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

RE: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?

I'm trying to remember the phrase that Dewey used about I guess what we consider facts, but it keeps slipping my mind.  I know he used in in Experience and Nature and the Quest for Certainty as well.  I read at least part of a book recently by Donald Schon called Beyond the Stable State that has made me rethink the Quest for Certainty - that we search for certainty in order to achieve stability which is an illusion.  But we can have a fair amount of verifiable something, that is we do A that B will happen.  If we place this in a context that says it is part of a culture are we really saying that it is just a belief system.  And what type of interactions over the subject are we setting up by placing it in a cultural context.  I've had the chance to read a decent amount about fracking over the last few months, not actually because I am interested in fracking per se but because of the social groups they are part of.  Many of these people present pretty good evidence of communities where fracking has occurred on a large scale and how it has hurt the water supply in those communities.  So there is at least a chance that fracking will wreak havoc with water supplied.  So let's have a discussion about what types of damage fracking might cause to a community, bringing evidence to the table.  But we're not doing that.  And I would suggest part of the reason we are not doing that is that the belief of other groups, similar to global warming, that people are developing this evidence for political purposes - that maybe it is simply one culture critiquing another culture.  We would be far better off if we could have an open discussion about all this where evidence of water deterioration is offered along with communities that believe this is an ideological argument.  But we don't - the evidence about fracking almost never gets presented in mainstream publications and the issues are treated as he said she said, one culture critiquing another.  I think we need to think about this.
You are right about definitions of culture and cultural psychology.  I have been reading a bit about it.  It is a slippery concept and different people look at it differently.  But then in the next example people use it kind of interchangeable.  


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of mike cole
Sent: Mon 7/23/2012 8:17 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?


reading from the side there is a real disagreement in this conversation and
I think it revolves around different uses of the term "culture" and
different ascriptions of views to cultural psychology.

I really think you need to re-think a statement such as the following in
your note:
 The science that fracking has a high chance of hurting the water table is
not cultural.

To begin with, scientifically guided/constrained action is always only a
part of culturally organized human activity. Secondly, the facts about
fracking and the current controversies of what its consequences are is in
the news right now because of the controversies that extend way out into
the socio-cultural order(s) about the science! It is like a case study
for how science is always, only, cultural.  Its just a particular form of
instrumentalism when used as it is being used in this conversation.

We should be reading Dewey on the quest for certainty here.


On Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 4:57 PM, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu>wrote:

> Hi Greg,
> No actually I don't see inter-cultural critique as reasonable, or as
> unreasonable I think - and if that's the idea you got I have not been
> clear.  I see inter-cultural critique as irrelvant (you can do it if you
> like, but it has little meaning one way or the other and is often a waste
> of energy) - but as I said I think it is often used as a straw man argument
> in cultural psychology.  My thinking right now is that I see
>  INTRA-cultural critique as imperative.  And the only way to move towards
> INTRA-cultural critique - where members of a culture are able to criticize
> their own practices is through educatiojn.  Vygotsky suggested education
> through scientific concepts which I find viable beause it offers an
> alternative to cultural belief systems.  Is science all cultural.  These
> days I find that argument much more dangerous than I did a few years ago.
>  The science of climate change is not cultural.  The science that fracking
> has a high chance of hurting the water table is not cultural.  The science
> of nuclear emmissions is not cultural.  Perhaps this is my flaw, but I
> think treating science as cultural on a large scale has been not such a
> good thing for the human condition.  The earth is round, there are
> principle of aerodynamics, too much unrefined sugar wreaks havoc on your
> constitution, the earth is not 5000 years old!!!  These are ideas that can
> be taught as counter-weights.  I used to think more of a Deweyan
> logic-problem solving approach was the way to go about this, but after the
> last decade I'm not so sure even about that.
> What education should do is make you question your culture.  And by
> culture we can use Shweder's term of intentional systems I suppose, however
> they manifest themselves.  This INTRA-cultural critique is critical.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Greg Thompson
> Sent: Mon 7/23/2012 6:01 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?
> Sounds like we've found a point of agreement - this raises thorny and
> difficult questions.
> And I certainly agree with your formulation that "culture" shouldn't always
> will out. But I would add that science is culture too. (and "culture" is
> "science" too - cf. Levi-Strauss). And we're back down the rabbit hole...
> -greg
> On Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 1:28 PM, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu
> >wrote:
> > Hi Greg,
> >
> > We seem to be going down the rabbit hole here.  I guess I'll end by
> saying
> > I think settled science (broadly defined) and human rights should play at
> > least some role in most decisions.  In some cases it may be best to
> > dispense with these, but only after first examining them.  I think maybe
> > this is one of the reasons Vygotsky stresses the importance of scientific
> > concepts while still maintaining the role of everyday concepts in our
> lives
> > is because he saw both as playing important roles.  I think one of his
> more
> > interesting ideas is that you needed schools for scientific concepts,
> > perhaps because the main goal of many cultures is to recreate themselves
> > over generations.  Science can certainly be dangerous to tradtions, and
> > through it we lose the illusion of stability.  A lot of people don't like
> > this very much (see Global warming)  Every person should have access to
> > different types of information, but this can be destabilizing for
> cultures,
> > so there can be a tension.  I don't know if this is what Vygotsky meant,
> > but this is how I see him right now.  Sometimes culture wills out,
> > sometimes science and human rights wills out, but it should always be an
> > open contest.  To give primacy to culture strikes me as an inherently
> > conservative position.  And as my students pointed out about the Haidt
> > book, it is very often the person privileged by culture who takes that
> > position - which makes sense when you think about it.
> >
> > The question I am struggling with, and what has caused me to go back and
> > read cultural psychology readings with a new eye, is what does all this
> > mean in the information age.  What happens when the thirteen year old
> girl
> > goes online and decided she wants to remain intact, or two, or three.
>  Who
> > decides then?  And who protect the decision makers?
> >
> > Michael
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> __________________________________________
> _____
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
xmca mailing list


xmca mailing list