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[Xmca-l] Re: Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity

I have always thought that "culture" and "history" marked synchronic and diachronic difference.

I don't think there is a firm difference between transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary, but I have always taken "transdisciplinary" to be a kind of discipline apart, that superficially skimmed over the top of the disciplinary silos. "Interdisciplinary" does connote disciplinary specialists cooperating with one another, each from their own silo, leaving little room for interdisciplinary theory as such, but it seemed to me that of the two, "interdisciplinary" was closer to what I wanted, because it does connote the continuing need for "serious" disciplinary research and education. And obviously, like David and Mike, I think CHAT is eminently suited to the role.

*Andy Blunden*

Larry Purss wrote:
David, Mike,
This question of the direction of interaction [or the approach] between
history and culture and the potential to make a case in either direction
[that history is the process OR history is the product]  AND reciprocally
to be able to make a case [that culture can be assumed to be either
product OR process] is a fascinating observation on our ability to develop

I would like to bring in Seth Chaiklin's article [The zone of proximal
development in Vygotsky's analysis of learning and instruction] to explore
"functions" and their psychological "formation" as historical "products"
[or are the "functions" processes?]

On page 7 Chaiklin writes:

"Changes in historical *relations* would incline a researcher to predict
changes in psychological functions.... Similarly, none of the psychological
functions are 'pure' in the sense of a biologically-given *module or
faculty*. Rather they were *formed, both historically* in the phylogenetic
development of human societies and individually in the ontogenetic
development of the persons within these societies."

So, "functions" are not modules or faculties of biological organisms. They
are "psychological" phenomena that develop within historical and cultural

I have been reading about Lazarus, whose pupils were Dilthey and Simmel .
Lazarus (and Steinthal) had in the 1860's grounded *Volkerpsychologie -
covering language, culture, and social forms - *
 [whose object was to be  the psychology of societal human beings or human

Society is theorized as not a mere *sum *of all individual minds but rather
the *unity *of a plurality of individuals which exists in the "content or
form" of their activity.

I question whether the notion of "psychological functions" [perception,
memory, will, thought]  which intersect and affect one another within
identifiable "periods" are actually an "outgrowth" of Lazarus
volkerpsychologie?  Are "functions" that are experienced "psychologically"
historical "products" or historical "processes" or cultural "products", or
cultural "processes"?

Are the "periods" identified universal products/processes or are the
"functions" which are experienced psychologically [inner sense] actually
Euro-centric social situations of development?

My question returns to Zinchenko's image of "oscillation" and Simmel's
notion of "interaction" as reciprocal [each process/product existing within
the orbit of the other as constellations]

Lazarus, in 1860's insists that

"within the large circle of society, smaller circles are formed ... These
circles, however, do not stand side by side but *intersect and affect one
another* in many ways.  Thus within society, there emerges a highly
varied ... relationship of connection and separation (Absonderung)"

Does understanding "functions" which are experienced as "inner form"
involve empirical "facts" or are they more like "principles and laws"? [or
are they both?]

I chose not to use the phrase "age periods" as the term "age" may not be
necessary to answer my question trying to understand "functions" as "inner
sense"  In Bahktin's terms could "functions" be experienced as "inner

I will return to Chaiklin and his thoughts on the object of "thought". On
page 5 he writes:

"From a psychological point of view the whole is described as an integrated
structure *of relationships* among developed and developing higher mental
functions acquired through material *interaction. *This psychological
description of a child focuses on *interrelationships *between functions,
rather than considering psychological functions in isolation. For example,
two year old children tend to be "directed" more by reaction to what they
can immediately perceive than by their willful formation of an *imagined
possibility (i. e. a thought)*"

And this definition of thought AS "imagined possibility" [described as "a
function" experienced as "inner form"] returns us to the place of the
"imaginal" within hope and the "not yet" formed"

Hope as a function experienced as "thought" interrelated reciprocally with
willful formation.
Zinchenko's oscillation that haunts his thoughts/imagination/possibility.

On Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 5:32 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

Hi David-

Good luck with the history of TESOL!

On the issue of culture and history as product and process.  I think there
is some value
in considering a complementary "other side" of your solution. A sort of why

You write that: I take it that "Cultural Historical" deliberately puts the
cart before the
horse: history is the process, and culture is its product. And why not?

I get that. Artifacts are often thought of as products too. At a different
level of analysis, or maybe from a different temporal perspective, culture
is a process that spews out history as one of its products.

In a domain I know better than linguistics, I think it is perhaps useful to
think of Skinner's methods as also "defeating history" by creating an all
encompassing relevant history for the orgaism in the box. So as a graduate
student, curvers of particular reinforcement ratios for pigeons and
sophomore looked just alike.  There is a rumor this approach did not do so
well for language, but if I understood you correctly, Chomsky had his own
way of defeating history.


On Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 1:10 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>

I take it that "Cultural Historical" deliberately puts the cart before
horse: history is the process, and culture is its product. And why not?
Natural language semantics works this way too; you will find tht
is much more common than "as a result" or even "so" in spoken language.
Because we live here, it is the present that needs to be accounted fo;
is why we have unruly perfective "aspects" like "past-in-the-present"
"The worst has been averted"). But of course today's culture is

I don't think that a theme is a "concept area". Halliday's point is that
ANY concept area can be measured and treated mathematically, ANY concept
area can be treated historically, and so ANY concept area can be treated
meaning. Take, for example, such wildly disparate areas as computers on
one hand and consciousness on the other. It is possible to treat both as
ways of processing meaning, so long as we have a definition of meaning
is broad enough (something like "information which is encoded within

In 1954, my father and my mother published this paper together.


