For what it's worth, here's one Peircean take:All animals dwell in semiosis. What's unique with humans (as far as we know) is that humans are aware of signs AS signs. There is ideality in any generalized sign (as in habituated responses), so that's not uniquely human. What is distinctively human is our ability to think, talk, etc. about signs and their ideality and their fallibility, etc.
Semiosis is the activity of signs. Semiotics is the study of signs. Semiotic consciousness is a consciousness of signs as signs.
Hence, John Deely characterizes humans as the uniquely semiotic animal. On Mon, 21 Sep 2009, mike cole wrote:
Hi AndyB-- As I surmised, discussions of consciousness on XMCA may be polysemic without our realizing it, perhaps some of us (me for example!) using it as a pseudoconcept, one them there wolves in sheep's clothing. See, I am a noob to talk about consciousness. Got it traing the heck out of me at UCLA and Indiana University in the last millenium. And then i take it up in later life and start to get really excited about it because of this blind-deaf psychologist in Russia and stuff on fixed retinas and start to think about is the active resolution between built in mechanisms that keep disconnecting us from our environments even if ever so slightly and human life over time. And in this primitive sense, lots of animals are conscious but human consciousness has some special properties because our environment like ourselves is hybrid in origin and substance. I have developed this belief its all material and in humans, fused with or impregnated with ideality.We loose consciousness of that with which we are perfectly coordinated; blind people and their sticks, for example, or most anyone and large portions of their culture which become "transparent" to them. But then I run into terms like "false consciousness" which I both resonate to (what ARE Americans thinking about in the current health care discussion, why in the world do they so resolutely shy away from what I consider their/my/my children's.....best interests?). Etc ad nauseum. So I am sympathetic with Martin's query, although I hope old Brentano was not Bent out of shape by his message! signed, the once and never mike coole. :-) mike On Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 8:51 AM, Martin Packer <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:Well, Andy, that gets us going with a good, solid dualism right from the get-go! :) I contradict Lenin unwillingly, but (1) isn't it the case that consciousness is always *of* matter (i.e. Cs is 'intentional,' in the (somewhat) technical sense of being directed, always relational, an observation usually credited to Bentano), and (2) those beings that are Cs are themselves material? I'm presume Lenin, as a good materialist, wouldn't have forgotten the latter, but it is hard then to draw a "basic distinction" between the two. Not holding you responsible, of course Martin On Sep 21, 2009, at 9:54 AM, Andy Blunden wrote: Mike, it has been troubling me that you never got a satisfactory answer toyour repeated question: what is consciousness? My answer would be to turn to Lenin's infamous "Materialism and Empirio-Criticism" http://marx.org/archive/lenin/works/1908/mec/two4.htm Lenin explains (and Engels would agree http://.marx.org/archive/marx/works/1886/ludwig-feuerbach/ch02.htm) that the distinction between matter and consciousness is the most basic and first distinction made in philosophy. This does not tell us anything about consciousness or matter, except that you can't say anything more about the meaning of these categories, because to do so would require calling upon other categories, which are thereby placed prior to consciousness, which contradicts the definition just given. They are the "boot-strap" concepts, if properly defined. Consciousness is what is given to us; matter is what exists outside and independently of consciousness. Further enquiry into the meaning of consciousness can only be a further enquiry into the human condition. Further enquiry into "matter" is called natural science. Where this leaves us and whether it tells us anything about hos to proceed with a "science of consciousness" I don't know. Whether this claim makes us guilty of "substasntialism" I don't think so. But I can't think of a better answer. Does that help? Andy Mike Cole wrote:The later formulation makes more sense to me steve. Geraldine. I have never tried to google "consciousness" on xmca, but it would be most likely an extensive undertaking with a lot of contexts of uses and meanings. The primordial nature of human sociality, the being born into culturally mediated social life seems to me the starting point for human consciousness. Piaget is certainly not alone in identifying the birth of consciousness with the semiotic function, but all sort of issues remain unclear about directionalty of change and, referring to Andy's comments, the issues of borders and levels (to name just a few!!). mike On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 2:50 AM, Steve Gabosch <email@example.com> wrote:Mike, et al-- I see two problems with the formulation I used about Ilyenkov claiming that ideality is independent of consciousness and will ... First, it would have been clearer if I had specified **individual** consciousness and will, as in a **particular** individual's mentality. Ilyenkov explained that ideality as a phenomena occurs as a result of **social** processes. According to him, ideality is not just something that happens inside individual heads. Second, there is an even more important problem with my formulation - the way I used the word, "independent," which, used by itself in the context I put it, is one-sided and misleading. Ilyenkov puts it much more clearly: "ÿÿIdealityÿÿ is, indeed, necessarily connected with consciousness and will, but not at all in the way that the old, pre-Marxist materialism describes this connection. It is not ideality that is an ÿÿaspectÿÿ, or ÿÿform of manifestationÿÿ of the conscious-will sphere but, on the contrary, the conscious-will character of the human mentality is a form of manifestation, an ÿÿaspectÿÿ or mental manifestation of the *ideal* (i.e., socio-historically generated) *plane of relationships between man and nature*." paragraph 133 of 143 in The Concept of the Ideal see http://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/ideal/ideal.htm As a result of this little side discussion on ideality, I found myself taking another close look at this essay, and have put something together on it in another post. Thanks, Mike. - Steve On Sep 10, 2009, at 2:35 PM, Mike Cole wrote: Steve et al--I have not been a real part of this discussion because I have been meeting up-close deadines and trying to read very carefully through Anna Sfard's book.*Thinks as Communicating. *I also find Ilyenkov very difficult and have, thus far, only "cherry picked" ideas that seemed to give voice to intuitions I have had during years of teaching, but could find no relevant formulations for. So I cannot respond adequately here, Steve, to your question, although taken in its present context, I find it very difficult to believe that " ideality (roughly, the social meanings of things) is independent of human will and consciousness as well." Partly this is because I assume the artificial to be the embodiment to prior human goal achieving actions that have survived to be present in our current activities. Recently Jay published a review of Anna's book in MCA which is well worth reading, but as i work my way through it, her ideas reverberate with the traces of the current discussion I am able to grok in passing, or feel like I am "getting." One of these is her suggestion that a concept is " a word or other signifier WITH ITS DISCURSIVE USE (my emphasis). That complicates identifying words and concepts and moves us toward a Wittgensteinian notion of word meaning. I also think that reading the Davydov materials posted by Andy is important because VVD was quite critical of Vygotsky's notion of concept. I am also trying to think about how to extended the into-image-making "level" of consciousness, which occurs, "behind our backs" (or beneath our notice) and other forms of imagination which are clearly linguistically mediated and quite deliberate -- A book on "Rational Imagination." I sure wish there was a way to allign our temporally and geographically distributed musing and wonderings. For now, getting the XMCA archive fixed up and stable is the next best step I can manage. Thanks to you and David and the others who are doing close readings and well considered summaries, evaluations, and extrapolations. Keeps the golden ring just almost within reach. mike On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 3:38 PM, Steve Gabosch <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: Mike, David, all: I have a question about the how some of Ilyenkov'sviews on thinking and consciousness align with the comments on consciousness that you make, Mike, in your 2006 article, which you linked us to the other day (see post below). Keeping in mind that this article had a more specific purpose, to make the case for the intertwining of phylogeny and culture in human mental life, it nevertheless makes a brief but very interesting point about consciousness itself. I find myself agreeing with both Ilyenkov, and the observations in this article. But there seem to be some links missing between the two views, which I am puzzling over. Ilyenkov, for his part, makes it clear that he believes the world of objects is independent of human will and consciousness. In my interpretation of the passages from Problems of Dialectical Logic that David and I have been discussing, Ilyenkov also believes that the **connections** between human thought and the world of objects are independent of human will and consciousness. Furthermore, in Chapter 8 of his book Problems of Dialectical Logic (1974/1977), and in his essay The Concept of the Ideal (1962/1977), Ilyenkov argues that the ideal, that is, ideality (roughly, the social meanings of things) is independent of human will and consciousness as well. My question is: How do Ilyenkov's claims - or perhaps put another way, **do** his claims - align with Mike's thoughts on consciousness? Here are Mike's comments about human consciousness in this 2006 article, which seem very reasonable to me: "A provocative way to think about phylogenyÿÿcultureÿÿcognition relations among humans is to consider the combination of processes that appears to be necessary for an adult human to experience a visual image of the world (the same processes presumably apply to images in other sensory modalities but the relevant data are lacking)." p 237 After a very helpful description of human vision processes, (which, after reading this, could be said to be discontinuously continuous and continuously discontinuous!), Mike concludes: "Following the logic of this line of research on what might be termed ÿÿÿÿthe components of the visual imageÿÿ we can conclude that one component is highly speciÿÿed by factors arising from human beingsÿÿ phylogenetic history and one part from the individualÿÿs culturally organized experience, which itself is the residue of the cultural history of the individualÿÿs social group. However, these two sources of experience are not suÿÿcient to provide a coherent image of the object before oneÿÿs eyes. Rather, it requires a ÿÿÿÿthird component,ÿÿ the active reconciliation or ÿÿlling-in by active humans seeking to make sense of their