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[Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes

Hi Chris, 
Bostonian Batsonians are twice as good! 

As I read Bateson, the difference is this: when relations between parts and wholes enter in the realm of Creatura, they are differences that make a difference. Once you come to see how a part relates to a whole, you (or knowing) no longer are the same; different levels of learning may take place, from zero learning to learning three or what Engeström calls expansive learning. Zero learning may take place within any physical system: systems change because of experience too. But they do not learn about their contexts of learning. Living creatures do. 

As an example, I can think of phase transitions of a gas (into liquid and solid states). For water (and any other material), you can change the context of this transitions by adjusting any of its criteria: you can dramatically drop pressure and boil water into gas at relatively low temperatures, below 100 celsius degrees. And you can change the contexts, and the principles will remain the same (at least within a certain range of materials/measures within newtonian physics, possibly non-newtonian patterns are observed, I am not a physicist, but I presume that whatever the model that may describe those non-newtonian systems best, they do not learn to discern their own contexts in the sense living creatures do. But I foresee that at least two objections may emerge from here, the first being whether we should include as living systems such as Gaia, which usually are not thought of as living and therefore not part of Creatura; and the second being the artificial intelligence, a possible thought weak example of which may be the text corrector that writes Bostonian when I type Bostonian, and which may at some point learn that I most likely mean Betsonian (not the case of my webmail, which keeps correcting me every time I write the word).
In creatura, parts-whole relations may enter into the system's development so as to alter the system itself. This happens in evolution for all species, and in ontological development as well. The ways in which it happens differently in the former and the in latter respectively (in evolution and in ontological development) may be very important issues for a cultural-historical psychology, which needs to explain culture as a feature of biology, and not as something made of a different stuff (like the stuff of which dreams are made) that nonetheless expresses itself through biological stuff. 

In Pleroma, relations between part and whole do not become the object of descriptions within pleroma. A tree does know its context in the sense that its evolution as a species is attached to part-wholes relations in a very different way than the same can be said of stones. 

So how is there not a dualism? Well, yes, there is a dualism: there are part-whole relations as part of non-living systems, and part-whole relations as part of living systems. But the dualism is a taken to be an outcome of our analysis, not an ontological claim concerning of what sort of stuff is the world made. In Bateson, part-whole relations in the realm of Pleroma are a domain of the Creatura. All in Creatura develops out of the same stuff that we find in Pleroma: the firing of our neurons rests on physical laws. But the changes in the pattern of the firing are not accountable by those laws. This we all know; or perhaps should know; or maybe I am wrong. But the point is that, with all this, I don't think Bateson means that there is a dualism between things as such on the one hand, and relations between things on the other. That would be something like a Cartesian dualism: there are things in themselves, and then there are relations between them. The former are material, the latter immaterial. Things are stuff, and then somehow the psyche emerges out of it. No.
What Bateson proposes is not a dualism of two substances (one material and one immaterial), but rather a way to understand how systems of things-in-context exist at qualitatively different levels of complexity depending on how their past comes to change their future. That is a genetic, historical account to me, though not directly grounded in dialectical materialism as Vygotsky's was. Things enter into relations differently. But there are not two sort of stuff, things, and then relations. 

I hope this is not a mess and I make some sense of Bateson here. Sorry for the length... 
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Christopher Schuck <schuckthemonkey@gmail.com>
Sent: 06 September 2016 20:06
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes


As a current Bostonian who appreciates your perspective, I would suggest
that you were not entirely in error!

Seriously, though, I have two questions about what you said in that post.
"[H]e distinguishes between Pleroma, the world of physical forces and laws,
and Creatura, the world of descriptions, of information, where relations
between wholes and parts are very different as they are in the case of the
atoms that compose the stone, or the physical laws that keep the bridge
straight." Did you mean to write "relations between wholes and parts are
very different *than* in the case of the [relations between wholes and
parts for] atoms...etc." (i.e. the relations between wholes and parts work
differently in each realm)? Or, were you referring more to the relationship
*between* wholes and parts similarly for both realms?

Also, this might be a naive question, but if he is emphasizing a specific
distinction between these two worlds, how can he sustain this without a
dualism and what then is the meaningful difference if everything in
Creatura is is made of Pleroma stuff?

