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Re: [xmca] Consciousness, Piaget

Hi AndyB--

As I surmised, discussions of consciousness on XMCA may be polysemic without
our realizing it, perhaps some of us (me for example!) using it as a
pseudoconcept, one them there wolves in sheep's clothing.

See, I am a noob to talk about consciousness. Got it traing the heck out of
me at UCLA and Indiana University in the last millenium. And then i take it
up in later life and start to get really excited about it because of this
blind-deaf psychologist in Russia and stuff on fixed retinas and start to
think about is the active resolution between built in mechanisms that keep
disconnecting us from our environments even if ever so slightly and human
life over time. And in this primitive sense, lots of animals are conscious
but human consciousness has some special properties because our environment
like ourselves is hybrid in origin and substance.

I have developed this belief its all material and in humans, fused with or
impregnated with ideality.We loose consciousness of that with which we are
perfectly coordinated; blind people and their sticks, for example, or most
anyone and large portions of their culture which become "transparent" to

But then I run into terms like "false consciousness" which I both resonate
to (what ARE Americans thinking about in the current health care discussion,
why in the world do they so resolutely shy away from what I
consider their/my/my children's.....best interests?). Etc ad nauseum.

So I am sympathetic with Martin's query, although I hope old Brentano
was not Bent out of shape by his message!

signed, the once and never mike coole.

On Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 8:51 AM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

