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Re: [xmca] Two "Neoformations" or One?

Hell's teeth, Larry! You've drawn public attention to the fact that I have not just one, but two unfinished messages half-written in reply to David. One on chapter 6, the other on chapter 7. We are down to the last weeks of the semester and I have been distracted by tongue-waving neonates. But I will get back to work soon, I promise!


On Apr 29, 2010, at 11:38 AM, Larry Purss wrote:

> Martin
> In your post to David your summary statement is 
> "To understand someones speech in the final analysis is to grasp their motives"
> .
> You also mention that the meaning is not "in" the text but is an event, an occurrence of interpretation and each time you read [or reread] the text in some ways you are encountering it for the first time.
> You also are elaborating speech as only one phase of a dynamic process which starts with 
> A THOUGHT [ do you see thoughts as consciousness/ imagistic content?] This thought is holistic and goes through a dynamic process of signification
> SIGNIFICATION [is this a synonym for meaning?]  The imagistic thought [sense] is represented and transformed through a process of signification [meaning making] After this phase of signification there is a further process of re-representing the meaning [signification] constructed into forms of sequential speech which is behaviorally heard by BOTH self and other SIMULTANEOUSLY.
> Now back to my first line above that this process [of  thinking/signification/speech] is fundamentally a process of motivation to communicate.  The other thread started by Eric on the significance of intersubjectivity [as a communicational process that has a tension between the motivation to withdrawal and the motivation for engagement] seems to be a central and foundational tension [and motivation] that is implicated in the thinking/signification/speech dynamic.
> Now I believe the immediacy of recognition and response [in moment by moment communication] when studied in babies allows us to gain some insights into this fundamental motivation for connection which is pre-linguistic [on the infant side] so it allows a window into processes that are much more complex when speech is acquired.
> The  process of intersubjectivity [not as a cognitive understanding]  but as a "felt" attunement BETWEEN self and other [that is being explored in infant research] continues throughout life as the person continues to engage AND withdraw.  When  speech is acquired it adds to the complexity of this motivational process to communicate but the basic motivational impulse for connection remains.
> What I still don't understand is how the very personal and subjective thought content [images and imaginal] is generated within communicational engagement and moves others to very personal and subjective thoughts which then go through a process of signification [meaning] and articulation in speech.  When I work with students and they generate metaphors and images and WE TOGETHER engage with these very intimate images communication seems to come alive and so the subjective and intersubjective mutually INFORM communication. 
> This is very speculative on my part but is a response to reading Martin's reply to David [and my reading an article by RS Prawat published in Mind Culture and Activity, 6(4)  p. 255-273 titled "Social Constructivism and the Process-Content Distinction as Viewed by Vygotsky and the Pragmatists"
> Larry
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
> Date: Sunday, April 25, 2010 4:01 pm
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Two "Neoformations" or One?
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>> I have (redundantly) said several times on xmca that I find the 
>> work of Wolfgang Iser and Hayden White very helpful, since it 
>> shows us something about the way a listener/reader actively 
>> works with a text, oral or written. Their work is based on the 
>> insight that the meaning of a text is not contained 'in' it, but 
>> is an event, an occurrence, of interpretation and understanding.
>> Consequently, I find very appealing your gloss of LSV's 
>> description of the complex process of the relation between 
>> thinking and speaking. But I think you've made a leap here that 
>> leaves me a little breathless, and hesitant to follow. The sound 
>> does not represent the thought, yes. The other person has to 
>> reconstruct the speaker's thought on the basis of their words, 
>> yes. But perhaps you can unpack for me a little what you mean by 
>> saying that the sound "represents... the process of representing 
>> the thought"? 
>> What I find in these passages is the proposal that a thought can 
>> be expressed in many different ways, that there is always a 
>> subtext, a "latent sense," an aspect of thought that goes 
>> unexpressed or hidden, and that consequently an utterance can be 
>> interpreted in several different ways. Thinking is holistic; a 
>> thought is a whole which must be decomposed and reconstituted to 
>> produce a sequence of words.  What was simultaneous must be 
>> developed sequentially, as a storm cloud unleashes a torrent of 
>> raindrops. The passage from thought to word, consequently, is 
>> always indirect, blazing a trail of signification. Thought 
>> doesn't coincide with words; it doesn't even coincide with the 
>> meaning of words, so it must pass through signification. LSV 
>> seems to be drawing here again the distinction between sense and 
>> signification. Earlier he wrote that signification is "the stone 
>> of the edifice of sense," and David, in your comments you 
>> suggest that his view differs from Paulhan's in seeing sense and 
>> signification as a complex unity. What he calls the "fundamental 
>> law of the dynamic of significations" (how LSV loved fundamental 
>> laws!) is that a word is "enriched" by "sense which it pulls 
>> from the whole context."  As the word absorbs emotional and 
>> cognitive content from its context, it comes to signify both 
>> more and less than it could in isolation. This signification 
>> provides an internal mediation between thinking and speaking. 
>> When thinking arrives at words, the thought has been mediated 
>> internally by significations and externally by words. As a 
>> result of these mediations a thought is not simply expressed, it 
>> is  "realized," "incarnated" in the "flesh" of language. 
>> The passage across the planes of verbal thinking - from thought 
>> to inner speech to the internal form of the word and finally to 
>> its outer form - can take an infinite variety of routes. 
>> Furthermore, the explanation of thinking is to be found not in 
>> other thoughts but in the motives and wishes of the speaker that 
>> underlying and move thoughts, as the wind moves the storm cloud. 
>> To understand someones speech is in the final analysis to grasp 
>> their motives.
>> Martin
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