Re: [xmca] Subject: Verb, Object

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Sun Dec 30 2007 - 18:30:50 PST

Good question Mike. I never thought about that, and it is certainly in
ignorance of how these terms are used in academia generally.

I suppose by 'social psychology' I mean a current of psychology which
utilises a concept of 'extended mind' as its foundational principle. It is
always the case that other currents contribute insights which are not so
easily accessible from one's own (so to speak) - even if you don't accept
the principles of Psychoanalysis, there are still things to learn from it;
and the same goes for all currents and schools of psychology. But by
'social psychology' I mean a real psychology, that is practical and useful
in dealing with psychological problems and copes with the reality of
individual difference and so on. A 'social psychology' which sees
individuals as purely and simply instances of their social position does
not warrant the name in my opinion. And 'social psychology' in the sense
that Max Horkheimer (I think) used it, which deal only with the phenomena
of crowds and so on, is also 'not worthy' of the name.

So I am looking for a tool which can give me a way of understanding how the
Zeitgeist is formed, how it is changed, practically how to intervene in it.
I do not expect a 'social psychology' to go further and provide me with a
social or political theory as such, but it need to be able to bridge the
gap, so to speak. Let's face it! If we can change the Zeitgeist which gets
people like George W Bush and John Howard elected in democratic countries,
into one in which genuinely good people get elected, then the rest will
look after itself and I can enjoy my retirement.

Why not a meta-psychology? Apart form my idiosyncratic dislike of "meta" I
don't want a metapsychology, I want a psychology which has a metapsychology
which is sound and able to cope with the sociality of consciousness.

Why not a "science of human nature"? "Human nature" is such a problematic
term, it carries such a lot of unwanted 19th century baggage. And I am
interested in consciousness, not "nature" in general.

Sure, social psychology is a sub-discipline within psychology. There are
things which belong to psychology which are not centre-stage for me. Sure,
brain injury or other defects are a serious topic, as is child development,
etc., etc.. I guess I am talking about a psychology whose central thread is
a social psychology rather than a neurobiology, for example.

I need a social psychology which recognises that social movements are not
just large numbers of people with the same feeling, but subjects, and
individuals are neither passive victims of social processes nor absolutely
free agents. But a *real*, practical, living school of psychology, with
people using it in designing curricula, healing depressed people, running
half-way houses, training teachers, organising self-help groups, etc., etc.
and doing real, experimental science with it, critiquing and improving its
concepts down the years.

Does that make sense?


At 05:14 PM 30/12/2007 -0800, you wrote:
>Andy-- This is the second time you have declared your goal to be answering
>questions within the framework of social psychology. Why do you use this
>term? Why not a
>meta-psychology? Why not a "science of human nature"?
>I ask because I am used to social psychology being viewed as a
>sub-discipline within psychology.
>The only dept of social psych I know of that takes on your questions
>seriously is at the LSE. One branch of cultural psychology in the US comes
>out of experimental social
>psychology here, but I do not think you have that in mind.
>This query is not to distract from the main line of discussion, but rather
>to locate what you are striving for better.
>On Dec 30, 2007 4:34 PM, Andy Blunden <> wrote:
> > I think David and Peg's messages were out of sync., yes?
> >
> > This all raises that most difficult of questions for a social psychology
> > that wants to deal with the tasks I am asking it to deal with, how do you
> > deal with the knock-on effect of an action, which is predictable from
> > on-high, but unknown to the actors themselves? We rely on the basic
> > insight
> > that what goes on in the head first went on between people - whether in
> > the
> > form given to it by Fichte, Hegel, Marx, CS Peirce or Vygotsky. What is
> > Hegel's Logic about? About the underlying "logic of events", how this or
> > that policy or statement or whatever ultimately leads to this or that
> > problem which was at first invisible. Life experience will tell you this,
> > but if you don't have life experience, it will happen according to the
> > logic of events anyways and you should learn. Basically, I think we can
> > only make sense of this if we get right away from the idea of the
> > "individual-as-subject" but remember that no subject exists other than in
> > and through individual human beings.
> >
> > With the ANL example of the child and the father, I have always had
> > trouble
> > with "examples" and methods which presuppose a leader or a father or a
> > facilitator, a person who knows what the experimental subject or student
> > or
> > self-help group really needs to do, and organises things accordingly. Of
> > course, I understand that all you teachers and teacher-trainers, child
> > psychologists, etc., work and have a responsibility to work in precisely
> > that circumstance. But I do not think this is the paradigmatic
> > relationship. The father can only do his bit in "leading" the child into
> > an
> > activity where its "best interests" will be served if the father can act
> > as
> > a kind of transmitter of life experience, and kind of short-cut the
> > process
> > for the child. So it is not the father's technique which is the paradigm,
> > but the bitter life experience which the child may or may not have as a
> > result of choosing to do this or that.
> >
> > Andy
> >
> >
> >
> > At 07:54 AM 30/12/2007 -0800, you wrote:
> > >Dear Andy and Peg:
> > >
> > > Here's some stuff from my notes; I happen to know that Andy can't get
> > > ahold of a copy of ANL's Problems of the Development of the Mind. I hope
> > > I don't get those funny marks that always show up when I paste in...
> > >
> > > p. 402 ANL points out how 'only understandable' motives for homework
> > > such as wanting to get a good mark can be replaced by 'really effective'
> > > motives such as doing it so you can go out to play. However, after some
> > > weeks of really effective motives, it is also possible that the child
> > > will find that the only understandable motives become really effective,
> > > e.g. the child will leave off doing homework because it¡¯s untidy and
> > the
> > > child is now afraid of getting a bad mark.
> > >
> > > p. 403: ANL writes: 'It is a matter of an action¡¯s result being more
> > > significant in certain conditions than the motive that actually induces
> > > it. The child begins doing its homework conscientiously because it wants
> > > to go out quickly and play. In the end this leads to much more not
> > simply
> > > that it will get the chance to go and play but also that it will get a
> > > good mark. A new "objectivation" of its needs come about which means
> > they
> > > are understood at a higher level.'
> > >
> > > 'The transition to a new leading activity differs from the process
> > > described simply in the really effective motives becoming in the case of
> > > a change of leading activity, those understandable motives that exist in
> > > the sphere of relations characterizing the place the child can occupy
> > > only in the next higher stage of development rather than in the sphere
> > of
> > > relations in which it still actually is. The preparation of these
> > > transitions therefore takes a long time because it is necessary for the
> > > child to become quite fully aware of a sphere of relations that are new
> > > for it.¡±
> > >
> > > ANL compares a child¡¯s performance in a school play with the child¡¯s
> > > learning of study as an independent activity. The child begins the
> > school
> > > play as an assignment, and later continues for the approbation the child
> > > receives during a successful performance. As with learning to study for
> > a
> > > good mark instead of just studying for the opportunity to go out and
> > > play, a ¡°merely understandable¡± motive has now become ¡°really
> > > effective¡± and a new activity is established.
> > >
> > > But only in the case of independent study (according to ANL) is the
> > new
> > > activity developmentally significant (¡°objectively¡±) because the child
> > > is not going to become a professional dramatist (if the child were, then
> > > the performance in the play would be study). Thus only in the latter
> > case
> > > can we say there is a new leading activity.
> > >
> > > Here's what I make of this:
> > >
> > >
> > > a) ANL really does NOT interrogate the subject as to the object
> > > orientation of the activity: the object (study, the completed play) is
> > > indeed given in advance. As far as ANL is concerned, ONLY Chaiklin's
> > > "objective" ZPD exists, and there is NO subjective ZPD. But Andy's idea
> > > of "immanent critique" is NOT an objective critique; it has to do with
> > > following up (just like Sarah's) the subject's way of seeing things and
> > > seeing where it leads.
> > >
> > > b) In the development discussion (San Diego-Helsinki) Dr. Olga Vasquez
> > > raised the question of whether "leading activity" is the same as
> > > "neoformation", and Dr. Pentti Harakarainnen really did not answer it
> > and
> > > instead talked about Dr. Engestrom's even more general concept of
> > > activity. But here we can see that "leading activity" and "neoformation"
> > > are quite different: LSV used "neoformation" to talk about transitional
> > > structures during crisis periods that COMPLETELY disappear (for example,
> > > the child's autonomous speech at one and the child's "negativism" at
> > > three) as well as neoformations which become the leading activity during
> > > normal growth. Only the latter is a "leading activity" for ANL.
> > >
> > > c) There is still a STRONG behaviorist streak in ANL's reasoning: the
> > > difference between the "really effective" and "merely understood"
> > > reasoning can very easily be described, in ALL of ANL's examples, as a
> > > simple lengthening of the time distance between the behavior and the
> > > positive reinforcement. Bruner, in a quote that I have long since lost,
> > > suggests that development can be described this way, but I don't think
> > > LSV ever would have done so: for LSV the key thing about humans is that
> > > they are dogs that can ring their own bells.
> > >
> > > David Kellogg
> > > Seoul National University of Education
> > >
> > >
> > >---------------------------------
> > >Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo!
> > Search.
> > >_______________________________________________
> > >xmca mailing list
> > >
> > >
> >
> > Andy Blunden :
><>tel (H) +61 3
> 9380 9435,
> > mobile 0409 358 651
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
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  Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
mobile 0409 358 651

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Received on Sun Dec 30 18:32 PST 2007

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