Re: [xmca] interweaving

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sat Oct 14 2006 - 18:54:55 PDT

Hey Don!! Great to see you in addition to seeing you noted. Ray is quoting
(ready for this? ) Ray Birdwhistel. (sp?).
microsociologist-keneasthiologist. (sp?) ( I learned
to read by the whole word method. blame it on FDR).

mre to come after I feed my guests dinner. But what do you think?

Mark Twain: "the 13th stroke of the clock makes me doubt the previous 12."
(or some such """""")

On 10/14/06, Cunningham, Donald James <> wrote:
> Mike, who is McDermott quoting? It sounds like Ray Birdwhistell.
> Bateson surely is another who may be cited.
> But should we sometimes try to disentangle? Here is a quote from James
> that is one of my favorites:
> "I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer (whose)... religion
> has been made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition,
> determined to fixed forms by imitation, and retained by habit. It would
> profit us little to study this second-hand religious life. We must make
> search rather for the original experiences which were the pattern-setters to
> all this mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct." (The Varieties of
> Religious Experience, 1902)
> While James is talking about religion, perhaps we could push beyond that.
> Substitute the words scientist, practitioner, methodologist, educator,
> scholar or what have you and the point remains. Perhaps we should search
> for the original experiences. Or is that possible?
> Don Cunningham
> Indiana University
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Mike Cole
> Sent: Saturday, October 14, 2006 12:02 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Cc: Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition Internal List
> Subject: [xmca] interweaving
> What follows are raw materials that are the beginning of a response to
> bill
> barowy's inquiry involving the use of the metaphor of interweaving in
> discussions of persons, actions, agency, situatedness, etc.
> I do not come to this discussion as a philosopher, let alone a Marxist
> scholar and dialectician. To some this would automatically exclude me from
> any serious
> discussion of cultural historical activity theory. I am an auto-didact in
> these matters, coming to them through an odd pathway derived from American
> pragmatism,
> via behaviorism and skinner (of easy to trash fame) and experimental
> psychology of learning. It was issues of cultural variation and processes
> of
> development that led me to chat long after I worked with Luria.
> But perhaps consideration of the following statements by three scholars
> who
> I take to be, on the surface at least, as markedly different from each
> other
> as one could hope to find, both in their disciplinary allegencies, the
> empirical phenomena they studied, and their philosophies of science. What
> strikes me is the similarities in their intuitive efforts to deal with the
> heterogeneity of the constituents of human
> experience/nature/consciousness,
> the issue of relations of individual elements to their
> putative wholes, continuity/discontinuity, and the necessity for the study
> of such phenomena over time.
> I will try to return to the specific text under discussion later this
> weekend if I can make it through the 101 spotted promotion files that I am
> privileged to read and comment on about this time of year.
> So, here are the meditations, for your consideration
> mike
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The world is full of partial stories that run parallel to one another,
> beginning and ending at odd times. They mutually interlace and interfere
> at
> points, but we cannot unify them completely in our minds. In following
> your
> life-history, I must temporarily turn my attention from my own. Even a
> biographer of twins would have to press them alternately upon his reader's
> attention. It follows that whoever says that the whole world tells one
> story
> utters another of those monistic dogmas that a man believes at his risk.
> It
> is easy to see the world's history pluralistically, as a rope of which
> each
> fibre tells a separate tale; but to conceive of each cross-section of the
> rope as an absolutely single fact, and to sum the whole longitudinal
> series
> into one being living an undivided life, is harder. We have indeed the
> analogy of embryology to help us. The microscopist makes a hundred flat
> cross-sections of a given embryo, and mentally unites them into one solid
> whole. But the great world's ingredients, so far as they are beings, seem,
> like the rope's fibres, to be discontinuous cross-wise, and to cohere only
> in the longitudinal direction. Followed in that direction they are
> many.(William James, *Lecture 4 Pragmatism - the one and the Many)*
> I'll tell you what I like to think about: sometimes I like to think of a
> rope. The fibers that make up the rope are discontinuous; when you twist
> them together, you don't make them continuous, you make the thread
> continuous. . . . even though it may look in a thread as though each of
> those particles are going all through it, that isn't the case. That's
> essentially the descriptive model. . . . Obviously, I am not talking
> about
> the environment. I am not talking about inside and outside. I am talking
> about the conditions of the system (quoted in McDermott, 1980, p. 14‑15).
> Each of these children was seen to engage in a great many behavior
> episodes
> a day]; the number of things a child did in a day, according to our
> criteria
> of episodes, varied approximately from 500 to 1,300. . . . Most of the
> episodes did not occur in isolation. Behavior was more often like the
> interwoven strands of a cord than like a row of blocks in that the molar
> units often overlapped. . . . Most of the overlapping was a matter of the
> intersection of the whole of a short episode and a relatively small part
> of
> a longer one. . . . The behavior continuum was cord‑like, too, in the
> sense
> that overlapping episodes often did not terminate at the same time but
> formed an interwoven merging continuum (Barker and Wright, 1966, p. 464).
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