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[Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science

Just in a short-hand:

Concrete Specific:  Zasetsky (The man with the shattered world)  

Concrete General: People with traumatic brain injury during WWII

Abstract General: Brain is a mosaic of specific domains with actions that interact in dual stimulations (not pure will)

Abstract Specific:  A man acts to recall using images; it fails on a certain target.  The man starts appears to abandon the recall by acting an intimately related system – e.g., reciting the alphabet.  But the recital is “interrupted” when it bumps into the original recall target and the recall is successful.  


For diagnosis and/or treatment, we must rise to the concrete specific.


Sorry I don’t have time to develop this further but I am sure many on this list do, and I know that Luria and Sacks did so in wondrous and glorious instances.




From: Andy Blunden [mailto:ablunden@mira.net] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 11:21 AM
To: Peg Griffin; 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'
Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science


Could you give an example, Peg?


*Andy Blunden* 

On 2/09/2015 1:14 AM, Peg Griffin wrote:

What has always helped me – and helps me appreciate Luria and Sachs – with rising to the concrete is this funny little square I made (based on the even funnier JoHari window after Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, I heard). I can think better by working to fill in each of the four cells in the square about an issue of interest.   It helps me think about genetically primary examples in mathematics curricula, too.
  Concrete       Abstract
A romantic square, 
-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Rod Parker-Rees
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 4:55 AM
To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
Thanks for posting this, Andy.
I found Luria's account fascinating, particularly because of his reference to 'the beauty of the art of science' and his observation that 'The eye of science does not probe “a thing,” an event isolated from other things or events. Its real object is to see and understand the way a thing or event relates to other things or events'.
We are able to communicate because we are able to agree (more or less) on ways of organising experience into shareable categories but our communication ranges across a whole spectrum of ways of using these categories. Luria refers to classical and romantic branches of science but he also acknowledges the differences between 'poetic' use of language and more routine, formulaic forms of communication. The romantic focus on an 'individual' can only ever be conducted in the medium of a very un-individual language and no person's life could possibly be understood without reference to relationships with other persons which then spread roots and branches out to a forest of connections, causes and consequences.
David wrote of the impossibility of 'rising' to the level of theory if one were to immerse oneself in the study of an individual case and Luria cites Marx's description of science as 'ascending to the concrete'. As Luria goes on to conclude 'People come and go, but the creative sources of great historical events and the important ideas and deeds remain' so, in this sense, what matters is the contribution individuals make to something bigger and more enduring than themselves but Luria also writes that 'Romantics in science want neither to split living reality into its elementary components nor to represent the wealth of life's concrete events in abstract models that lose the properties of the phenomena themselves'.
I think Luria's account of Sherashevsky's mental experience is particularly interesting because it may reveal something about how all minds work, albeit that Sherashevsky's 'limen' may have been 'set' lower than most people's, allowing him to notice the sensory associations which words bring with them in a way which, for most of us, may occur only at a pre-conscious level. This provides a particularly powerful reminder of the inescapable fact that every person's use of a shared language (whether of words, gestures, behaviours or any other units of meaning) is just the surface of a pool of connections and associations which can never be shared with or known by anyone else. However romantic our focus may be, we can only go so far in understanding another person's understanding and much less far in communicating that to other people (knowing someone is a very different thing from being able to share that knowledge in a  rich and meaningful way). And of course, on the other side of the 
spectrum, classical scientists who pretend that their knowledge is entirely pure and untainted by the personal associations that swirl beneath the limens of their knowing are just inventing stories!
I apologise for rambling but I am particularly interested in what lies beneath the concrete because of my focus on how very young children are able to make sense of a world which, for adults, is so powerfully dominated by abstractions.
All the best,
-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: 01 September 2015 05:17
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Oliver Sacks/Romantic Science
Try this, in Word this time.
*Andy Blunden*
On 1/09/2015 1:32 PM, mike cole wrote:

