Re: [xmca] Wartofsky's artifacts recast

From: Ed Wall (
Date: Tue Jan 24 2006 - 20:00:20 PST

Interestingly enough (at least, I think so -
smile) while reading this email as regards
prolepsis and the nicely sketched example, I was
reading Gadamer reading Hegel and came across the

"Now it is clear, and Hegel makes use of the fact
in his commentary, that it lies in the nature of
any beginning to be dialectical. Nothing can be
presupposed in it and it clearly reveals itself
as primary and immediate. But it is still a
beginning only if it begins a development, which
is to say that it is "mediated" by the
latter....All becoming is a becoming of something
which exists as a result of having become. That
is an ancient truth, one already formulated by
Plato in the Philebus ..."

Also, of course, there is Heidegger's

"By this understanding, the possibilities of its
Being are disclosed and regulated. Its own past -
and this always means the past of its
'generation' - is not something that *follows
along after Dasien*, but something which already
goes ahead of it."

Ed Wall

>Mike wrote:
>"So maybe the whole Wartofsky set of distinctions are irrelevant. Or need to
>be bracket/specified more?"
>I prefer the latter, at least. Re-reading what
>Wartofsky wrote (Thanks Phil), I see the
>descriptions of primary through tertiary
>artifacts occurring in a manner which is not
>located in a particular situation, but
>generalized, and so I have the same reservation
>about use of these categories as I do tool and
>sign. That is to say, in instantiation,
>something could be a tool in one circumstance
>and a sign in another. For example, in forensic
>analysis, a knife that was once a tool, an
>instrument of someone’s death, is matched in its
>shape and length to the wound, to become a sign
>in constructing the narrative of how the crime
>was committed. Similarly, if analyzed with
>Wartofsky’s categories, the primary artifact has
>become a secondary one.
>Recasting the definitions of primary -> tertiary
>in functional terms has some advantage in
>specifying further how these categories can
>themselves function in theoretical analysis:
>Primary artifacts function directly in the
>production of the means of existence and in the
>reproduction of the species.
>Secondary artifacts function in the preservation
>and transmission of the acquired skills or modes
>of action or praxis by which this production is
>carried out.
>Secondary artifacts function in preserving and
>transmitting skills, and in the production and
>use of 'primary' artifacts (e.g. tools, modes of
>social organization, bodily skills and technical
>skills in the use of tools).
>Recasting this way facilitates a functional view
>of artifacts, aligning better Wartofsky’s
>categories with analysis by Halliday, Lemke,
>Wells, and others, examining how language
>functions in activity. Then, it is easier to
>see, how, in instantiation, artifacts can be
>The first example is drawn from Gordon’s
>“Dialogic Inquiry”, (p 200) in which he shows
>how the third move in triadic dialogue, the E in
>IRE, is multifunctional: (1) in the teacher
>checking the students knowledge and (2) in
>extending the student’s answer.
>The second example comes from Jeanne, my
>coauthor, expressing how she was reconfiguring
>her classroom during the summer of 2004, in
>anticipation of a new cohort of students. To
>locate this exchange theoretically, I’d like to
>quote Mike’s description of prolepsis, which is
>essentially what Jeanne engages in when
>redesigning the classroom to the form I have
>posted on the web:
>“Only a culture-using human being can "reach
>into" the cultural past, project it into the
>future, and then "carry" that conceptual future
>"back" into the present to create the
>sociocultural environment of the newcomer.”
>Cole, cultural psychology, p 186
>Our exchange follows:
>J:” I moved the circle table over mostly because
>I wanted to make a separate meeting area too. So
>there are two meeting areas now. There will be
>another easel, right by the black board. There’s
>a yellow rug, and I’ve got two red rugs.”
>B: “Why two meeting areas?”
>J: “Well, because I have the [collaborative
>model] now, this year. So I’m going to have two
>teachers in here. There will be two teachers, me
>and Gina. And, um, so I have a higher
>population of special ed. children, so this way
>I have more leverage. I can break kids up. Gina
>and I can say OK you take the same lesson,
>differentiate it, but we can actually do it at
>the same time. Two places to work. I can meet
>with reading groups over there….
>What’s also going to happen is that this new
>meeting area is going to have more math stuff
>over here. So we’ll do more math things because
>the screen is right there. So I can pull the
>screen down and most of the kids should be able
>to sit there or at a table. All the kids will
>be able to stay right there and see the screen.
>Maybe grab a clipboard and that’s easy. And then
>the other one am going to keep more for
>literacy, read alouds, I put the big book
>holder, the chart thing, the schedule.
>Morning meeting will be in the same place. But
>I’ll have more leverage. I finally have a place
>for that chart thing, right there next to you. I
>won’t have to move it, I’ll just have to move
>the children. The pocket chart. The big pocket
>chart, which also has poems on it. So when we
>are doing nursery rhyme study, I’ll be able to
>have that in a much better place than it was
>last year. “
>Jeanne’s use of future tense, in Halliday and
>Hasan’s terms: cataphora, e.g. “will be”, “going
>to happen”, “going to have” indicates her
>projecting into the future, and her making both
>cataphoric and anaphoric reference “Morning
>meeting will be in the same place”, with “same
>place” referencing back into “the same place as
>last year” and which I understood in context.
>The exophoric references Jeanne makes to the
>artifacts in her classroom, “right there”, “over
>here”, indicate how these artifacts contribute
>to the narrative in which Jeanne tells me of the
>processes of her planning.
>Whether this future world in which Jeanne
>anticipates what will be happening with her
>children qualifies as a tertiary artifact, I’m
>still not convinced. But if it does, it has the
>following implications. The tables, the screens,
>the yellow rug, the red rug, the easel, the
>circle table, are all secondary artifacts for
>the children, who are learning to read, write,
>do math, etc.. They function in the children’s
>learning activities during the day, qualifying
>as secondary artifacts. But for Jeanne, the
>physical locations and orientations of these
>materials function in her planning for the
>entire school year, anticipating the diversity
>in children’s learning, the role of other
>adults, the curriculum that the children are
>about to learn, supporting her imagining what
>will happen in her classroom.. The spatial
>location of these artifacts mediate Jeanne’s
>thinking about what is to happen in the
>classroom. As in Mike’s description of
>prolepsis, Jeanne has not yet met the childre!
> n, but is configuring her room in expectation
>of their future activity. In her planning, in
>this instantiation, the very same artifacts that
>function secondarily in the children’s learning,
>function in a tertiary manner in Jeanne’s
>Does this make sense?
>From: (bb)
>To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>Subject: Gordon Wells on Halliday
>Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 21:59:12 +0000
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>From: Mike Cole <>
>To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>Subject: Re: [xmca] constraints, affordances and semiotic potentials
>Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 19:42:27 +0000
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