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[xmca] Two Apotheoses
Sorry, I didn't really do justice to your questions (which are also my questions). My head is still buzzing with the question of the nature of the objectivity of the social situation of development.
But maybe there is a sense in which it is the same question. You see, I really DON'T share the silly (so it seems to me) optimism, really a form of despair, that simply refuses to see the contradiction between other regulation and self regulation. Andrew's frustration at not being able to roam the classroom is real frustration, and his ability to sublate it into scanning only shows us how real it is. The school's frustration at not being able to apply Andrew's scanning skills to the alphabet is also real, and should he doubt this, Andrew may find this very real frustration bodily applied to his very person.
But I have a silly optimism of my own: it is Spinozan optimism, the optimism that says that Kant was deeply and thoroughly wrong, that emotion never was and never REALLY will be antithetical to rationality. You see, I think that BOTH of the apotheoses of meaning (which in a moment of despair I referred to as the disembodiment of meaning) are really acts of imagination, and imagination is another name for emotion that is wearable and sharable through signs and symbols.
The first apotheosis of meaning takes place because the child is able to imagine himself the way that others see and hear him, to talk to himself the way that others do. This in itself should be impossible, according to Piaget, and yet it was Piaget himself who provided the most solid evidence for it. Sometimes the mere fact that something is impossible does nothing to lessen its (corpo)reality, just as the mere fact that something is real does very little to render it comprehensible. And then--miracle upon miracles, or rather act of imagination upon act of imagination--the child is able to imagine his self as a kind of invisible friend, a friend who can understand whether you actually talk to him or not. So self-directed speech merges into verbal thinking.
The second apotheosis of meaning takes place because the child is able to imagine what an object would be like without an object: that is, what would happen if all of shared qualities of a group of objects went on existing after the objects themselves disappeared. That this feat of imagination is highly implausible really goes without saying, and yet it is a regular fact of classroom life. When we teach games, the rules are far too complicated to explain in words.
T: The object of the game of rock paper scissors is to represent with one's hand one of three abstract entities which is capable of overcoming the entity which is simultaneously represented by the hand of one's opponent given a set of completely arbitrary rules without which this sentence is utterly incomprehensible.
We teach games by playing them for the children, e.g. by playing rock paper scissors with the left hand against the right. But when we do this, how do the children know that what they are seeing is an example of an abstract system and not just one more humdrum concrete action? Why, the same way they know that an apple is an example of "apples", the same way they know that any two objects are similar: by the act of imagination that sees an unseen third "object" without an object to which both seen objects belong.
Now BECAUSE the creation of a system is really an act of human imagination (both when the system actually evolves sociogenetically and most especially when it is internalized ontogenetically) I cannot really believe that any normal healthy human imagination in the end cannot comprehend it and thus make it part of that human's lifeworld. As Vico said, the eye is created by God, but what it sees is largely made by man, so there is no reason why man cannot underestand it.
True, humans invent some pretty nasty systems, and some of them really are capable of destroying other people's lifeworlds and even their imaginations. But that does not imply to me that lifeworld and system are intrinsically counterposed any more than a man jumping out of a window suggests to me that either volition or gravity is antithetical to human life. Similarly, to say that the social situation of development is a semiotic structure rather than a physical site does not make it one wit less material. Perhaps Christ did not have a belly button, but the Magdalene most certainly did, and she too received apotheosis in the end.
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Sun, 5/16/10, Larry Purss <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD/Where is Development
To: email@example.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010, 6:29 PM
Just a quick question.
You mention that development moves beyond the lifeworld and requires SYSTEM. What do you think of Martin's and Habermas's critique that system can become so disembodied that it bursts the lifeworld? If I grant your assumption that staying locked within lifeworld relational situations does not facilitate development [as decentering] is it also true that hyper rationalization and system can shatter the lifeworld?
Do you see this as a figure/ground relational situation that maintains a tension between these two ways of relating to the world, or do you see "system" as "transcending" lifeworld in development?
