RE: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined

From: Cunningham, Donald James (
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 22:01:57 PST

Ah, Tony, this is a topic that calls for mediation by a good bottle of red wine. Perhaps in San Francisco. My brief take on it is that Peirce and Skinner might be much closer than imagined. Peirce himself was an anti mentalist IMHO. For Peirce, thought occurs BETWEEN people, in communication, not isolated in an individual's head. I think Skinner would find this palatable........djc


From: on behalf of Tony Whitson
Sent: Mon 3/6/2006 11:19 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined

would you say Skinner recognized anything like what Peirce regarded as

On Sun, 5 Mar 2006, Cunningham, Donald James wrote:

> Sure he did. He just did not see the need or use of a mentalistic account of thought.
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Tony Whitson
> Sent: Mon 3/6/2006 10:54 AM
> To:; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined
> but Skinner did not believe in thought
> On Sun, 5 Mar 2006, Mike Cole wrote:
>> Seems like Peirce and Dewey might have had some sort of affinity, Don? I
>> have never read anything by your barber. What has she written we could read?
>> But I have read a lot of Skinner. I am, by training (at IU..... perhaps
>> before your time?) a third generation Skinnerian. He was kind of a bright
>> guy too.
>> Skinner would probably have agreed that "the existence of thought now
>> depends on what is to be hereafter; so that it has only a potential
>> existence, dependent on the future thought of the community."
>> mike
>> On 3/5/06, Cunningham, Donald James <> wrote:
>>> Is the distinction between reality and fantasy even sustainable? Following
>>> Peirce, I have always assumed that the base state of our cognition is a set
>>> of beliefs on the basis of which the world makes sense (mostly) to us.
>>> Beliefs change, grow, become more complex but whether they correspond to
>>> reality is always problematic. Realty seems to be a function of a community
>>> agreement:
>>> Finally, as what anything really is, is what it may finally come to be
>>> known to be in the ideal state of complete information, so that reality
>>> depends on the ultimate decision of the community; so thought is what it is,
>>> only by virtue of its addressing a future thought which is in its value as
>>> thought identical with it, though more developed. In this way, the existence
>>> of thought now depends on what is to be hereafter; so that it has only a
>>> potential existence, dependent on the future thought of the community.
>>> (Peirce, 5.316).
>>> I take this "future thought" to be a regulative idea, not an attainable
>>> goal. Of course this raises the spectre of whether some beliefs are closer
>>> to reality than others. So are CHAT theorists closer than behaviorists who
>>> are closer than my barber (who is actually a very bright guy!).......djc
>>> ________________________________
>>> From: on behalf of Mike Cole
>>> Sent: Mon 3/6/2006 8:07 AM
>>> To: Andy Blunden
>>> Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined
>>> I hope others will continue to chime in with their observations and
>>> suggestions.
>>> I also agree that Peter's crack about Bush is relevant. The other day a
>>> speaker at our department noted how Reagan used to, visibly, confuse
>>> pictures
>>> he was in with the new role he was playing as president and Bush sometimes
>>> gives me the same impression (his slightly bowlegged swagger when they
>>> let him out of the corral with jeans on being informal).
>>> My own take on mediational theories of mind is that there can be no sharp
>>> distinction between what we call reality and what we call fantasy. For the
>>> only
>>> paper I have written where this is taken up (if you are interested) see
>>> the
>>> paper by Cole and Levitin on the web page.
>>> I am posing the question because of the need to teach some about new
>>> massive
>>> multi-user games and various cyber environments where, for reasons that
>>> may implicate your computer screen comments, Andy, the borderlands are
>>> particularly foggy and seemingly extensive.
>>> This has also brought me to the topic of imaginary companions and
>>> transition
>>> objects, the latter of which Mary has been trying to bring to our
>>> attention.
>>> But
>>> I am finding is that while there is a tone of academic work on the topic
>>> with respect to kids becoming "more realistic" (to speak crudely) there is
>>> too little
>>> about the way in which adult experience is infused with the imaginary.
>>> Hence, my query to all of you.
>>> mike
>>> On 3/5/06, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
>>>> A couple of decades ago, my job was managing a building automation
>>> system,
>>>> a set of interconnected computers which turned building equipment on and
>>> off
>>>> and reported back room temperatures etc. It was a matter of some concern
>>> to
>>>> me at the time that people had real difficulty understanding the
>>> differences
>>>> between the temperature (EG) they saw on the screen, the temp the system
>>> had
>>>> in its memory, the reading on the physical gauge and the actual
>>> temperature,
>>>> etc., etc. People tended to accept what they saw on the screen as
>>> absolute
>>>> truth and get very upset when it turned out to be untrue.
>>>> This experience led me to observe that the whole computer screen
>>> business,
>>>> whereby software invisibly intervenes between user action, reality if
>>> any
>>>> and screen image, was enormously confusing for people (all of us) who
>>> don't
>>>> understand what is going on 'behind the screen'. I think Peter's crack
>>> about
>>>> the Bush administration is not far wide of the mark. No-one knows or
>>>> understands what lies between the news-readers audio on their TV and
>>>> objective reality. If you're not aware of that immense chain of human
>>>> interaction that produces a story with only the remotest connection to
>>>> anything that actually happened in the material world outside, how can
>>> you
>>>> have a realistic and critical attitude to the news?
>>>> I'm sorry I can't give you references to academic studies of this Mike;
>>> I
>>>> know there is a lot of stuff about games which goes on, ...
>>>> Andy
>>>> At 05:02 PM 4/03/2006 -0800, you wrote:
>>>> The following quote from Dewey speaks to issues that have been ongoing
>>> on
>>>> XMCA and also provide context for a question I am hoping for some help
>>> on
>>>> (having been so successful with
>>>> my question about references on narrative!). In particular, it concerns
>>>> the
>>>> conclusion that experience is a hybrid of what is termed here the
>>> physical
>>>> and the mental. This snippet is provided courtesy of Matt Brown, a
>>> member
>>>> of
>>>> our seminar on mediational theories of mind.
>>>> Here's a little tidbit from Dewey that I think is interesting for
>>> several
>>>> reasons: it answers the question from earlier about whether Dewey is
>>>> concerned with the social, it provides a sort of summary statement of
>>>> central Deweyan theses, and it is exceptionally clear (for Dewey). From
>>>> Chapter 11 of *Art as Experience*:
>>>> Experience is a matter of the interaction of organism with its
>>>> environment,
>>>> an environment that is human as well as physical, that includes the
>>>> materials of tradition and institutions as well as local surroundings.
>>> The
>>>> organism brings with it through its own structure, native and acquired,
>>>> forces that play a part in the interaction. The self acts as well as
>>>> undergoes, and its undergoings are not impressions stamped upon an inert
>>>> wax
>>>> but depend upon the way the organism reacts and responds. There is no
>>>> experience in which the human contribution is not a factor in
>>> determining
>>>> what actually happens. The organism is a force, not a transparency.
>>>> Because every experience is constituted by interaction between subject
>>> and
>>>> object, between a self and its world, it is not itself either merely
>>>> physical nor merely mental, no matter how much one factor or the other
>>>> predominates... In an experience, things and events belonging to the
>>>> world,
>>>> physical and social, are transformed through the human context they
>>> enter,
>>>> while the live creature is changed and developed through its intercourse
>>>> with things previously external to it.
>>>> Here is my question, related to this characterization of experience:
>>>> In various situations (in particular, I am thinking of various massive
>>>> multi-user games and related cyber-interactional meeting places)
>>>> it appears that people can, perhaps cannot help at times, confusing what
>>>> we
>>>> would normally refer to as "fantasy" and "reality."
>>>> There is an extensive literature on the development of this distinction
>>> in
>>>> children's development, but I am seeking research on the
>>>> distinction's presumed presence or absence among adults.
>>>> Any and all help appreciated
>>>> mike
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>> Andy Blunden, for Victorian Peace Network
>>>> Global Justice Tours:
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> Tony Whitson
> UD School of Education
> NEWARK DE 19716
> _______________________________
> "those who fail to reread
> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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