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RE: [xmca] concepts
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: RE: [xmca] concepts
- From: "White, Phillip" <Phillip.White@ucdenver.edu>
- Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2011 19:52:19 -0600
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- Thread-topic: [xmca] concepts
ah, the bliss of being hoisted upon one's own petard! thanks, Martin. (;-)
yeah, Foucault's use of concept is constant.
what i was obliquely attempting to get at was that the term 'concept' could be seen as highfalutin, rather than, say, the term "big idea". (hah! of course, my father would rebuke me with, "What's the big idea?!")
but what i mean is that concept is another word for idea. and an idea that appears to be difficult to grasp, abstract in short, could be seen as a 'big idea'.
it's about lingo, using latinate/greek words, rather than those little ordinary daily words.
it even seems to me that when, say, i'm teaching about "community of practice" - i guess we could say that's a pretty big concept, or even "legitimate peripheral participation", that initially it seems abstract, but once everyone in the class talks about it, that over time, with concrete examples from experience, that "community of practice" no longer seems abstract. in fact, it seems quite real and people can identify it when they observe it, just like they can identify the difference between an ornamental pear tree and a comice pear tree.
takes me back to Bateson - that making sense of the world, recognizing the patterns, is recognizing the difference that makes a difference. and it's that curious difference wherein a child over time can distinguish bertween a cat and a dog and a horse and a donkey, and it's through recognizing the difference that makes a difference.
so, while Foucault didn't suggest it, i'm suggesting that one of the ways experts claimed expertise was to employ a vocabulary that would set the profession apart from the everyday world of being.
am i being anti-intellectual?
because when with my students we been reading Lave, say, and there is always someone who complains about her vocabulary, i always argue in support of her vocabulary.
Phillip White, PhD
University of Colorado Denver
School of Education
From: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Martin Packer [email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 5:38 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] concepts
wasn't Foucault's central concern in, say, The Order of Things, to explore the *basis* on which human knowledge, or knowledges, are constituted? In his terms, within a discursive formation there is a dispersion of concepts. An ordering of words is used to order what can be seen in the world. The point was not that there is no such thing as 'concept,' but that concepts are not neutral, natural maps of a preexisting and independent reality. For example, he wrote of the "form of positivity" of the sciences - "the concepts around which they are organized, the type of rationality to which they refer and by means of which they seek to constitute themselves as knowledge." To a great extent, his attention to the material practices in which both objects and abstractions are produced was drawn from Marx, so I don't think it is wildly incompatible with Vygotsky's project.
On Apr 11, 2011, at 5:36 PM, White, Phillip wrote:
> though really, i'm more with Jay on this point that there is no such thing as a 'concept' - i'm thinking that the practice of the word became, what?, let's say 'insitutionalized', or 'valorized' during the enlightenment project... that period which Foucault points to of ways of categorization and classifications that emerged as professional experts exercised for themselves the power to label, prescribe, diagnose, etc. etc., as in, for example, the separation of madness and reason.
> yeah ......
> another one of my half-baked ideas!
> Phillip White, PhD
> University of Colorado Denver
> School of Education
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] On Behalf Of mike cole [firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 4:07 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] concepts
> I agree, Monica. Its odd that we make such distinctions and then worry that
> we do not
> know what a key term in the discussion (in this case, concept) is supposed
> to mean (we all find a way to make sense of it for ourselves however!).
> Martin and other conceptual knowers. LSV and Luria insisted that words were
> generalizations. How is that idea of generalization related to the idea of a
> A con-cept. With-cept? I have no conception!
> On Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 1:13 PM, Monica Hansen <
> email@example.com> wrote:
>> I have enjoyed reading your back and forth on this topic of concepts.
>> Examining the concept of concepts is indeed problematic, but it is the crux
>> of the whole issue. Social/individual, internal/external,
>> physiological/mental, concrete/abstract, etc.
>> You ended with this:
>> "But to sever completely the links between everyday discourse and
>> discourse would be to prevent the informing of the former by the latter
>> LSV found so important."
>> I would just like to go one further: severing the links between everyday
>> discourse and scientific discourse would prevent the former(everyday) from
>> informing the latter(scientific). There can be no higher psychological
>> processes, no scientific concepts without everyday concepts because it is
>> the specific and local nature of experience that informs all the others
>> is informed by the others as well). It is the dialogic nature of concepts
>> that makes them so fascinating and so powerful.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On
>> Behalf Of Martin Packer
>> Sent: Sunday, April 10, 2011 11:33 AM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] concepts
>> On Apr 10, 2011, at 12:33 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>> Maybe the notion of a "concept" might be a bit like that of a "gene" in
>> the sense that a gene is a sort of functional unit, but it has no simple
>> material reality in itself.
>> Jay's opening sentence neatly illustrates the difficulty of eliminating
>> 'concept.' He writes of 'the notion' of a concept - which is to say, to
>> write about concepts he has to employ a concept, namely that of 'concept'!
>> (If that seems odd, try reading some Frege!)
>> As the Stanford Encyclopedia article points out, no one has satisfactorily
>> defined a concept. But the seeming unavoidability of invoking something
>> 'concept' follows from the fact that we humans (and perhaps animals too;
>> another seemingly intractable debate) deal not so much with particularities
>> as with generalities. We talk and write not about this think and that
>> but this 'kind' of thing and that 'type' of thing. We write not about the
>> specific concept of 'rabbit,' but about 'the notion' of concept.
>> As Henry James once wrote, "The intellectual life of man consists almost
>> wholly in his substitution of a conceptual order for the perceptual order
>> which his experience originally comes." One may disagree with the
>> of the two order that James' words seems to suggest, but it seems
>> implausible to deny that there are *two* orders.
>> Do this order of generalities involve complex interrelations or systems, as
>> Jay suggests? Are they specified in practice, in ways that depend on
>> context? Yes, of course. I am deep in the middle of chapter 6 of T&S, and
>> LSV wrote of all this, 70 years ago. We have already discussed here his
>> notion [!] of a system of generality, represented metaphorically by lines
>> longitude and latitude on a globe. He conceived of this system as
>> in acts of thought that actively grasp their objects. He saw both the
>> dependence of generalities on language, and their distinction.
>> Should we avoid, as Jay recommends, claiming that "there are concepts as
>> such"? I'm not sure what this claim would amount to. There are, and can
>> only be, "concepts for us." Should we avoid reifying concepts? Certainly!
>> Should we remove the term from all scientific discourse, leaving it only as
>> an "everyday locution"? That's a matter of taste, I suppose. But to sever
>> completely the links between everyday discourse and scientific discourse
>> would be to prevent the informing of the former by the latter that LSV
>> so important.
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