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Re: [xmca] The Missing Part

How very idealistic of you David.  I don't share in your optimistic view 
of bringing about a kumbaya utopia.  This veil of tears we share has been 
shared by our ancestors and shall continue to be shared in all its 
brilliance and hair covered moles. 

At one time I did possibly believe that humans were developing 
phylogenetically but I have turned the corner and believe we are who were 
and wherever you go there you are.  It is what it is or as the WWII vets 
say  "comme ci comme ca"


From:   David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>
To:     Culture ActivityeXtended Mind <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date:   07/12/2010 06:53 PM
Subject:        Re: [xmca] The Missing Part
Sent by:        xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu

No, as usual, you have my point pretty much exactly, only without the 
silly flourishes I sometimes add. Remember, though, that Mike's magnum 
opus was entitled "A Once and Future Discipline" . 
Mike says this was an accident; Bradd Shore dibsed the title he really 
wanted, ("Culture in Mind") so he went and stole this one from Mallory 
("The Once and Future King", i.e. Arthur). 
It's not as catchy, but "The Once and Future Discipline" is a better title 
than "Culture in Mind" for three reasons:
a) it suggests, correctly, that the key cross cultural insights are not 
actually Mike's, but date from a much earlier period, when ethnography was 
actually a pretty dirty business. (This is not just true of ethnography, 
by the way, Yerkes, who provides a fair amount of the monkey business in 
Chapter Four of Thinking and Speech, was involved in army "intelligence" 
research dedicated to finding which soldiers were dumb enough to be used 
to clear minefields, and his interest in teaching apes to talk is partly 
motivated by his theories that some of us are more closely related to apes 
than others.)
b) it suggests, correctly, that in order to use this stuff we need to 
think a little more about where it came from in the light of where we want 
to go with it, to purge it of its geographical, social and cultural 
specificity and to harness it for a future where insights made in one 
corner of the globe become the common property of all its corners and all 
the bits in between as well.
c) it suggests that cultural psych is transdisciplinary rather than 
interdisiciplinary, that it's a discipline in the process of transcending 
its historical self rather than one which is merely exchanging ambassadors 
with bordering disciplines. That is actually what accounts for its 
temporary eclipse, and it is equally what will account for its future 
Shweder, for example, from whom I stole the idea of universalism vs. 
relativism vs. developmentalism, is still embroiled in a controversy about 
whether anthropologists in Afghanistan can and should collaborate with the 
US Army in the occupation of remote provinces. Shweder's position is that 
they can and should, because their presence will help troops understand 
local customs (e.g. the custom of "Loving Thursdays" whereby village 
elders undertake the sexual initiation of young boys). 
Whatever you may think of Shweder's view, it certainly corroborates the 
idea that cultural psychology (of which Shweder is probably the leading 
advocate after Mike himself) has feet of clay, that it has not yet 
entirely freed itself from its roots as an adjunct of imperialist 
occupation, and that we have a ways to go before we can really say it has 
something to offer every human being it purports to study.
Take English as a global language (PLEASE! Take it away before it hurts 
somebody!). English even in its benign forms is a lousy language for world 
communication precisely because it is a perfect language for world 
domination, a perfect exclusive language for the global community of 
airport hopping rich folks. 
English is a nightmare choice for a world language. It is phonologically 
bizarre, grammatically opaque, and pragmatically obscurantist. It has a 
dark past, rooted in a dominance born of genocide and slavery. But it also 
has a certain promise, a certain future, a certain freedom which we see 
whenever we teach it in a country like Korea, and we see that the more we 
teach it, the less English it becomes.
I think these problems with English are roughly the same problems that 
cultural psychology had in Vygotsky's time. Bleuler, who was Piaget's 
teacher and certainly knew Levy-Bruhl's work extremely well, broke with 
both Piaget and Levy-Bruhl precisely over the theorized from of these 
problems, the developmental issue of whether "autistic" thinking was 
developmentally primary, ontogenetically or sociogenetically. 
Bleuler, and Vygotsky too, turned the Europocentric view right 
upside-down; they believed tha autism, far from being developmentally 
atavistic, required a certain stage of development to achieve: you had to 
be able to remember first and only then could you really think about your 
wishes, dreams, desires. They also believed that thinking "irrealisically" 
about wishes and desires led in a fairly direct way to more 
realistic hopes and plans. 
For that very reason it was wrong to consider "autism" as an 
underdeveloped stage; autism, or as he liked to call it, "irrealism" was 
simply that part of human thinking that was genuinely relativistic, where 
neither an adult nor a man "at the pinnacle of civilization" (Bleuler is 
certainly being ironic here since he is writing at the outset of World War 
One) may claim superiority. There may be other areas where one form of 
thinking includes, subsumes, and sublates earlier forms (e.g. mathematics 
and science generally) but in the humanities we find variation without 
development, at least without development in the sense of the emergence of 
superior forms which asymmetrically include earlier ones.
That Vygotsky took this on board is very clear from his writings on 
creativity and imagination. That Vygotsky went even further than Bleuler 
is clear from his argument that irrealist thinking and realist thinking do 
not turn in parallel, like the wheels of a desk, only in response to the 
external environment, but have an internal connection, an axle, or rather 
a differential, which allow them to influence each other, so that in 
science too we shall find variation without development and in art and the 
humanities some genuine, common, universally valuable (because universally 
shareable) developments alongside the dazzling and dizzying variations 
which for the most part are hard to share.
Nevertheless I think Vygotsky shares Bleuler's basic insight,which we see 
here in the chapter which begins with the Missing Part. By putting the 
"autistic" function at the beginning of development, and by lumping 
selfishness, stupidity, schizophrenia, and perfectly normal cultural 
variation into a single syncretic heap, Freud, Levy-Bruhl and Blondel are 
behaving more like idealist savages than intellectual scientists.
So it goes. From Bleuler to Vygotsky, and from Vygotsky to Mike, and from 
Mike to me, and then from me to you, with each of us forgetting something 
and each of us adding on at every step of the way. This is why Vygotsky 
comes up with the confusing image of a chain that has a "central" link. 
But it's also why there can be, at one and the same moment, universalism 
("We're all the same"), relativism ("We're all different, but equal") and 
developmentalism ("We're all different, and the differences matter") at 
one and the same time.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Mon, 7/12/10, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org <ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org> wrote:

From: ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org <ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] The Missing Part
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Monday, July 12, 2010, 6:24 AM


This indeed is an important passage in understanding LSV's developmental 
theories.  But I believe cross-cultural research speerheaded by Cole and 
others has discounted 'primitive' cultures as being less developed in 
thought and practice when compared to 'western' culture.  Or am I 
misunderstanding your point?


From:   David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>
To:     xmca <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date:   07/12/2010 02:38 AM
Subject:        [xmca] The Missing Part
Sent by:        xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu

This is the beginning of Chapter Two of Thinking and Speech that was not 
translated into English. I posted it once several years ago, and Anton 
thought it didn't add very much.

I think it does: it structures the whole chapter, because it makes it 
clear that Freud, Levy-Bruhl, and Blondel share a common idealist basis as 

well as a common canonical stature.

&Lt;Мы полагаем, . говорит он, . что настанет день, когда мысль ребенка по 

отношению к мысли нормального цивилизованного взрослого будет помещена в 
ту же плоскость, в какой находится &Lt;примитивное мышление&Gt;, 
охарактеризованное Леви-Брюлем, или аутистическая и символическая мысль, 
описанная Фрейдом и его учениками, или &Lt;болезненное сознание&Gt;, если 
только это понятие, введенное Блонделем, не сольется в один прекрасный 
день с предыдущим понятием&Gt; (1, с.408).1 Действительно, появление его 
первых работ по историческому значению
этого факта для дальнейшего развития психологической мысли должно быть по 
справедливости сопоставлено и сравнено с датами выхода в свет &Lt;Les 
fonctions mentales dans les societes inferieures&Gt; Леви-Брюля, &Lt;Т
олкования сновидений&Gt; Фрейда или &Lt;La conscience morbide&Gt; 
Больше того, между этими явлениями в различнейших областях научной 
психологии есть не только внешнее сходство, определяемое уровнем их 
исторического значения, но глубокое, кровное, внутреннее родство . связь 
по самой сути заключенных и воплощенных в них философских и
психологических тенденций. Недаром сам Пиаже в огромной мере опирался в 
своих исследованиях и построениях на эти три 
работы и на их авторов. 

“It is therefore our belief", says (Piaget), "that the day will come when 
child thought will be placed on the same level in relation to adult, 
normal, and civilized thought as ‘primitive mentality’, as defined by 
Lévy-Bruhl, as autistic and symbolical thought as described by Freud and 
his disciples and as ‘morbid consciousness,’ assuming that this last 
concept, which we owe to M. Ch. Blondel, is not simply fused with the 
former.” (p. 201-202). In reality, the appearance of this first works, in 
regard to the historic importance as a fact for future reference in the 
development of psychological thought must be on the compared with the 
appearance of “Les fonctions mentales dans les societes inferieures” of 
Levi- Bruhl, Freud’s “The interpretation of dreams’, or Blondel’s “La 
conscience morbide”. It is not simply that between these phenomena in the 
development of the field of scientific psychology there is a formal
resemblance, determined by their level of historic importance, but that 
there is a deep, internal kinship, a connection in essence which is 
visible in their philosophical and psychological tendencies. Not without 
reason does Piaget himself base in enormous measure his own studies and 
constructions on these three works and on their authors. 

Last night I was re-reading Bleuler's criticisms of Freud in "Autistic 
Thinking" and I also came upon these words, which Vygotsky quotes 

"Examining the more grown-up child, I also do not much observe that he 
would prefer the imaginary apple to the real. The imbecile and the savage 
are alike practitioners of Realpolitik and the latter, (exactly like us, 
who stand at the apex of cognitive ability) makes his autistic stupidities 

only in such cases when reason and experience prove insufficient: in his 
ideas about the universe, about the phenomena of nature, in his 
understanding of diseases and other blows of destiny, in adopting measures 

to shield himself from them, and in other relationships which are too 
complex for him.”

It seems to me that here and elsewhere in this chapter Bleuler is arguing 
for, and Vygotsky is agreeing with, a position that is simultaneously 
universalist, relativist, and developmentalist. It is universalist in the 
sense that it argues for a universal human autistic response to areas of 
experience of which we are ignorant. It is relativist in the sense that it 

argues for the independence of an "autistic" response from rationality and 

an autonomous art and autonomous humanities based on that independence 
that is in no way subordinate to rationality. It is developmentalist in 
the sense that it argues for an autistic response which develops out of a 
narrow, immediately realistic (perception based?) reality function rather 
than vice versa (as in Freud, Janet, and Levy-Bruhl).

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education 

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