Re: [xmca] And now for something completely different: Larry Craig

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Sat Dec 08 2007 - 16:11:52 PST

Estimado David,
  In expressing your lack of desire to read Weber or learn a “new vocabulary”, I think, you’ve touched on a key point that never seems to surface in these discussions of mind and its social origins: a sociological framework. Xmca members and participants seem to be overwhelmingly working in psychology and educationall psychology and correspondingly it seems that ultimately the individual human being is the fundamental unit of analysis. Nevertheless, the Vygotskyan theoretical direction presupposes a theory of the society. As far as I know, Vygotsky accepted the marxist theory of society and working in the early period of the Soviet Union saw his psychology within that framework as a taken-for-granted horizon of his research. Perhaps if he had lived longer, or if Stalin hadn’t imposed the notion that the Soviet Union already was a classless society, the transmission/learning of things like class position, like Bourdieu’s or Basil Bernstein’s positions that
 Durkheimian-like forms of mechanical solidarity characterize classes or the class structures of taste and prestige. Both Bourdieu and Bernstein, sociologists, focused on the transmission of these constitutive social structures that are in many ways more constitutive of identity, personality, and the particular patterns of consciousness that people develop as they grow into adulthood than anything they’ll learn in the classroom. I personally don’t understand how any psychological theory that doesn’t explicitly take these structures into account can get very far in understanding the social origins and reproduction of “mind”.
  With respect to your rephrased statements about an individual mind after death, I have to admit that I find that completely incomprehensible. ¿An individual’s mind after death? ¿The mind of a dead person? Sorry but this sounds more like Stephen King or theological speculation than the grounds for any serious discussion of mind. Now of course the “mind” of a living person is different from that of a dead person in the same way as have beer in the refrigerator is different from not having beer in the fridge. But “not having beer” is definitely not a characteristic of beer and so to try to use such descriptions so as to say something about beer doesn't make any sense, is logically fallacious.
  I don’t disagree with [c] but you seem to draw inferences from that statement that go beyond what I find acceptable. You don’t explain what you mean by “traces”. You clearly state that these “traces” cannot accumulate in coherent ways related to the logic of the discourse that produced them, rather they just pile up. This appears to reflect view the view tracing back to Derrida, any coherence we put into that jumble of “traces” (this being the term he employed in “Grammatology”) is really a product of our own activity; an insittutionalization of the “traces” of an ungrounded process of signiifcation aimed at providing a metaphysical presence to the discourse. I definitely don’t accept this position but it would be way beyond this post (or even this forum) to present my reasons for that. Your further explanation of how future generations use the traces of past discourses in new ones recalls Levi-Strauss’ concept of bricolage as the nature of mythical thought with
 the deconstructionist twist that these systems of mythical discourse have no underlying structure and no ability to absorb and incorporate elements of each new generations discursive appropriation of the elements. I'm wondering how you distinguish the temporalities of a discourse, the boundaries -- after all births and deaths are distributed fairly continuously across time with notable exceptions such as the period occurring 9-10 months after the Holiday Season or the post-WWII baby boom.
  Yeah I must admit I find your position untenable: from the idea of the individual minds of the dead to the notion that the artifacts produced through the discourses and other activitiies of past generations don’t accumulate in ways that conserve their (to use Ilyenkov’s term) ideal relationships, ie. That the product of the various kinds of labor of previous generations, going all the way back to the development of the opposable thumb and the human foot, don’t accumulate in coherent ways that can be and are discovered, incorporated, and transformed (occasionally), but not invented, in the discourses of the living.
  p.s., The use of "estimado" in the address is a bit of Spanglish. It doesn't really have the same meaning (in use) as "esteemed" in English, but is simply a way of showing respect without the implications of either intimacy or formality that the term "Dear . . " connotes.

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Received on Sat Dec 8 16:14 PST 2007

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