As you can see, it's about the "odd ball" problem: you have twelve balls
and and a balance, and you know that one of them is lighter or heavier
the others; what is the minimum number of balancings you have to do to
it? They treated the problem as "entropy of information", in other words,
as an essentially semantic problem, although of course entropy can also
regarded as a purely physical phenomenon.

I do not want to make exaggerated claims for applied linguistics. We are
essentially a set of problems in search of a theory. But the way this
of affairs came about is that in the early sixties Chomsky divorced
theoretical linguistics from real world problems, by creating an object
study that was purely imaginary: "competence" as opposed to performance,
and the competence of a non-existent perfect native speaker in a
speech community to boot. Part of the discussion of Chomsky's
on the list is a discussion of that fundamental break, which, like
Saussure's break, really did throw linguistics back to the pre-historical
(i.e., thematically speaking, the pre-nineteenth century) age.

Enrollment in linguistics departments cratered in response to this;
wanted to devote a career to studying arcane branches of X-bar syntax.
Applied linguistics (and also perhaps Communication, since not everybody
interested in language was willing to undertake a lifetime of exile) was
response to this. Applied ling begat TESOL, which in an effort to avoid
becoming a nursing degree has become, alas, a kind of MBA for applied
linguists. As you can see, the movement has been to move towards "real
world problems" (and towards money) and away from theory. It has also
a flight from history: I am teaching a course in the history of TESOL
semester, and I am astonished at the number of books that claim that
teaching English began in the twentieth century. We are going to start
course, next week, in 1413, when Henry Vth becomes King of England.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign STudies

On 23 February 2015 at 13:50, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

I have had similar thoughts, David.
The Dept of Communication we set up after I came to UCSD is referred to
an "inter-disciplinary department." I much preferred to (and prefer to,
although my day for influencing
such matters is well past) refer to our task as building an "inter
discipline." I thought that perhaps mediation could serve as a unifying

did you mean to say we should declare applied linguistics as the
home of chat and focus on a natural language semantics? Or is there a
disciplinary description that includes applied linguistics and natural
language semantics but perhaps has other contributing streams of

right now cultural neurobiology seems to promoting itself as a
transdiscipline that is treads on chat.

For fun I wondered about the following from your note:

 "culture and history (where I take one is product and
the other process)."
 Which is which?
Maybe a mobius strip?

On Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 2:06 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>

CHAT has been variously described as “multi-disciplinary” or
“inter-disciplinary”. It seems to me that this formulation has left
undefined the depth and nature of interaction between disciplines and
all between CHAT on the one hand and discipline-based praxis on the
There's a similar problem in applied linguistics that might help.
Dell Hymes's critique of Chomsky, and of the separation of competence
performance, applied linguists more or less rejected the idea of the
native speaker/hearer in a homogeneous speech community who knows his
language perfectly". We all tried to include “real world problems” in
linguistics instead, and this meant including the other disciplines
have grown up around those problems: foreign language teaching,
lexicography, and discourse analysis.

Then Widdowson distinguished between a disciplinary “linguistics
where linguistic theory is simply applied to problems like forensics
compiling computer corpora, and a more multi-disciplinary “applied
linguistics” where the relevance of linguistic insights to problems
mediated along with that of other disciplines, as we must in language

For some purposes, that may not be a bad thing. In fact, the term
linguistics" seems to suggest a many-splendored technology rather
unified and unifying scientific theory. Not so with CHAT, which
the linked notions of culture and history (where I take one is
the other process) and ends with theory. Theory suggests something
more conceptual than complexive.

Halliday argues that terms like “multi-disciplinary” and
“inter-disciplinary” imply that the real work, or the “locus of
still belongs in the disciplines themselves, and that a
approach is essentially a matter of bridge-building, assembling
disciplines into what we might call a complex, that is, a grouping of
disciplines which is complex by virtue of its many parts and highly

Instead, Halliday proposes a much more conceptually unified
calls “transdisciplinary”, with an orientation “outwards” towards
discipline-transcendent themes rather than “inwards” towards
discipline-specific content. These different unifying themes have
at different moments in intellectual history.

The earliest to emerge was mathematics which helped to unite the
branches of “natural philosophy” into physics in the seventeenth
while in the nineteenth century the theme of evolution united the
botany, zoology, economics and eventually, through cosmological
even geology, physics and chemistry were annexed to the genetic
In the twentieth century, “structure” emerged as a theme uniting all
above to psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Today, according to
Halliday, the emerging theme seems to be the science of meaning.

It seems to me that the historical and cultural strands explain very
how the strands of CHAT came together in the last century. But maybe
applied linguistic engagement with natural language semantics in this
century can provide CHAT an opportunity to participate in and perhaps
lead the transdisciplinary project.

David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
that creates history. Ernst Boesch.

It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
that creates history. Ernst Boesch.