​It might be helpful to this discussion if someone would post the 
chapter on Romantic Science from Luria's autobiography which MUST be 
somewhere public in pdf. It appears that I do not have one.
After reading what the person said, then discussion of the ideas seems 
appropriate. Ditto Sacks, who has written a couple of extended essay's 
on his view of Romantic Science.
It is true that the Russian psychologists, erudite as they were, were 
not sociologists. Nor were they anthropologists. The nature of their 
enterprise encompassed those fields and more.
Doing Romantic Science and immersing oneself in the individual case in 
no way excludes inclusion of sociology, anthropology, in their work.
Nor does Luria argue so.
On Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 7:29 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com 
 <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com> <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com>> wrote:
    I think the problem with this view of romantic science
    is that it
    completely precludes building a psychology on a
    sociology. In that sense
    (and in others), Vygotsky wasn't a romantic scientist
    at all. Vygotsky
    certainly did not believe in "total immersion in the
    individual case"; such
    an immersion is a refusal to rise to the level of
    theory. I'm not sure
    Luria was romantic that way either: "the Man with a
    Shattered Mind" and
    "The Memory of Mnemonist" are really exceptions.
    Remember the main
    criticism of Luria's book "The Nature of Human
    Conflicts" was always that
    it was too quantitative.
    There are, of course, some areas of psychology that
    are well studied as
    case histories. Recently, I've been looking into
    suicidology, and in
    particular the work of Edwin Shneidman, who pioneered
    the linguistic
    analysis of suicide notes (and who appears to have
    been influenced, as
    early as the 1970s, by Kasanin and by Vygotsky's work
    on schizophrinia).
    Now you would think that if ever there was a field
    that would benefit from
    total immersion in the individual case, this is one.
    But Shneidman says
    that suicide notes are mostly full of trite, banal
    phrases, and as a
    consequence very easy to code--and treat quantiatively
    (one of his first
    studies was simply to sort a pile of real and
    imitation suicide notes and
    carefully note the criteria he had when he made
    correct judgements). And of
    course the whole point of Durkheim's work on suicide
    is that the individual
    case can be utterly disregarded, since the great
    variations are
    sociological and the psychological variables all seem
    trivial, transient,
    or mutually cancelling when we look at suicide at a
    large scale (as we must
    these days). Shneidman says he has never read a
    suicide note he would want
    to have written.
    David Kellogg
    On Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 9:21 AM, Andy Blunden
    <ablunden@mira.net  <mailto:ablunden@mira.net> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
    > As little as I understand it, Larry, Oliver Sacks'
    style of Romantic
    > Science was his complete immersion in the individual
    case before him, and
    > development of a science of complete persons. The
    paradigm of this type of
    > science was Luria. A limit case of "Qualitative
    Science" I suppose. The
    > opposite is the study of just one aspect of each
    case, e.g. facial
    > recognition, and the attempt to formulate a
    "covering law" for just this
    > aspect.
    > Andy
    > *Andy Blunden*
    > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/> <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
    > On 1/09/2015 8:40 AM, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
    >> Mike,
    >> I recall in an obituary in the NYTimes that
    naysayers were cited in
    >> reviewing Oliver Sacks’ life work. I am wondering
    if some of that push back
    >> was related to his practice of romantic science,
    which, if I understand
    >> from things Andy has written, involves immersion in
    the phenomena of
    >> interest in search of a unit of analysis. Goethe,
    for example, immersed
    >> himself in the phenomena of living things. His
    writing prefigures the cell
    >> as a unit of analysis, but the technology of
    microscopes could not confirm
    >> such a unit until later on. Your contrasting Bruner
    and Sacks makes me
    >> wonder if the subject, not just the object, is at
    issue. Different styles
    >> of research bring different construals. This may be
    the bane of
    >> objectivist, empiricist science but does it really
    make Sacks less of a
    >> researcher and just a lowly clinician?
    >> Henry
    >>> On Aug 30, 2015, at 7:02 PM, mike cole
    <mcole@ucsd.edu  <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu> <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>> wrote:
    >>> Hi Laura-- I knew Oliver primarily through our
    connections with Luria and
    >>> the fact that we
    >>> independently came to embrace the idea of a
    romantic science. He was a
    >>> shy
    >>> and diffident person. You can get that feeling,
    and the difference
    >>> between
    >>> him and Jerry Bruner in this regard in the
    interview with them that
    >>> someone
    >>> pirated on
    >>> to youtube.
    >>> Jerry is very old but last heard from by me,
    engaging intellectually all
    >>> the while.
    >>> mike
    >>> On Sun, Aug 30, 2015 at 5:18 PM, Laura Martin
    <martinl@azscience.org  <mailto:martinl@azscience.org> <mailto:martinl@azscience.org>>
    >>> wrote:
    >>> Thanks, Mike. A number of years ago I had the
    privilege of spending an
    >>>> evening with Sacks when Lena Luria was visiting
    Jerry Bruner and Carol
    >>>> Feldman in NY.  I stood in for Sylvia who
    couldn't make the dinner - it
    >>>> was
    >>>> an extraordinary evening in many ways. Do you
    ever hear from Bruner? I
    >>>> wonder if he's still active.
    >>>> Laura
    >>>> Sent from my iPad
    >>>> On Aug 30, 2015, at 3:29 PM, mike cole
    <mcole@ucsd.edu  <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu> <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>> wrote:
    >>>> Dear Colleagues ---
    >>>> I am forwarding, with personal sadness, the news
    that Oliver Sacks has
    >>>> succumbed to cancer.
    >>>> Its not a surprise, but a sad passing indeed.
    >>>> mike
    >>>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    >>>> Date: Sun, Aug 30, 2015 at 3:07 PM
    >>>> Subject: NYTimes.com: Oliver Sacks Dies at 82;
    Neurologist and Author
    >>>> Explored the Brain’s Quirks
    >>>> To: lchcmike@gmail.com  <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com> <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>
    >>>>   Sent by sashacole510@gmail.com
     <mailto:sashacole510@gmail.com> <mailto:sashacole510@gmail.com>: Oliver Sacks Dies at
    82; Neurologist
    >>>> and Author Explored the Brain’s Quirks
    >>>> <
    http://p.nytimes.com/email/re?location=InCMR7g4BCKC2wiZPkcVUieQKbejxL4a <http://p.nytimes.com/email/re?location=InCMR7g4BCKC2wiZPkcVUieQKbejxL4a&user_id=bd31502e6eb851a9261827fdfbbcdf6d&email_type=eta&task_id=1440972441657668&regi_id=0> &user_id=bd31502e6eb851a9261827fdfbbcdf6d&email_type=eta&task_id=1440972441657668&regi_id=0>
    >>>> By
    >>>> Dr. Sacks explored some of the brain’s strangest
    pathways in
    >>>> best-selling
    >>>> case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife
    for a Hat,” achieving
    >>>> a
    >>>> level of renown rare among scientists.
    >>>> Or, copy and paste this URL into your browser:
    >>>> <
    http://p.nytimes.com/email/re?location=InCMR7g4BCKC2wiZPkcVUieQKbejxL4a <http://p.nytimes.com/email/re?location=InCMR7g4BCKC2wiZPkcVUieQKbejxL4a&user_id=bd31502e6eb851a9261827fdfbbcdf6d&email_type=eta&task_id=1440972441657668&regi_id=0> &user_id=bd31502e6eb851a9261827fdfbbcdf6d&email_type=eta&task_id=1440972441657668&regi_id=0>
    >>>> To
    >>>> get unlimited access to all New York Times
    articles, subscribe today.
    >>>> See
    >>>> Subscription Options.
    >>>> <
    http://p.nytimes.com/email/re?location=4z5Q7LhI+KVBjmEgFdYACDuqzkg7rwCIjbQiYyNWYJIW5drsCg04xD2q1X6bqVB/vYPHy+JP5GfoOOml3K0i6GaUY7fZ7jcK869mPAvEGfk= <http://p.nytimes.com/email/re?location=4z5Q7LhI+KVBjmEgFdYACDuqzkg7rwCIjbQiYyNWYJIW5drsCg04xD2q1X6bqVB/vYPHy+JP5GfoOOml3K0i6GaUY7fZ7jcK869mPAvEGfk=&user_id=bd31502e6eb851a9261827fdfbbcdf6d&email_type=eta&task_id=1440972441657668&regi_id=0> &user_id=bd31502e6eb851a9261827fdfbbcdf6d&email_type=eta&task_id=1440972441657668&regi_id=0>
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    http://www.nytimes.com/adx/bin/adx_click.html?type=goto <http://www.nytimes.com/adx/bin/adx_click.html?type=goto&opzn&page=secure.nytimes.com/mem/emailthis.html&pos=Frame6A&sn2=6da5bd5a/78e3a264&sn1=1071d68d/49278277&camp=FoxSearchlight_AT2015-1977432-August-C&ad=MistressAmerica_336x90-NOW&goto=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Efandango%2Ecom%2Fmistressamerica%5F182432%2Fmovieoverview> &opzn&page=secure.nytimes.com/mem/emailthis.html&pos=Frame6A&sn2=6da5bd5a/78e3a264&sn1=1071d68d/49278277&camp=FoxSearchlight_AT2015-1977432-August-C&ad=MistressAmerica_336x90-NOW&goto=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Efandango%2Ecom%2Fmistressamerica%5F182432%2Fmovieoverview
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    >>>> | The New York Times Company
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    >>>> >
    >>>> | NYTimes.com 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018
    >>>> --
    >>>> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a
    natural science with an
    >>>> object 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
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an 
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch

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