experience for an integrated, veridical image of the world to arise and be maintained. "In addition to its value as a reminder of the tripartite nature of human conscious experience, the stabilized image experiment is valuable in underlining the fact that the causal relations between the brain and culture are bi-directional and that neither constituent of psychological processes is suÿÿcient; the active resolving activity of the human being striving to make sense of the world is a necessary component of normal consciousness as well." p 239. - Steve On Sep 3, 2009, at 4:18 PM, Mike Cole wrote: Your multi-lingualism, as always, David, is very helpful, along with your broad and close readings.I am a very late comer to the issues of consciousness, having been raised in the era when the term was exorcized by American psychology. You can find my first halting steps at coming to grips with the idea in *Cultural Psychology, *in the chapter where I describe the analysis of question-asking reading that Peg Griffin invented and which I still work with as a teaching tool. There we replace the solid triangle with a triangle that is "open at the front end" putting time along the bottom line and having a gap between the mediated and direct connections between subject and object. That process of filling that gap is the process of consciousness. This idea appears in a different nascent form in analysis of fixed images on the retina that can be found at http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/MCole/PHYSIO326.pdf The fixed image data make clear that tripartate nature of HUMAN consiousness, where discoordination is constituitive of consciousness. elsewhere i have written about taking the russian term, voobrazhenie into-image-making as THE fundamental cognitive act. All of these involve, I believe, a) awareness b) noticing c) selection d) potential anticipation But there are so many more and many different ways of thinking of the matter. False consciousness is a term I worry about a lot. Color me self conscious. mike On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 4:03 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com wrote:Tony, Mike: We translated Piaget's "prise de conscience" as "seizure ofconsciousness", except that in Korean the verbal noun has the more psychological sense of "grasping" as when you grasp a meaning that you didn't really understand in a phrase that you have heard many times. So, to nominalize, the "prise de conscience" is the "graspture of awareness" or the "rapture of awareness". Every child is an awareness raptor. I think that one important thing to grasp here is that "conscience" in French is not really the homuncular "consciousness" we have in English, any more than it is the obvious false friend, the meaning of a moral "conscience" that we find in English writings on ethics. It has a number of OTHER meanings that attracted Vygotsky to Piaget, to wit: a) awareness b) noticing c) selection d) potential anticipation It seems to me that all of these can be conceptualized as moments in the passing of the child from a relatively passive, reactive state to a much more voluntary, volitional one. Last night, I was re-reading Engestrom's old book "Learning by Expanding", which some of our teachers are busy translating into Korean. In Chapter Five he does try to tackle the question that I think gives the "prise de conscience" its real importance, which is the question of whether and at what point learning is REVERSIBLE--at what point the laying down of socioculturally accumulated experience becomes the creation of new content for the next phase of sociocultural progress. I think Engestrom sees Vygotsky's preliminary considerations of history (which he describes, it seems to me incorrectly, as phenomenological), his laboratory experiments (what Paula and Carol replicated), his empirical classroom observations (Chapter Six of T&S) and his theorizing as moments of a single process which can be REVERSED in order to yield the next, higher phase of expansion. The first process works from outside in, and the second from inside out. The problem, it seems to me, is the crisis. the "prise de conscience" is really a crisis par excellence, and a crisis is by definition NOT reversible. For example, awareness is not simply the end point of noticing done backwards, nor is noticing the endpoint of attentional selection in reverse. Obviously, active anticipation requires awareness, noticing, and attentional selection, but not vice versa. So the crisis obeys different laws, and we can also expect post-critical development to be different from precritical development in important ways. In physics, a shock wave cannot, by definition, be understood with the same mathematics we use to describe continuous phenomenon. And the shock reverberates: if a crisis is generally restructuring, we have to expect that the laws of the next phase of social progress are going to be in some way fundamentally different. David Kellogg Seoul National University of Education --- _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________ xmca mailing email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca _______________________________________________xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/ Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea _______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca_______________________________________________ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
Tony Whitson UD School of Education NEWARK DE 19716 email@example.com _______________________________ "those who fail to reread are obliged to read the same story everywhere" -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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