Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand Bohr

From: Vera Steiner <vygotsky who-is-at>
Date: Wed Jun 27 2007 - 13:22:25 PDT

I just want to express my agreement with the distinctions you have
drawn. They seem very valuable in the context of this discussion,

Martin Packer wrote:

>Hi Lois,
>The attention to tools, and tool-mediated activity, is obviously important,
>and I wouldn't want to discard it. My concern is that other dimensions or
>areas of life are neglected. Whether it's Habermas' triad of instrumental
>action, communicative action, and emancipatory action... Or Foucault's
>attention to three arenas: games of truth (knowledge), power relations
>(politics), and care of the self (ethics)... there are aspects other than
>the mode of production which was central to Marx. (That's not to say they
>were of no interest to Marx, but they didn't take center stage.) Attention
>to these would surely enrichen our view of thinking. The third
>dimension/arena in particular draws attention to thinking as critique,
>rather than thinking as construction of knowledge or as instrumental
>planning, or as pragmatic tool use. Critique can surely still be
>distributed, but it involves more than smoothly using a tool, or skillfully
>playing a computer game. Do we want our kids to play games well, or to be
>able to change the game, or to design new games, or to reflect on the
>culture that celebrates these games...? Does the distinction you make
>between tool for result and tool-and-result help me figure all this out?
>On 6/26/07 3:05 PM, "Lois Holzman" <> wrote:
>>I wonder if sharing what I thought of as I read this discussion might be
>>useful. One question is, are you both talking about tools in their
>>instrumental sense? What about the distinction between tool for result and
>>tool-and-result (stemming from Vygotsky's search for method being
>>simultaneously the tool and the result of study, which I and others have
>>found important in understanding developmental and learning activity).
>>Related to that is understanding people as not only tool users but tool
>>makers. Add to that that we are creaters We create something other out of
>>what exists, including entirely new kinds of tools.
>>Is that consistent with what's being described here? If how I see it is even
>>remotely like it is meant, then a diverse grouping (including many different
>>levels of expertise
>>>From: Michael Glassman <>
>>>Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>>>Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2007 14:36:38 -0400
>>>To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>>>Conversation: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwin and Bohr
>>>Subject: RE: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus,
>>>Darwinand Bohr
>>>Why this distinction between expert and novice? What does it really buy us?
>>>And who gets to make the distinction? It seems to me in an expert/novice
>>>scenario all power lies in the hands of those who get to make this
>>>on whatever level, and get to define the two classes. Take a look at the
>>>political class in the United States, we define experts as those who have the
>>>right cultural capital, wear the right type of ties and suits, who speak in
>>>somber, modulated voices with a weary sigh of resignation, suggesting "of
>>>course you cannot see what I can see, but trust me."
>>>This is not to say every generation starts from scratch. Every generation
>>>starts with the tools that they have, but then they figure out how to use
>>>those tools to solve what invariably must be new problems, or they develop
>>>tools out of the old tools. Let's say we have a set of spears we use to hunt
>>>food. There are great spear throwers who use those spears and teach others
>>>use them as well. Their "expertise" in spear throwing gives them great power
>>>within the community. But things change, and the spears that were once used
>>>on larger animals are not as good for smaller animals. Are the spear
>>>going to give up their place in the community as "experts?" Or are they
>>>to say, well if we just wait, or if we use the spear in a different way, or
>>>is the fault of our lazy children who do not train in spear throwing the way
>>>previous generations did. Meanwhile the food supply dwindles for the
>>>community. A young person examines the spear and says, hmmm, the arrow head
>>>pierces the skin but it cannot reach the skin with these new animals that we
>>>hunt. Perhaps I can create something else - a bow and arrow perhaps. But
>>>is not an expert. Who, in a hierarchical system of knowledge development
>>>would listen and adopt the work of this young innovator? This is always the
>>>danger of a heirarchical system of knowledge development.
>>>In a more lateral system of development information is everything. As a
>>>species were are problem solvers, but our problem solving is based on the
>>>access and flow of information. I just read the most fascinating article by
>>>the economist Amriyat (sp?) Sen. In it he talks about famine. He makes a
>>>really good argument that famine is almost never about food. There is always
>>>enough food even in some of the major famines of the twentieth century. It
>>>about the lack of capability for getting to the food. At its core the lack
>>>information as a tool in obtaining this basic human function. What else is
>>>there other than information. When we define information as static and give
>>>it value separate from the problems we are working on, isn't that when we
>>>the most trouble, have the most difficulties in problems solving?
>>>I watch my son play his World of Warcraft game. I wish I knew more about it.
>>>But I see him adapting and recalibrating constantly, developing strategies
>>>processes that see incredible to me. It is a virtual world in which there
>>>no "experts." The world and my son and the other players co-exist.
>>>I don't know if I've done such a good job trying to explore this. Perhaps a
>>>problem that needs greater consideration.
>>>From: on behalf of Martin Packer
>>>Sent: Tue 6/26/2007 2:04 PM
>>>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>Subject: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand
>>>Michael, you would have each generation start on their own, from scratch? No
>>>experts, just novices? That really is a post-apocalyptic vision!
>>>My point was there is more to life (and education) than "functioning" and
>>>"information." The danger with the tool metaphor, and the emphasis on
>>>artifacts as tools, is that they reduce all of life to the production
>>>process. That is not just a conceptual mistake, it is a political agenda. To
>>>argue that thinking is not important, only tool use, is not to argue against
>>>formalization, it is to promote a purely instrumental conception of human
>>>action and interaction. It is to promote an extreme version of the division
>>>of labor, in which only a tiny elite get to think about the nature of
>>>thinking, and everyone else is simply using tools skillfully but
>>>On 6/26/07 12:40 PM, "Michael Glassman" <> wrote:
>>>>But if this information is so important, and it exists as part of the
>>>>solving tools of humanity, don't we trust humans to discover it through
>>>>own activities?
>>>xmca mailing list
>>>xmca mailing list
>>xmca mailing list
>xmca mailing list

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Received on Wed Jun 27 13:27 PDT 2007

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