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Re: [xmca] Generality Is Not Abstraction


Thanks for this valuable clarification by using a clear metaphor.
Could I ask you [or others]to reflect how  generalization and
abstraction are processes of the development of perspective taking.  Mead
talks about "generalized others" as the source of "multiple *MEs*  He
posits social interACTIVITY as prior to interSUBJECTIVITY, and Jack Martin &
Alex Gillespie's neo-Meadian extension of  the theory posits higher levels
[that develop  but  always remain embedded in interactivity and
intersubjectivity] where the *generalizations* are *meta* perspective
taking.  In these higher realms we coordinate and link up sociocultural
traditions.  Martin suggests adding two metareflective levels to the
development of perspective-taking which extend Mead's theory from the
earliest formations of *inter*activity, through formations of reflective
*inter*subjectivity* and in the final two levels become *inter*imaginal and
*inter*dialogical [institutional coordination]

One *meta*reflective process activates  *imaginal idealization* within
coordinated scocial interactivity and coordinated intersubjectvity.
Habermas' theory of communicative action  is given as an example of
idealizing and imagining new ways to coordinate multiple traditions.  The
other process that Martin states can be theorized distinctly from imaginal
ideation is the *meta* process of "dialogical" coordination of multiple
traditions which requires a "community of inquiry" where we can engage in
ideally attempting to coordinate  competing cultural traditions [I would
suggest CHAT is an example of this dialogical metareflective development]  I
suggest these Martin's *meta*levels are moral and ethical dialogues that are
CONTESTED but ideally "rules" or "conventions" could develop which support
the emergence of a new sociocultural tradition which can dialogue with other
moral and ethical traditions. [When Martin Packer talks about "kinds of
persons" I believe he's expressing his ideas at this *meta*reflective level
of coordinated perspective-taking.
Martin and Gillespie's developmental theory also posits the earliest levels
of ontogenesis as PREreflective and embedded in interACTIVITY [social acts].
Their neo-Meadian theory challenges and critiques the cognitive "theory
theory" models of the formation of mind.  They explain the
developing process of identity formation and personhood as originating in
social ACTS [which supports Stern and V. Reddy] and moves toward REFLECTIVE
intersubjective perspective taking [ such as Andrew is experiencing at
school as he attempts to coordinate his interactivity and
At the *meta* reflective level [which is always embedded in situated
concrete interactivy & and reflective  intersubjective perspective-taking ]
the developing capacity to IMAGINE and DIALOGUE emerges to facilitate
coordination at the institutional and  societal level.

David, as you can tell from what I've written about the CONSTITUTIVE SOCIAL
RELATIONAL account of Meadian perspective taking  your discussion of
generalization and abstraction must always be kept "in mind" [and
coordinated reflectively and metareflectively] in how we view historical and
onto genetic development.
(I should also mention micro genetic development which is your deep
Abstraction and generalization and the concept of "distanciation" are key
constructs in the accounts of "perspective-taking [Which Gillespie and
Martin suggest loose there explanitory power when Mead's perspective
taking is TRANSLATED into SIMULATION and THEORY OF MIND notions of

I know I've shifted the focus of your post from "generalization" and
"abstraction" to a more specific example of "perspective-taking" and its
developing trajectory toward "distanciation" and "decentering" (Piaget) but
I hope it is another concrete examle like "water" which looks deeper into
how generalization and abstraction play out in our reflections on



On Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 6:40 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

> I'll try to keep this short and to the point, but it's really a note about
> different kinds of vagueness. Marshall Brown notes in his book Turning
> Points: Essays in the History of Cultural Expressions that a particular kind
> of music which BEGINS with an apparent chaos of chromaticity and then allows
> the formation of clear musical concepts by the opposition of and
> generalization from emergent motifs (e.g. tonal oppositions, tunes, or
> simply an octave, a fifth, etc.)
> In Chapter One, Chapter Five, and again in Chapter Six, Vygotsky presents
> two different mechanisms of concept formation: generality, and abstraction.
> What is the difference? Well, it seems to me the easiest way to understand
> it is Vygotsky's metaphor of a water molecule (which he does NOT use the way
> it is used in Mill, simply to say that the whole is more than the sum of its
> parts).
> For Vygotsky, the formula H20 is simply an example of generality, because
> it is true of every form of water without exception. It is NOT a successful
> application of abstraction, because it tells us nothing about the essence of
> water in concrete processes. In order to understand what we wish to
> understand about water (e.g. whether it assists combustion or extinguishes
> it) we need to understand not what it is but how it acts, and that requires
> abstraction rather than generality.
> The problem is that this easy way of understanding it does not show us
> generality and abstraction working together. That is what we see in
> Vygotsky's "globe", the "measure of generality" in Chapter Six. At one pole,
> we have object-related meaning, which is unique (i.e. not general) and
> concrete (i.e. not abstract).
> At the other pole (which Ana calls the South Pole, but which I have always
> thought of as the North Pole) we have number, which is also unique (in the
> sense that one is not two or any other number) but which is entirely
> abstract (in the sense that it is not tied to any actual form of matter and
> as a consequence can be expressed in an infinitude of ways).
> And where is generality? Ah, that is lies somewhere in the middle, where
> words are used to include the most variegated objects and their ideal
> representations and actions and processes, all of which are expressible in a
> myriad but not an infinity of different ways. And out of this chaos, Mozart,
> and Mendelssohn and later Beethoven, who were after all musicians of Kant's
> and Hegel's historical moment, can precipitate precise oppositions
> and concepts.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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