Sorry if I'm missing the boat here.  Thanks, Chris

On Sat, Sep 3, 2016 at 9:25 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

> Thanks Larry for the reflections. Sorry, Bostonian was intended to be
> *Betsonian* (auto-correct often bothers)
> Alfredo
> ________________________________
> From: lpscholar2@gmail.com <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> Sent: 04 September 2016 03:19
> To: Alfredo Jornet Gil; Greg Thompson; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: RE: [Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes
> Alfredo,
> It has been awhile since I engaged with Bateson and his radical
> transformation of the meaning of *mind*
> I was approaching epistemology (ways of knowing)  from my biased location
> immersed in reading through the logic of M-P’s  institution.
> Mind in the way Bateson or Buddhism express this phenomena as you say are
> transforming the very meaning of (mind).
> When you mention the Bostonian perspective i am unfamiliar with this
> reference.
> The term *meaning* is core to M-P’s exploration of institution and his
> focus on the inseparability of the instituting & instituted subject
> *dwelling* within meaning.
> Meaning is also core to the exploration of perezhivanie and that is what
> drew me to Kym’s article. In her article she references a key moment in
> M-P’s Institution and Passivity that focuses on the centrality of meaning
> cores that develop and animate life & are inherently overcome.
> M-P speaks of a subject who:
> Invests itself, I.e., animates itself with another meaning, transforms
> itself ..., I.e., succeeds in making a meaning which is transcendent to him
> *dwell* in his I think, and (dwells) in his body AS a meaning dwells in the
> book and dwells in the cultural object.
> M-P is attempting to develop a language to express the way thinking, the
> body, books, and cultural objects all *dwell* within meaning & also the way
> the meaning the person realizes always *exceeds* the person.
> Rein mentions the tearing down and rebuilding of the temple every 20 years
> that is NOT a copy but expresses the continuation of the living form.
> There may be something relevant in these ways of expression that will add
> to our exploration of (perezhivanie).
> Bateson’s wider expression of epistemology seems to share a sense that may
> align with the notion of meaning that is being worked out in the notions of
> perezhivanie and institution
> My turn in this direction is pursuing a hunch that I share with our
> community of learners.
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> From: Alfredo Jornet Gil<mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> Sent: September 3, 2016 1:21 PM
> To: lpscholar2@gmail.com<mailto:lpscholar2@gmail.com>; Greg
> Thompson<mailto:greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>; eXtended Mind, Culture,
> Activity<mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes
> Rein, Larry,
> when I cite "Mind in the widest sense of the word" I should have inserted
> a direct reference to Bateson's Mind and Nature (1979), where Epistemology
> is defined as the science of the mind in the sense of the world of
> in-formation. In both your comments, you seem to discuss epistemology as an
> issue of a knowing subject with respect to an known object. In that realm
> of thought, yes, you distinguish between ontology and epistemology, but you
> should be aware that that is well within a dualism perspective. From the
> Bostonian perspective that I pursue here, Epistemology, knowing,
> in-formation, is not a matter of (individual, mentalistic) subject-mind,
> but a matter of pattern and relationships that make a difference. Building
> on Jung, he distinguishes between Pleroma, the world of physical forces and
> laws, and Creatura, the world of descriptions, of information, where
> relations between wholes and parts are very different as they are in the
> case of the atoms that compose the stone, or the physical laws that keep
> the bridge straight. This world includes not just humans, but more
> generally life, human consciousness being one of its aspects. There is no
> dualism here between matter and ideas in a Cartesian sense: everything in
> Creatura is made of Pleroma stuff.
> Alfredo
> From: lpscholar2@gmail.com <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> Sent: 03 September 2016 19:56
> To: Alfredo Jornet Gil; Greg Thompson; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: RE: [Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes
> Alfredo,
> I read epistemology as ways of *knowing* including knowing *being*.
> I hear ontology focused on *being* as more accurately depicted as
> *becoming* or *arising* into being.
> To *know* or to have knowledge of this arising phenomena (becoming moving
> into being as a particular ontology or working ontology) is not primary but
> is more retrospective/ reflective occurring after the event that *then*
> becomes realized consciously.
> The entre deux is *inserting* a 3rd aspect into the relational meshwork.
> This insertion may be *mediation* that is bi-directional.
> Rein refers to *ity* and the relation of subjectiv/ITY & objectiv/ITY are
> in Buddhist terms co-dependent arisings.
> For M-P the institution of both subjectiv/ity and objectivity move through
> repetition (but not repetition of the same or identical copies). The
> repetition is bi-directional regression to crystallized institutional
> knowing & the tendency for all forms to overcome their boundary
> demarcations transforming *beyond* the realm of conscious *knowing*. The
