RE: [xmca] New Valsiner SEmiots paper on MCA website at lchc

From: Michael Glassman (
Date: Tue Nov 21 2006 - 10:34:05 PST

Heh, I wish I had more time today but let me just make a few comments
(and if anybody wants to respond I'll try and respond back when I can).

First, why is it a slippery slope to avoid measuring knowledge inside
the head, or avoid positing the development of knowledge inside of the
head? What makes it a slippery slope? I think it's a damned important
argument that we attempt to shove under the rug because.....

Second, if you are looking for some conceptual basis perhaps Experience
and Nature, or Knowing and the Known, or for some quick stuff perhaps
Dewey's response to his critics near the end of his career - or maybe
some other instrumental Pragmatisis.

As far as assuming people will be able to use what they know depending
on the situation - yes, I think that was one of the points of Democracy
and Education. But Dewey here was talking about knowledge in action,
no? Not knowledge inside the head. If you prioritize knowledge inside
of the head in any way you run the risk of assuming that individuals
have knowledge prior to the problem at hand, leading to expertise prior
to the actual activity. I think this was the reason Dewey and the
Pragmatists in general attempted to avoid this (don't forget Dewey was
as much as a social theorist as anything and was very concerned with the
development of a participatory democracy. Knowledge inside of the head
runs the risk - and I did say runs the risk - of people claiming
superiority prior to the actual activity).

And the idea that we can control the idea of knowledge inside the head
as just a fiction - well history is replete with instance with this has
gone very, very wrong - I guess the Iraq war is the latest example of
this - the testing stemming from the eugenics movement possibly a less
abstract example - and the difficulties with NCLB possibly a more modern
example. Randolph Bourne has some great writing on why you need to
avoid things that can go wrong, because you don't know what is going to
happen as a result of what you decide to do - that has the possibility
to go wrong - because you never know what is going to happen (part of
the unity of human and nature).

Gotta go, thanks

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 11:48 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: Jaan Valsiner
Subject: Re: [xmca] New Valsiner SEmiots paper on MCA website at lchc

Stay off the Garden path wtih the slippery slopes, Michael, or get some
conceptual cleats.
Why does believing that people are able to carry knowledge inside their
bodies (heads if you
prefer) does it imply that hat some people hold
greater or superior knowledge to other people? Why not just different,
better/worse valuation
depending upon the pragmatics of the circumstances.

On 11/21/06, Michael Glassman <> wrote:
> Lara,
> But doesn't the trouble become that once we posit a fiction it can't
> help but become a functional instrument. Once we posit an intra
> we positing a differentiation in not only the way people think but the
> knowledge they hold inside their head. Once we admit to knowledge
> inside the head aren't we heading towards the idea that some people
> greater or superior knowledge to other people? Once we do that aren't
> we heading towards a natural idea of expertise, and the idea that
> experts should tell us what to do and that we should listen to them so
> that we can benefit from knowledge? Once we do this, how short a jump
> is it from the idea that people function within nature to people can
> step outside nature, observe it, take knowledge from it, and then use
> that knowledge to control it? How easy is it once we posit dualisms
> a simple instrument simply to study individual development (which
> of course that we have to posit individual development is important to
> study - and I am a Developmental Psychologist - or used to be) that we
> become controlled by this idea of dualisms? Dewey said we are drawn
> dualist propositions so easily because it gives us a false sense of
> security and control. How do we escape that?
> Michael
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> On Behalf Of Lara Beaty
> Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 11:30 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] New Valsiner SEmiots paper on MCA website at lchc
> If I may intrude on the issue of dualisms, I'm intrigued by Latour's
> critique of the "modern constitution," which I read as saying that the
> dualities have never existed (were never truly believed) but that they
> serve
> an analytical purpose. I share others' uneasiness with Valsiner's
> emphases,
> but as someone who is primarily a developmental psychologist, I'm not
> sure
> there is a language that can focus on the important differences
> indicated by
> inter/intra without sliding into a fictive duality. If it can get us
> somewhere with our data, then can't we turn around and remember the
> fictions
> we employed?
> What do you think?
> Lara
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