Re: [xmca] artefact 3

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jan 10 2008 - 17:50:03 PST

  Just one quick point.
  Your rejection of table manners as an artefact flatly contradicts mike's inclusion of "scripts" as type-2 artefacts. So your rejection of their status as artefacts clearly illustrates my contention concerning the flattening, eliminating what doesn't fit into the model. The second volume of Claude Levi-Strauss' Mythologiques bears the title "The Origin of Table Manners". Clearly table manners are part of "culture" but how could that be possible given your definition of culture as the sum of the artefacts. Does "culture" include something else that you've not mentioned?
  I plan to address some of your other points later but one more tiny point: yes, I do think I got the material basis of thought notion from something you wrote. I'll look for it. I didn't mean to imply that you reduce thought to the bio-electrical patterns in the brain, all to the contrary. I'll clarify shortly and search for the passage that led me to make the statement.
Andy Blunden <> wrote:
  Paul, you are right that it is the idea of subject which is central to my
paper, not the concept of "culture" and in fact the idea of "subject" can
be explained without resolving the different usages of the word "culture."
But it helps.

Just some random dots points:

* I flatten the idea of artefacts in just the same way that the
philosophical concept of "matter" flattens the diversity of forms of
movement found outside of consciousness. Grasping the category in its
distinctness from other categories is helpful in understanding the complexity.

* You mention "thought relies on a physical basis of electrical impulses
and is therefore material" - I really don't know where this comes from.
Please, please I hope not from me. To say that "thought (i.e. ideas in the
head) is material" is a bundle of confusion.

* You say "lumping a shovel, table manners, and a surfboard, into a
nominalistic category ..." but "table manners" is only an artefact if you
mean a book of table manners, or the chairs, table, cutlery etc., which
afford table manners, but the activity in which people act according to
manners, i.e., "ways" is not an artefact. And I do insist that a surfboard
(which is a commodity earning the maker a profit and a means of production
for professional surfers) is as much an artefact as a hammer. I do
criticise the Russians for at times fixating on the "means of production"
as the privileged culture (i.e. mass of artefacts) whereas I hold that
*all* artefacts have comparable impact on psychology - land, buildings,
words, songs, paintings, road-signs, computers, - the lot.

* You say: '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'. Sure a word explains nothing,
but you need words with clear meanings to explain anything. The OED has 17
meanings of the word "culture". You can't do science without a consensus on
what you are talking about. It turns out of course that we can't make sense
of the definition I am proposing without an agreement on the role of
products of human labour in the processes of human activity and
consciousness. It *turns out* to be a very concrete concept. I am asking us
to start with an abstract definition so that we can move towards such
concreteness. Secondly, what concrete properties do "commodities" have? I
thought the whole point was that they have no such concrete properties,
what looked like a mass of things turns out to be a social relation.

"the existence of the things qua commodities, and the value-relation
between the products of labour which stamps them as commodities, have
absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the
material relations arising therefrom."

that's enough for now,

At 09:46 AM 10/01/2008 -0800, you wrote:
> abstract and vague are totally different, furthermore, "abstract "has
> difrferent meanings depending of your philosophical orientation. but
> vague is just vague, not specific, artefacts but no surfboards, backhoes,
> or academic hierarches.
> when you get back from your upclose demandful concommitants, could you
> be more specific about your reference to "falling into ungrounded tangled
> attempts to understand each other?" probably i'm just obtuse but, to
> bastardize Robinson Jeffers, be it more or less dense, its the same
> vagueness that blinds us all
> paul
>Mike Cole wrote:
> 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
> > 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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> >
> > Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
> > mobile 0409 358 651
> >
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Received on Thu Jan 10 17:52 PST 2008

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