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[xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 50, Issue 63


  in response to Jay Lemke's comments:


  I like your term "ur-solidarity" and the idea that this is more than social

  My sense is that there is more to the social structure and social relations
that occur in activity than simply the milieu we join as newcomers, although
there is that too.  I think what happens is that in the activity of building
social structure is the generation of Ethos - the guiding principles of social
relations and activity combined. When newcomers arrive, they do not simply
adopt the Ethos. Rather, if the community ethos is repugnant to them (which in
some organizations it might be, of course not this one, but originating from NY
I can think of a few that might turn off some)...then they would not join.

  Repugnance, then, would be the outer parameter defining refusal to
join/participate.  Curiosity would define the minimal parameter - attraction.
Some sort of common ground with the ethos or guiding principles as they are
illuminated or performed in activity by existing members of the community would
then be grounds for participation - true engagement.

Once a newcomer joins, she/he contributes to the further development of Ethos through engagement in activity. All activity is an expression or performance of
the community ethos.

  I think ethos is what is at the core of any activity system. It does not
pre-exist, but develops along with and through the initial social structure and
activity. It?s a tertiary artifact of activity.

  Theoretically, I borrow more from sociology on the concept of Ethos but
include Tomasello?s concept of joint mediated activity as well.

Ethos is ?the underlying deep structure of a culture, the values that animate it, that collectively constitute its way of life? (Eisner 1994, p. 2) (emphasis added).  Ethos is the ideational environment in which people interact, a set of
guiding principles emerging and developing through the dialogic interaction of
the members of a shared discourse (Eisner, 1994). Dialogic or perspectival
representations of ethos emerge through interaction with others and enables the
development and sustenance of ?collective practices and beliefs? (Tomasello &
Rakoczy, 2003). In this way, we can see it emerges from ?the relationship
between people and [represents] the values and principles underpinning policy
and practice (Glover & Coleman, 2005).  Its importance is that ?an ethos is
evaluative? and ?manifested in many aspects of the? community and has a
pervasive influence ?in the shaping of human perceptions, attitudes, beliefs?
(p. 311).

  It is, then, at the heart of the emergence and development of productive,
collaborative, and distributive practices. If we substitute, for example, Ethos
for Consumption in Engeström?s expression of activity, it would seem that we
could imagine ethos as a mediational force (means) in all realms of activity,
production, collaboration (exchange) and distribution forms part of the context that is interwoven in actions and activity - it would be the glue that holds the
center, if you will. In other words, organizations stay together not simply
because of what they do ? or the success of what they do, but because of they
believe in the social importance of what they do.

  Obviously ethos doesn't develop overnight and so including it in
understanding the underlying social structure of activity and production
accommodates the respective contributions of newcomers and old-timers in
ongoing activity.  It is also imagines ethos as an ?unfinished product? much
like the concept of co-configuration.


  Karen C. Spear-Ellinwood
PhD Candidate, College of Education
Dept. of Teaching, Language & Sociocultural Studies
Cell: 520-878-6034
phone: 520-829-0749


  Quoting xmca-request@weber.ucsd.edu:
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Today's Topics:

1. Re: Half a coconut (Jay Lemke)
2. elluminators please illuminate! (Mike Cole)
3. Fwd: [xmca] Intensions in context and speech complexity ;
From 2-? (Jay Lemke)


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 16:27:40 +0200
From: Jay Lemke Subject: Re: [xmca] Half a coconut
To: mcole@weber.ucsd.edu, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"

Message-ID: Content-Type: text/plain; charset=WINDOWS-1252; format=flowed;

I certainly understand that both Michael's MCA editorial on this, and
a lot of the background literature, may not be familiar to many xcma-
ers. And my timing in retrospect was not good in the midst of another
ongoing discussion.

In any case, I think there are important issues, and we can maybe find
a time and occasion to get more into some of them.

As to the always-already ongoing "communitas", the ground of co-
activity that is suggested as the basis for a sort of ur-solidarity
that is not simply a social convention, it's always already there in
the community into which we come, whether by birth or immigration. A
bit like what newcomers to xmca must sense when they first arrive in
our online co-activity!


Jay Lemke
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

On Jul 25, 2009, at 2:15 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

Seems like you only got stunned silence back on this, Jay. Part of the
problem is almost certainly that many readers of xmca do not read
MCA, so
when we do not have a common text to refer to, we are in a fix.

