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[xmca] The Bear and the Ghost
Three problems to think about:
a) In Vygotsky, "complex unity" really means that there are two mutually defining entities, such that one does not really exist except in tension, real or potential, with the other. Thinking and speech is one example. Written and spoken language is a derived form of it. But cognition and affect are a complex unity in exactly this sense too, and in a sense the complex unity of thinking and speech is derivable from it.
b) The "linked but distinct" quality of the mutually defining entities in a complex unity is therefore not the product of analysis. It's objective. That is why it appears to be culturally universal rather than contingent. For example, it forms the central visual motif of the South Korean flag, the Taegeuki, originally based on an accurate graph of sun and shadow.
c) What follows the appearance of the ghost in "Hamlet" is indeed analysis of Hamlet's experience into affect and cognition. But the precise mix of affect and cognition is present when Hamlet first sees his dead father on the ramparts of Elsinor. If Hamlet had seen a bear instead, Shakespeare would have written "Goldilocks" and not "The Tragedy of the Prince of Denmark".
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Mon, 12/7/09, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies, artifacts and the ghost in Hamlet
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
Date: Monday, December 7, 2009, 6:53 PM
I tend to think that rather than consciousness being a
"complex unity of cognition and affect," I would say in
*our* cognition we *analyse* an already-given whole into its
truth-aspect and its value-aspect, into quantity and
quality, so to speak. I think affect is already present in
the first cognitive act.
David Kellogg wrote:
> Jay makes the point--on the other line, the one with an unwieldy title about the sense in which the sensory is not artefactual--that high and low art (and high and low emotion) are dichotomous.
> However useful a dichotomy may be (and they are almost always more useful than crude monotomies), one of the most useful functions they have is self-immolation, that is, the ability to differentiate a simple high-low distinction into a distribution of distinctions, ad infinitium. It seems to me that this is how Hegel would have essence emerge from being, and idea from object.
> So I think to say the body is monotomously artefactual is pretty useless; it really is like saying that artefacts consist of objects like bodies and chairs. I also think that the sense in which it is culturally artefactual is highly limited: gesture is a communicative use of the body but open-heart surgery is not. The flesh is not well designed for social communication; that we have so exapted it is man's cunning and not nature's.
> I agree with Stokoe that the first languages were probably signed and not spoken, but I also think that there is a good reason why the mainstream of linguistic development was spoken rather than signed. This development belies the idea that the body as a skin-bound individual object is an effective artefact for social communication. Only in the bourgeois era is it even a convincing metaphor for the self! Now what does all this have to do with emotion? Actually, everything! I agree with Andy that "The Teaching Concerning the Emotions" is more approach than method, more a clearing of the desk and a clearing of the throat than a finished piece of work (and this is why I always wonder at references you occasionally see to a book on the emotions that Vygotsky is supposed to have completed and even published, e.g. in the account we were given of the Complete Works of LSV!)
> But if we look at Vygotsky's early essays on Esthetic Education and Ethical Education (in Educational Psychology) and especially at this work Psychology of Art, and Creativity and Imagination in the Adolescent, we can get a pretty good idea of what might have followed.
> Vygotsky sees cognitive development as a socially mediated fusion between two separate lines of development: phonological development and practical intelligence (that is, he sees cognitive development as a function of verbal thinking). This turning point is what divides the higher and lower psychological functions.
> He must have had something similar in mind for emotional development, since he believed so strongly in the complex unity of cognition and affect. That's why it strikes me as odd that Jay, who MUST accept that there is a distinction between, say, naive physics and theoretical physics, cannot really accept an analogous distinction between lower emotions and higher ones. Of course the distinction is not a dichotomous one, or not simply a dichotomous one: within the dichotomy of high and low there are other dichotomies. But one aspect of differentiation is the purification of tendancies that were previously interpenetrated, the untangling of threads that had previously seemed braided into a single skein.
> Within a few years of Kyd's "Spanish Tragedy", which featured a ghost, a dithering revenger, and a play within a play, we have "Hamlet", which inspired LSV's Ph.D. thesis work. Kyd, and not Shakespeare, is the playwright who invented the extended soliloquy, which proved that characters have consciousnessess.
> What a difference a few years make! Kyd's play is a snuff movie: the play within a play is there to make people wonder and hope that they are watching real people really kill each other, bite out their tongues, and nail each other's heads to the floor. It's the kind of thing people flock to see at the Multiplex today.
> Shakespeare's is the opposite. We have poor Hamlet, fresh returned from his undergraduate studies at the University of Wittenberg, confronted with a ghost. Instead of a ranting soliloquy to the tune of "Now could I drink hot blood!" the young rationalist embarks on an extended meditation which more or less addresses Vygotsky's question about the difference between being afraid of a bear and being afraid of a ghost.
> Do ghosts really exist? And if they do exist, do they always tell the truth? If you kill a man at prayers, will he go to heaven? And if you kill a man in revenge, do not you go to hell? How do I know I am not mad? Isn't justice better served by legal, social, rational means than by impulsive action? The play within a play is now not a subterfuge to make the audience dream of Rome's gladiators; it is a psychological trial, designed to provide concrete evidence for action. Something is ripening in the state of Denmark; it is the maturation of higher, reflective, rational emotion.
> I see some of the same thing in this data, that we were talking about last night. The kids have just done a science experiment, and they are trying to formulate the results, which is that water is a better thermal battery than sand.
> The problem is that they can't talk abstractly about temperature; they are still, at least initially, enmeshed with the "up" and "down" of the thermometer. The use of the teacher's body does not, initially, help them free their thinking.
> T: And one more thing. Sand gets...(teacher gestures with her hands)
> S : Down.
> Ss : Down
> T : Down?
> S : Cold
> S : Low
> S ; Colder.
> T : Right. Who can make the sentence? Who can make the sentence?
> (some kids raise their hands. Teacher nods to one)
> T : Yes.
> S : Sand gets warm faster cold water. (sic)
> T: Seongmun?
> Seongmun: Sand gets cold faster than water.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> --- On *Mon, 12/7/09, Andy Blunden /<firstname.lastname@example.org>/* wrote:
> From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Monday, December 7, 2009, 4:27 AM
> ... sorry. To further explain my point ...
> So I found that in such instances one can say "... an artefact *or*
> the human body ..." And that works fine. But why all the time say
> "artefact or the body"? The body *is* an artefact.
> That was my reasoning.
> Mabel Encinas wrote:
> > Ok. You have a point. Then, lets start thinking from an embodied
> approach :)
> > Let's accept that the body is an artifact. What is then the
> difference between a chair and the body. Both are yes, "products of
> human art", as you express it. However, only in the process
> (practice) there seem to be a difference. Both are material and
> ideal (the body is not separated from the mind; the chair, this one
> here that I feel is made of cloth and a cushioned material, plastic,
> metal, and involves the ideal that a designer and workers in a
> factory transformed so people could seat on). What is the difference?
> > Mabel
> > >
> > > >
> > >> Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 22:53:40 +1100
> >> From: email@example.com
> >> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> >> Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts
> >> Well, the body is the body is the body. The reason the question
> arises for me is when we make generalisations in which things like
> person, artefact, consciousness, concept, action, and so on, figure,
> where does the body fit in? My response was that even though it is
> obviously unique in many ways, it falls into the same category as
> >> My questions to you are: what harm is done? why is anything
> ignored? And, what is the body if it is not a material product of
> human art, used by human beings?
> >> Andy
> >> Mabel Encinas wrote:
> >>> Is this way being fruitful? That is why I do not like to
> consider the body as an artifact. Did not cognitive pscyhology do
> that? (Bruner, Acts of Meaning). Then intentions and all the
> teleological aspects are so much ignored...
> >>> Mabel
> >>>> Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2009 20:21:09 +1100
> >>>> From: email@example.com
> >>>> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> >>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] bodies and artifacts
> >>>> Sure. But the body has been constructed like a living
> >>>> machine - the various artefacts that you use (especially but
> >>>> not only language and images) are "internalized" in some
> >>>> way. So one (external) artefact is replaced by another
> >>>> (internal) artefact. Yes?
> >>>> Andy
> >>>> Mabel Encinas wrote:
> >>>>> However, sometimes practices do not involve other artefact
> >>>>> than the body (some practices are directed to the body), and
> that was
> >>>>> why I was talking about the limit of thinking about the body as
> >>>>> artefact... is that a limit? That is why I mentioned the body
> as "the
> >>>>> raw material". I was thinking for example practices linked to
> >>> meditation
> >>>>> and the like, for example, among many others.
> >>>>> Mabel
> >>> Keep your friends updated— even when you’re not signed in.
> >> --
> >> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
> >> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
> Ilyenkov $20 ea
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> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
> Ilyenkov $20 ea
> xmca mailing list
Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea
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