I recognize the increase in "mastery" that comes from rationalizing systems [in culture/mind] but Habermas's notion of rationalized systems as "colonizing" the lifeworld also has intuitive sense.
Another possibility would see development as an increasing "flexibility" in navigating both lifeworld and system [the metaphor of the globe and the coordinates of latitude and longitude EXPANDING TOGETHER,] and development as the capacity to flexibly co-ordinate both system and lifeworld.
David, like Mike I'm asking questions and opening space for discussion. I don't have answers.
It is a question that seems central to how we develop schools as institutions as sites which facilitate situations of development.
----- Original Message -----
From: mike cole <email@example.com>
Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010 2:13 pm
Subject: [xmca] Re: Roaming, Scanning and the Objectivity of the SSD/Where is Development
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Mariane Hedegaard <email@example.com>
> David et al--
> David has a far better mastery of the notions of neoformation in
> relatationto SSD and central/peripheral lines of development
> than I do. There is much
> in his note I find puzzling and interesting, but am unable to
> appropriatesufficiently to paraphrase for purposes of the
> present discussion. I agree
> entirely on the relational notion that SSD is a relational
> concept and
> (following at least from Dewey!) reject the notion of situation
> as being
> external to the child, psychologically speaking. But I struggle
> with the
> idea of psychological processes that are entirely internal as well.
> Consequently, i restrict my comments here to join David in
> asking where
> there is evidence of development, let along revolutionary
> development, in
> this paper. It is there rhetorically in the introduction, but I
> cannot see
> evidence of it in the data presented. Andrew scans with his eyes
> at school
> and with his feet at home. Assuming scanning with feet preceded
> scanningwith eyes does not by itself indicate development does it?
> The period of time for this fragment of the larger project
> introduces Andrew
> after he has been in school for a while, so we do not know the
> history of
> scanning with eyes, whatever we think of its developmental
> status relative
> to scanning with feet. In fact, so far as I can tell, we have no
> evidencefor processes of change of any kind such that we could
> say, for example,
> that practices at home influenced practices at school or vice
> versa, or that
> we see the process of development in situ.
> What am I missing?
> On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 9:08 PM, David Kellogg
> > Dear Carol and Larry (and Mike too, because I think this is
> really ONE
> > thread and not two)
> > I think Bernstein says somewhere that the key question for
> sociology is how
> > the outside becomes inside. That is, of course, the key
> question for
> > sociocultural psychology as well. It seems to me that as long
> as we conceive
> > of the social situation of development as a physical site for
> activity,> there is essentially no way to answer it, and we are
> always left puzzling
> > about how one child can be two places at the same time.
> > I think that when Leontiev and Vygotsky split (and I think the
> split was a
> > genuine one), it was essentially over this question. Leontiev
> decided that
> > Vygotsky had made speech the "demiurge" of thinking. and he
> saw this as
> > leading in the direction of idealism. In response, Leontiev took
> > an OBJECTIVIST position; the child develops by adapting to the
> environment,> by making the demands of that environment his own,
> and by mastering the
> > environment by allowing it to master his own demands. But if
> we replace the
> > word "master" with "accomodate" and "assimilate", we have, as
> Kozulin points
> > out, a straightforwardly neo-Piagetian theory, except that,
> being a good
> > Stalinist, Leontiev does not see any basic contradiction
> between other
> > regulation and self regulation.
> > Besides the problem of the child being two places in one time,
> there are
> > two additional problems with this objectivist definition: the
> > putative mutual INFLUENCE of the child (or at any rate the
> child's central
> > neoformatoin) and the social situation of development, and the
> INTERNAL> nature of the crisis. Neither one sits well with an
> objectivist definition
> > of the social situation of development, and both are completely
> > comprehensible if we see the SSD as being semiotic in nature.
> > Marilyn Fleer and Marianne Hedegaard, just like our previous
> article for
> > discussion by Beth Ferholt and Robert Lucasey, speak of a
> reciprocal,> dialectical, mutual influence between the child's
> central neoformations and
> > the social situation of development. This two-way traffic
> provides the whole
> > content of the central line of development. But if we see the social
> > situation of development as a physical site for physical
> activiteis like
> > roaming or scanning, it's very hard to see this as more than
> just an empty
> > slogan. In what way does Andrew's roaming "change" the layout
> of his home?
> > How does his scanning behavior fundamentally alter the school
> as an
> > institution? His whole tragedy, and his LACK of development,
> consists in
> > this: it does not.
> > More--Vygotsky clearly says that the roots of the crisis are
> INTERNAL, not
> > external, and that the content of the crisis consists of
> changes of an
> > INTERNAL nature and not a conflict between the child's will
> and the
> > environment (see p. 296 of Volume Five, where this is stated
> in completely
> > unambiguous language). But if the crisis is just the result of
> moving from
> > one environment to which Andrew has fully adapted (home) to
> another where he
> > is less well adapted (school) then there is no serious sense
> in which this
> > statement is true; the roots of the crisis are external, and
> they are
> > precisely caused by a conflict between the child's burgenoning
> volition and
> > the implacable brick wall of the school.
> > Vygotsky would have none of this; he insisted on a SEMIOTIC social
> > situation of development after the age of one, and even before
> one, the
> > social situation of development is both objective (because it
> is social) and
> > subjective (because it is semiotic).The examples he gives us
> of social
> > situations of development are always RELATIONSHIPS: the child's
> > physiological independence in contradiction with biological
> dependence, the
> > child's hypersociality in contradiction with his lack of
> speech, the child's
> > "autonomous" speech/walking/thinking in contradiction with the
> child's> understanding of other's speech/actions/thoughts, etc.
> > It seems to me that as soon as we accept that the social
> situation of
> > development is a semiotic and not a physical construct, all of
> the problems
> > simply fall away. Of course the child is NOT two places at one
> and the same
> > time; the child simply relates to all the places that the
> child is through
> > the same semiotic relationship: ostension, indication, naming,
> and only
> > later signifying. Of course, the child DOES have a mutual
> influence on the
> > social situation of development, because the child's semiotic
> system is both
> > linked to and distinct from larger cultural semiotic system in
> which it
> > develops. Of course, the crisis IS fundamentally internal in
> its genetic
> > roots; the semiotic system at any given age period is the
> superproductive> but largely untapped semiotic resource brought
> into being by the child's
> > central neoformation, and the pressure of its
> superproductivity on the main
> > line of development is what engenders the crisis.
> > Larry, the reason why I used the term "disembodiment of
> meaning" to refer
> > to the next zone of development (for Andrew, and also for my
> own mastery of
> > Korean) is that I think development involves SYSTEM and not
> > simply LIFEWORLD. In Chapter Five of Thinking and Speech,
> Vygotsky argues
> > that children notice difference before they notice similarity
> because> differences depend simply upon lifeworld perceptual
> cues, but similarities
> > depend on a system: we must imagine a superordinate concept of
> which both
> > similar objects are exemplars.
> > The problem for both Andrew and myself is that we have locked
> ourselves in
> > the lifeworld. Andrew and I are both dependent on concrete,
> tangible,> physical, kinesthetic perceptible clues, and we are
> limited to noticing
> > differences: he depends on roaming and scanning, and I depend
> on a losing
> > strategy of trying to infer grammatical similarities and
> semantic meanings
> > from the infinite pragmatic varieity of intonation and facial
> > Yet for both of us, the lifeworld provides abundant resources
> for breaking
> > out of the lifeworld. In Andrew's case, it is the BOOKS to
> which he must
> > apply his scanning skills. For me, it is the disembodied
> GRAMMAR and
> > VOCABULARY to which I must apply my inferential bag of tricks.
> The problem,
> > and here is where I find myself in complete agreement with
> you, is that in
> > both cases there is no affective payoff, there is no concrete,
> tangible,> embodied answer to the question "Why should I care?"
> > David Kellogg
> > Seoul National University of Education
> > ---
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