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RE: [xmca] perception/conception etc

Resending my response that seems not to have gone through.

-----Original Message-----
From: David H Kirshner 
Sent: Sunday, July 11, 2010 2:27 AM
To: 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'
Subject: RE: [xmca] perception/conception etc

Martin "certainly agree[s, with Michael] that the experience of pain is
prior to mental representations." So if we take it that, say, a baby is
having the experience within a culture that has reified "pain" (as
something that can be attributed to babies under certain circumstances),
then the baby's first person experience is not pain, because she or he
has not yet appropriated it as such. Steve suggests we call the as yet
unnamed experience a percept, later to become an instance of a concept.
Andy suggests that "from the point of view of an observer, ... the fact
that the subject cannot articulate it is not an in-principle barrier"
(to our knowing that it is pain the child is experiencing). But of
course it is problematic, because cultures are not static. Frames of
reference shift, experiences get reinterpreted. Michael's point, that
Martin grudgingly acceded to, is that SOME experiences (for example,
perhaps, pain), are not subject to revision--perhaps because they are
too closely related to biological imperatives (for example, "The Will To
Live" that pretty well controls certain aspects of our activity
structures such that "pain" always comes out as a useful concept).

But this doesn't answer the hard questions, it only gets us to them.
Consider, now, the emergent case (originally intended in my question) in
which neither the culture nor the individual has yet organized the
percepts into concepts. This scenario asks after either the origins of
human culture, or perhaps just the generative character of culture. This
question is a bit reminiscent of cosmological questions about the Big
Bang, how can we gain insight into originary processes when all we have
are data about conditions afterwards. (In fact, our questions are more
difficult, because physicists can extrapolate back to billionths of a
second after the big bang.) What we have is an unresolved dialectic
between percepts and concepts. This is really the fault line
sociocultural theory tries to cover over. And we never get to experience
a sense of firm grounding in our theorizing because the fault shifts
under us and spews lava underneath all of our theoretical efforts. 


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of Steve Gabosch
Sent: Sunday, July 11, 2010 12:28 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] perception/conception etc

Picking up on a possible approach to David Ki's line of questioning, I  
am thinking a solution to the problem of dialectically distinguishing  
percepts from concepts could be found in distinguishing the lower and  
higher mental functions.  If we view 'percepts' as products of the  
elementary mental functions - as directly noticed/remembered stimuli,  
as something at least all higher animals create - we can then view  
human 'concepts' as products of cultural mediation.

- Steve

On Jul 10, 2010, at 8:57 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:

> I would have a couple of reactions to David's question, which  
> inevitably arises from critique of cultural psychology.
> Firstly David, you very pointedly pose your question in the firt  
> person. In the first person, we can talk about our own consciousness  
> as something given; but conversely we can't talk about what we can't  
> articulate or don't know we have, can we? The point is to be able to  
> articulate the experience, to put our consciousness (in the most  
> general sense of my relationship to my environment) into words or  
> images of some kind.
> So secondly, if we take it that the question is posed from the point  
> of view of an observer, then the fact that the subject cannot  
> articulate it is not an in-principle barrier.
> Artefacts are present in our consciousness whether we have conscious  
> awareness of them or not.
> That's my two-artefacts worth.
> Andy
> David H Kirshner wrote:
>> To put it as a question, what status are we to give to experiences we
>> have but don't know we have (i.e., can't articulate to ourselves)
>> because those experiences are not (yet) reified in language?
>> David
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca- 
>> bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
>> On Behalf Of Martin Packer
>> Sent: Saturday, July 10, 2010 1:42 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] perception/conception etc
>> Michael,
>> I am having some difficulty following your argument. Let me see if  
>> I can
>> reconstruct what you are saying.
>> First, you say I am presupposing my conceptions. Yes, I suppose I  
>> am. Is
>> there a way of engaging in debate that does not presuppose  
>> conceptions?
>> Or perhaps your point is that I should be critiquing my conceptions,
>> albeit necessarily from within? But isn't that what I am doing? I am
>> critiquing our common assumption that emotion is somehow prior to
>> culture. Second, you say that one does not know what pain is before  
>> one
>> experiences it. I suppose that is true too, in a narrow sense.  
>> Would you
>> say I do not know what Australia is before I visit it? We need to  
>> draw
>> distinctions between different kinds of knowledge, don't we? But do  
>> I "know" what Australia is after I have experienced it? Surely
>> yes, but there are many ways to know a continent, and there are many
>> ways to know pain. If you are trying to draw a distinction between  
>> theoretical knowledge
>> and practical knowledge, I would certainly agree with you. To call  
>> only
>> the latter "real" knowledge is problematic, however. Even Heidegger,
>> who, as you know, emphasized the ready-to-hand mode of engagement in
>> practical activity and was critical of what he called the
>> pure-present-at-hand of detached contemplation, granted a place for
>> deliberation and articulation. We could hardly view the book Being &
>> Time as a practical manual, could we?! Bourdieu himself wrote text  
>> upon
>> text in which he demonstrated his symbolic mastery, albeit with an
>> ambivalence (especially clear in Homo Academicus) that shows the
>> problems that come from attributing the status of "real knowledge"  
>> only
>> to practical know-how.
>> In an earlier message you wrote "we know pain in and through the
>> experience of pain not because of cultural-historical concepts." It  
>> is
>> not clear to me whether you want to say that we don't know pain  
>> because
>> of culture, or because of concepts. If it is the former, I disagree  
>> with
>> you, as I explained in my last message. But if it is the latter, my  
>> response has to be that it all depends on
>> what one means by 'concepts,' and this is where we came in, isn't it?
>> None of us seems to sure what we mean by a concept. The standard
>> psychological definition is that a concept is a mental  
>> representation,
>> and I certainly agree that the experience of pain is prior to mental
>> representations. But I presume that a sociocultural approach is  
>> aiming
>> to develop a different conception of concepts. One approach would  
>> be to
>> argue that concepts exist precisely in practical activities, as a  
>> mode
>> of human engagement in the world. (You mentioned Merleau-Ponty, who  
>> has
>> explored this. For M-P, the 'invisible' that is in 'the visible' is  
>> the
>> conception that is always in perception, to put it briefly.) My point
>> was that what counts as pain, and the way pain is experienced (or  
>> love)
>> is always the consequence of our participation in cultural  
>> practices. I
>> would not rule out the possibility of conceiving of this  
>> participation
>> in terms of concepts, suitably rethought.
>> Martin
>> On Jul 10, 2010, at 12:57 PM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>> Martin,
>>> your way of thinking is cultural-historical unsustainable, because  
>>> you
>> did not have cultural concepts prior to culture. It is completely
>> inconsistent of all phenomenological analyses I am aware off that  
>> ----
>> similar to CHAT (Leontyev, Holzkamp) ---- show how anything like
>> intention, cognition can come about in the first place. You seem to
>> reason from after the fact but presuppose your conceptions.
>>> And, I beg your pardon, you do not know what pain is before you
>> experienced it; you do not know what flow is until you experienced  
>> it. A
>> physicist who has never played football may be able to calculate an
>> approximate trajectory for a ball but never throw a ball
>> himself/herself. If you were claiming such things, then you are in  
>> the
>> same position as Catholic priests who know what it means to feel  
>> things
>> that they inherently, because of their commitments, never can feel.  
>> As
>> said, you are talking about what Bourdieu calls SYMBOLIC mastery, not
>> real mastery.
>>> Michael
>>> On 2010-07-10, at 10:42 AM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>> Michael,
>>> I'm afraid that just don't agree with your claim. There is already a
>> lot of research to show that culture mediates what is taken to be  
>> pain,
>> and how pain is experienced. I will mention again Hoschchild's  
>> work. I
>> recently read a fascinating ethnography of the Jayne, an Indian
>> religious group that practices extreme practices of self denial.  
>> Think
>> of self flagellation in the Middle Ages. Think of Micky Rourke  
>> stapling
>> himself in the wrestling ring.  Or think of the experience of  
>> undergoing
>> eye surgery. When a doctor inserts a needle into the eye one's  
>> reaction
>> is definitely influenced by the interpretation that the procedure is
>> intended to be beneficial.
>>> Or on a more positive note, would you claim that the passion of love
>> is not today mediated, organized, colonized by technologies of  
>> romance,
>> sexuality, eroticism, etc.?
>>> Martin
>>> On Jul 10, 2010, at 11:48 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>> HI Martin,
>>>> we know pain in and through the experience of pain not because of
>> cultural-historical concepts. Same with suffering and other passions.
>> "Only suffering permits us to know what suffering is" (Henry, 2003,  
>> p.
>> 167, my translation). And passions are not intended, they come upon  
>> us,
>> we receive them . . .
>>>> We may subsequently talk about them, which means employ cultural
>> concepts. We may even talk about passions we have not experienced  
>> (like
>> Catholic priests, possibly) but we don't KNOW these passions, we only
>> have, in the words of Bourdieu, symbolic mastery thereof, not real
>> mastery.
>>>> All of this to say that there is no primacy of cultural
>> concept(ion)s, and that is what the history of the phenomenology of
>> perception would reveal to you. (I am not saying the reverse, that  
>> "raw
>> experience" underlies anything). But you know that Marx talks about
>> consciousness being the result of life rather than its origin.
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Michael
>>>> On 2010-07-09, at 6:46 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>>> Sorry, Michael - what precisely is your point?
>>>> Martin
>>>> On Jul 9, 2010, at 7:56 PM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>> Martin,
>>>>> PRECISELY my point. What';s the difference between a Japanese (or
>> Albertan, where I get my chicks from) and Martin Packer? They see a
>> difference what is the same to Martin. What is different? Well, there
>> are different gestalts.
>>>>> I have been watching you all running in circle wondering by myself
>> why nobody was suggesting to go back to Heidegger and his notion of
>> apophansis (in Being and Time), and its relation to logos, which, for
>> the Greeks according to Heidegger, have the same origin. From there I
>> would go to the phenomenology of perception (Merleau-Ponty, 1945) to
>> Crossing of the Visible (Jean-Luc Marion, 2004) and Michel Henry  
>> (Seeing
>> the invisible).
>>>>> Then you would have some answers to the questions raised, thought
>> through by some interesting philosophers.
>>>>> :-)
>>>>> Michael
>>>>> On 2010-07-09, at 5:04 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>> Michael,
>>>>> This is the famous and familiar 'chicken-sexing' phenomenon.  
>>>>> Experts
>> are able to tell the sex of day-old chickens, and can't explain  
>> why. The
>> best chicken sexers come from Japan, where the  Zen-Nippon Chick  
>> Sexing
>> School has 2-year long courses.
>>>>> But I don't follow your argument. You seem to be saying, since  
>>>>> they
>> can't explain what they do in words, they have no concepts. But they
>> must have something, so they have percepts.
>>>>> You are apparently equating a concept with a 'cultural label' that
>> is 'stuck' on an object, as though we could only recognize a barrel  
>> if
>> it were labelled 'barrel,' if not literally then metaphorically.   
>> That
>> seems a rather simplistic view of what concepts do. And actually the
>> chicken sexers do employ cultural labels - as do your fish sorters, I
>> presume. The chicken sexers say to themselves, 'male chick,' 'female
>> chick.' They simply can't introspect the characteristics they have
>> identified which have enabled them to attach the label. Your fish
>> sorters are saying, 'good fish, 'bad fish,' or something similar.
>> Obviously these are cultural-historical distinctions, right?
>>>>> Martin
>>>>> On Jul 9, 2010, at 6:14 PM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>>> See, even without the notion of "barrel", you perceive a shape  
>>>>>> and
>> do not run into it. This shape, prior to all cultural labels you  
>> might
>> stick to it or recognize it as part of cultural-historical  
>> activity, is
>> some shape that exists for you in your practices. In two papers,  
>> one in
>> Journal of Pragmatics and the other in Social Studies of Science, I
>> describe phenomena for which there are no words or concepts and yet
>> people act toward it. For example, fish culturists sort fish. They  
>> can't
>> tell you the difference between the ones that go to the right, down  
>> into
>> the bucket, or into the left channel. They ask you to "just look." So
>> they can see it, but not tell it. Similarly, in ecological field  
>> work,
>> the participants could see differences but not tell them, that is see
>> that something is not a rock pile even though the definition of a  
>> rock
>> pile said it was one.
>>>>>> How do you describe or name what they see as difference but for
>> which there is no concept, no "notion" to name and tell the  
>> difference?
>> In such cases, "percept" may well do the trick. There are two  
>> percepts,
>> they are different, yet there are no cultural-historical concepts to
>> name, theorize, conceptualize . . .
>>>>>> As you see from the title of one paper, I used the term  
>>>>>> "perceptual
