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

Re: [xmca] Measuring culture

Hi Greg,

I would like to contribute to this topic of language by adding in Gadamer,
who I've been listening to lately.

This notion of form [for example when David K suggests Vygotsky is a cuckoo
for filling words (eggs) with new meanings :-}}

Gadamer describes the principle of hermeneutics as simply trying to
understand everything that can be understood. His statement,

*Being that can be understood IS language.

What lies outside the realm of human understanding [our world] is not the
concern of hermeneutics.

In Gadamer's own words,

"This does not mean that there is a world of meanings that is narrowed down
to the status of secondary objects OF knowledge and mere supplements to the
economic and political realities that fundamentally determine the life of a
society. Rather, it means that the mirror of language is reflecting
everything that is. In language, and only in it, can we meet what we never
*encounter* in the world, because we are ourselves it (and NOT merely what
we mean or what we know of ourselves).  But the metaphor of a mirror is not
fully adequate to the phenomenon of language, for in the last analysis
language is not simply a mirror. What we perceive in it is not merely a
*reflection* of our own and all being; it is the living out of what it IS
with US - not only in the concrete interrelationships of work and politics
but in ALL the OTHER relationships and dependencies that comprise our

Greg, this quote was in the context of Gadamer exploring the interrelations
of rhetorical, hermeneutical and sociological forms of understanding and
his conversation with Habermas.  Habermas saw hermeneutics in the service
of expanding the logic of the sociological project of emancipation.
Rhetoric concerns the immediacy of conversation. The hermeneutical
orientation deveoped as a response to modernities turning away from
tradition and Gadamer believes it is vital to diclose the continuing
vitality of tradition within which the sociological project arises.
For Habermas, the life of society and the life of the individual consists
of the INTERACTION of intelligible motives and concrete compulsions in
which social and psychological investigation in a progressive process of
clarification appropriates in order to set man, the actor and agent, FREE.

Gadamer grants the sociotheoretical project has its logic. However, Gadamer
asks Habermas if such a conception does justice to the actual reach of
hermeneutical reflection. Gadamer believes the limiting concept of perfect
interaction between understood motives and consciously performed action is
itself a fictitious concept.  For Gadamer meaning can be experienced even
where it is NOT actually intended.  The concrete factors of work and
politics are within the scope of hermeneutics. But hermeneutics deals with
the prejudice-structures historically immanent in ALL understanding and he
asks, Do these prejudices come merely out of cultura traditions?  Surely,
they do, IN PART, but what is tradition formed from? Habermas asserts that
hermeneutics bans helplessly from WITHIN the WALLS of tradition.  Gadamer
answers, if we understand this *within* as opposite to an *outside* that
DOES NOT ENTER THE WORLD - our to-be-understood, understandable, or
nonunderstandable world - BUT remains the MERE observation of external
alterations (instead of human actions).  This world of mere observations of
external alterations does not concern hermeneutics. Hermeneutics concern is
with human actions and meaning in ALL the relationships and dependencies
that comprise the world [including seeing through the myth of perfect
understanding of motives and its interrelations to concrete compusions in
order to be set free.]  Hermeneutics turns to the essential historicity of
ALL understanding.

On Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 4:19 PM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>wrote:

> David,
> Going back a bit, could you provide more detail on the following:
> "it started up precisely because we did not listen to Merleau-Ponty's
> remark to the effect that structuralism's main crime was not valuing
> structure ENOUGH to link it firmly enough to value"
> Would love to hear/read as much as you'd be willing to write.
> (M-P has come on the LCHC radar lately... and I like language).
> -greg
> On Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 2:53 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com
> >wrote:
> > Larry and Rob:
> >
> > I wasn't really accusing Rob Lake of being a structuralist succubus--I
> > think I would probably not accuse him of anything except an incurable
> > affability, an attitude of ready openness towards people and ideas that I
> > often wish I had more of.
> >
> > I was responding to the TED talk on N-grams, which seems to me an example
> > of corpus linguistics redux: the behaviorist fallacy that with infinite
> > instantiation we approach the idea of infinite potential.To me the idea
> > that a very large number of instances is a "snapshot" of meaning
> potential
> > denies future development; the future is not something that actually
> shows
> > up in snapshots.
> >
> > Yes, I guess I see in Larry's Gadamer summary some overlap with what I
> had
> > to say too, but it's really because the Gadamer stuff seems to me  to lap
> > overmuch, like the Odyssey's shelving sea. I feel that I'm floundering,
> and
> > I really need some examples of what it might mean to leap out of one's
> own
> > historicity and above all some examples of why one might wish to do such
> a
> > thing.
> >
> > Here are some examples that occurred to me just in the last twenty four
> > hours. See if you agree that they are what Gadamer means. If so, I am
> more
> > than interested.
> >
> >
> >  I sometimes use children's counting rhymes to teach my teachers about
> > metricity (they are bound to the written word and find it hard to 'feel'
> > the stress-unstress patterns of English, and this is one of the things
> that
> > makes it hard for them to grasp prepositions and articles as they bound
> by
> > in the unstressed sound stream).
> >
> > My students and I came up with the following, which goes fetchingly with
> a
> > painting by Delacroix and has a lot of the 'near rhymes" that Chinese
> poets
> > love (Chinese poetry is rather more tonal than rhyming):
> >
> > "Will you race?" the lion said
> > "I will bless the fastest beast"
> > So the rabbit ran his best
> > And the lion ate him last
> >
> >
> >
> http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/eugene-delacroix/lion-devouring-a-rabbit-1856
> >
> > Now, try this:
> >
> > a) "Will you race? the lion said.
> > b) "I will bless the fastest beast," the lion said.
> >
> > If you are a native speaker of English, like me, you probably have UP
> > intonation when you say the reporting clause, viz. "the lion said" in a)
> > but not in b). My wife, who is not a native speaker of English, does not
> > intone EITHER reporting clause upwards.
> >
> > What we can say is that for me, and for most English speakers, the
> > subjective viewpoint of the lion leaks into the reporting clause.
> Volosinov
> > argues that this is quite a recent historical phenomenon--it's a product
> of
> > the breakdown of the idea of the all-seeing narrator, and the birth of
> > quasi-direct discourse (and also the extremely recent invention of the
> > quotation mark).
> >
> >
> > On the Seoul subway, the announcer uses (the Korean equivalents of)
> >  "left" and "right" to indicate which door is opening when the subway
> > reaches a stop. Since most of us are facing the side of the train rather
> > than facing forward or back, this deictic is essentially ambiguous.
> > However, it never causes any confusion whatsoever, because the hearers
> > always adopt the point of view of the train driver, no matter how they
> are
> > standing.
> >
> > I have observed the same response in allegedly "egocentric" children, who
> > consider that left and right used by the teacher always assumes that the
> > teacher is facing the children, even when this contradicts their own left
> > and right and even when the teacher is facing the blackboard.
> >
> >
> > Yesterday evening I sat down with a former supervisee who is studying
> > gesture. Although I am no longer involved in research with children, I am
> > still very interested in this topic, because I can see in the videos that
> > he has brought that the children are using gestures for three quite
> > specific purposes:
> >
> > a) They are using gesture to locate the stress--even when the word itself
> > is absent because the child cannot recall it.
> >
> > b) They are using gesture to try to displace a misplaced stress. Because
> > they are very used to reading, stresses come monotonously at the ends of
> > sentences, and they use gesture to move the stress towards the new
> > information in the sentence.
> >
> > c) They are using gestures to enact meaning--they are trying to replace
> > meaningless 'beat' gestures with pointing gestures or metaphorics (e.g.
> the
> > ubiquitous 'container' gesture we see all over the TED talk!)
> >
> > Mr. Kim, on the other hand, insists they are using gesture for one
> purpose
> > only--to recall words that they cannot remember. When I ask him how this
> > works, he gives me a quote from Ausubel and says that the sentence is
> > stored in various places in the brain and the gesture helps to assemble
> it.
> >
> > I point out that there can be no empirical evidence whatsoever to back up
> > such a claim (we cannot dissect the child's brain and recover pieces of
> > sentence from it, and even if we could it would hardly explain how
> gesture
> > might reassemble them). And there is actually quite a bit of evidence
> that
> > contradicts it (e.g. the child says "Let's go picknee" instead of the
> > correct "Let's go on a picnic" and one can hear another child whispering
> > the wrong sentence to him just before he uses it).  But he will not look
> > beyond his Ausubel.
> >
> > Frustrated, it occurs to me that Mr. Kim really has a EUROPEAN rather
> than
> > an ASIAN idea of the social: families do grow out of the legal
> association
> > of individuals, and nations from leagues of city states. So too do
> > sentences grow out of the various functions of the human mind/brain. He
> > will write a very good thesis, I am sure. But I am also very glad that I
> am
> > no longer supervising it!
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> >
> >
> > --- On Fri, 4/20/12, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> > Subject: Re: [xmca] Measuring culture
> > To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> > Date: Friday, April 20, 2012, 6:08 AM
> >
> >
> > David, Robert
> >
> > The following quote on narrative is also exploring similar terrain to
> > Gadamer,
> >
> >
> > Ubiquitous, stories have encouraged narratologists to expand their
> purview
> > beyond the literary corpus and take the "narrative turn," embracing
> fields
> > as diverse as psychology, sociology, ethnology, history, the law,
> corporate
> > management, digital technology, and more. But whatever the universals
> > common to all narratives, literary scholars, psychotherapists,
> > sociologists, ethnologists, historians, jurists, advertising executives
> and
> > AI experts view narrative in significantly different ways and as serving
> > purposes that may be wholly at odds from one field to another. What,
> then,
> > is the influence on narrative of genre – not necessarily in the sense of
> > traditional literary scholarship, but possibly in that of "speech genres"
> > (Bakhtin), those "relatively fixed forms" that bridge the gap between
> units
> > of language or other signifying systems and discourse in its prolific
> > manifestations? Then, too, is the question of narrative in non-verbal
> forms
> > – the plastic arts and music – but also narrative in its pluri-medial
> > forms.  Yet other questions arise. If, as Barthes stressed nearly half a
> > century ago, narrative is a universal anthropological phenomenon, to what
> > extent is it constitutive of culture? Can similar lines of inquiry be
> > pursued with regard to *homo narrans*, the storytelling animal?
> >
> > In particular I want to amplify this section of the above quote
> >
> > *those "relatively fixed forms" that bridge the gap between units of
> > language or other signifying systems and discourse in its prolific
> > manifestations? Then, too, is the question of narrative in non-verbal
> forms
> > – the plastic arts and music – but also narrative in its pluri-medial
> > forms.*
> >
> > Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics invites us to enter  horizons of
> > understanding which mediate  the *relatively fixed forms* [historically
> > formed traditions] *in* which we dwell [and which constitute the
> > prejudice-structures of ALL understanding].  Gadamer would caution us
> that
> > in the *narrative turn* we don't become fixated on methodologies of
> > understanding but rather focus on unveiling the interPLAY between the
> > historically constituted prejudice-structures and the living
> hermeneutical
> > situation of the present moment.
> >
> >
> >
>  __________________________________________
> _____
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
xmca mailing list