I share (what I sense is) your frustration with this debate. I see the
insistence on reason, as a variety of dualist thinking entering even
(otherwise) sophisticated discourses. Now the caveat that people "act
ALWAYS from reason [but] not necessarily with awareness of it" complicates
the matter by allowing the possibility that one's actions conform to
reasonableness criteria even if one's personal mentality doesn't actually
participate in explicit processes of reasoning. But I think this is just an
obfuscation of the basic position that humans are basically rational
creatures. One sees the influence of this perspective in a wide range of
pedagogical discourses (e.g., cognitivist and constructivist positions--and
sometimes sociocultural, too?) that construe metacognitive mastery as the
primary goal of education--the gateway to everything else. My favorite
quote on the matter (though framed in terms of consciousness) diagnoses the
causes of the position in almost poetic language:
Consciousness is a much smaller part of our mental life than we are
conscious of, because we cannot be conscious of what we are not conscious
of. How simple that is to say; how difficult to appreciate. It is like
asking a flashlight in a dark room to search around for something that does
not have any light shining upon it. The flashlight, since there is light in
whatever direction it turns, would have to conclude that there is light
everywhere. And so consciousness can seem to pervade all mentality when
actually it does not. (Jaynes, 1976, p. 23)
Jaynes, J. (1976). The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the
bicameral mind. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
<lholzman who-is-at eastsideins To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
titute.org> email@example.com, " <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent by: cc: (bcc: David H Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU)
xmca-bounces who-is-at weber.uc Subject: Re: [xmca] ISCAR - Sevilla 2005 -- Theoretical
sd.edu Concepts in CHAT and their connestion to physical
concepts and knowledge
10/06/2005 06:51 PM
Please respond to
I was also at the session Mike mentions below. While I too would like to
explore more any relationship between Vygotsky and Spinoza. And that talk
brought another thing up. I found Jan's talk to raise an intriguing/thorny
issue. I can't find my notes right now so my summary will be only enough to
make what I'm thinking (perhaps) clear. Jan was saying that human beings
ALWAYS from reason‹‹not necessarily with awareness of it but nevertheless
from reason. I was able to raise the following point with her in the
and later in a too short conversation: The position she was putting forth
was a conversational dead end because with her position, anything anybody
said will be interpreted within her framework and would overdetermine any
conversation on the matter. If people who did not agree that human beings
always act out of reason were we to say so, she would ask us/assume we were
acting out of reason, i.e., hear/interpret/place what we said in her
framework. So how could we go on? How can we talk together?
Not all differences of opinion get deadlocked in this way but I think this
> From: Mike Cole <email@example.com>
> Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
> Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2005 18:08:57 +0200
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] ISCAR - Sevilla 2005 -- Theoretical Concepts in CHAT
> their connestion to physical concepts and knowledge
> Thanks Ana, for your overview. I am checking with folks at LCHC about how
> most easily make all the abstracts of xmca members, or that xmca members
> want to
> discuss, gathered together in one place.
> I have a few clear minutes to write and have been reading with interest
> what others have
> been posting. My own feeling is that concrete issues from concrete
> might be
> of interest as possible markers for further discussion.
> For example, at a symposium chaird by Jan Derry, Vladislav Lektorsky
> about the
> centrality of formative experiments as central to cultural-historical
> methodology. this interests
> me a lot (I, too, identified this as an issue in need of discussion). I
> not have the text and
> Slava read in English which made it difficult to follow, but that topic
> his ideas are of
> interest to me for followup.
> David Bakhurst talked about questions of mediation. I got a few minutes
> talk to David about
> his paper which is on what is another of my core interests. I found it
> odd that he could
> raise as a possible difficulty the idea that from a chat perspective, the
> world could be seen
> as accessible ONLY through a mediator. This is clearly not the position
> taken by LSV or any
> of his immediate colleagues, or by anyone I know of working in this
> tradition. Much more could
> and should be discussed vis a mediation (e,g. our earlier discussion of
> whethe operations
> are mediated, or if, once they become ¨transparent¨they no longer are.
> did not get enough
> time to talk, but she raised some (apparently disputable) suggestions
> the relevance of
> Hegel and Spinoza. Since the lsv-Spinoza connection is little discussed
> the issue of
> cognition/emotion is much discussed, this was something I thought worth
> following up on.
> My computer connection is outta money.
