-Helsinki) Dr. Olga
>>>>>>>raised the question of whether "leading activity" is the same as
>>>>>>>"neoformation", and Dr. Pentti Harakarainnen really did not answer
>>>>>>>instead talked about Dr. Engestrom's even more general concept of
>>>>>>>activity. But here we can see that "leading activity" and
>>>>>>>are quite different: LSV used "neoformation" to talk about
>>>>>>>structures during crisis periods that COMPLETELY disappear (for
>>>>>>>the child's autonomous speech at one and the child's "negativism" at
>>>>>>>three) as well as neoformations which become the leading activity
>>>>>>>normal growth. Only the latter is a "leading activity" for ANL.
>>>>>>>c) There is still a STRONG behaviorist streak in ANL's reasoning:
>>>>>>>difference between the "really effective" and "merely understood"
>>>>>>>reasoning can very easily be described, in ALL of ANL's examples, as
>>>>>>>simple lengthening of the time distance between the behavior and the
>>>>>>>positive reinforcement. Bruner, in a quote that I have long since
>>>>>>>suggests that development can be described this way, but I don't
>>>>>>>LSV ever would have done so: for LSV the key thing about humans is
>>>>>>>they are dogs that can ring their own bells.
>>>>>>>David Kellogg
>>>>>>>Seoul National University of Education
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>>>>>>Andy Blunden :
>>>>> (H) +61 3
>>>>>9380 9435,
>>>>>>mobile 0409 358 651
>>>>>>xmca mailing list
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>>>>Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>>>mobile 0409 358 651
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>>Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
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>Tony Whitson
>UD School of Education
>NEWARK DE 19716
>"those who fail to reread
> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
>xmca mailing list

  Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
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Received on Tue Jan 1 17:33 PST 2008

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