[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

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

By analogy with the term "cognitive dissonance" could I suggest the term "ethical dissonance" as an explanation for the problematisation of recognition? I think claims for recognition (as such) arise when claims for right are made either when an ethical norm is ignored by another party (e.g. colonialism) or a status hierarchy loses its legitimacy (eg womens liberation). So long as people find no ethical wrong in their own downtrodden position, then there is no claim for recognition.

Larry Purss wrote:
Counterposing survival and recognition may be a false dualism. The term our current"preoccupation" with the universal NEED for any person in any era to be recognized may be more accurate. The question becomes Where does this preoccupation come from? Hegel may have posed it more as a problem of a struggle for life or death. Andy, there seems to be another theme of recognition as central for constituting the KINds of persons we become. I this era we are preoccupied with recognition AS identity. As Gregory outlined is this a result of how profoundly we have taken a wrong turn and our formation of identities within institutional participation is currently NOT meeting our universal need for recognition [except sublimated as recognition of achievement] Is this wrong turn developing I-IT forms of relational dialogue rather than I-Thou forms of recognition. Is this the "cost" of membership that is being required? On the same topic but looking at FORMS of reasoning. I read this statement by Rupert Wegerif "In place of reductionist explanations, Wittgenstein's method is that of rediscriptions to SHOW US the phenomena in a DIFFERENT light. This he calls PERSPICUOUS REPRESENTATION" This term "perspicuous" as emphasizing a form of reasoning that SHOWS [perception] is similar to Merleau-Pont's form of reasoning as figure/ground. On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 6:39 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Larry, my guess is that Recognition is a universal need for any
    person, in whatever era, only that in postmodernity it has become
    problematised. Axel Honneth claims, for example, that wage
    struggles were always *really* struggles for recognition. I don't
    think that makes sense. I think being underpaid is always an
    insult, and I guess there has always been a basis for reading this
    motivation into economic struggles, but I would distinguish
    between a mode of theorisation and a mode of action. There is also
    a question over whether it makes sense to counterpose survival and

    It seems to me that Hegel introduced the idea of Recognition very
    much as a matter of life and death. Imagine two creatures of
    different species (eg a human and a lion) bumping into each other
    in a confined space. You have a definite problem of mutual
    recognition. Consider Captain Cook sailing into a harbour in New
    Zealand. Same problem. Imagine being an asylum seeker arriving in
    NW Australia in a leaky boat. Same problem. Imagine being a
    graffiti artist. Same problem. But I think it is only recently
    that recognition (as having the rights of an equal citizen within
    a nation-state, someone whose labour meets the needs of other
    people) has become problematised. Certainly, the desire for
    recognition is now a major motivation for people. I suspect that
    people write research papers for learned journals more for
    recognition than money or science.


    Larry Purss wrote:

        Hi Gregory and Andy

        Thank you for your responses

         As you can see in my response to Martin,  I am wondering if
        the desire for
        recognition is a general "type" of desire for humans.
         Gregory,  from this
        possibly basic, primary desire for recognition, the particular
        forms of
        recognition developing as  psychological experiences that are
        experienced as
        split as we participate in our institutional arrangements is
        unique to
        modernity.  From this particular historically constructed
        formation of
        psychological splitting a particular kind of search for
        identity ensues. I
        agree with this way of looking at the question of identity, and
        recognition.  There is a dialogical aspect of response and
        in using language [and possibly a dialogical resonse to
        prelinquistic primary intersubjectivity].

        Merleau-Ponty and Bahktin both seem to have grappled with this
        theme and the various ways this theme is expressed
        epistemologically. Their
        reflections on "differences" which don't get transcended but
        rather get
        contained [subjegated] within particular relational
        configurations or forms
        as persons become INformed.  The ethical question from this
        assumption of
         dialogue [as opening spaces between perspectives] becomes
        what institution
        formations are best able to "hold" the differences through
        opening spaces of
        I-Thou mutual dialogue. Identity from this stance is not a
        search for
        identity as [A=A] but rather a search for spaces of opening
        that hold the

        This may sound too "merely interactional" as  "holding of
        within shared space."  But scholars such as Merleau-Ponty who are
        articulating perspectives within a figure/ground metaphor of
        "looking" as a
        particular form of reasoning emphasize the cultural-historical
        source of
        perspectives and the dialogical spaces of intersubjectivity
        where meaning is
        located BETWEEN perspectives as the arena they are playing in.


        On Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 4:40 PM, Gregory Allan Thompson <
        gathomps@uchicago.edu <mailto:gathomps@uchicago.edu>> wrote:

            Very thought provoking post. These happen to be issues
            that are on my mind
            for a paper that I'm working on, and so thank you for
            providing me with an
            opportunity to write these ideas out. But please forgive
            my indulgence in
            the far too many words that follow.

            I think that Andy's concerns with mediation are good ones.
            The split in
            ways of thinking about recognition that I have suggested
            previously is a
            split between "recognition" as a psychological need (maybe
            kin to
            "self-esteem" of the 90's) and recognition as an
            ontological ground of
            subjectivity. I would put W.I. Thomas and (hesitatingly)
            Axel Honneth more
            in the first camp and Hegel and Mead in the second. I
            would further suggest
            that the second camp, recognition as an ontological ground
            of subjectivity,
            has more relevance around the globe, whereas the first
            one, recognition as a
            psychological need, is particularly relevant in Western

            For evidence of the non-global nature of recognition as a
            need (in the particularly Western way that we think of
            it), you simply need
            to look to how people respond to depressed persons in
            China. In America (and
            the West generally?), we tend to offer recognition to
            someone who is
            depressed by saying nice things about them, e.g., to a
            disconsolate grad
            student who is depressed about their dissertation and
            unable to write:
            "you're a great scholar and you're work is very important
            so don't get so
            down," OR, as the SNL character Stuart Smalley used to say
            "you're good
            enough, you're smart enough, and people like you."

            In contrast, in China, the kind of thing that is said to
            depressed persons
            is more like: "you're a shame to your family, everyone
            else is working hard,
            quit being so lazy and finish your work!" And the funny
            thing is, it works.
            (this anecdote is loosely based on the work of a
            colleague, Jason
            Ingersoll, who spent over 2 years in China studying
            depression - his rather
            remarkable dissertation is available online, and I have a

            So for this reason, I'm hesitant to consider the
            "psychological need"
            approach to recognition as a cultural universal. But
            within the US, it seems

            I think that there might be an interesting third approach
            that captures the
            Hegelian sense of recognition as an ontological grounding
            for subjectivity
            while also recognizing it as a psychological need. Larry,
            it seems like this
            might be where you are headed.

            In this regard, I think that Charles Taylor has some
            interesting thoughts
            on recognition as having a kind of particular importance
            in modernity. This
            is because in earlier times identities were prescribed by
            society (think
            feudal system or the caste system of India). In capitalist
            individuals are thrown into society without any solid
            anchors of identity. I
            take this to be a projection of Marx's "all that is solid
            melts into air"
            onto the realm of identity. Nowadays, because we no longer
            have an a priori
            anchor - a biological (or otherwise) right - to a
            particular identity, WHO
            we are is up in the air and we are confronted with a kind
            of existential
            crisis (importantly, this is a crisis only so long as we
            have a desire to be
            a "somebody" - an assumption that I find generally
            plausible, but not
            absolutely necessary; cf. Buddhistic notions of Self). The
            resolution of
            this crisis comes through the various moments of
            recognition (consummation)
            that we experience throug!
             h !
            others and which constitute us as a particular "somebody"
            (and better a
            "somebody" than a "nobody").

            This recognition can happen in everyday interaction
            rituals where we greet
            others and are greeted by others in particular ways (e.g.,
            the somewhat
            stereotyped scene from old movies where the company
            president walks in and
            is greeted along his walk by a string of "Good morning Mr.
            X" and Mr. X
            either responds with a simple nod or responds with "Good
            morning Jane" - in
            the lack of parallelism in the greeting ("Mr. X" vs.
            "Jane" or nothing at
            all), there is an important moment of recognition for both
            parties - an
            emergent WHO).

            Recognition can also happen through various institutional
            means, such as
            when we take a test or get a good grade in school (and
            listen to high school
            or college students after getting the results of a test
            and you'll see/hear
            that this moment of comparison/recognition is one of the
            first things that
            they seek: "I got XX, what did you get?", or more
            tactfully, "How did you

            Recognition can also happen through other social means
            such as the value of
            one's portfolio (a different kind of "value" but one that
            appears to the
            bearer to have a kind of universality for seeing how one
            "measures up" to
            others), or the act of going shopping and being realized
            as a "customer"
            (and advertising is fundamentally about creating a moment
            of recognition as
            a particular type of customer - traditionally an "elite",
            but currently a
            "unique"). Political news programs (Foxnews or MSNBC) can
            also provide a
            moment of recognition by validating the interpretive
            framework ("Democrat"
            or "Republican") or ground against which we define
            ourselves as good, right,
            and moral. And there are, of course, the more obvious
            kinds of recognition
            in "the praise and ovation of the people" - as the tag
            line of the TV show
            Iron Chef used to say - and which you would find on other
            competition shows like American Idol.

            Now treating these examples in reverse order, the local
            fetishization of American Idol, political news programs,
            shopping, grades,
            and greetings - all of this points to a particular
            importance of the role of
            recognition in THIS historical moment. Recognition is the
            resolution to the
            existential crises of *being* in modernity. In the
            interests of making the
            point, I've gone well beyond Taylor's argument. But
            hopefully this provides
            one (potentially flawed) way of thinking about recognition
            in THIS cultural
            historical moment.

            Larry, I find your approach to all of this to be
            particularly interesting
            precisely because it is different from how I have been
            approaching it and so
            it pushes me to think in new ways about these ideas. I'm
            not sure if you'll
            be able to make sense of any of the deeply confused ideas
            I put forward
            above, but I'm always interested in hearing what you have
            to say.

            As for your question about whether mediation of dialogical
            intersubjectivity is prior to mediation by material
            artifacts, I'm not sure
            I understand you perfectly clearly. I wonder how you are
            conceiving of these
            two types of mediation? And how does answering one way or
            the other affect
            your approach to, say, teaching kids? (I'm assuming that
            this is what you
            are after, in the end). And I do like your both/and
            approach to answering
            this question but I'm not clear that you were comfortable
            with this as an

            And now, in looking back at your post, I just realized
            that I failed to
            consider what seems to be the most important issue that
            you raised - what
            does this mean in pedagogical practice.

            As for this question, I fully agree with what I take to be
            your main point,
            namely, that teachers often loose sight of the role of
            recognition for
            students and tend to focus more on the stuff to be
            taught/learned. But I
            think that I would take it in a slightly different
            direction by emphasizing
            recognition less as a kind of humanistic need (or desire)
            and thinking more
            in terms of the teacher contributing to the determination
            of WHO the child
            takes her/himself to be in a given moment, and this will
            affect who the
            child will be in the next (i.e. how s/he will act).

            Effectively recognizing a child as a good student will
            lead to the child
            be(com)ing a good student. The real challenge is: HOW do
            you *effectively*
            recognize a child as a good student? Andy's concern with
            the mediatedness of
            recognition makes this HOW into a non-trivial task.
            Because recognition is
            mediated, it is beyond the simple control of the teacher.

            Take the following as an example: would it be enough for a
            teacher to
            simply say individually to each student in the class that
            the teacher thinks
            that the student is a brilliant student? This might do
            some good for a
            kindergarten class, but for them, they don't exactly know
            what this means
            and even if they believe you, they won't know how this
            translates into
            behaviors and actions (and it probably won't have very lasting
            consequences). For a high school class, the kids would
            probably look at you
            and wonder about your sincerity - and/or your motivations
            (e.g., "is he just
            saying that so that we won't give him a hard time?" - and
            in college it
            would be: "is he just saying that so that we'll give him a
            good rating on
            RateMyProfessor.com?"). Some high school kids would "know"
            that you are just
            "blowing smoke up their you-know-where," and would
            disregard the comment
            altogether, and thus the moment of recognition is lacking.

            The problem is that once you get kids old enough (maybe
            7-9), recognition
            is no longer just the simple dyadic recognition of a
            parent saying something
            to them at a particular moment in time. Instead, as kids
            get older,
            recognition becomes much more than this. It becomes an
            absolute. One IS this
            type of person or that. This is, in part, due to a more
            enduring notion of
            Self, but is also, in part, due to the fact that
            recognition now happens
            with respect to a macro-social order, it is now mediated
            by what we might
            call, following Mead, a generalized other. You might say
            that this perduring
            generalized other becomes the ground for the perduring
            self, and without
            which, the self could only be a groundless and fleeting
            mirage. The social
            ground locates the individual.

            But, importantly (and luckily for us), the ground is
            moving, as are the
            possible figurations. Thus, telling a student who has
            gotten C's and D's all
            her/his life that s/he is brilliant is not going to be
            very effective. S/he
            knows better. What is needed is the artful practice of
            bringing out this
            truth. This often involves re-interpretations of her/his
            behaviors and
            actions, but it can also involve introducing a new frame
            for interpreting
            those actions and behaviors such that these actions and
            behaviors can truly
            become evidence of "brilliance." When this works, it is a
            beautiful thing.
            But it doesn't always look like what we might expect
            (engaging in an
            argument with a student could function as a moment of
            recognition that the
            student is smart enough to be challenged). Furthermore,
            processes don't always work precisely as the teacher might
            have hoped. This
            is because the process of recognition is mediated and is
            thus, in the end,
            out of our hands. In a third t!
            t mediates the teacher student dyad. And most often, these
            processes of
            recognition go mostly unnoticed by teachers and do their
            work "in the dark,"
            so to speak. Shedding light on these processes of
            recognition seems to me to
            be important work.

            Okay, that was much too much, but all stuff that is on my
            mind for what I'm
            presently working on so thank you very much for the
            opportunity to think
            these ideas through in writing.

            All the best,

            Larry Purss wrote:
                Gregory, thanks for this reference on the topic of
                desire for
                My question to Martin was my attempt to understand our
                fundamental need
                recognition, [self/other], and how this fundamental
                need is transformed
                cultural-historical institutional arrangements.  As I
                read Martin's
                he located the need for recognition as one of the  6
                [ontological?] GROUNDS of the sociocultural perspective.
                If the desire for recognition is foundational , then the
                dialogical understanding of communication as the
                relation BETWEEN self
                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

                This question is probably expressing my ignorance of
                the relation between
                the notions of tool use and intersubjectivity but how
                else to get
                In actual practice it may be impossible to separate
                these two mediational
                means BUT it seems that the dialogical perspective
                emphasizes the
                of self/other intersubjective relational
                being/becoming while mediation
                tool use emphasizes internalization and cognitive
                synthesis through
                cultural-historical object usage.

                The notion of biosocial niches can accomodate both
                mediation through
                persons AND mediation through artifacts, so really it
                is not an either/or
                question but rather a matter of emphasis.  The
                practical question in
                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
                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
                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

            xmca mailing list
            xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

        xmca mailing list
        xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    Joint Editor MCA:
    Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
    Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
    MIA: http://www.marxists.org <http://www.marxists.org/>

    xmca mailing list
    xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
MIA: http://www.marxists.org

xmca mailing list