>> gestalts" . . . . Don't know whether that resolves your problem,  
>> but was
>> useful and the best solution for me.
>>>>>> Roth, W.-M. (2005). Making classifications (at) work: Ordering
>> practices in science. Social Studies of Science, 35, 581-621.
>>>>>> Roth, W.-M. (2004). Perceptual gestalts in workplace  
>>>>>> communication.
>> Journal of Pragmatics, 36(6), 1037-1069.
>>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>> On 2010-07-09, at 3:43 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>>> "Describe" in what respect, Michael?
>>>>>> On Jul 9, 2010, at 4:01 PM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>>>> Martin, the percept might describe the forms that appear in
>> perception? What do you think? Michael
>>>>>>> On 2010-07-09, at 9:46 AM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>>>> Eric,
>>>>>>> For me, the question that needs to be answered is why we need to
>> introduce a new term, "percept." We can all talk about  
>> 'perception,' as
>> an active process of interaction with the world, right? What is  
>> gained
>> when we start to talk about 'percepts,' as though there are some  
>> little
>> entities floating around somewhere? Haven't we turned a process  
>> into an
>> entity?
>>>>>>> The university has a good selection of DVDs, and I recently
>> checked out the first season of the cable TV channel Showtime's  
>> series
>> The Tudors, which recounts how Henry VIII's need for a male heir  
>> led to
>> the rupture between England and the Catholic Church. It's not exactly
>> aiming for historical accuracy, but I was then motivated to check out
>> Elton's history of the period and it turns out the series does a  
>> pretty
>> good job of touching on most of the important events.
>>>>>>> Everyone in the show is a fashion statement, including Cardinal
>> Wolsey who, as played by Sam Neil, is both cunning and likable. He  
>> shows
>> up each time in a different outfit, wearing a variety of official
>> headgear, each in that rich cardinal red.
>>>>>>> One morning I was fixing breakfast and reached out for the salt
>> shaker. It's made of transparent plastic with a lid, something we  
>> picked
>> up at the supermarket. But the lid is bright red, and (and here's the
>> point; thanks for your patience!) as I picked it up, for a second  
>> or two
>> what I saw was a little cardinal.
>>>>>>> That seems to me a nice example of what Mike has been exploring,
>> the active and ongoing character of perception, in which conceiving  
>> and
>> perceiving are intimately linked. I see the object *through* and *in
>> terms* of a concept (though we're still none to sure what that  
>> is!), in
>> this case the concept of cardinal that had been enriched by  
>> watching the
>> TV show. The process is not entirely within me as an individual,  
>> because
>> the salt shaker did its part.
>>>>>>> To me, saying that I "have" a "percept" doesn't help me  
>>>>>>> understand
>> this process. The percept would be -  what, a little red cardinal?  
>> or is
>> the percept the salt shaker, and I impose a concept of cardinal on  
>> it?
>> but isn't 'salt shaker' a concept too?? Putting all of this stuff  
>> inside
>> the individual leads to an infinite regress, not a satisfactory
>> explanation (or even description) of what is going on.
>>>>>>> Martin
>>>>>>> On Jul 9, 2010, at 10:43 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:
>>>>>>>> Percept would be preference?  I don't know exactly but people  
>>>>>>>> do
>> not
>>>>>>>> operate upon appropriated concepts 100% of the time.  Do they?
>> Certainly
>>>>>>>> children do not.  Currently I am not exactly sure what the
>> question is
>>>>>>>> that needs to be answered.
>>>>>>>> Perhaps the percept in the 'not-wanting-to-listen-to-dylan" for
>> me would
>>>>>>>> be I would prefer listening to the radio seeing as he never  
>>>>>>>> gets
>> any air
>>>>>>>> time or perhaps it would be that I am stuck inside of mobile  
>>>>>>>> with
>> the
>>>>>>>> memphis blues again?
>>>>>>>> That certainly is a great question.  Others with thoughts/ 
>>>>>>>> percepts/concepts?
>>>>>>>> eric
>>>>>>>> From:   Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
>>>>>>>> To:     "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"  
>>>>>>>> <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>>>> Date:   07/09/2010 09:14 AM
>>>>>>>> Subject:        Re: [xmca] perception/conception etc
>>>>>>>> Sent by:        xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
>>>>>>>> OK, Eric let's suppose you woke up this morning not wanting to
>> listen to
>>>>>>>> Dylan. What is the percept in that situation? Dylan? His music?
>> Your
>>>>>>>> temporary dislike? The fact that yesterday you felt  
>>>>>>>> differently?
>>>>>>>> Martin
>>>>>>>> On Jul 9, 2010, at 8:04 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:
>>>>>>>>> Martin:
>>>>>>>>> I understand your misgivings about placing construction within
>> but
>>>>>>>> perhaps
>>>>>>>>> this makes sense:  concepts are appropriated from the
>> social/cultural
>>>>>>>>> arena but percepts are individually based.  My percepts about
>> music may
>>>>>>>>> run counter to yours and there are even days I don't want to
>> listen to
>>>>>>>> Bob
>>>>>>>>> Dylan.  However, I have an appropriated concept of music  
>>>>>>>>> that is
>>>>>>>> probably
>>>>>>>>> extremely similar to yours.  Does this make sense?  I know  
>>>>>>>>> this internal/exteranl debate has raged for years and won't  
>>>>>>>>> end
>> anytime soon
>>>>>>>>> but some things do indeed happen within.  I still have to  
>>>>>>>>> think
>> though
>>>>>>>>> that cracking this code between everyday and scietific could
>> assist in
>>>>>>>>> understanding human development.
>>>>>>>>> eric
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> -- 
> *Andy Blunden*
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
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