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RE: [xmca] Re: Hamlet as social science

Thanks for this, Michael. It made me laugh out loud. 


I guess my point (which sometime I feel or sense rather than express
directly) in discussing the non-linear aspects of meaning and cognition, was
to consider and argument against metonymy in the case of Vygotsky.
Vygotsky's works, although an amazing and influential legacy, don't stand
for the whole. Even if his work can be separated into moments in the way Rey
does, the absence of follow through on lines of interest or earlier work
toward the subjective and the psyche, does not mean that Vygotsky's thinking
about these things ceased, nor does it mean the influence of these ideas is
not indirectly carried forward in his work. But how to find a way to express
this knowledge, thought, and being--and also be a respectable researcher and
a scientist? Now I am writing not only about Vygotsky but many more social


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Michael Glassman
Sent: Saturday, August 06, 2011 7:20 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Re: An article by Kimiharu Sato exploringFernando


Hi Monica,


Yeah, you know it's interesting that we constantly refer to ways of thinking
that are not straight line, point a to b thinking as non-linear rather than
Web like, or serpentine, or episodic, or about a hundred other types of
thinking.  Our lives are almost never a straight line, a to b and yet this
is what we use as the "normal" description and all other thinking is somehow
not normal.  This in spite of the fact that every story is about what
happened in life to keep us from going from A to B, that every invention is
about taking a flyer away from the normal A to B, every act of creativity
eschews A to B.  We actually have to train our minds to engage in this
focus, and you wonder what this emphasis on linear thinking as normal
actually does to our thinking.  But anything that is not linear is treated
as if it has little worth.  You know I was thinking about the type of review
Hamlet might get from a reviewer for a social science journal,


"I don't know what the author was trying to do with this piece.  First the
author more or less starts off with a ghost, but the play is not about
ghosts.  Why is the author bringing in ghosts, it confuses the reader and
makes one wonder exactly what the writer is trying to get at.


"This continues throughout this piece of work.  The author spends a good
deal of time early in the play having the main character discussing whether
he should commit suicide.  Now there is nothing wrong with this per se,
there is a lot of work out there about suicide (which for some reason the
author doesn't refer to) - but it never actually gets back to the subject
throughout the rest of the piece.  Why bring up the idea about suicide when
it is not going to be a major topic and the author does not really follow
through on it.


"At some points I could simply not even tell if this play was actually about
Hamlet or Ophelia.  Why do we seem to be switching back and forth between
their troubles.  I think it would be a much stronger play if the author just
focused on the issues Hamlet is facting (and please NO MORE GHOSTS).  This
might allow the author to get back to the suicide issues at least.


"And what is it with this Pelonious character?  Is he supposed to be foolish
or cruel or funny?  How can you have the same character giving a comic
monologue to his son and then saying 'get thee to a nunnery' to his
daughter.  Obviously the author has no idea what he wants to do with this
character and it is just an example of how confused this whole piece is.


"In the end I cannot recommend the performance of this play without major






From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Monica Hansen
Sent: Fri 8/5/2011 8:56 AM
To: 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'; lchcmike@gmail.com
Subject: RE: [xmca] Re: An article by Kimiharu Sato exploringFernando

I especially like what you are writing here, Michael, at the end about the
complex web of thinking that seems all too linear. 


Writing (and research) can be linear and sequential. The use of logic, as
well. Both scientific method and written language are tools for
communication and mediation of meaning. Even though words are strung
together in a sequential order, there are other devices used in texts, let's
say Hamlet, for example, in which the text "means" more than just the
logical sequential arrangement of words. Not only qualitatively more, but at
the same time: literal and figurative, symbolic, etc.  In scientific writing
the goal is clarity, in art, it is often ambiguity. An author does not cease
to be a part of this complex web of subjectivity and psyche when he/she
attempts clarity. Neither does a reader, when reading or experiencing a




From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Michael Glassman
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2011 10:01 AM
To: lchcmike@gmail.com; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] Re: An article by Kimiharu Sato exploring Fernando


Hi Mike, Larry, Andy, whoever,


It is interesting that the conversation on Fernando's article made me think
of something and spurred me to read it.  That something is he suggests (and
its a good suggestion) that Vygotsky went through the same, I don't want to
call it evolution because it is not really directional, well adaptations in
thinking then that a number of other thinkers I have read during the 20th
century have gone through.


The way I have read Fernando's article he is suggesting that Vygotsky is,
well in my own thinking, adapting to three "traps" in attempting to develop
a framework for understanding human thinking.  Vygotsky starts out with his
work on art, and maybe in part in his work on pedagogy, dealing as the
article suggests with really complex issues such as emotion and aesthetics.
Vygotsky, who I believe himself was really interested in this stuff, is
saying that you don't just take in art or emotional based information but
you mediate it as part of your understanding.  When we watch Hamlet we don't
just experience the words of the melancholy Dane, but tap into deep
emotions, in ways I am guessing most don't when watching "Billy Madison."
We know and understand Hamlet, when we give it time and effort, has a much
deeper impact on who we are - in part because it is generative, perhaps in
making us think about ourselves and the world around us, using our
imaginations to go far beyond what we are seeing on stage.  Ah, but there's
the rub, and the first of the "traps."  Where does this mediating force come
from?  Meaning we know the Hamlet is better than Billy Madison but how do we
know it and why do we know it.  We know that Tolstoy is a better writer than
John Grisham, even though we might enjoy both, but how do we know it.  Where
does this picky mediating force come from.  Why will we sit through three
hours of one movie and turn off another after ten minutes.  The only
explanation is that there is some ideal sense of beauty and what we are
reading or seeing in some way approaches that ideal.  And come on, don't we
all think that way to one degree or another when experiencing a great piece
of art.  But then that makes us idealists.  I kind of think that Vygotsky
got pushed off his idealist perch earlier than some because of what was
going on in Russia at the time, but maybe he was hanging on to this idea
that there are some things that we just communally understand.


The next stop after idealism is empiricism, or instrumentalism, which easily
gets caught up in realism.  All that you can really trust is that which you
see in front of you, that which you experience as working in some objective
sense.  The difficulty with empiricism is it does not last, there is nothing
communal about a response.  And perhaps this is part of what Vygotsky was
looking for, where does this communal response come from,  Why do people
think one play is good and another terrible and this is a response that
almost all agree with.  A communal understanding cannot really be based on
objective data, because objective data can be so easily corrupted after it
has occurred.  Individuals and even groups remember things that happen in
their lives very differently.  There is that famous experiment where an
individual rushes into a room and attacks an instructor and then they ask
afterwards for people to write down what they saw.  There are often very
different responses from the same people a short time later.  We tend to
rearrange history based on our own expectations of what is going to happen
(Neisser 1976 has some interesting ideas on this).  But the big question
then becomes what good really is empiricism and objectivity if it becomes
lost in the haze of history.  And how is it possible to have any real
communal reactions.  And remember one of the early driving issues is why
does such a large majority think Hamlet is better than Billy Madison (yeah,
yeah, I know Vygotsky didn't know about Adam Sandler.  But I bet you Adam
Sandler doesn't know about Vygtosky!)  There are three ways to deal with
this -  the first is the second "realist trap" in which we claim that
objects contain information and we draw the information out from the
objects, we just have to do it the right way - but we know from everyday
experience there is little actual value in this idea and is usually promoted
by a dominant group which can lay claim to objects.  The second one is to
stay in the immediate experience, and the third is to suggest that there is
some lasting impact from history that you can divine, but it is not solely
in the object nor solely in human thinking - the combining of subjective and
objective Andy likes to talk about.  Vygotsky had to figure out a way back
to this place I think because of his initial interests in aesthetics and
emotions as Fernando suggests.


Vygotsky's answer in this scenario is the concentrate not on the objects, or
on the human mind, but on the mediators themselves, especially the semiotic
mediators that are passed down from generation to generation, which carry
history with them, but are also flexible.  In a sense Vygotsky perhaps was
going back by going forward.


The way I wrote this makes it all sound too linear, and I agree with
Fernando it is not linear at all, but the development of an increasingly
complex web of thinking, something in academia we seem to have a very hard
time with, and many times simply don't want to accept. 


Anyway, that's my take for what it's worth - three and a half cents worth





From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of mike cole
Sent: Wed 8/3/2011 12:38 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: An article by Kimiharu Sato exploring Fernando

This line of thinking underpins the approach that Vygotsky and Luria took to
neuropsychology, Larry. It underpins a good deal of research on
as summarized in his autobiography.

What, I wonder, is the link between the instrumentalism phase and the
systems ideas on the one hand and the more semiotic phase at the end (which,
i believe, Fernando is saying was in the beginning as well).


On Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 7:58 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm going to continue circling around this topic of "sense" as a direction
> Vygotsky was pointing.  Mike mentioned the tricky "predicament" {Andy :-)}
> of moving between merely instrumental vs merely semiotic[ideal]
> explanations
> within our circular descriptions.  I believe Kimiharu Sato and Fernando
> and John Shotter are also struggling with this predicament. So her goes my
> reflections on my "conversation" [commognition] with Kimiharu. In other
> words what do I link to when reading his article.
> (p.39)  For Vygotsky, consciousness is a very complex, STRUCTURE of
> behaviour. In particular it is, and in the historical development of  a
> doubling of behaviour. Consciousness can be understood as a SYSTEM of the
> various functions of mental action.  In 1930 [Fernando's 3rd period]
> Vygotsky wrote "On Psychological Systems" in which he stated,
> "In the process of development and in the historical development of
> behaviour in particular, it is NOT so much the functions which change.
> IS changed and modified are rather the RELATIONSHIPS the LINKS BETWEEN the
> functions. New constellations emerge which were unknown in the preceding
> stage. That is why INTRA-functional change is often NOT ESSENTIAL in the
> transition from one stage to the other. It is INTER-functional changes,
> changes of inter-functional CONNECTIONS and the inter-functional
> STRUCTURE WHICH MATTER. The development of such NEW FLEXIBLE relationships
> Kimiharu in providing THIS quote adds "This passage REVEALS that Vygotsky
> considered the human mind to emerge FROM the INTER-relations of the
> mental functions and therefore human consciousness IS an active process
> WITHIN a mental "network"[metaphor to picture INTER-relations BETWEEN
> functions and not the intra-functional relations within an isolated
> function].  From this linking to Vygotsky Kimiharu makes the "leap of
> intuition" to state,
> "It can be concluded that Vygotsky's theory of consciousness is
> anti-substantialism, and he assumed consciousness is an attribution OF
> and a process of actualization"
> I'm not sure if everyone would draw the same conclusion, but what I want
> focus on is Kimiharu focussing our attention on the inter-relations
> functions that form a particular STRUCTURING and that these
> inter-relational structurings change with development
> Larry
> On Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 11:14 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > This month's article by Fernando Rey must have had some impact on
> > either positive, negative, or ambivalent.  For anyone who is quietly
> > reflecting on this topic, I'm attaching another article by Kimiharu Sato
> > from Hokkaido University.  Kimiharu also recommends reading E. Kamiya's
> > unpublished doctoral desertation titled "Unfinished Vygotsky's Theory"
> > (2008)  Does anyone have access to this thesis. It seems it may hold
> > potential for exploring sense in Vygotsky's project.
> >
> > Larry
> >
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