Re: [xmca] Re: the Strange Situation

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at>
Date: Fri Oct 24 2008 - 09:11:00 PDT


I think your point that it should be a *system* of concepts is an excellent
one. I'd like to add my own correction to what I wrote: I should have said
that people *think together,* not individually, with a system of concepts.

Recently I've been singing the praises (to students and colleagues) of Chuck
Goodwin's work. He has an article titled (punningly) Seeing in Depth. He
travlled with a disparate group of scientists on a boat surveying the ocean
at the mouth of the Amazon river. The scientists each had a different
research interest and were from multiple disciplines. They needed to
collaborate because hiring a boat is expensive, and the all used a device
with multiple instruments which they lowered to the ocean floor. They needed
to see where this device was, partly to avoid losing it in sediment, partly
to make measurements at specific depths. They accomplished the task of
seeing the depth of the device collaboratively, using technologies a varied
as winches and computer displays. Goodwin explores how multiple spaces (the
sea itself, screen, chart, deck, the workspace of the lab) are constituted
in the practical activities of scientists and crew. He demonstrates that
their cognition as "a historically-constituted, socially situated process"
in which seeing done together, though each person involved sees the place
they are looking at together in a different way.

So, seeing together. Perception framed by systems of representation which
are embodied in the tools and technologies, as well as in the practical
skills of the participants.


On 10/23/08 5:35 PM, "C Barker" <> wrote:

> I have been following the discussion with interest. I have a small question,
> though perhaps it has larger ramifications.
> I pick up something Andy Blunden wrote, and something Martin Packer wrote.
> Andy said:
> As usual, I will make my comment from the Hegelian
> perspective. LSV's description of Concept (_Begriff_) and
> pseudo-concept and the development possible from ps-c to C,
> does not have a direct parallel in Hegel, but the ideas are
> clearly identifiable and make sense in the Hegelian
> framework which underlies so much of LSV's work. Hegel calls
> a pseudo-concept an "abstract general" concept as opposed to
> a true concept which he calls a "concrete universal." In his
> exposition of _Begriff_ in the _Logik_, he describes a
> series of stages in the transition from one to the other.
> Martin said:
> For Hegel we can come to know things as they really are, and this is when we
> know them in terms of concepts. For this kind of epistemology to be able to
> work, the concept has to be out of the head, socially distributed in
> practical activities. I read Vygotsky this way (though as I've said here
> before he wrote about concepts in two quite different ways, early and late).
> Thinking in concepts enables us to grasp the rich, complex interconnections
> among concrete things, in a way that penetrates beyond their surface
> appearances. To me its important to remember that Vygotsky sees all the
> higher psychological functions working together, so conceptual thinking goes
> along with new kinds of directed attention and deliberate memory, and so on.
> The conceptual thinker literally sees the world in a qualitatively different
> way.
> I am insufficiently schooled in Hegel, and it may be that my question has a
> very obvious answer.
> The question is, are we talking ³the concept² (as against ³the
> pseudo-concept²), as if this is in the * singular *? Or does
> ³conceptual thinking² involve thinking in terms of * systems of concepts *,
> which are more or less systematically
> inter-related? The latter reading seems to me to make much better sense, and
> makes Martinıs final sentence much stronger in its
> impact.
> Iım sorry if Iım asking a really silly question.
> Colin Barker
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