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[Xmca-l] Re: The Stuff of Words


I'm afraid I don't know what "these examples" refers to. You mean sloppy
formulations like "cultural capital", "symbolic violence", etc.? I
certainly didn't mean that these were qualia of living at all. I think they
are misuses of concepts. I was saying that they are empty metaphors which
muddle up the important distinction between signs and tools (because
"culture" refers to signs, and "capital" is about tools; "symbols" is
semiotic and "violence" is the work of weapons, etc.). I am afraid that
"use value/exchange value" applied to words is probably similar:
commodities are not like words; when we "exchange" words, we hang onto all
of their value.

I also don't know what "livability" means, or what you mean by "qualia of
living" or how these might differ from life itself. I can't find a finite
verb in the two sentences that follow ("Livabiliy being..." and "Livability
as becoming....") and also in your final question "Taking and being taken
expressing...?"), so I can't interpret them. I don't know what it would
mean to abstract livability from life. Do you mean killing people?

I do know something about "taking and being taken". When people use
language like "construct and is constructed by" or "mutually defining",
etc. they are indeed being dialectical. The problem is that they are
portraying a relationship as symmetrical when it very rarely is. So for
example, if I assume that what you mean by "abstracting livability from
life" is in fact murdering people, there isn't any way I can construe this
as a symmetrical relationship. Hamlet kills Claudius three times (one with
the sword, again with its poison, and again with the chalice). But Claudius
does not kill Hamlet; Laertes does. All Claudius does is to exchange signs
with Laertes.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Fri, May 5, 2017 at 12:40 AM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> David,
> If I follow you are these examples of livability (qualia of living)
> differing from life.
> In other word – living OF life.
> Now your examples of the brain (getting these examples) through words and
> other people.
> Livability being this quality of words and other people within  which you,
> I, we, (are taken).
> Livability as becoming (process) through reciprocity OF the quality of
> taking/beong taken within a SINGLE potential reciprocity.
> Question: If we abstract livability from life (as a reflective process)
> what are the qualities of life remaining with livability put aside (
> through thought).
> David,  am trying to grasp (prehensile) the relation of taking and being
> taken within reciprocal livability that adds this something to life.
> (words, social relations, perceptions, varifocality, under the theme living)
> Taking and being taken expressing reciprocity and exploring intentionality?
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> From: David Kellogg
> Sent: May 3, 2017 3:21 PM
> To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Stuff of Words
> Well, yes. But if present day conditions are the REVERSE of the conditions
> under which Vygotsky was writing--that is, if the present trend is to
> subsume labor under language instead of the other way around--don't we need
> this distinction between signs and tools more than ever? That is, if sloppy
> formulations like "cultural capital", "symbolic violence", "use/exchange
> value of the word" are erasing the distinction between a mediating activity
> which acts on the environment and a mediating activity which acts on other
> mediators and on the self, and which therefore has the potential for
> reciprocity and recursion, isn't this exactly where the clear-eyed
> philosophers need to step in and straighten us out?
> I think that instead what is happening is that our older generation
> of rheumy-eyed philosophers (present company--usually--excluded) are too
> interested in the "tool power" of large categories and insufficiently
> interested in fine distinctions that make a difference. But perhaps it
> is also that our younger generation of misty-eyed philosophers are, as
> Eagleton remarked, more interested in copulating bodies than exploited
> ones. Yet these fine distinctions that do make a difference equally allow
> generalization and abstraction and tool power, and the copulating flesh and
> the exploited muscles are one and the same.
> Take, for example, your remark about the Fourier transform performed by the
> ear (not the brain--the inner ear cochlea--I can see the world centre for
> studying the cochlea from my office window). Actually, it's part of a wide
> range of "realisation" phenomena that were already being noticed by
> Vygotsky. In realisational phenomena, you don't have cause and effect, just
> as in cause and effect you don't have "association". Words don't "cause"
> meaning: they provide material correlates for meaning and in that sense
> "realise" them as matter. Meaning does not "cause" wording; it correlates
> wording to a semantics--an activity of consciousness--and through it to a
> context of situation or culture, and in that sense "realises" it.
> So in his lecture on early childhood, Vygotsky says that the stabilization
> of forms, colours, and sizes by the eye in early childhood is part of a two
> way relationship, a dialogue, between the sense organs and the brain. The
> reason why we don't see a table as a trapezoid, when we stand over it and
> compare the front with the back, the reason why we don't see a piece of
> chalk at nighttime as black, the reason why we have orthoscopic perception
> and we don't see a man at a distance as a looming midget is that the brain
> imposes the contrary views on the eye. And where does the brain get this
> view if not from language and from other people?
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
> On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 11:55 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> > Personally, I think the first and most persistently important thing is to
> > see how much alike are tables and words.
> >
> > But ... Vygotsky was very insistent on the distinction because he was
> > fighting a battle against the idea that speech ought to be subsumed under
> > the larger category of labour. He had to fight for semiotics against a
> > vulgar kind of orthodox Marxism. But we here in 2017 are living in
> > different times, where we have Discourse Theory and Linguistics while
> > Marxism is widely regarded as antique. As Marx said "Just as philosophers
> > have given thought an independent existence, so they were bound to make
> > language into an independent realm." and we live well and truly in the
> > times when labour is subsumed under language, and not the other way
> around.
> >
> > Everyone knows that a table is unlike a word. The point it to understand
> > how tables are signs and word are material objects.
> >
> > Andy
> >
> > (BTW David, back in 1986 I walked in an offshoot of the bionic ear
> > project. The ear has a little keyboard that works like a piano keyboard
> in
> > reverse, making a real time Fourier transform of that air pressure wave
> and
> > coding the harmonics it in nerve impulse. The brain never hears that
> > pressure signal.)
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > Andy Blunden
> > http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> > On 3/05/2017 7:06 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
> >
> >> David (and or Mike, Andy, anyone else), could you give a bit more on
> that
> >> distinction between words and tables?
> >>
> >> And could you say how (and whether) (human, hand) nails are different
> >> from tables; and then how nails are different from words?
> >>
> >> Alfredo
> >> ________________________________________
> >> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> >> on behalf of David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> >> Sent: 01 May 2017 08:43
> >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> >> 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
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >