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Re: [xmca] (ism) v (ist)

Larry, although you addressed your comments to Mike, I'd like to throw a couple of thoughts into this huge and troublesome domain.

1. I have been a little intrigued by where this meaning of "ontology" came from. I am trying to catch up with Heidegger at the moment, and though I am reserving my judgment on his ideas generally, he is discussing Ontology, that is, the science of Being, the same meaning given to this word (so far as I can see) by the Greeks, by Hegel and in conteporary Marxist writing. I used to think it was Sartre who introduced the idea of Ontology as to do with personal identity, in line with his concept of existence during his Existentialist period. But you now suggest something which is kind of midway, i.e., Ontology as to do with what is foundational. I am not sure if that is the same as the science of being, or not.

2. I like your metaphor of 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person, but to me, all the examples you gave of approaches seeking to overcome dualisms are like the "bridging" metaphor which as you correctly say, sets off from a dualism. When 2 people communicate they always use a means of communication which pre-existed both parties. There is always a third. And all attempts to overcome dualism based on "two sides of a coin," "Self/Other, "dialogue" and so on are just variations on dualism, as far as I can see. It's like people saying that D"escartes was wrong," because "thought and matter *are* connected," which was of course Descartes' whole point. :) This is the same question that started this thread, i.e., (roughly) the difference between intersubjectivity and sociocultural approaches.


Larry Purss wrote:
Mike, yes I am using ontology to ""recover" the idea of consciousness as something that emerges between people and my reading of Michael and Luis article and Martin's posting also point to a similar theme. I think Martin is redirecting our gaze or returning us historically to the existential themes being debated within continental philosophy. Also Merleau-Ponty's voice about the centrality of the body [as Rod Parker-Rees wrote about in "bringing children to body] is part of this historical conversation within continental philosophy. Martin's intimate knowledge of this historical tradition seems to be re-engaging this tradition in informing sociocultural and cultural historical perspectives. My using the term "ontology" as that which is foundational or ground is an attempt to support the project of an engagement with the themes of continental philosophy. Why is this important for me personally. I guess as a person immersed in the common sense taken-for-granted historical social surround of "modernity", I'm searching for a new moral compass that transcends neoliberal notions of how we OUGHT to proceed and searching for a way to form a "new commons" with shared notions of "the good" or how we ought to proceed" Now the postmodernist preoccupation with deconstructing all notions of a shared moral compass seems to continue the fragmentation and atomization of hyper individualism as it tries to critique modernity. Continental philosophy as it explores themes of consciousness as what happens BETWEEN [or in the spaces] is a theory of communication with a different ontological ground. I also see this theme being explored in Dot's article emphasing that communication and generality are two sides of the same coin and represent the SAME REALITY. Gennadi states "at first glance, this does not make any sense. Communication deals with the realization of social relationships, and generalization represents an intellectual, mental act of one particular individual" Mike, I interpret that what Martin and Michael and Luis are pointing to is that our theories are struggling to find ways to NOT use metaphors such as "bridging" to explain dualistic interactions and trying to find metaphors such as "two sides of the same coin" or "yin/yang" or "figure/ground" to capture a single process which we differentiate or split into dialectical tensions through our historical patterns of communication. Communication seems central to this process but how we imagine the processes of communication and what is CONSTITUTED within communication is contested ground. My interpretation of Michael and Luis article is their attempt to explore communication as CO-constituted. They state "...when we take the conversation as the unit, in which EACH word has TWO SIDES, any ASYMMETRY within the unit, that is, between moments of the unit, has to be thought of differently." This way of viewing the ZPD challenges the notion of teaching/learning as an ASYMMETRICAL relationship of one person being the teacher and the other person in the position of learner. For Michael and Luis in the ZPD BOTH teacher and learner are occupying the teaching and the learning positions in recursive looping. The student occupies BOTH the teaching and learning position and the teacher occupies both the learner and teaching position. Mike, this notion of communication as radically implicating the other in our ideas and thoughts can be expressed as an alternative ontology. I would suggest that this notion of our thoughts and ideas as radically implicated in others ideas and thoughts as communicated BETWEEN self and other can be extended to our identities or subjectivities as being radically implicated in processes of recognition and RESPONSE. What is foundational can be understood ontologically as a 1st person introspective subjectivity, a 3rd person sociocultural ground or a 2nd person relational ego-alter dialectic that is the foundation of subjectivity and cultural frames. I have to clarify that my background in individualistic psychological perspectives leaves me inadequately prepared to articulate a clear and logically coherent position on these topics but from a 2nd person ontology my searching for historically informed linkages between sociocultural and continental philosophy discourses is an example of a ZPD that develops a shared expanding horizon of understanding. Each time I RESPOND and my ideas are RECOGNIZED and RESPONDED to I am taking both positions of teaching and learning and it is this fundamental communicational engagement which IS subjectivity. Now how we communicate in 2010 creates or constitutes a different subjectivity [and moral engagement] than would be constituted in previous historical periods. This is how I interpret Martin's question of what "kinds of persons" are we constituting. Larry
----- Original Message -----
From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, April 17, 2010 5:44 pm
Subject: Re: [xmca] (ism) v (ist)
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Cc: Jenna McWilliams <jenmcwil@umail.iu.edu>

I have downloaded the documents you posted, Dot.
if i ever understand the term, ontology (or have the illusion I do!), Larry, I might be better able to respond to your note. I think, but am uncertain,that you are pointing to at least part of what Michael-
Luis were emphasizing
in their editorial comment on re-conceptualizing (or re-
covering the idea of consciousness as always/only possible only for two (I
would probably want to add at least three (!) people.
On Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 7:11 PM, Dot Robbins <drobbins72000@yahoo.com>wrote:
Dear Jenna and All,
Realizing that this discussion is no longer going on, I just
wanted to
thank you, Jenna, for your
comments...Constructivism/Constructionism is a
very important discussion internationally, for many reasons,
especially in
the West. The good news for many of you is that you can delete
this message
now, if not interested. I have attached my thoughts on this
topic, but they
were written many years ago....Perhaps the notes are not
totally correct, or
valid today...it was long ago....what is very important is the
situation> some face about *rigour*......We need to be clear about comparing apples and
oranges.....Mike's note was very important for me, listed
below..... The
aspects of cultural mediation are so important, and also the
aspect of the
process of development. We need a historical clarification of
the times of
Vygotsky-Luria-Leontiev regarding their use/or none-use of
research data in
their writings (what was the actual political situation of using
statistical data in those days? I have read about this
problem, but cannot
comment on it now)....
Debates about *rigour* need to be placed in context, as we do
not compare
apples with oranges…I am also attaching our introduction to
the Davydov book
about the understanding of “non-classical” psychology….it
leads to the
understanding of “metacognition,” which is a key component in
dialogues with
many, including those in “traditional” cognitivist fields….I
will restrain
my thoughts to Chomsky here….we need to have a grounded
understanding of
Spinoza, inter alia, to understand cultural-historical theory,
and we also
need to know the deep theories/and times of Descartes….So, I
will stop
here….Hopefully, others will help us, especially our
colleagues in
With very good wishes of Spring to all,
--- On Fri, 4/9/10, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] (ism) v (ist)
To: "Jenna McWilliams" <jenmcwil@umail.iu.edu>
Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Friday, April 9, 2010, 12:52 PM

Debating *rigour  *with respect to such a question*?
*My advice is to take a good novel to read when caught in such
circumstances. Rigourous with respect to what?
Is a psychological experiment about number calculation
procesess more
rigorous than an ethnogrpahic account
of "the same" topic (I almost slipped and wrote phenomenon!).

My guess vis a vis my own question? Piagetian social
constructivism saw
culture as ailement for the mind that varied along a scale
from less to
(never considered obesity, i guess). Vygotskian cultural-historical
psycholoy places cultural mediation in the center of the
process, making
Piageian binaries into fuzzy trinaries for which it is always
necessary to rise to the concrete. Of course one person's
concrete is
another's  "whaaat" but at least they are
trying to understand each other within a more or less mutually
recognizable> point of view. Constructionism includes cultural practices, making things.
But it does not theorize them in chat terms.

On Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 3:38 PM, Jenna McWilliams
<jenmcwil@umail.iu.edu> >wrote:
I don't know! That's why I've pitched this issue to you guys.

I recently sat on the sidelines watching a pair of academics
argue over
whether cultural-historical learning theories are as theoretically
as cognitivist theories. As you might imagine, the
cognitivist argued
aren't as rigorous, while the situative theorist argued they
were. I
if you xmca-ers have thoughts on this.


Jenna McWilliams
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University

On Apr 7, 2010, at 3:50 PM, mike cole wrote:

Jenna-- No wonder you are so quiet on XMCA-- you are
busy in another
interesting discussion, differently mediated!

So, vis a vis the local conversation, how do constructivism or
relate to cultural-historical theories?

On Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 10:12 AM, Jenna McWilliams <
I'm really enjoying this conversation, as it aligns really
nicely with
issues I'm grappling with both in my graduate work and in
my research
projects and groups.

Though I'm a shameless self-promoter, I normally wouldn't
plug my blog
such an esteemed listserv--except that I recently
published a post
(ir)reconcilability of sociocultural and cognitivist
learning theories

constructionist.html> >>> ,
if you want to see). It's the conversation below the post that
now--a fun debate has started about whether pulling from
sociocultural> >>> and
cognitivist theories can be called "synthesis" or
"cherrypicking." I
the "cherrypicking" side of things, though I can
acknowledge how
rhetorically poor that term is.

I was going to post some of this thread in the comments
section before
started worrying about the appropriateness of doing that,
so instead
just set forth a plea to anyone who's interested to join
in on the
conversation. My readers and I would be most grateful for
any thoughts
are willing to offer.

Thanks for this listserv, which is supporting my knowledge
acquisition> >>> and
enabling me to participate in knowledge production.



Jenna McWilliams
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University

On Apr 7, 2010, at 9:32 AM, Michael Glassman wrote:


Just to put in my two cents. Constructivism itself
is an
stance. I had always thought the term was coined by
Kohlberg, but
around it seems to come from Piaget in 1967 (so it is doubtful
would have thought of himself at least as a
constructivist).  It
that the way in which knowledge comes into existence is
through an
individual's construction based on experience in the
world around
rather than being given (some interpretations of
behaviorism) or
based on experience unlocking some warehouse of the mind
(Chomsky).> The
learning paradox which was recently mentioned actually
came out of a
between Piaget and Vygotsky (although the actual terms
emerged out of
later discussion of the debate) - with the Chomskyites
arguing about
you can know if something should be recognized as
something that
into the construction of knowledge if you do not already
have some
that it is important.

Social constructivism is not quite as well developed, but
it suggests
same constructivist epistemological stance, but instead
of focusing on
the individual constructs knowledge out of their
experience in the
they construct their knowledge of the world through their
experience> in
social relationships. The social relationships tend
to take some type
precedence so that the construction of knowledge is not
universal but
delineated and defined by social experience. I
myself tend to take
view of Vygotsky but not everybody does (and it is also a
little hard
square with scientific concepts which have been discussed
recently).> >>>>
Constructionism in my experience has been more reserved
for more
immediate, process oriented knowledge building or the
process of
many times variations of off shoots from Dewey's Instrumental
people such as Gergen, Harre and Rorty. But other
people use
and constructionism interchangably. Again, from my
perspective there
difference in an epistemological stance of constructivism and
constructionism. Possibly the dividing factor is
the constructivism
a metaphysics while constructionsim seems to more often
argue against

CHAT - cultural historical activity theory - well that's
a lot.  My
view is that within this sort of umbrella of ideas there
is no single
epistemological stance or a definite view of a
metaphysic.  Meaning I
you can find social constructivists, constructionists,
and perhaps
odd constructivist hiding in a corner somehwere.

Anyway, I hope that is some help.



From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of
ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org> >>>> Sent: Wed 4/7/2010 8:57 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu; eXtended Mind,
Culture,Activity> >>>> Subject: [xmca] (ism) v (ist)

In the xmca archive there is much discussion about the
differences> >>>> between
just these two modifiers. Never settled, perhaps
never will.  From a
linguist standpoint one is active and one is passive.

Helen; from my own experience when I wrote my master's
thesis ( A
Vygotskian perspective on Special Education Transition
Services) my
supervisor kept asking if I wouldn't be better off making
the argument
from an Ericson point of view so I believe mainstream
acadamia is
confused about what cultural-historical theory is;
however, I believe
safe in saying it is not social constructivism. Has
your supervisor
specifically stated where they are finding the
descrepancies in your
argument? In my thesis I wanted to use more
Valsiner and Van der Veer
references but found they did not coexist very well with
the Vygotsky,
Luria, Scribner, and Cole cross cultural studies I was
referencing.> >>>>
Maybe this helps, maybe this muddies the water?


Helen Grimmett <helen.grimmett@education.monash.edu.au>
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
04/06/2010 09:38 PM
Please respond to "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"

lchcmike@gmail.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"> >>>> <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Book review ol talk and texts

Can I please ask a (probably extremely naive) question?
What are the
differences between social constructivism (as referred to
in this book
review) and cultural-historical theory? My supervisor
keeps telling me
am confusing my arguments by using references from both
paradigms, but
still haven't managed to grasp what the difference is.


----- Original Message -----
From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 11:59 am
Subject: Re: [xmca] Book review ol talk and texts
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Cc: Roy Pea <roypea@stanford.edu>

Thanks for the review, Larry.

So many important issue intersect there.
Gotta find out what Joe Polman and Roy Pea have to offer
on the
learningparadox. Thought Newman et al. set that one to
rest back in
the last
millennium!! And to think that it involves a revival of
the idea of
a zoped
in transformative communication! Super.


Roy-- Can you send us the text? Really sounds interesting.
On Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 9:07 AM, Larry Purss
<lpurss@shaw.ca> wrote:
I just read this review of a new book that I thought may be

 interesting to
some of the CHAT community so I''ve attached the
review.  David
 Olson wrote
 one of the chapters.

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Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden An Interdisciplinary Theory of Activity: http://www.brill.nl/scss

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