The part of what I take from this that overlaps other matters I am
on at present is the following:

"the notion of an ontological or pre-discursive, actional solidarity
very close to Victor Turner?s famous _communitas_: originating in the
underlying experience of co-activity, which is prior to social
relations and can be glimpsed when these are set aside (his
Bakhtin?s carnival)"

I am not sure when the "underlying of co-activity" begins. Perhaps
its there
in utero. Perhaps (a la Trevarthan) its there as
primary intersubjectivity at birth. But co-activity also appears to
adjustments upon infant and mother's parts (and more
so for fathers).

I know this comment does not address the ontology/truth/morality
involved, but those are beyond my powers to grok
without a lot more help!!

On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 6:02 AM, Jay Lemke  wrote:

I recently had a chance to read more carefully Wolf-Michael Roth's
editorial on Solidarity and Responsibility.

I know that there was some prior discussion of it here, in a thread
the eyes of a coconut, but that seems to have veered off from what
interesting to me in the editorial, which was highlighted by Derek
Melser at
one point. I don't know if I've missed any subsequent discussion,
but don't
find it in the archives, at least with a google search.

So here are some notes on the ideas and arguments in the editorial,
for any
who are interested. (W-M R and I have been on a firstname basis for
a very
long time, but he's "Roth" in the notes because it's shorter!)

Notes on Roth editorial MCA

Solidarity and Responsibility. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 16: 105?

= Roth appears to argue from Is to Ought, from a holistic-extension
of primal solidarity in being/doing, prior to discursive notions of
voluntary solidarity, for a moral responsibility to respect, indeed
privilege uniqueness in the Other, rather than simple not-I
and the corresponding notion of a constructed collective and its

= the notion of an ontological or pre-discursive, actional solidarity
seems very close to Victor Turner?s famous _communitas_:
originating in the
underlying experience of co-activity, which is prior to social
relations and can be glimpsed when these are set aside (his
Bakhtin?s carnival)

= Turner also argues in parallel with Buddhist philosophy (prajna vs
vijnana, or roughly intuition vs discursive reason), that
difference is the
product of social relations and discursive semantics, while what
them is more holistic.

= the notion of partes extra partes with which Roth characterizes
his view
of the ontology of unique wholes is a bit ambiguous in the

there is a Cartesian version of it which is atomistic ? every part
outside of and independent of every other part, and which leads to
a view of
space as consisting of just one damn place after another, only

and then there is also the Leibnizian version, which I think is the
Roth is using, in which each thing or place is an extension or
diffusion of
its own unique qualities, but in which a principle like that of the
mirroring of monads allows larger scenes to also be wholes, within
qualities may extend across what on smaller scales are parts apart
from one
another, hence providing the sort of holism of absolute
differentnesses or
uniquenesses that Roth seems to want

= Roth takes all this finally to classrooms, schools-as-educating
communities, and the paradoxes of democracy. If we are all unique
larger wholes, then it makes sense to pay attention to others?
when decisions are to be made, indeed the more diverse the input
the more
likely a good, or at least an as-thoughtful-as-possible decision.

Some such decisions are not really decisions, outcomes are largely
predetermined by circumstances (habitual, predictable, routine);
but others
require breaking out of predictable patterns, choosing the risky or
alternative, creating new options ? and so new wholes, within which
we all
become newly unique-again. (Which, by the way, is in itself a good
argument for democratic decision-making, since we are all always
affected in
fundamental ways by decisions. Despite our cultural and masculinist
preference for the illusion of our independence. Being unique and
extra partes does not, in the holistic paradigm, insure our
just the opposite. This might go some way towards explaining the
of Cartesian atomism, where we can just ignore the other atoms.)

Voluntarist solidarity, Roth is arguing, I think, is dangerous
because it
presupposes the atomist Cartesian ontology of our being: we begin
and remain
autonomous, we choose to come together in communities. What can be
can also not be chosen. What is voluntary can be suspended,
delegated to
dictators, elites, teachers, curriculum bureaus.

Holistic solidarity, like communitas, on the other hand arises in our
being and doing together, which is a condition into which we are
born and
from which we never entirely depart (having internalized so much of
before we even try to get away). But it is nonetheless a condition
that also
reinforces our uniqueness (or supports it, or from which it is
depending on your metaphysics), and from which we can no more get
away than
we can get away from ourselves.

But I am still not entirely sure that Roth is not over-claiming on
much democratic Ought is derivable from the holistic Is. Bakhtin is
casual about the logic of the ideational and the axiological (in
his later
terms), or the twin answerabilities of response and responsibility.
I am not
well enough read in Levinas to say in his case. Personally I don?t
see why
we should want to ground the moral-ethical in the ontological, in
the nature
of things. Isn?t that theology? Because a God exists, we should do
what He
says? Isn?t a secular philosophical version of this kind of
argument just
another desire to privilege the ontological, the factual, the true
over the

For me the good, the ought, in its many forms and aspects, has its
standing, equal with the true, and not subordinate to it. The good
and the
true, or by degrees as we really experience them, the more or less
desirable, the more or less likely, along with the more or less
the more or less surprising, serious/humorous, mysterious/
etc. all stand as equal partes extra partes in relation to one

As they do in the semantics of our language. And I think as they
also do
experientially and phenomenologically, though the holism of
experience will
be something not so neatly corresponding to semantic categories,
will feel
like something more of a mish-mash, at least as seen from the neat
typologies of language and philosophy done in language.

From here this discussion could go in many directions, so I will
stop for
now and see what others may say.


Jay Lemke
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
www.umich.edu/~jaylemke _______________________________________________
xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list


Message: 2
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 08:26:31 -0700
From: Mike Cole Subject: [xmca] elluminators please illuminate!
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity" Message-ID:

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

A "seat" licence appears to cost $100.00 for elluminate.
Those using it-- what does a site licence cost and who pays for it where you


Message: 3
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 18:40:10 +0200
From: Jay Lemke Subject: Fwd: [xmca] Intensions in context and speech complexity ;
From 2-?
To: XMCA Forum Message-ID: Content-Type: text/plain; charset=WINDOWS-1252; format=flowed;

Mike sent this but it went only to me. He wanted it to go to the list.

Jay Lemke
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Begin forwarded message:

From: Mike Cole Date: July 25, 2009 2:26:14 AM GMT+02:00
To: Jay Lemke Subject: Re: [xmca] Intensions in context and speech complexity ;
From 2-?
Reply-To: mcole@weber.ucsd.edu

Yep, you got at what I was trying to discuss, Jay. And some of the
factors that I thought might provoke such spotty
"precociousness." I do not know Halliday well enough to know if what
you describe explains what I was asking about,
the general set of considerations you raise resonate.

David Kel and I discussed these issues a little by phone (taking
advantage of his presence in my time zone for a while).

It seems like the absence of kids being able to use speech on behalf
of their own motives in the way classrooms ordinarily
work -- e.g. they are in the responder role and have to guess at
what the teacher is after/about -- would reduce the complexity of
the thoughts to which they can give expression.

I believe that some of the electronic comm media such as elluminate
(as described by people in recent notes) may be an example
of conditions under which students can be more in control of what
they get to say and as a result get more agentive, excited, and
perhaps, even learn more.


PS-- Long ago -- like in the early 1980's -- some of my colleagues
at LCHC found that if they had an asynchronous discussion
group that accompanied the live class, some of the students who
never responded, or did so only with difficulty, were leaders
in the a-synchronous interactions. My guess was that the shift in
medium changed the constraints on communication, "freeing"
some who could not manage the pace of the classroom. Not entirely
unlike the frequent comment that many people who mostly
read but do not write on xmca are knocked over by the pace and rapid

On Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 10:35 AM, Jay Lemke wrote:

I am replying to Mike's much earlier message about context and
speech complexity, though I've read the subsequent discussion,
mainly because I remain interested in the original issue he brought
up. I know the discussion has shifted, as it so often does, more to
critiques of ideas of internalization, but that seems to have
happened in part because one reading of Mike's question led to the
suggestion that internalization was an important part of the answer.

My version of his question is this:

How do we understand the phenomenon of young speakers producing much
more complex forms of speech in activities in which they appear to
have more intrinsic motivation and authentic interest, compared to
activities in which they are just following someone else's lead?

I am not an expert on early childhood language development, but I am
a developmentalist in the sense that I analyze meaning-making across
all timescales as a building up of later meanings on top of earlier
ones to reach greater complexity and efficacy. Just as in biological
development the complexity and efficacy (for something) of later
stages depends on the foundations laid in earlier ones (hence the
link with evolution).

I believe it is a well-known phenomenon in language development --
and I mean that term as shorthand for increasing complexity and
efficacy in (self- or other- directed) speech as an integral
component of some larger activity -- that new speakers occasionally
produce much more "advanced" speech than the average of what they
produce in some time frame (i.e. speech more like the average in a
much later timeframe). I think this is also true of other sorts of
longer-term learning processes. There are just time when it all
comes together for us and we perform with an apparent capability
well ahead of our usual performances. We appear to leap forward, and
then fall back.

Is this just luck? sometimes perhaps, and sometimes it is the over-
interpretation of the observer, reading more meaning into the speech
than may have been "intended" (another shorthand). But we also know
that in the case of speech, receptive understanding encompasses such
more complex forms, even if active production rarely or never-before
has shown them. And that of course has something to do with the more
complex forms being present in the environment, the community, the
co-activity with others. So the fact that it may not be
reproducible, or that it may not recur across different settings,
may not necessarily mean that it was not "intentional" (i.e.
functionally and deliberately meaningful on the part of the new

It may have arisen in play, in exploration of wording-possibilities.
It may have arisen in a less-self-monitoring context where
inhibitions against more complex production for fear of errors,
ridicule, communication failure, etc. were much reduced (like
speaking a foreign language when just a little drunk). It may have
been driven past all inhibitions or obstacles by intense desire or

Or it may have been abetted by particularly supportive
circumstances. My own hypothesis about what Mike seems to be
describing is that precocious speech is more likely to occur when
more complex meanings are easier to build up on top of already
familiar meaning-speakings. Halliday gives some examples of this for
spoken dialogue, where very complex verb tenses will appear that are
far more complex than those normally (or ever) seen in written text,
because speakers build up time-relational meanings on top of prior
speakers sayings. This is micro-developmental, on the logogenetic or
text-production timescale (seconds to minutes).

What circumstances support such short-term climbing to new heights?
it may be a particular speech-partner, it may be a particular
familiar topic, it may be a rush of need or desire to make the more
complex meaning, which is a meaning that has become appropriate to
the moment in the ongoing activity because we have been able to get
that far in terms of building connections on connections, meanings
(including those made by nonverbal gestures, actions, etc.) on

It seems reasonable to me that there ought to be a strong social-
situational correlation between activities in which we are heavily
personally invested, or just really enjoy or want or need, and those
in which the other factors I've suggested are available to support
climbing unusually high up the ladder of meaning complexity -- i.e.
of meanings built on other meanings.

What do you think?


Jay Lemke
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

On Jul 20, 2009, at 6:06 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

Hi Lois--

I appear eerily unable to communicate the issue that is the focus
of my
attention which is not whether kids imitate the language around
them, but
for the difference in performance of the same kids, within hours or
so of
when they first say something complicated, to "revert" to a
version of that utterance at about the level of what they do when
asked to
an utterance dreamed up by an experimenter to test some theory of the
process of grammatical development.

The kids are performing in both cases. But in one case they are
to achieve THEIR goals. In the other they
are performing to achieve goals they have little understanding of.
Something or other ideas think furiously.

Neither you nor David, so far as I can tell, addresses the question
I am
asking. Since you both know a ton more about
language acquisition than I figure I am being totally dense. What
am I
missing here?

About Vygotsky writing *Something which is only supposed to take
shape at
the very end of development, somehow influences the very first
steps in this

*I believe that Vygotsky is stating a very widely held view of the
of development, one which can be found in many scientific sources
but which
also has deep roots in the Judeo-Christian (and probably lots of
traditions). Here is a version of it from
T.S. Elliot, "East Coker" but I believe it is also intimately
related to the
idea of a spiral of development which is often found in
Hegelian and Marxist thought. Anyway, here is one catholic-convert's
expression of the idea:

In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie?
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.

On Sun, Jul 19, 2009 at 8:47 PM, Lois Holzman <
lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org> wrote:

Hi All,Mike's post sent me back to my most recent thinking on
(two weeks ago!) as well as to my language development research in
mid-70s with Lois Bloom. I do recall that my first published article
(Imitation in Language Development: If, When and Why) was one of a
at the time that focused on spontaneous imitation as opposed to
imitation, such as Slobin's study Mike refers to.OUr findings from
longitudinal data from 6 children from single words to syntax were
interesting: by our operational definitions, some of them didn't
imitate and
their language development was similar to those that imitated.
Those that
did imitate, imitated what they were in the process of learning,
and not
what they knew well nor what was beyond them. Today I would say they
imitated what was in their ZPD and that their imitations were
part of
creating that ZPD.
So it seems to me that the change referred to ?to the more
form? could be understood as the child making meaning with what
has been
said, playing with it, creating with it, using it. For the social
doesn't end just because the child is alone--s/he takes it with
her/him; it
becomes part of her/his life world and repertoire.

What I can add about the relevance to school is the importance of
opportunities for language play, and especially the kind of creative
imitation Vygotsky believes is critical for very young children.
For the
most part schools do not create opportunities for children to play
language in the way that is described here. We've created this
thing called
"vocabulary" which they are obliged to learn. Children are asked
to get the
correct or finished version tas quickly as possible?and they are
given simplified language to help them do this. There is little of
playfulness that happens when the language around you is not
simplified, and
you are free to play with and use it in a variety of ways.

Perhaps helpful in adding to what I am saying is part of this
quote from
Vygotsky, which I wrote about in an article several years ago and
resurrected for a just completed chapter for Cathrene-Ana-Vera's

But is fully developed speech, which the child is only able to
master at
the end of this period of development, already present in the
environment? It is, indeed. The child speaks in one word
phrases, but
his mother talks to him in language which is already grammatically
syntactically formed and which has a large vocabulary*? *Let us
agree to
call this developed form, which is supposed to make its appearance
at the
end of the child?s development, the final or ideal form. And let
us call the
child?s form of speech the primary or rudimentary form. The
characteristic feature of child development is that this
development is
achieved under particular conditions of interaction with the
where this ?form which is going to appear only at the end of the
process of
development is not only already there in the environment ? but
interacts and exerts a real influence on the primary form, on the
steps of the child?s development. *Something which is only
supposed to
take shape at the very end of development, somehow influences the
very first
steps in this development. *(Vygotsky, 1994, p. 348?the article is
Problem of the Environment, appearing in The Vygotsky Reader)
Apologies for
the slightly abridged version of the passage.

Not surprisingly, I "relate" creative imitation to performance....


Lois Holzman, Director
East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy
920 Broadway, 14th floor
New York NY 10010
tel. 212.941.8906 ext. 324
fax 212.941.0511
www.performingtheworld.org loisholzman.org On Jul 16, 2009, at 5:00 PM, Mike Cole wrote:

David's note of a few days ago on 3-7 year old changes in
egocentric speech
me of an old article by Slobin and Welch (reprinted in Ferguson
and Slobin,
*Studies of Child Development, 1963)
*that it took a while to track down. The study is often cited in
studies of
elicited imitation where an adult says some
sentence and asks a little kid to repeat it. Kids simplify the
sentence in
normal circumstances ("Where is the kitty"
becomes "where kitty") and other such stuff. There is a pretty large
literature on this.

But when I went to find the phenomenon in the article that had
most struck
me, I could not find it in the recent lit
on elicited imitation. The phenomenon seems relevant to the
dialogic etc speech discussion.

The phenomenon is this: When a 2yr/5month old child is recorded
you finish your eggs all up, Daddy, you
can have your coffee." they can repeat this sentence pretty much
as it is
right afterward. But 10 minutes later it has
become simplified a la the usual observation.

Citing William James (the child has an "intention to say so and
so") Slobin
and Welch remark:

If that linguistic form is presented for imitation while the
intention is
still operative, it can be faily successfully imitated. Once the
is gone, however, the utterance must be processed in linguistic
terms alone
-- without its original intentional and
contextual support." In the absence of such support, the task can
the child's abilities and reveal a more limited competence than may
be present in spontaneous speech (p. 489-90).

This kind of observation seems relevant in various ways both to
acquisition in school settings and to my reccurrent
questions about the social situation of development. Is it
relevant to the
discussion of egocentric and social speech, David?
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