> Other comments to come
> On 10/3/05, Ana Marjanovic-Shane <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> ISCAR in Sevilla, September 2005:
>> In a conference of this scope, where one cannot hope to have attended
>> even one 10th of all the presentations, it is hard to give any overall
>> evaluations or even impressions. But, XMCA members who did not come to
>> Sevilla, ought to have some notion of what went on there for 5 days in
>> September 2005. So those of us who were there really need to put our
>> thoughts together and give some descriptions of what went on. That is
>> not easy. There are different aspects one can write about, different
>> themes that ran through presentations, different aspects of
>> organization. I will be working from my notes -- taken in haste during
>> the workshops, from the abstracts we received and from some other
>> sources people gave us (handouts, web pages). It would be very useful if
>> someone at the XMCA headquarters could put the abstracts in pdf format
>> on the server so that everyone could have an access to them. (Mike, is
>> it possible to organize it?).
>> The conference was held in 3 buildings of the Department of Psychology,
>> Sociology and Philosophy, at the University of Sevilla. Those are new
>> buildings (not part of the University main venue in the old Tobacco
>> Factory), built with inner balconies and great visibility, so they were
>> easy to navigate. The workshops were held in auditoriums, most of which
>> had a classic layout: a podium with a blackboard and projection screen,
>> and then rows of seats and desks. Everything fixed -- unmovable. There
>> were just a few rooms without fixed benches -- with panels and chairs.
>> They were used for Poster sessions. My first fear was that the first
>> part of our session was assigned a room with fixed benches. We would
>> have to move it -- since it was an interactive drama workshop where
>> people have to have space to move, group and regroups and play!!
>> Fortunately, it was not: we were given one of the poster rooms!!
>> We usually don't consciously think of the space and its qualities when
>> we participate in activities with intellectual content. But it is
>> important. If our beliefs about the mediated quality of intellectual
>> growth and functioning are true, then we have to think about the space
>> as mediated and mediating. European universities (at least three of them
>> I know, and now Sevilla) are still mediated by another paradigm about
>> intellectual processing and education. A paradigm that Vygotsky started
>> to question 100 years ago. It takes much more to have this understanding
>> of ourselves trickle down to those who plan and build schools and
>> Participants came from many parts of the world. But not from everywhere.
>> I was happy to see people from Africa -- some of them from Rwanda! There
>> were not many Africans in the previous ISCRAT conferences. Participants
>> came from all continents. There were many people known to us on the XMCA
>> discussion list in the conference: N. Ares, D. Bakhurst, S. Chaiklin, M.
>> Cole, M. de Haan, J. Derry, Y. Engeström, S. Gaskin, A. Goncu, P.
>> Hakkarainen, L. Holzman, V. John-Stainer, E. Lampert-Shepel, C. Lee, E.
>> Matusov, D. Robbins, W-M. Roth, A. Stetsenko, A. Surmava, J. Valsiner,
>> B. van Oers, N. Veresov, G. Wells, J. Wertsch..., There were many more
>> we have to learn about.
>> The conference program listed two main themes with lots of sub themes:
>> THEME A.- Theoretical and Methodological Issues
>> THEME B.- Acting in changing worlds
>> Each workshop was classified within one of the two themes and within one
>> of its subtopics. What was hard on the conference organizers and on the
>> conference attendees was to separate workshops that tackled similar
>> problems in time: there were many workshops I wanted to go to, but they
>> were held at the same time. I always had to choose between, at least two
>> competing workshops and more often between three or four. That was very
>> hard to juggle. I ended up running from one to another, missing chunks
>> from each workshop that I wanted to hear, or just worrying that I was
>> missing something else.
>> Before the conference, I made my own selection of workshops which have
>> something to do with play and imagination. That was my personal program
>> guide, I am attaching here. However, I ended up changing it to
>> accommodate other talks which were also important to me. [Other
>> participants in Sevilla: Please send your own selection of the
>> workshops!"]. In my next postings, I will discuss some of the
>> presentations I attended. I invite you who went to Sevilla to discuss at
>> least one of the presentations: one paper, one concept you heard
>> discussed, one thought you found important in Sevilla. Each one of us
>> has a special "pet" interest, and sometimes, special ways to understand
>> or to "objectify" this interest through different selection of topics
>> and different people. Maybe you want to connect the questions we asked
>> before the Conference with your experience in the conference? Or maybe
>> you would want to mention just something unexpected, something that made
>> you think?
>> Until later.
>> Ana Marjanovic-Shane
>> 151 W. Tulpehocken St.
>> Philadelphia, PA 19144
>> Home office: (215) 843-2909
>> Mobile: (267) 334-2905
>> xmca mailing list
> xmca mailing list
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