Re: [xmca] artefact 3

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jan 10 2008 - 09:31:29 PST

Could we substitute "Absractness" for "vagueness" and then seek various ways
to rise to useful concrete instantiations to avoid falling into ungrounded
tangled attempts to understand each other.

Social/cultural. Another long issues. But I think the example of the mother
saying "she is never going to be a rugby" player when a baby is born, and
the way the proleptic transformatiosn of material and social are made
available for inspection there is one tiny
toe hold on understanding the social-ity/cultural relationship.

Upclose demandful life requires that I put this aside but the issues are
important and a lot is left out here. Maybe a community discussion via

ALSO, NOTE, more matrials following from the LCHC-Helsinki DWR group
discussion is now online at xmca.


On Jan 10, 2008 7:46 AM, Paul Dillon <> wrote:

> Andy,
> OK. I think I do understand the central aim of your paper and my
> comments on Peter Sawchuk's forwarded message (which I followed up with a
> review of various of the articles he has made available online) were meant
> to validate that contribution. But it seems to me that the strong points
> have more to do with the problem of "the subject" than with clarifying the
> notion of "culture". I don't really think the notion of "culture" is even
> important to that purpose. But this does not mean that the dimension of
> ideality isnj't important, clearly it is.
> And that's why the "flattening" of artefacts is troubling and there is
> really more than a "hint" of flattening in your proposal. I didn't find any
> acknowledgement that what Wartkofsky calls type-2 artefacts (scripts and
> schemas in mike's expansion), or type-3 artefacts (say a jungle jim, ferris
> wheel, roller coaster,, chess set, or inflatable playmate) are
> distinguished from type-1 artefacts (say, a shovel, an irrigation canal, a
> Lincoln 200 amp. arc welder, a locomotive, a big 8 wheeler, etc). You say
> you've never felt the need to use such distinctions but that doesn't do away
> with the fact that these distinctions are central to the CHAT model of
> culture as presented in mike's Cultural Psychology. This isn't an
> endorsement of Wartkofky's categories on my part but a recognition that some
> distinctions need to be made, simply saying that because that thought relies
> on a physical basis of electrical impulses and is therefor material just
> ignores the fact that lumping a
> shovel, table manners, and a surfboard, into a nominalistic category
> don't help us understand anything at all about "artefacts" in general or in
> these particular instances.
> Furthermore your statement "the only way you are going to get through
> the
> vagueness of concept of culture and cultural difference is to have an
> absolutely clear meaning for the word "culture" really surprised me,
> especially because later in the message you make a strong point about the
> difference between "what people do and what they say". I really don't
> agree that one can clarify a concept by "defining" the meaning of a word .
> This seems to be the very opposite of how one goes about progressing from
> "notions" to "concepts". and, as far as I understand, is contrary to the
> dialectical interpretation of the universal-particular-individual relations
> , the interpretation at the heart of your article. Ilyenjov (DAC, Ch1,
> p.36 of MIA markup) indicates that "what one usually calls concepts; man,
> house, animal, etc." are anything but concepts precisely because they are
> based on definitions. The word "culture" explains absolutely nothing and
> is impossible to link to any "particular". Contrast it to the concept of
> the commodity, something that exists concretely yet the properties of which
> allowed Marx to derive
> all of the other categories of the capitalist economic system or mode of
> production.
> Finally, my comments of "BongoBongo" and "BingoBango" were not really
> about cultural differences but about mike's use of Geertz's interpretative
> anthropology to ensure coherence in the CHAT culture model. Perhaps more
> illustrative would have been the international culture of endless-summer
> surfers. Something Californians,Peruvians, and Australians all know first
> hand, no? Difficult to call it a "sub-culture" since it transcends all
> "cultural" boundaries. Seems amenable to a Geertzian approach (for example
> Tom Wolfe's "The Pump House Gang") but also illustrates, upon further
> examination of its genesis and structure, the limitations of the
> interpretative approach for explaining the real coherence of that phenomena.
> For me these issues are far from being resolved. but I think the starting
> point turns of how one views the subject; the recognition that even the
> limit-case, the individual is not self-identical but incorporates the same
> contradictions and multiplicities present in the collectivies of various
> kinds.
> Paul
> Andy Blunden <> wrote:
> Briefly Paul, yes I think there is a hint of "flattening" in what I have
> proposed. I said at the outset that the paper only aims to clarify
> fundamentals of CHAT. It is not reductionist. I am not denying the
> validity of Wartofsky's categorisations, I have just never found the
> occasion to use them. I think the only way you are going to get through
> the
> vagueness of concept of culture and cultural difference is to have an
> absolutely clear meaning for the word "culture". That in no way reduces,
> bypasses or overlooks the infinite complexity of questions cultural
> difference, which involves far more than a mass of artefacts.
> You say that you 'share Mike's concern about the utility of that
> "cultural/social" distinction.' I find that an unhelpful term and I don't
> know where it comes from. Are you saying that it is not helpful to
> distinguish between the material things (artefacts of various sorts),
> which
> are used to implement some social practice or institution and the actual
> actions and operations that constitute that social practice or
> institution?
> That the difference between what people do and what they say,, between
> what
> happened in history and what was written about it, between the academic
> activity that goes on in a university and the books and buildings that
> make
> up a university? That the common difference indicated here - between
> things
> and the activities in which things are "activated" - is not useful?
> Andy
> At 01:52 AM 10/01/2008 -0800, you wrote:
> >I haven't participated much in this discussion although I have read every
> >post. In a way that has been part of the problem since I've followed out
> >the threads and references. I often begin responses to threads that I
> >don't finish in one sitting and save in the drafts folder. So it seems
> >coincidental (synchronistic?) that I was preparing an post entitled
> >"artefact" that got stored in the drafts folder just about the same time
> >Andy must have been preparing his "artefacts" post. Now it seems relevant
> >to at least share and expand.
> >
> > This was stored 4 or 5 days ago:
> > Mike's "ugh", in a message responding to my post questioning the word
> > "culture" , impelled me to read the chapter of Cullt Psych that he
> > attached I read Cult Psych 5 or 6 years ago but really had forgotten the
> > specifics of the model of culture presented in the book, the key
> > elements of which I understand to be : the ideal/material duality
> > implicit in all artefacts; Wartofsky's 3 types of artefacts,; the
> > notions of schema and script, in which (at least) type-2 artefacts are
> > linked contextually to activity/practice; where context also has has a
> > dual existence as "that which surrounds" and "that which weaves
> > together." The term culture reconnected to its etymological origins
> > in cultivating, a garden being an appropriate metaphor for the domain
> > of artifact mediated activity or practice whose manifestation in
> > "cultures", coherent and consistent groups of activities/practices, in w
> .
> >
> > Although I can see some of the relations between Hegel and CHAT that
> > Andy proposes; e.g., the relationship of meaning to scripts or schemas
> > (CHAT) and that between the universal and the particular (Hegel),
> > And that's as far as I got before storing it the drafts folder.
> >
> > Moving on: if Andy is using mike's model of "culture" I don't believe
> > he adequately deals with the differences implicit Wartofsky's
> > artefact-type differentiation. In fact, it seems as though all the
> > artefacts in Andy's presentation are Type-1, which on another plane is
> > analogous the analytic philosophers' mania to reduce all logic to
> > first-order propositional logic, a comparison Andy might well be able to
> > relate to (beneath Godel's beaming grin). The idea that artefacts can
> > be usefully categorized as "cultural" and "social" seems a step backward
> > from Wartofsky's approach, especially as enhanced by mike's refinement
> > of the type-2 artefacts into schemas and scripts (pure and practical
> > reason?) while reserving the aesthetic dimension for type-3 artefacts
> > (play, imagination, fantasy, art, etc. w/ no grounding in
> > "necessity"). So I share mike's concern about the utiltiy of that
> > "cultural/social" distinction.
> >
> > At the same time, I am not persuaded that mike's appeal to Geertz can
> > provide a "coherence" keystone that could hold together all the
> different
> > elements that one might want to call "a BongoBongo culture" as opposed
> > to a "BingoBango culture" . It is well known that Geertz's "thick
> > description" really provides no guidelines allowing someone other than
> > Geertz to go out and find the same thing, produce the same
> > description. So I remain skeptical about the utility of "culture" as
> > anything more than a catch-all term. But insofar as one uses that term,
> > Andy's definition "all artefacts" seems inadequate.
> >
> > On the other hand, the Sawchuk message that Andy forwarded, emphasizes
> > the important contribution I think Andy is trying to get at. Schemas and
> > scripts are universals the specific meanings they assume in real-time
> > activity the particulars. The universal-particular yes providing an
> > important insight into the relation between the cultural-historical
> > processes and structures and the individuals participation. Sawchuk
> > moves in a very useful direction from my perspective . . . especially
> his
> > emphasis on the use-value/.exchange-value dichotomy .
> >
> > Well, this one doesn't get stored, incomplete as it may be. Perhaps
> > Andy could elaborate a bit on the flattening of artefacts into type-1
> > that I perceive in his analysis .
> >
> > Paul
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >---------------------------------
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> >
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Received on Thu Jan 10 09:33 PST 2008

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