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Re: [xmca] Alfred Schütz


I wasn't trying to take the discussion in any specific direction, but Greg expressed curiosity about Merleau-Ponty's views on language. M-P wrote quite a bit about language acquisition: he held the Chair in Child Psychology and Pedagogy at the Sorbonne from 1949 to 1952.

I find it interesting that M-P, like LSV, drew from Humboldt's writing on language. Specifically, and again like LSV, he employs the notion of the "inner form" of speech. When this topic has been discussed here on xmca we have had a tendency to say that the inner form, what LSV terms 'meaning' as distinct from 'sense,' is fixed and objective, rather like the dictionary definition of a word.

But dictionary definitions are written, and children don't hear the definitions of words as they learn their first language. (If they do, I imagine they ignore them.) M-P describes the inner form instead as a "style of speaking," an organization prior to representation, an "immanent meaning" to which the speaker has a "corporeal intentionality," a texture which is grasped.

It helps to know that M-P articulated an account of perception as in general a practical  involvement in the world, in which each object is always given only partially, incompletely and from a perspective, while at the same time other perspectives are tacitly adumbrated, as are the other things around the object. Each object mirrors all others. We are always in a situation, a nexus of interrelationships into which our body too is entangled. What he says about the word, then, is what he says about any material entity. "Style" is the way an object invites, demands, a response from us. 

A child learns language in the here and now of concrete objects. As LSV pointed out, words seem first to be taken by a young child as aspects, features of the objects they name. A "gesture" is a movement, an action, something understood not intellectually but as outlining a structure in and of the world. Gesture requires taking up a position in the world, and sharing that position with another. Gesture has style. To say that the 'inner form' of a word is a gesture is to say that its meaning owes everything to its corporeality - there is no word that is not being spoken and heard. As spoken, a word is always a figure against an unspoken ground, an island in a sea of activity. Dictionary definitions, in contrast, are merely speech about speech, in which there can only be an external and conventional relationship between word and meaning. 

Consequently, I'm not sure about the centrality of reflection that you emphasize. Notice that M-P writes:

"On the condition that I do not reflect expressly upon it, my consciousness of my body immediately signifies a certain landscape about me..."

In other words, we have consciousness in/of the world *prior* to reflection, and the most important task is to grasp that. This is not to say that reflection is unimportant, but by definition it is something secondary, and derivative.


p.s.: worth a look:
Cuffari, E. (2011). Gestural sense-making: Hand gestures as intersubjective linguistic enactments. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. doi:10.1007/s11097-011-9244-9

On Apr 28, 2012, at 6:16 PM, Larry Purss wrote:

> Andy, Mike, Martin
> Thanks for this lead.  I have been reading Gadamer's response to Habermas
> and the interplay between his notion of *traditions* and Habermas notion of
> *emancipation* within social theory.
> The two chapter's of Martin's book will help further the conversations on
> these themes.
> Martin, your conversation with David on the interplay of realization and
> instantiation and the centrality of the *relation between* these concepts
> seems central to this discussion.
> I also wonder about the interplay between realization and reflection and
> Gadamer's notion of multiple TYPES of reflection. Assertive reflection,
> thematic reflection, and what Gadamer names as  *effective reflection*
> where one engages with developing the skills to enter and participate
> effectively in playing the games without holding back and *merely* playing
> at playing the game.  Effective playing as having its *own* being and *we*
> enter this play and get *taken up* and *carried* along within the play. Not
> privleging either *subjective* consciousness or *objective* consciousness
> but rather privileging the play in which subjectivity and objectivity have
> their *ground* [metaphorically]
> Martin, I'm not sure if this was the direction you were taking
> theconversation, but it what I interpreted you saying.
> Larry
> On Sat, Apr 28, 2012 at 3:51 PM, mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Andy et al -
>> Martin's book, the science of qualitative research has a chapter that
>> traces Kant-Husserl-
>> Schutz - BergerLuckman that we r reading at Lchc. It helped me a lot to
>> sort out this branch
>> of thought. It is followed by a chapter that traces Heidegger - Merleau
>> Ponty- garfinkle.
>> I have heard there is an electronic version, but do not know how to get
>> it. Working from actual hard copy!
>> Mike
>> On Apr 28, 2012, at 10:19 AM, Andrew Babson <ababson@umich.edu> wrote:
>>> He was very influential to Garfinkel, and so from an intellectual
>>> historical perspective, the development of ethnomethodology,
>>> conversation analysis and modern sociolinguistics.
>>> On 4/28/12, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>>> I'd just like to share the attached article, written in 1945 by Alfred
>>>> Schuetz, a refugee from the Frankfurt School living in New York, like so
>>>> many others. In the article he appropriates Wm James, GH Mead and J
>>>> Dewey, whilst coming from the Pheneomenology of Husserl, to adapt the
>>>> concepts of Pheneomenology to social theory. It is quite interesting. He
>>>> remains, in my view within the orbit of Phenomenology, but readers will
>>>> recognise significant points of agreement with AN Leontyev's Activity
>>>> Theory. What he calls "Conduct" comes close to "Activity," and he
>>>> introduces the concept of Action which is certainly the same as it is
>>>> for CHAT, and instead of "an activity" (the 3rd level in ANL's system)
>>>> he has "Project." But although this project has the same relation to
>>>> Action, it is a subjectively derived project posited on the world,
>>>> rather than project discovered in the world, and having a basically
>>>> societal origin. This is the point at which I think he confines himself
>>>> to Phenomenology, and fails to reach a real social theory. The whole
>>>> business about "multiple realities" which gives the article its title is
>>>> very tedious, but actually is valid in its basics I think.
>>>> Some of us on this list may appreciate him. He's a recent discovery for
>> me.
>>>> Andy
>>>> --
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
>>>> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
>>>> Book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608461459/
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