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Re: [xmca] Six key points on sociocultural models of development

Larry, as I see it, the idea of desire for recognition originated in the Young Hegel's master-slave dialectic, but that was of course just the beginning.

Hegel's original version dealt with the confrontation between two subjects for which there exists no mediation at all. This is a very strange circumstance, but a scenario Hegel needed in order to expound his idea of modernity and the state. It could refer to two peoples coming into contact for the first time, e.g. colonialism, or a brand new social movement confronting the establishment. The two subjects manage to mediate their interaction by each splitting in two, their needs and the means of their satisfaction become differentiated, and mediation happens by the needs (or labour) of one mediating between the needs and labour of the other. One or another vesion, successively attenuated appears in every version of Hegel's system.

In a 1805 version of his system, he envisage the circulation of the products of labour on the market as a form of recognition. But both the fire-and-brimstone version in the Phenomenolohgy and the commodity version are attenuated in later works. In the Philosophy of Right, recognition happens via self-organised professional associations, the family, local quasi-state organisations and so on - some kind of participatory democracy. He explicitly warns against taking the master-servant relation as relevant to life within a nation-state. But in his Subjective Spirit, he takes the relation of Recognition as the foundation of self-consciousness and the emergence of intellect.

GH Mead based his I/Me dialectic explicitly on Hegel's master-slave relation, in as much as it relies on the self-sundering of the person into subject and object, but without all the fire and brimstone.

More recent trends of recognition readings or Hegel - "intersubjectivity" - just don't know or care about the notion of mediation. The self is not split as it is for Hegel and Mead, but body and soul are merged into one integrated subject. IMHO the whole process relies on some mysterious interpsychic process, and is simply reflective of the postmodern condition of individual powerlessness.

Hope that helps Larry.


Larry Purss wrote:
Gregory, thanks for this reference on the topic of desire for recognition.

My question to Martin was my attempt to understand our fundamental need for
recognition, [self/other], and how this fundamental need is transformed by
cultural-historical institutional arrangements.  As I read Martin's article
he located the need for recognition as one of the  6 foundational
[ontological?] GROUNDS of the sociocultural perspective.
If the desire for recognition is foundational , then the
dialogical understanding of communication as the relation BETWEEN self and
other is primary [not the dialectical resolution of tensions into a new
cognitive synthesis which may be derivative from a more
primary intersubjective relational foundation]  I'm wondering, reading
scholars such as Merleau-Ponty, if mediation of dialogical relational
intersubjectivity, is prior to mediation by material artifacts.

This question is probably expressing my ignorance of the relation between
the notions of tool use and intersubjectivity but how else to get clarity?

In actual practice it may be impossible to separate these two mediational
means BUT it seems that the dialogical perspective emphasizes the mediation
of self/other intersubjective relational being/becoming while mediation via
tool use emphasizes internalization and cognitive synthesis through
cultural-historical object usage.

The notion of biosocial niches can accomodate both mediation through other
persons AND mediation through artifacts, so really it is not an either/or
question but rather a matter of emphasis.  The practical question in school
settings is how to be aware of the profound desire for recognition of all
the persons [students and teachers] which teachers may loose sight of in the
focus on developing and internalizing scientific concepts. [which comes at a
cost of transmuted desire for recognition]

The focus on the intersubjective relational "betweenness" of the dialogical
perspective seems to emphasize the "desre for recognition"  more than the
language of mediated tool use.

Hesitant to press "send" as I expose my ignorance


On Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 4:20 PM, Gregory Allan Thompson <
gathomps@uchicago.edu> wrote:

Merleau-Ponty is certainly a good direction to go with desire and
For writings on desire and recognition in the more sociological tradition,
you might want to check out W.I. Thomas' The Unadjusted Girl. Section 4 of
Chapter 1 (p. 31). Check it out at:


Message: 9
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2011 07:30:16 -0700
From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
Subject: [xmca] Six key points on sociocultural models of development
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Message-ID: <BANLkTimb+b7VV14eCr75T-eZj+sOwhst-g@mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

Hi Martin, Mike,

Mike, thanks for the Sinha article on language as a biological niche and
social institution.  I'm working my way through the article.

The concept of affordances within niches draws attention to species
forms of meaning AS ......  Gibson on p. 8 of Sinha's article says
affordances are DIRECTLY PERCEIVED as it potentiates the activation of
perception-action circuits which form objects as directly perceived PARTS
gestalen [meaningful wholes] or niches.

Martin, I now want to bring in one of the key themes of the six you outline
in your article [I would recommend others read the article Martin posted on
the ontology of the sociocultural turn]  This is the theme of "desire &
recognition"  You suggest that the first 3 themes are familiar to scholars
working within the sociocultural framework but the last 3 themes are more
outside their horizon of understanding.  Andy recently mentioned engaging
CHAT with Critical theory around the specific topic of recognition.

I'm wondering how central you see the theme of "desire &recognition" as
being to our fundamental human nature that must be theorized within all
models of development.  Your article points to the COSTS of schooling as
"students" acquire the dispositions to slice the world into parts as
"analysis" comes to colonize how modernity incorporates lived direct
experience into cognitive formations that are DERIVATIVE.  You also mention
that most of "us" on this listserve accept the costs as the price of
admission into our communities of practice.  We have developed skill and
facility with dicing and slicing and living within derivative cognitive
spaces as "students", "professors", "therapists", and other successful
members of  educationally oriented institutions.

I also wonder how Luria and Vygotsky viewed "desire & recognition" as Luria
was interested in psychoanalysis.

Martin, you mentioned six key themes grounding sociocultural models and
framework seems to hold promise for teasing out the dialectic between the
first 3 themes [widely shared within sociocultural oriented communities]
the last 3 themes [recognition, being fundamentally split, & resulting
search for identity]

Going back to my fist paragraph, how is "desire & recognition"
conceptualized as emerging and developing within biocultural niches within
Vygotsky, Luria, and others??  With Andy, I sense this is a central topic
for helping us understand how we OUGHT to proceed.


PS  Mike,  I believe Merleau-Ponty may have something to add on "desire &
recognition" when we discuss his ideas on phenomenology as a form of
reflection that does not slice and dice in analysis. [analysis as one
powerful and legitimate FORM of consciousness BUT with costs]

Can authors such as Merleau-Ponty help pay more attention to the
inevitable cost to become members of our communities of participation and
the cost of our institutional formations.  The Felder article in the latest
issue of "Theory & Psychology" was well written as Felder attempts to
the practice of psychotherapy  in Merleau-Ponty's theoretical perspective.
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*Andy Blunden*
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