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[Xmca-l] Re: The Stuff of Words



Ontogeny- up to an age a childcannot retain the image of a thing she has seen.Phylogeny- up to the emergence ofthe–human-thinking-man- no architect was there to boast of having the patternof a house which was going to be built on later time. The beavers , birds ,ants , etc. were in fact doing according to the in-built plans rather thanidealizing it first.  Therefore , when we say “…everytable embodies an order (read history again) imposed by thinking human beings” ,we are bound to –and it’s a very weighty burden on our shoulders—primarily thinkof what was that which took us to this point of time or to this boundary of development.  Once one good colleague with respectto Engels’ saying said it was long time ago to conclude that nowadays it’s ‘thought’which reigns ignoring the facts that :1. This current brilliant ‘thought’owes its very existence to the long history of ‘ideal-less’ creatures living in‘un-self-hood’ or anonymity which ruled over the fate of disastrous man surroundedby all sorts of ir-realities , fancies , phantoms , mirages , whims, witchcraftand Talisman .2. Even nowadays you still ignorethe fact that you yourselves put finger upon something that is indispensable tothe emergence or creation of signs , that is , the material stuff on which signmust necessarily be inscribed or laid down. The point you add with sufficient negligence, of course , is that you say : “See ! this trivial mean base stuff you call materialbecomes into ashes in one blink of the eye ; it is consumed and finished up tothe tiniest particle because it just has ‘use value’ ; But see this one ,heavenly stuff , God’s light on earth , Socrates’ spell of mouth , the essenceof eternity so on so forth .  Tautology : matter is notconsumed/finished up. The form changes. With ‘ideal’, you made people repeatthemselves because you know and deny. Materials and ideals are two distinctessences . The latter are essentially reflections and on a final countsecondary. They are mutually affected dialectically but they are not interchangeable orreplaceable. The material ground does not exhaust and is firm on its very legs. But the swinging sustained ideal not knowing about where it has lost his identification card locates in a queue so that its turn for identity is reached (somewhere to sit on). Between the neuronalprocesses and some material ground for the ideal to stick to , to lie in , tolay on , to get calm and located , lies a vast expanse of not perfectly known entity on large part of which the poor ideal should flutter aimlessly.  Ilyenko inspired by Marx (Talers)does stress that all values exist –but for the thinking human being and in sofar as the whole universe is humanized by such being.  In economic sense to which semiologistsand modernists stick to push to their aims , as you know, just in capitalist formationthere’s talk of commodity and exchange value . In barter and subsistence economyno such formulation has been worked out.  But words were in use in otherformations. Then , if , as one scholar remarked , involving in word/statements/discourses/utterancesactivities analogically and properly equalized involving in goal-oriented jointMATERIAL processes , of necessity it came out that pre-capitalist formations were toppledbecause of the revolutions carried out by the victorious masses who had beenexploited by the semiologic impositions.  If you argue that in , say , feudalformation words were not a means of exploitation as we have in capitalism ,then I have to counter-argue that words genetically and developmentally in alleras had been one value but analytically divisible into two moments ontologicaland epistemological .BestHaydi     

      From: David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
 To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> 
 Sent: Monday, 1 May 2017, 11:14:53
 Subject: [Xmca-l] The Stuff of Words
   
Gordon Wells quotes this from an article Mike wrote in a Festschrift for
George Miller. Mike is talking about artefacts:

"They are ideal in that they contain in coded form the interactions of
which they
were previously a part and which they mediate in the present (e.g., the
structure of
a pencil carries within it the history of certain forms of writing). They
are material
in that they are embodied in material artifacts. This principle applies
with equal
force whether one is considering language/speech or the more usually noted
forms
of artifacts such as tables and knives which constitute material culture.
What
differentiates a word, such as “language” from, say, a table. is the
relative prominence
of their material and ideal aspects. No word exists apart from its material
instantiation (as a configuration of sound waves, or hand movements, or as
writing,
or as neuronal activity), whereas every table embodies an order imposed by
thinking
human beings."

This is the kind of thing that regularly gets me thrown out of journals by
the ear. Mike says that the difference between a word and a table is the
relative salience of the ideal and the material. Sure--words are full of
the ideal, and tables are full of material. Right?

Nope. Mike says it's the other way around. Why? Well, because a word
without some word-stuff (sound or graphite) just isn't a word. In a
word, meaning is solidary with material sounding: change one, and you
change the other. But with a table, what you start with is the idea of the
table; as soon as you've got that idea, you've got a table. You could
change the material to anything and you'd still have a table.

Wells doesn't throw Mike out by the ear. But he does ignore the delightful
perversity in what Mike is saying, and what he gets out of the quote is
just that words are really just like tools. When in fact Mike is saying
just the opposite.

(The part I don't get is Mike's notion that the structure of a pencil
carries within it the history of certain forms of writing. Does he mean
that the length of the pencil reflects how often it's been used? Or is he
making a more archaeological point about graphite, wood, rubber and their
relationship to a certain point in the history of writing and erasing?
Actually, pencils are more like tables than like words--the idea has to
come first.)

David Kellogg
Macquarie University