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Re: [xmca] Showing, Speaking, Knowing
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Showing, Speaking, Knowing
- From: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 21:20:43 -0700
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David, thanks for the "recognition" :))
I want to once again thank XMCA for being a community of inquiry that
promotes conversations that have the potential to be transformative. I am
not clear on the particular developmental sequence of percepts and concepts
and there ongoing inter relational configurations. However, the topic is
endlessly fascinating, and I have enjoyed bringing Merleau-Ponty into the
conversation. His insights "speak" to me in a way that helps me to "see"
with more clarity.
I look forward to the continuing dialogue which is opening third spaces in
my forms of knowing.
On Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 6:10 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
> First of all, let me say that I like everything about this post--from the
> extremely evocative (and DYNAMIC) subject line to the "rise to the concrete"
> data from fourth graders with which it ends. Above all, I like the
> anti-Tweetie, anti-soundbite LENGTH of it.
> I even like what I don't quite like about "Showing, Speaking,
> Knowing"--what I see as a too easy segue from showing to speaking, from
> percepts to concepts. I think this is partly inherent in fourth grade data
> (because it is mostly preconceptual or "complexive" in nature) but it can be
> Let me, too, rise the concrete here. My grads have to solve the following
> problem. A teacher presents a class with two apples, and cuts one of them in
> half. She takes away one half of the apple. She asks how many apples there
> are. The children, who can use fractions and mixed numbers in their own
> language, cannot use them in English, so...
> S1: One...
> S2: Two...
> How does the teacher use this situation to teach a) the everyday concept of
> "half" b) the more academic concept of "one divided by two", and c) the idea
> that the mixed number "one and a half" which consists of two numerical
> expressions put together and the fraction "three halves" which consists of
> one numerical expression are the same number, and that in fact any given
> number has an infinity of names?
> It turns out that my grads are VERY used to teaching number ideas through
> COUNTING, and most of them think that the problem is somehow made easier if
> we substitute, say, circles or squares or triangles for the apples.
> I think this is entirely a distraction--I think the key to the problem is
> not substituting a picture for an actual object at all; the problem is
> completely free verbalized perception from actual, optical perception.
> What we need to teach about are not entities but PROCESSES, such as
> "divide", "multiply", "add" and above all "equals". Even counting has to be
> redefined as a process; it's a process of adding rather than a list of
> Does perception play a role here? Yes, of course it does; we cannot start a
> process without it. Is it the leading role? Of course not--as soon as we say
> that it is a starting role, we have admitted that it cannot be a leading
> The great "salto vitale" that Vygotsky made in his late period was to go
> from a dialectical materialist view of psychology that was mostly
> materialist (based on ACTIVITY, on ACTION, on PERCEPTION and COGNITION) to a
> dialectical materialist view of psychology that was mostly dialectical
> (based on SEMIOTICS, on VERBAL THINKING, on CONCEPTS and above all on
> We can exaggerate the differences (e.g. between "Tool and Sign" on the one
> hand and "Thinking and Speech" on the other), and of course the latter would
> not really be conceivable without the former. Nevertheless, it is the case
> that only the latter really requires two to come before one, and only this
> principle explains how discourse precedes grammar, and grammar owes its
> origins to discourse.
> Finally, I think that one reason that good posts tend to be long posts is
> related to what Mescheryakov calls "Vygotsky's second genetic law", the law
> which states that the interpersonal precedes the intra-personal, and that
> therefore complex discourse and complex dialogue comes, ontogenetically and
> even microgenetically, before complex grammar and dense vocabulary.
> Of course, the sensuous aspects of face-to-face interaction (facial
> expression, intonation, stress, and access to "showing" alongside
> speaking) is an explanation of HOW complex discourse can be understood
> before complex grammar is fully analyzed. The problem is that it doesn't
> explain WHY children go beyond a purely functional analysis of discourse to
> a completely grammaticized one in which perception must play a much reduced
> I think that to explain that you need to see that the links between
> so-called "supra-segmental" features (intonation, stress, pitch, intensity,
> duration) and segmental ones (indicative/declarative structures, theme vs.
> rheme, reported speech, vowel quality) are not external links (not a link
> between "suprasegmental" or "paralinguistic" add-ons and the segmental,
> linguistic essence) but rather internal links, links that point to a genetic
> origin for the latter in the former rather than vice versa.
> Unlike perception, VERBALIZED perception starts with knowing (that others
> have minds), progresses through speaking, and only ends with showing. But I
> don't need to tell you that--it's in your example!
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> --- On Tue, 6/28/11, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> From: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
> Subject: [xmca] Showing, Speaking, Knowing
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 6:31 AM
> Martin and David Ke on another thread are exploring the relation of the
> perceptual and language. David is suggesting a transformation historically
> in Vygotsky's understanding of of the relation of gestalten [meaningful
> gestalts] to language and thought.
> On this topic Gregory wrote
> As for Foucault, my reading of F is influenced by French speakers that I
> have spoken to who say that when read in French, F. seem much more of a
> humanist (and there must be a reason why he always has such a fantastically
> large grin on his face! If he's a nihilist, he hardly seems like a
> practicing one. Althusser, on the other hand...). It isn't clear to me how
> much these Francophones were mining and/or what the context was that
> provided for this reading, but they seemed very convincing. And when I was
> teaching Foucault to an undergrad class after this, I was able to begin to
> see this in his writing.
> Anyway, I'm very grateful for this opportunity to engage with others with
> similar interests - and many thanks for reading through my blah-blah-blah
> (and then some).
> I know little of Foucault but do know that his writings were in RESPONSE to
> Merleau-Ponty's theory of the perceptual as ontological.
> Foucault emphasizes how the interplay of discourse is primary.
> Martin's and David's opening conversations on the relation of the
> and language [both acknowledge the sociohistorical situatedess of
> as a central topic to explore and Gregory's reflection's on French thinking
> seem to be on the same topic.
> I will just add that Merleau-Ponty rejects the notion of 5 discrete senses,
> each modularly contributing its own specific inputs to build up a gestalt
> construction FROM the 5 discrete senses. For M-P the living body
> simultaneously FORMS perspectives from the intersensual coordination of
> body as flesh. Describing the 5 distinct senses for M-P is a derivative
> order understanding of a previously formed body perspective. The eyes,
> ears, skin, as BODY experience the world simultaneously. M-P says if we
> only one sense to grasp the world it is experienced as a phantom. [if we
> hear the wind but do not feel it or see the leaves blowing we question if
> its imaginal rather than actual. The actual is INTERsensory bodily
> The relation of "mind as body" going out and grasping the world
> perceptually, and this movement's relation to language and how these
> processes transform perspectives in figure/ground forms of recognition I
> hope will be explored further by Martin, David, and others.
> Gregory, I appreciate your reflections on recognition as ontological [and
> not merely a subjective search for identity] The search for recognition
> a particular intensity in our current historical moment in time. The
> is that this search can accentuate and deepen the crisis we are trying to
> transform, if it is seen as an individual search for SELF-expression
> [Charles Taylor's insight] I am also interested in the day to day, moment
> by moment, transformation in perspectves and forms of recognition [as
> cultural-historically informed]
> I want to give a simple example from my work that captures the
> of this way of reflecting:
> Three girls in grade 4 come in with a conflict from the lunch hour. The
> discussion is very intensely going back and forth in a heated "She did
> this, No, you said that", accusatory argument.
> I ask the girls if they were "friends" before this "problem"
> They answer, "Yes"
> I then reframe that we are dealing with "friends" who have a difficulty.
> Next, I ask them to DESCRIBE what they did as friends BEFORE the
> They start to describe how they like playing tag.
> I then ask them to describe in detail the type of tag which they do.
> the PICTURE]
> [the next move on my part is significant]
> I now ask the girls if they can SHOW ME [Merleau-Ponty] how they play tag
> when they don't have the problem.
> This move to "showing" [we actually go out onto the playground and they
> actually play tag] is often transformative at a BODILY level. They start
> to giggle, have fun [which I recognize is a result of my containing or
> "holding" the intersubjective third space open for possibilities].
> Now we go back into the school and talk about the "problem". However the
> setting for discusion has been transformed and the girls are OPEN and
> NEGOTIATING their differences and each is recognizing the needs of the
> The transformative shift I believe was the SHOWING, not the telling. I as
> the adult contained or "held" the intensity of emotion until it could be
> transformed. Over time and guidance in these zones of proximal
> the girls learn to take each others perspectives and develop DERIVATIVE
> reasons and tellings ABOUT these situations.
> Now, there are multiple ways to EXPLAIN why my intervention was
> [from my ethical perspective] and I believe developmental. The particular
> version of "reasons why" are derivative and inherently multiple. No reason
> can fully contain or reflect the lived experience. However, with
> Merleau-Ponty, I suspect the SHOWING [what I have discussed as MARKING] may
> be a central factor.
> A last passing thought. Merleau-Ponty discusses the relation between the
> personal and the biological [sedimintation] as a process of
> transformation.. Learning to ride a bike becomes incorporated into and
> changes the biological sedimentation of the body. This sedimentation is
> formation of habits or ways of being in the world, expressed through the
> body as the body grasps the world.
> My example of recognition with the 3 girls is also, if repeated many times,
> slowly sedimented in the body as habits of the body [and metaphorically as
> habits of the heart]
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