> Well, Andy, that gets us going with a good, solid dualism right from the
> get-go!  :)
> I contradict Lenin unwillingly, but (1) isn't it the case that
> consciousness is always *of* matter (i.e. Cs is 'intentional,' in the
> (somewhat) technical sense of being directed, always relational, an
> observation usually credited to Bentano), and (2) those beings that are Cs
> are themselves material? I'm presume Lenin, as a good materialist, wouldn't
> have forgotten the latter, but it is hard then to draw a "basic distinction"
> between the two.
> Not holding you responsible, of course
> Martin
> On Sep 21, 2009, at 9:54 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>  Mike, it has been troubling me that you never got a satisfactory answer to
>> your repeated question: what is consciousness?
>> My answer would be to turn to Lenin's infamous "Materialism and
>> Empirio-Criticism"
>> http://marx.org/archive/lenin/works/1908/mec/two4.htm
>> Lenin explains (and Engels would agree http://.marx.org/archive/marx/works/1886/ludwig-feuerbach/ch02.htm)
>> that the distinction between matter and consciousness is the most basic and
>> first distinction made in philosophy. This does not tell us anything about
>> consciousness or matter, except that you can't say anything more about the
>> meaning of these categories, because to do so would require calling upon
>> other categories, which are thereby placed prior to consciousness, which
>> contradicts the definition just given. They are the "boot-strap" concepts,
>> if properly defined.
>> Consciousness is what is given to us; matter is what exists outside and
>> independently of consciousness. Further enquiry into the meaning of
>> consciousness can only be a further enquiry into the human condition.
>> Further enquiry into "matter" is called natural science.
>> Where this leaves us and whether it tells us anything about hos to proceed
>> with a "science of consciousness" I don't know. Whether this claim makes us
>> guilty of "substasntialism" I don't think so. But I can't think of a better
>> answer.
>> Does that help?
>> Andy
>> Mike Cole wrote:
>>> The later formulation makes more sense to me steve.
>>> Geraldine. I have never tried to google "consciousness" on xmca, but it
>>> would be most likely an extensive undertaking with a lot of contexts of
>>> uses
>>> and meanings. The primordial
>>> nature of human sociality, the being born into culturally mediated social
>>> life seems to me the starting point for human consciousness. Piaget is
>>> certainly not alone in identifying the birth of consciousness with the
>>> semiotic function, but all sort of issues remain unclear about
>>> directionalty
>>> of change and, referring to Andy's comments, the issues of borders and
>>> levels
>>> (to name just a few!!).
>>> mike
>>> On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 2:50 AM, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Mike, et al--
>>>> I see two problems with the formulation I used about Ilyenkov claiming
>>>> that
>>>> ideality is independent of consciousness and will ...
>>>> First, it would have been clearer if I had specified **individual**
>>>> consciousness and will, as in a **particular** individual's mentality.
>>>> Ilyenkov explained that ideality as a phenomena occurs as a result of
>>>> **social** processes.  According to him, ideality is not just something
>>>> that
>>>> happens inside individual heads.
>>>> Second, there is an even more important problem with my formulation -
>>>> the
>>>> way I used the word, "independent," which, used by itself in the context
>>>> I
>>>> put it, is one-sided and misleading.  Ilyenkov puts it much more
>>>> clearly:
>>>> "“Ideality” is, indeed, necessarily connected with consciousness and
>>>> will,
>>>> but not at all in the way that the old, pre-Marxist materialism
>>>> describes
>>>> this connection. It is not ideality that is an “aspect”, or “form of
>>>> manifestation” of the conscious-will sphere but, on the contrary, the
>>>> conscious-will character of the human mentality is a form of
>>>> manifestation,
>>>> an “aspect” or mental manifestation of the *ideal* (i.e.,
>>>> socio-historically
>>>> generated) *plane of relationships between man and nature*."
>>>> paragraph 133 of 143 in The Concept of the Ideal
>>>> see http://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/ideal/ideal.htm
>>>> As a result of this little side discussion on ideality, I found myself
>>>> taking another close look at this essay, and have put something together
>>>> on
>>>> it in another post.  Thanks, Mike.
>>>> - Steve
>>>> On Sep 10, 2009, at 2:35 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
>>>> Steve et al--
>>>>> I have not been a real part of this discussion because I have been
>>>>> meeting
>>>>> up-close deadines and trying to read very carefully through Anna
>>>>> Sfard's
>>>>> book.*Thinks as Communicating. *I also find Ilyenkov very difficult and
>>>>> have, thus far, only "cherry picked" ideas that seemed to give
>>>>> voice to intuitions I have had during years of teaching, but could find
>>>>> no
>>>>> relevant formulations for. So I cannot respond adequately here, Steve,
>>>>> to
>>>>> your question, although taken in its present context, I find it very
>>>>> difficult to believe that " ideality (roughly, the social meanings of
>>>>> things) is independent of human will and consciousness as well." Partly
>>>>> this
>>>>> is because I assume the artificial to be the embodiment to prior human
>>>>> goal
>>>>> achieving actions that have
>>>>> survived to be present in our current activities.
>>>>> Recently Jay published a review of Anna's book in MCA which is well
>>>>> worth
>>>>> reading, but
>>>>> as i work my way through it, her ideas reverberate with the traces of
>>>>> the
>>>>> current discussion
>>>>> I am able to grok in passing, or feel like I am "getting."
