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Re: [xmca] Transhistorical or embodied
Pardon my clumsy writing. Believe it or not, the point I was trying to make was almost identical to the one that Professor Kotik-Friedgut is trying to make on the thread next door (see "nonverbal representations").
Professor Kotik-Friedgut's quotation says that in verbal thinking the relationship of thought to word may be described as causal. An obvious example is what is happening in your mind when you read this message. The actual written sentences (and the "voice" you apparently hear in your head) is a form of speech. It's a lot faster than spoken speech because it is at least partially disembodied, but you do not experience it as hurried because it is atemporal.
It is organized spatially rather than temporally but the mind can easily recode it in a nontemporal (that is, transhistorical) mode, in much the same way that a blind person who has never actually seen an elephant can nevertheless describe it perfectly well and even mentally rotate the image. Minds are good at this.
But written speech, whether organized spatially (read silently) or temporally (read aloud) is speech, not inner speech. It is what my mind is doing when you read. What YOUR mind is doing is a little different. You are asking questions ("Am I?"). For example, you are looking for examples. ("For example?") And you are getting asnwers, hopefully, by reading the next sentence.
These litttle interstitial questions, reduced in syntactic form to what Vygotsky calls pure "predication" (what Halliday calls somewhat more precisely "mood") ARE examples of inner speech, and they are YOUR inner speech and not mine. But they are nevertheless related--caused by--speech, by my speech. That is what makes them VERBAL thinking.
I think that is also what differentiates them from, say, Einstein's nonverbal images, so well described in Professor Vera John-Steiner's book "Notebooks of the Mind". Einstein's "nonverbal" images (e.g. of straddling a train which is going at the speed of light and looking at a stationary clock) are INDIRECTLY dependent on speech (e.g. on the concept of "train" and "clock" and on the syntax of equations) but they are not DIRECTLY so. These images are not so much nonverbal as transverbal, and in that sense they are not ahistorical but transhistorical, consequences of history but their specific nonverbal manifestation is not a direct consequence of their verbal history.
My clumsy example of Kim Yuna was also supposed to demonstrate this: the concept of "han" that she was communicating in her performance (both directly, deliberately, and inadvertantly,nonvolitionally) is a thoroughly Korean concept (although the roots of the concept are actually Chinese). Nevertheless, she is able to communicate it to non-Koreans.
(At this point in my writing I became distracted, as President Obama says, by a carnival barker, and began to vituperate against narrowly biological cognitivism (e.g. Johnson-Laird) and behaviorism embodied as embodied cognition. Of course there is something going on in Yuna's brain when she dances, just as there is in mine, and of course the concept of "han" cannot be found in either place. But nobody was saying otherwise.)
Vygotsky (and before him Uznadze) made the point that thet specific acts of thinking that underly a word like "han" may be quite different. What does infinite sorrow mean to the finite experience of the child? But there is a common object reference (Kim Yuna, her expression, her performance), and so children and adults can communicate, sleeping on the same verbal bed (the word "han") but dreaming different dreams.
Vygotsky says that this is how the child builds, inside an adult word, a purely childish, complexive content. And I think Lakoff's prototypes are made of essentially the same stuff. This explains why prototypes are not transhistorical. They are not, actually, concepts at all.
(Incredibly, Kim Yuna came in second place, after a far less meaning-laden performance by a Japanese skater. So Yuna really did lose the contest in that first near-fall. But she didn't lose the content--quite the contrary, her near fall and recovery objectively added a layer of "han" to the one that she had subjectively planned and intended.)
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Sat, 4/30/11, Larry Purss <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [xmca] Transhistorical or embodied
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
Date: Saturday, April 30, 2011, 6:51 AM
In that sense, "han" is objective and even transhistorical: it exists not in
my brain or in my Dad's brain or even in the great Tang poem "Song of
Eternal Sorrow" (in which the Emperor Xuanzong must slay his favorite
concubine Yang Guifei in order to preserve his empire). It is independent of
all of them, and anchored in transhistorical, transcultural and yet
completely social experience which is embodied in only a trivial sense (the
same sense in which it is "material").
I think that's why it's fruitless to try to draw straight lines between
embodied 'activity' and sense making, why I can't accept the purely
cognitive approach to metaphor any more than I can accept the purely
cybernetic approach to cognition.
David, I am outside my zone of understanding with the notion of
"transhistorical, transcultural, and yet completely social experience".
Does Jung's notion of *archetype* as transcultural fit into the notion of
*transcultural*. I am understand to understand *cognitive* and
cultural-historical processes as holistic processes within a simultaneous
*unity*. The dynamic systems perspective that if a part develops the whole
develops and when the whole develops the part develops in a *field*
[metaphor of the magnetic field and filings]
I also am unsure if Lakoff and Johnson's notion of *prototypes" of basic
primary embodied ways to *orient* to the world is in fact the *source* or
derivative but it is a framework that I am intuitively trying to grasp. I
am exploring this notion of *embodied prototypes* as fundamental ways of
orienting to the world. These prototypes as building blocks have been
assumed to be innate by some theorists and I'm not sure where I stand on the
notion of innateness, but I do believe it is pre-linguistic.
The prototype of *container* as a basic primary way of orienting to the
world, which becomes expressed in metaphor [images that may be
archetypal???] and the linguistic metaphors DERIVED from the prototypes and
images seems to be promising for linking up cultural-historical/subjective
notions of becoming persons that acknowledges *structure* as a moment in the
dialectic of continuous transformation. I appreciate Anna Stetsnko's and
Suzanne Kirschner's attempts to link up notions of *embodied* *enactments*
and *historical institutional structures* as a contnuous transformative
process where the subjective is as central as the intersubjective and the
David, I'm not sure if embodiment is a purely *cognitive* perspective on
prototypes. It may be transhistorical and transcultural??? What Lakoff and
Johnson are drawing our attention to is the possible basic structures that
*contain* and orient our activity intersubjectively but within particular
constraints. They suggest these constraints have their source in prototypes
which are expressed metaphorically in images and affective enactments prior
to linguistic metaphors which are derived from these basic metaphors.
I must qualify that many of these ideas I am exploring have just recently
started linking up. I am indebted to the xmca community for allowing me to
think out loud and participate in a conversation that continues to broaden
my horizon of understanding. Each time I make a new connection I will read
a post by others in this community and realize that I am at the beginnings
of my explorations but the vistas encountered on this forum are
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