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Re: [xmca] Where is thinking?

*The greatest error of individualist psychology is that a person thinks.*

That a *person* thinks is not a mistake. Thinking is a personal action. It
is not something that 'the mind' does, or the brain does. Nor is it
something that a community does -- though this is getting nearer the mark.
Thinking is something that the person does. And, like almost any other
action, it is something that a person has to learn how to do. Furthermore,
if you know where to look, you can see children learning how to do it.

*This leads to a continual search for the source of thought within the
individual himself and for the reasons why he thinks in a particular way and
not in any other...*

This is not true. What leads to the assumption that the agent or venue of
thinking is inside the person is the disingenuous colloquial nominalisation
of the old verb *to mind* (which, three or four hundred years ago in
English, meant *to think*) and the rhetorical 'supporting' of this
nominalisation with numerous stock metaphors – the core examples of which
firmly locate 'the mind' inside people's heads. The colloquial
mind-centredfigurative descriptions of thinking have the effect of
subliminal propaganda. We hear and use them all the time. We take it for
granted that our minds think, or that we think in our minds -- that thinking
goes on in people's heads.

As for the remainder of this sentence: the 'continual search... for the
reasons why [the individual] thinks in a particular way and not in any
other' is one of the main subject matters, if not the main subject matter,
of *psychology*. Personal thinking styles, abilities and limitations
thereof, pathologies, etc. -- all are legitimate and interesting
psychological topics.

*What actually thinks within a person is not the individual himself but his
social community. *

As I humbly submit above, nothing thinks *within* a person, certainly not a
whole community. To suggest that a person can get inside himself (to do his
thinking) is far-fetched enough. The notion he can get all his friends in
there too is beyond even the figurative.

*The source of his thinking is not within himself but is to be found in his
social environment and in the very social atmosphere he 'breathes'.*

If this is to say that thinking is a skill that everyone practices and that
we learn from other people and that it consists in essence of the private
rehearsing by individuals of public, social interactions (conversations,
discussions, lessons, demonstrations, admonitions, etc.), then it is
perfectly true. As a statement it is unnecessarily vague and figurative,

*His mind is structured and necessarily cannot think in any other way.*

As I say, talking in terms of 'minds' is just a colloquial way of speaking.
It is slang and inappropriate in serious discussion of thinking.
'Structured' (like 'constructed') is just a metaphor that, like other
metaphors used outside of everyday speech in everyday situations, obscures
as much as it illuminates (more, in this case). The reason the individual
'cannot think in any other way' is that this particular rapid and subtle
('private') way of rehearsing a public educative interaction is what
thinking *is*. If an individual were doing it any other way, he'd be doing
something else.

I contribute the above because I think it is ironic that followers of
Vygotsky should be applauding such a vague and confused (basically
incompetent – the author is clearly just feeling his way in an unfamilar
area) description of the social basis of thinking. I mean, why do you think
LSV devoted himself with such creative fury to sorting these issues out?
Maybe he read this passage of Gumplowig.



2009/4/19 Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>

> That certainly is a thought-provoking quote.
> Anybody know anything about its author, Ludwig Gumplowig?  The only result
> I got from Google on him is the April 1980 LCHC Newsletter Mike was just
> looking at.
> - Steve
> On Apr 18, 2009, at 4:52 PM, Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns wrote:
>  Hi, all,
>> Mike's quote seems fairly deterministic to me, particularly when
>> considering the term "structured" and what it means to a sociological mind.
>> Jorge Larreamendy-Joerns
>> Profesor Asociado y Director
>> Departamento de Psicología
>> Universidad de los Andes
>> jlarream@uniandes.edu.co
>> On Apr 18, 2009, at 11:32 AM, Mike Cole wrote:
>>  I was looking for something else and found a fascinating old quotation
>>> from
>>> German in the LCHC Newsletter.
>>> It is attached because I cannot figure out how to get it from old pdf
>>> format
>>> into here.
>>> I think you will find it interesting.
>>> mike
>>> <xmcaquote.doc>_______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
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