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Re: [xmca] sense and sensibility

Hi David

You suggest that concepts are processes [not products] and therefore
conceptualization is a matter of locating a particular act of thinking in
relation to other acts of thinking.  The step from concepts to *activity* is
a step too far.  Conceptualization is done through thematic relations.
As an example you suggest an *auxiliary stimuli* such as a knot [material]
that assists memory is NOT similar to USING a word such as *camel*  as a
trigger to remember *death*.  It is a separate semiotic nexus of relations
where *camel* generates a micro narrative that creates a little PICTURE
[image] of the semantic relationship.

 [Hope I read this as you lead me to receive this idea]

However, as your metaphor of TV sets [as physical states] suggests you are
suspicious of relating meaning back to embodiment.  As I struggle with
Lakoff, Johnson, and others pointing to the foundation of  conceptual
development back to embodied PERCEPTIONS and SENSATIONS [sensorimotor] and
relate their narrative of development with yours there seems to be a tension
in what is foundational.  However, if the ORIGINS of primary metaphors
[part/whole; container; etc] start from a sensorimotor ground and link
PRIMARY metaphors from sensorimotor TO conceptual THEN the NOVEL
relationships BETWEEN the sensorimotor and the *conceptual* can generate
hybrid sensorimotor/conceptual nexus of meanings. From these first
developmental accomplishments of relating embodiment and conceptual into
PRIMARY metaphors the building blocks for further relating of these PRIMARY
metaphors [as building blocks or prototypes] to *cultural-historical
narratives of cognition are possible.  Primary metaphors, as prototypes may
be foundational for the *little pictures* or *images* that are generated or
emerge in metaphorical constructions which link up in our nexus of thinking.

Now, if my speculations are plausible, the possibility exists that EMBODIED
cognitions are a subset of conceptual activity.  There are also multiple
other ways that more complex conceptualization may be entirely semiotic BUT
in the developmental narrative embodiment as a concept must continue to be
in relationship to semiotic meaning.

[I do not have the background knowledge to be sure if my reading of primary
metaphor [as prototypes] is an accurate rendition of Lakoff and Johnson's
perspective but I suspect embodiment and cultural/historical nexus of
meanings can be linked.

David, your comment that the step from concepts to activity is a step too
far is intriguing.  I'm still struggling *to grasp* the distinctions that
various people on CHAT have towards *concepts*, *activity*, and *embodiment*
but as I listen in to how each of you try to link up your particular
perspectives I benefit from the discourse.


On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 2:09 AM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

> Well, I feel a little guilty about my occasionally cryptic subject lines,
> Monica. But I have spent enough time hanging around art galleries know that
> with a lot of people the title is the only contact you will ever have.
> I also think that there is a tremendous amount of mission creep in a lot of
> the subject lines, and in particular the last one on concepts. I think the
> step from concepts to "activity" was really a step too far. It's not that
> one is a product and the other a process: I think both are really
> processes. I agree with Jay (at least, with the Jay of "Talking Science")
> that conceptualizing is really a matter of locating a particular act of
> thinking in relation to other acts of thinking, and that this is done
> semiotically, through thematic relations. The problem is that the
> underplaying of the distinction between mental and material processes (or,
> if you like, between semantic and behavioral processes) has an unhappy
> history in cultural historical psychology.
> There's a terrific essay in the misleadingly titled "Introduction to
> Vygotsky" edited by Harry Daniels (Routledge, 2005) by David Bakhurst, with
> the even more misleading title "Social memory in Soviet thought", Bakhurst
> starts with something that really is Vygotsky for babes and sucklings, that
> is, the observation that the distinction between higher and lower
> psychological functions is an "interiorization" of the distinction between
> natural and cultural processes. Bakhurst points out this wasn't so
> elementary for Vygotsky himself, and it wasn't accepted unquestioningly by
> Vygotsky's colleagues. Vygotsky came to it by essentially DISCARDING the
> mediational triangle that activity theorists later recovered and expanded
> upon.
> During the experiments on memory described in "Tool and Symbol", Vygotsky
> came to realize that the "mnemotechnical devices" used by a child to link,
> say, the word "camel' and the idea of "death" were not "auxiliary stimuli"
> like a knot tied in a handkerchief. The child does not see the camel and
> then think of death simply because he had once told himself to think of
> death when he sees a camel. Instead, the child tells himself a little story
> about a camel who died of thirst in the desert. It's a complexive
> relationship, a little "picture" of the concept.
> The complexive relationship of sign to meaning is not so much a private
> mnemonic device like tying a string around your finger. The relationship of
> sign to meaning is more like the punchline of a joke, or the coda of a
> narrative, or the relationship of a title to a painting rather than the
> relation of the painting to the object. In other words, it does not operate
> through arbitrary or perceptual association at all, but instead through a
> logical semantic structure, that is, through making sense and not through
> remaking sensation or sensuousness (which is what Jane Austen really mean by
> "sensibility").
> Bakhurst says that Vygotsky's colleagues mightily resisted this "radical
> opposition of natural and cultural functions", and that this was one of the
> three accusations against Vygotsky in 1930 which led directly to the split
> with Leontiev (the other two were that he dabbled in bourgeois psychology by
> seriously engaging with Piaget and the Gestaltists, and that he believed in
> psychometrics because he got his hands dirty with testing). This criticism
> of Vygotsky lives on today (and can be seen, for example, in Wertsch's "Mind
> as Action", which explicitly rejects the idea of internalization and offers
> us pole vaulting as a lever for understanding semiosis as an "activity" like
> any other).
> Bakhurst also says that there is one other place where we find a similar
> "radical opposition of natural and cultural functions" and also the proposal
> that we treat the mind as a semiotic object, where signs stand  for things
> outside the mind, rather than a biological one where sensations within the
> body are somehow reflected. That's the work of Volosinov, who was already
> arguing that consciousness is only made "stuff" in signs, and has no other
> objective existence at all.
> Bakhurst says that the attempt to "relate" the contents of consciousness to
> physical states through the "mediation" of operations, or actions, or
> whatever form of "activity" you care to name is essentially like trying to
> relate the content of a television programme to the solid state of the
> electronics in your TV set.
> Now, you might think this radical opposition of "consciousness as a dynamic
> SEMANTIC system" to consciousness as an activity system (see Zvarshneva's
> account of the Vygotsky archives in JREEP 48, 1: 35) leads to idealism and
> to dualism. That is apparently what the Soviet critics of Vygotsky said,
> including Kolbanovsky, who wrote the introduction to the first edition of
> Thinking and Speech.
> Bakhurst says that this is really not so, because, as Ilyenkov's later
> account of ideality makes clear, ideal phenomena are objective. TV
> programmes really exist, and they are not simply subjective phenomena that
> are produced by the interaction of your eyeballs with the dots on a screen.
> The part I don't really understand is that, the way I read Ilyenkov, ideal
> phenomena are objective because they ultimately do have their roots in
> sensuous human activity (i.e. the actors and actresses), and not in social
> relations per se (the relations of the actors and actresses to audience).
> But perhaps the key is in the word "ultimately"? Or in accepting that
> communication by whatever means too is a sensuous human activity, depending
> on intonation and stress, on meaningful glances and pregnant pauses as much
> as upon vocabulary and grammar, deriving its sense from human sensibility?
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> --- On Thu, 4/28/11, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:
> From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] sense and sensibility
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Date: Thursday, April 28, 2011, 8:26 PM
> What's your project, Monica?
> Martin
> On Apr 28, 2011, at 8:16 PM, Monica Hansen wrote:
> > Thank you so much! Definitely useful for my current project-a small part
> of
> > my dissertation, which is turning out to be a lot about semiotics, who
> knew?
> > I thought it was just about words and meaning.
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
> On
> > Behalf Of Martin Packer
> > Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:22 PM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: Re: [xmca] sense and sensibility
> >
> > This from Morris' dissertation: Symbolism and reality: a study in the
> nature
> > of mind.
> >
> > "The essay will aim to show that thought and mind are not entities, nor
> even
> > processes involving a psychical substance distinguishable from the rest
> of
> > reality, but are explicable as the functioning of parts of the experience
> of
> > an organism as symbols to that organism of other parts of experience.
> Being
> > then the symbolic portion *of* experience, the psychical or mental can
> > neither be sharply opposed to the rest of experience, nor identified with
> > the whole of experience. And since experience will be shown to be a
> portion
> > of reality, it follows that mind and reality can never be utterly
> separated
> > nor indiscriminately identified" (3-4)
> >
> > On Apr 28, 2011, at 7:09 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
> >
> >> Monica,
> >>
> >> Charles W. Morris (May 23, 1901, Denver, Colorado - January 15, 1979,
> > Gainesville, Florida) was an American semiotician and philosopher. George
> > Herbert Mead directed his doctoral dissertation on a symbolic theory of
> > mind, completed in 1925. His students included semiotician Thomas A.
> Sebeok.
> > For some years I've had his "Six Theories of Mind" (1932) on the shelf,
> and
> > recently found time to read it. (It's available on the web.)
> >>
> >> Martin
> >>
> >
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