>>>>> One of these is her suggestion that a concept is " a word or other
>>>>> signifier
>>>>> WITH ITS DISCURSIVE USE (my emphasis). That complicates identifying
>>>>> words
>>>>> and concepts and moves us toward a Wittgensteinian notion of word
>>>>> meaning.
>>>>> I also think that reading the Davydov materials posted by Andy is
>>>>> important
>>>>> because VVD
>>>>> was quite critical of Vygotsky's notion of concept.
>>>>> I am also trying to think about how to extended the into-image-making
>>>>> "level" of consciousness, which occurs, "behind our backs" (or beneath
>>>>> our
>>>>> notice) and other forms of
>>>>> imagination which are clearly linguistically mediated and quite
>>>>> deliberate
>>>>> -- A book on
>>>>> "Rational Imagination."
>>>>> I sure wish there was a way to allign our temporally and geographically
>>>>> distributed musing
>>>>> and wonderings. For now, getting the XMCA archive fixed up and stable
>>>>> is
>>>>> the
>>>>> next best step
>>>>> I can manage.
>>>>> Thanks to you and David and the others who are doing close readings and
>>>>> well
>>>>> considered
>>>>> summaries, evaluations, and extrapolations. Keeps the golden ring just
>>>>> almost within reach.
>>>>> mike
>>>>> On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 3:38 PM, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Mike, David, all:  I have a question about the how some of Ilyenkov's
>>>>>> views
>>>>>> on thinking and consciousness align with the comments on consciousness
>>>>>> that
>>>>>> you make, Mike, in your 2006 article, which you linked us to the other
>>>>>> day
>>>>>> (see post below).  Keeping in mind that this article had a more
>>>>>> specific
>>>>>> purpose, to make the case for the intertwining of phylogeny and
>>>>>> culture
>>>>>> in
>>>>>> human mental life, it nevertheless makes a brief but very interesting
>>>>>> point
>>>>>> about consciousness itself.
>>>>>> I find myself agreeing with both Ilyenkov, and the observations in
>>>>>> this
>>>>>> article.  But there seem to be some links missing between the two
>>>>>> views,
>>>>>> which I am puzzling over.
>>>>>> Ilyenkov, for his part, makes it clear that he believes the world of
>>>>>> objects is independent of human will and consciousness.  In my
>>>>>> interpretation of the passages from Problems of Dialectical Logic that
>>>>>> David
>>>>>> and I have been discussing, Ilyenkov also believes that the
>>>>>> **connections**
>>>>>> between human thought and the world of objects are independent of
>>>>>> human
>>>>>> will
>>>>>> and consciousness.  Furthermore, in Chapter 8 of his book Problems of
>>>>>> Dialectical Logic (1974/1977), and in his essay The Concept of the
>>>>>> Ideal
>>>>>> (1962/1977), Ilyenkov argues that the ideal, that is, ideality
>>>>>> (roughly,
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> social meanings of things) is independent of human will and
>>>>>> consciousness
>>>>>> as
>>>>>> well.
>>>>>> My question is:  How do Ilyenkov's claims - or perhaps put another
>>>>>> way,
>>>>>> **do** his claims - align with Mike's thoughts on consciousness?
>>>>>> Here are Mike's comments about human consciousness in this 2006
>>>>>> article,
>>>>>> which seem very reasonable to me:
>>>>>> "A provocative way to think about phylogeny–culture–cognition
>>>>>> relations
>>>>>> among humans is to consider the combination of processes that appears
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> be
>>>>>> necessary for an adult human to experience a visual image of the world
>>>>>> (the
>>>>>> same processes presumably apply to images in other sensory modalities
>>>>>> but
>>>>>> the relevant data are lacking)." p 237
>>>>>> After a very helpful description of human vision processes, (which,
>>>>>> after
>>>>>> reading this, could be said to be discontinuously continuous and
>>>>>> continuously discontinuous!), Mike concludes:
>>>>>> "Following the logic of this line of research on what might be termed
>>>>>> ‘‘the
>>>>>> components of the visual image” we can conclude that one component is
>>>>>> highly
>>>>>> specified by factors arising from human beings’ phylogenetic history
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> one
>>>>>> part from the individual’s culturally organized experience, which
>>>>>> itself
>>>>>> is
>>>>>> the residue of the cultural history of the individual’s social group.
>>>>>> However, these two sources of experience are not sufficient to provide a
>>>>>> coherent image of the object before one’s eyes. Rather, it requires a
>>>>>> ‘‘third component,” the active reconciliation or filling-in by active
>>>>>> humans
>>>>>> seeking to make sense of their experience for an integrated, veridical
>>>>>> image
>>>>>> of the world to arise and be maintained.
>>>>>> "In addition to its value as a reminder of the tripartite nature of
>>>>>> human
>>>>>> conscious experience, the stabilized image experiment is valuable in
>>>>>> underlining the fact that the causal relations between the brain and
>>>>>> culture
>>>>>> are bi-directional and that neither constituent of psychological
>>>>>> processes
>>>>>> is sufficient; the active resolving activity of the human being striving
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> make sense of the world is a necessary component of normal
>>>>>> consciousness
>>>>>> as
>>>>>> well."  p 239.
>>>>>> - Steve
>>>>>> On Sep 3, 2009, at 4:18 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
>>>>>> Your multi-lingualism, as always, David, is very helpful, along with
>>>>>> your
>>>>>>  broad and close readings.
>>>>>>> I am a very late comer to the issues of consciousness, having been
>>>>>>> raised
>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>> the era when the term
>>>>>>> was exorcized by American psychology. You can find my first halting
>>>>>>> steps
>>>>>>> at
>>>>>>> coming to grips with
