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Re: [xmca] Re: Word Meaning and Action: What' Plausible branch?

Martin-- We have slipped again. How do I signal when I am trying to make
sense, for myself, with all of my confused background, the psychological
consequences of mediation of actions through artifacts (among other things,
we are slipping back and forth between activity and action in this thread,

No language is not a spade.

About the following:

If Mike speaks to me in Russian, his words have meaning, but it is meaning
that I cannot recognize until I go to the trouble of becoming a sufficiently
skilled participant in that language.

Right. You must have your everyday actions in the waking world crucially
mediated by the speech of others as a condition of your own existence.

It would be a mistake to conclude from an example like this that words,
whether Russian or English, are just sounds, and the listener fills in the

Right. I was not saying they are "just sounds." I am standing there in front
of a class trying to explain what I mean by artifacts being both material
and ideal and that the listeners' experiences are both "direct" and
"mediated." What could "just sounds" be, and not just in those
circumstances? Human sounds, to which humans are born sensitive, never "just
happen." They are always embedded in an ongoing human life process. We are
talking about a bi-directional, assymetrical, complexly organized, of
actions in activity.

That kind of conclusion is common, but it runs into all sorts of
difficulties in explaining how communication can occur, and it is not what
LSV is proposing.

Right, but I was trying to signal that I was taking that "interpretive"
branch of the discussion
that I thought you and Tony had agreed to!!

Sigh. Time to log off for a while! My head hurts.

On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 8:13 AM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

> I don't think I'm contradicting myself, Andy. We'e trying to figure out the
> statements LSV made about language; about speech and its relationships to
> thought. Speaking and thinking are both activities (I'm not sure if you're
> using the term in some special sense), but they are clearly not identical
> activities. Words are artifacts, obviously, and they are constituted in
> activity, obviously. The point is to figure out the character of the
> particular kind of artifact that is the word. If you want to adopt an
> ontology in which activity is fundamental, I won't try to dissuade you! I
> just don't see any evidence that this was LSV's ontology. And I don't think
> it is sufficient to stop there.
> Let's consider some of your examples:
> > A person who utters a word in their sleep, or reads out the text of
> >   a document in a foreign language, for example, is not meaning
> >   anything by what they utter. There is a word, but no meaning. A
> >   meaningful word is always essentially an active constituent of a
> >   social relation (including to a social relation to oneself). When I
> >   say "stop please!" to [sic] you, then as an English-speaker you know
> >   that I mean I want and command you to stop.
> I think you are confusing meaning with intention. If the sleeper speaks in
> my language their words can have meaning for me. If others listen to me
> reading a text in a foreign language my words can have meaning for them. But
> more importantly the task is to explain *how* it is that a word can be taken
> as meaningful, and on some occasions but not on others. What is it about the
> word, as a kind of artifact, that enables it to "carry my meaning," as you
> put it? Can a spade carry meaning? Can a 1000 peso bill carry meaning? It
> can carry value. Is the meaning that a word carries truly "my" meaning, or
> "yours"?
> On Jun 17, 2011, at 9:06 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
> > Martin, you are arguing against yourself. The idea of talking speech as
> as artifact-mediated activity is *not* that this is a special property of
> the spoken word or speech, and nor is it so that we can make analogies with
> other domains of activity. It is a fundamental view of the world. Not matter
> and mind. Not the four elements. Not subject and object. Not God.
> *Activity*. Activity always uses artefacts, but the nature of the artefact
> is constituted in activity. Activity is social.
> >
> > By defining "subjective/objective" solely in terms of indivual
> consciousness you are using an ontology of mind and matter to prove that an
> ontology of activity is wrong. Of course, that makes sense. If your world is
> made up of individuals with their individual consciousness sending messages
> to each other, then Acitivity Theory is a big mistake. But the claim is that
> activity is THE fundamental category, from which concepts like mind, matter,
> space, time, meaning, value, etc., etc., are derived.
> >
> > Andy
> >
> >
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