> logic of institution for M-P is a subterranean movement of embodied
> expression (gesture, inclination) through environments that precedes
> *knowing*.
> The relation of both epistemology and ontology shift with this new organ
> of sense *developing* through co-dependent arising.
> The word *passivity* will need to be inserted at some point but enough for
> one post
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> From: Alfredo Jornet Gil<mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> Sent: September 3, 2016 9:51 AM
> To: Greg Thompson<mailto:greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>; eXtended Mind,
> Culture, Activity<mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes
> Greg, Rein, Larry
> is it not that Rein was talking about *working ontologies*, but that
> institution and constitution are about epistemology? about how Mind ("in
> the widest sense of the word") goes about?
> Ontology, seems to me, has not much to do with life, but with a particular
> epistemology that concerns itself with either things or with life, but not
> with their relation (which is what epistemology is about). And in my way of
> seeing it, the interesting discussion is about epistemology. ​​I hear
> Larry's comments on the bi-directionality of part and whole, as well as
> those comments from Greg about humanly constructed or naturally
> constructed, as being about epistemology, about History, about how things
> become, not just how they are. This is not to say that it is not important
> to be clear about what one refers to when saying part, whole, or entity, or
> function, etc, but that these questions are interesting as per how they
> make our epistemologies better or worst. From an epistemological point of
> view, that relations between stones rather than stones in themselves are
> mental (of the type of ideas) is not a comment about what they are in
> themselves (as opposed to what stones are in themselves) but about their
> *genetical* function with regard to Mind. A focus on stones alone did not
> allow the concept of arch to ascend to the concrete in the  sense Andy and
> David were commenting, to develop into a new cultural form of building
> bridges. Attending to the arch-like properties of some arrangements of
> stones (bridges) did. In that sense, Rein comments on the difference
> between treating stones as entities or as characters of a formula are
> interesting, in my view, not in that they better or worse describe the
> world as it is, but in that they describe two possible ways in which we may
> go about stones and bridges in development of forms of (human) life.
> Institution and constitution are, in my view, elements of an epistemology,
> not of an ontology.
> Alfredo
> ________________________________
> From: Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
> Sent: 03 September 2016 16:27
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Cc: Alfredo Jornet Gil; David Kellogg
> Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Parts and wholes
> Rein,
> I'm confused about the ontological distinction between the stone and the
> arch. Seems like the stone is just a collection of relations between parts
> in the same way that the arch is a relation between parts of stones. The
> stone is made up of molecular relations that are subsequently made up of
> atomic relations. If you look at the atomic and molecular scale of the
> stone, it looks something like a bridge - a bundle of relations that are
> held together in time.
> And if you look across long enough scales of time, you could watch the
> relations of molecules begin to fall apart as the stones turn to dust.
> Thus if we look across longer timescales or smaller spacescales, the
> relational nature of the stone is no more "closed and implicit" than the
> arch of the bridge.
> It seems like the important difference between the two has to do with
> "humanly-constructed" vs. "naturally constructed"?  One was constructed
> (instituted) by human ideas, the other by natural ones...
> This seems less of an ontological matter and more of a practical matter of
> "how it's made".
> But, perhaps I've misunderstood the proposed ontological distinction?
> -greg
> On Sat, Sep 3, 2016 at 7:21 AM, <lpscholar2@gmail.com<mailto:l
> pscholar2@gmail.com>> wrote:
> Alfredo, I notice you referred to the “mental” in scare quotes. This
> reminds me of an earlier post where we explored the notion of the “mental”
> as an aspect of our “folk” psychology.
> In the background I also hear David Kellogg moving from material problems
> of existential problems with flooding bridges, abstracting and going
> deeper, and then re/turning to the concrete.
> Question?
> Does the language of *parts and wholes* express this bi-directional
> movement adequately?
> I also hear in the background Merleau-Panty's notion of developing “new
> organs of sense”.
> The word “repetition* in relation to same/difference seems critical.  To
> repeat the (identical) may be technology, mechanical, scientism, but
> something is lacking?
> Reading the movement of *repetition* not as (identical) or the (same) but
> as bidirectional *back and forth* through questions and answers, and
> through regression to the known and  anticipation of *something* new seems
> to be a  particular notion of movement, moving towards developing *new
> organs of sense*?
> In anticipation of discussing the meaning of perezhivanie it seems we may
> be *setting the table* for a lovely chat by opening a clearing
> Possibly, could be.
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> From: Alfredo Jornet Gil
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson