[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Imagination or Fantasy

Ed and Huw.

The best English descriptions of Davydovian math education is in the work
of Jean Schmitau. She has articles in a couple of places, one in MCA. She
has fuller accounts that are, I believe, referenced there. Otherwise,
Galina Zuckerman, whose English is terrific, is the person I would turn to
in search of concrete, detailed, description.

Can we keep this thread on imagination? Maybe Imagination in Education
could be a thread?

Maybe Imagination and Indian Philosophy could be another subject line?

Following the threads and the way they mutually inform each other in the
course of the discussion would be facilitated, for me at least, by keeping
Imagination as the lead word to be followed by constituent "and" identifier.
As in Imagination and Indian Philosophy.

Can we self organize to have such a complex discussion using the existing,
to hand, technologies? The topic of imagination seems a fitting one on
which to try out the idea. A great variety of histories appear to lead to
this common discussion point, but they are almost mutually interpretable (
I know zero about Indian philosophy + what I am reading here.

I do know that the when Varela, Rosch, and others at Berkeley ignited the
embodied cognition movement, it was Eastern religions that they drew upon.

On imagination. What is the precise reference for the concrete-concrete
form of imagination? I found the discussion about distinguishing fantasy as
a form of imagination very helpful.

On Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 5:05 PM, Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:

> Annalisa
>       What I would like to see is an analysis of imagination or
> representation from the point of view of each of the six systems of Indian
> philosophy: Nyaya; Vaisheeshika; Sankhya; Yoga; Karma Mimansa; and Vedanta.
> It is said that knowledge is true only when it is acceptable in the light
> of each of these six systems. I had thoughts about doing such an analysis
> in the past, but realized it would be quite! nontrivial. Are you applying
> (smile)!
> Ed
> > On Dec 7, 2015, at  12:05 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:
> >
> > Greetings,
> >
> > I would like to offer a few ideas to the mix in this discussion about
> imagination vs. representation.
> >
> > Representation as a word has posed a problem in understanding modes of
> thought and cognition, and most of all, and I realize I am preaching to the
> choir, it tends to commodify the thought as an object as-if coming off a
> conveyor belt, a finished product in isolation. And as Mike points out,
> there is no conveyance of affect in this thought factory of
> representations, nor cultural-historical influences.
> >
> > The usage of "representation" also has tended to give legs to the
> mind-brain, which hasn't been helpful in our understanding (I'm sorry to
> mix my metaphors, but I think it makes a great picture). The brain becomes
> the CPU of the body.
> >
> > I'd also like to offer a few concepts that derive from Vedic theory of
> mind, and these are the vritti, and the samskara.
> >
> > Vritti translates roughly from Sanskrit as "thought-modification." I
> find this concept incredibly powerful for many reasons.
> >
> > First, it bypasses all Cartesian artifacts and constructs in how we
> think about mind.
> >
> > Second, it copes nicely with the problem that Ed and Mike are discussing
> text vs image.
> >
> > Third, it seems to have intuited neurological activity in the brain and
> body, thus uniting mind with movement, embodied thinking, affective
> thought, etc.
> >
> > And there are likely other benefits that I've not yet considered.
> >
> > So what is a vritti?
> >
> > In the Vedic paradigm, as I understand it, the mind is very subtle
> material, like light is subtle, and thus it interacts with the gross body
> while both are interacting with the world. Considering the mind as material
> means that it is not separate from the body, it is just more subtle and
> therefore we are talking about degrees of physicality rather than mind
> being an entity that exists somewhere else and a body is connected to that
> mind through the pineal gland, etc, which to this day I've never been able
> to get my head around. ;)
> >
> > The second concept that is useful is samskara, which is an impression in
> the mind. We can be born with samskaras, but also activities and thoughts
> can create samskaras. Some can be deeper and more fixed, or transient and
> shallow, or anywhere along those two continuums.
> >
> > Further, the notion of samskara as impression can be useful when
> considering obsessive thinking, plasticity, and various forms of learning.
> I don't think samskara need be fixed to the mind, perhaps also to the body,
> but I'm not sure.
> >
> > Considering samskara, it might be useful to think of the way sand can
> have impressions made upon it by the wind or the tide or... a child's
> shovel and pail.
> >
> > When the child creates a sandcastle with the tools of the shovel and
> pail, at that very point the sandcastle becomes is recognizable, it is
> considered a vritti (and the word crowns the deed). Likewise when the child
> takes the very same sand destroying the castle and then creates a starfish
> and it becomes recognizable as such, then it is another vritti. The
> important takeaway here is that the material *does not change*, but the
> shape *does*. That's why it is a "thought-modification."
> >
> > Clay as material could be another useful metaphor, in that sense. The
> potter at the wheel takes a lump of clay and makes a vase and then
> transforms the vase into a bowl, and finally a plate. Analogously, these
> would be three vrittis.
> >
> > However, the reason the vritti need not be visual is that its material
> is "mind" itself (consider mind "as-if sand" or "as-if clay"), with mind
> itself processing all perceptual information. With the same "sand" it
> creates the thought-shapes for sound, touch, smell, and taste, not only
> sight. But these are combined, not isolated as individual percepts in any
> kind of units.
> >
> > This also gets away from the traps of right-brain/left-brain theory, as
> come to think of it.
> >
> > Memory and doubt are also aspects of mind, and this might be where the
> affect comes in, because of the recognition of language, emotional content
> from the past, meaning, etc, all these various mental processes become part
> of the vritti.
> >
> > I'd also like to offer that Kant's notion of givenness also helps in
> this conception, because it is the appearances of external objects we
> perceive and feel that as-if shape the vritti as well as memory, doubt,
> recognition, and so forth. In this sense there is a kind of overlap of the
> external world onto the mind. But the reverse can be true as well. That is,
> the mind can "as-if" overlap onto the world. I'd say this is imagination.
> It could also be fantasy, but that seems to have a different affective
> stance than imagination. Imagination still possesses that self-awareness
> that it is imagined. Fantasy seems to not have that in its extreme
> manifestation, thereby taking what is imagined in place of the external
> world.
> >
> > I'm not sure what the technical term is for the moment of neural
> activity when we see the brain light up in a particular pattern in the
> brain (and likely body, but we lack the means to detect this as we do with
> an fMRI scan of the brain), but it does have a particular shape when there
> is, say, more visual stimulation than aural. The "material" of that thought
> is an electrical impulse, which is subtle, like light.
> >
> > So I think these terms are very insightful, and they can help free us
> from Cartesian conceptions and that's why I like them so much. They also do
> not conflict with Vygotsky's work, as far as I can tell.
> >
> > Kind regards,
> >
> > Annalisa
> >


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