>>>>>>> the idea in *Cultural Psychology, *in the chapter where I describe
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> analysis of question-asking reading that Peg  Griffin invented and
>>>>>>> which
>>>>>>> I
>>>>>>> still work with as a  teaching tool. There we replace the solid
>>>>>>> triangle
>>>>>>> with a triangle that is "open at the front end" putting time along
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> bottom line and having a gap
>>>>>>> between the mediated and direct connections between subject and
>>>>>>> object.
>>>>>>> That
>>>>>>> process of filling that
>>>>>>> gap is the process of consciousness. This idea appears in a different
>>>>>>> nascent form in analysis of
>>>>>>> fixed images on the retina that can be found at
>>>>>>> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/MCole/PHYSIO326.pdf
>>>>>>> The fixed image data make clear that tripartate nature of HUMAN
>>>>>>> consiousness, where discoordination is constituitive of
>>>>>>> consciousness.
>>>>>>> elsewhere i have written about taking the russian term,
>>>>>>> voobrazhenie  into-image-making as THE fundamental cognitive act.
>>>>>>> All of these involve, I believe,
>>>>>>> a) awareness
>>>>>>> b) noticing
>>>>>>> c) selection
>>>>>>> d) potential anticipation
>>>>>>> But there are so many more and many different ways of thinking of the
>>>>>>> matter. False consciousness is a term I worry about a lot.
>>>>>>> Color me self conscious.
>>>>>>> mike
>>>>>>>  On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 4:03 PM, David Kellogg <
>>>>>> vaughndogblack@yahoo.com
>>>>>>  wrote:
>>>>>>> Tony, Mike:
>>>>>>>  We translated Piaget's "prise de conscience" as "seizure of
>>>>>>>> consciousness",
>>>>>>>> except that in Korean the verbal noun has the more psychological
>>>>>>>> sense
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> "grasping" as when you grasp a meaning that you didn't really
>>>>>>>> understand
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> a phrase that you have heard many times. So, to nominalize, the
>>>>>>>> "prise
>>>>>>>> de
>>>>>>>> conscience" is the "graspture of awareness" or the "rapture of
>>>>>>>> awareness".
>>>>>>>> Every child is an awareness raptor.
>>>>>>>> I think that one important thing to grasp here is that "conscience"
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> French is not really the homuncular "consciousness" we have in
>>>>>>>> English,
>>>>>>>> any
>>>>>>>> more than it is the obvious false friend, the meaning of a moral
>>>>>>>> "conscience" that we find in English writings on ethics. It has a
>>>>>>>> number
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> OTHER meanings that attracted Vygotsky to Piaget, to wit:
>>>>>>>> a) awareness
>>>>>>>> b) noticing
>>>>>>>> c) selection
>>>>>>>> d) potential anticipation
>>>>>>>> It seems to me that all of these can be conceptualized as moments in
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> passing of the child from a relatively passive, reactive state to a
>>>>>>>> much
>>>>>>>> more voluntary, volitional one.
>>>>>>>> Last night, I was re-reading Engestrom's old book "Learning by
>>>>>>>> Expanding",
>>>>>>>> which some of our teachers are busy translating into Korean. In
>>>>>>>> Chapter
>>>>>>>> Five
>>>>>>>> he does try to tackle the question that I think gives the "prise de
>>>>>>>> conscience" its real importance, which is the question of whether
>>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>>> at
>>>>>>>> what point learning is REVERSIBLE--at what point the laying down of
>>>>>>>> socioculturally accumulated experience becomes the creation of new
>>>>>>>> content
>>>>>>>> for the next phase of sociocultural progress.
>>>>>>>> I think Engestrom sees Vygotsky's preliminary considerations of
>>>>>>>> history
>>>>>>>> (which he describes, it seems to me incorrectly, as
>>>>>>>> phenomenological),
>>>>>>>> his
>>>>>>>> laboratory experiments (what Paula and Carol replicated), his
>>>>>>>> empirical
>>>>>>>> classroom observations (Chapter Six of T&S) and his theorizing as
>>>>>>>> moments
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> a single process which can be REVERSED in order to yield the next,
>>>>>>>> higher
>>>>>>>> phase of expansion. The first process works from outside in, and the
>>>>>>>> second
>>>>>>>> from inside out.
>>>>>>>> The problem, it seems to me, is the crisis. the "prise de
>>>>>>>> conscience"
>>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>>> really a crisis par excellence, and a crisis is by definition NOT
>>>>>>>> reversible. For example, awareness is not simply the end point of
>>>>>>>> noticing
>>>>>>>> done backwards, nor is noticing the endpoint of attentional
>>>>>>>> selection
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> reverse. Obviously, active anticipation requires awareness,
>>>>>>>> noticing,
>>>>>>>> and attentional selection, but not vice versa.
>>>>>>>> So the crisis obeys different laws, and we can also expect
>>>>>>>> post-critical
>>>>>>>> development to be different from precritical development in
>>>>>>>> important
>>>>>>>> ways.
>>>>>>>> In physics, a shock wave cannot, by definition, be understood with
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> same
>>>>>>>> mathematics we use to describe continuous phenomenon. And the shock
>>>>>>>> reverberates: if a crisis is generally restructuring, we have to
>>>>>>>> expect
>>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>>> the laws of the next phase of social progress are going to be in
>>>>>>>> some
>>>>>>>> way
>>>>>>>> fundamentally different.
>>>>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>>>>>>> ---
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>> --
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
>> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20
>> ea
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