Posts Tagged ‘mind’
In a book of intellectual breadth, James Wertsch not only offers a synthesis and critique of all Vygotsky‘s major ideas, but also presents a program for using Vygotskian theory as a guide to contemporary research in the social sciences and humanities. He draws extensively on all Vygotsky’s works, both in Russian and in English, as well as on his own studies in the Soviet Union with colleagues and students of Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s writings are an enormously rich source of ideas for those who seek an account of the mind as it relates to the social and physical world. Wertsch explores three central themes that run through Vygotsky’s work: his insistence on using genetic, or developmental, analysis; his claim that higher mental functioning in the individual has social origins; and his beliefs about the role of tools and signs in human social and psychological activity. Wertsch demonstrates how the notion of semiotic mediation is essential to understanding Vygotsky’s unique contribution to the study of human consciousness. In the last four chapters Wertsch extends Vygotsky’s claims in light of recent research in linguistics, semiotics, and literary theory. The focus on semiotic phenomena, especially human language, enables him to integrate findings from the wide variety of disciplines with which Vygotsky was concerned. Wertsch shows how Vygotsky’s approach provides a principled way to link the various strands of human science that seem more isolated than ever today.
The centrality of technology in human life has manifested itself throughout history in all cultures and civilisations. This paper examines the role of new technology in restructuring processes of thinking and knowing, and its impact on social practices of knowledge building. It highlights the transformative force of new technology, necessitating changes in our “habits of mind‟ to manage the increasing complexity of the contemporary information landscape. Also, it shows that convergent new technology remediates processes of shared knowledge building, creating virtual, collaborative, continuously evolving arenas of activity. Thus, new media contexts afford new forms of social collectivity in virtual space, requiring a fresh understanding of collective action and creation, the ability to belong to different social groups that may not meet face-to-face, the skills to artfully reconnect thought and practice in a simulated world, and the confidence to establish new relations to authority.
This volume brings together articles from The Quarterly Newsletter of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition. The selected articles are important benchmarks in the recent history of research and theory on the cultural and contextual foundations of human development. The central theme of this discussion can be posed as a question: How shall we develop a psychology that takes as its starting point the actions of people participating in routine, culturally organized activities? The discussion is organized in terms of a set of overarching themes of importance to psychologists and other social scientists: The nature of context; experiments as contexts; culture-historical theories of culture, context, and development; the analysis of classroom settings as a social important context of development; the psychological analysis of activity in situ; and questions of power and discourse. This text will appeal to graduate students and professionals in psychology, anthropology, education, and child development.
Most previous research on human cognition has focused on problem-solving, and has confined its investigations to the laboratory. As a result, it has been difficult to account for complex mental processes and their place in culture and history. In this startling – indeed, disco in forting – study, Jean Lave moves the analysis of one particular form of cognitive activity, – arithmetic problem-solving – out of the laboratory into the domain of everyday life. In so doing, she shows how mathematics in the ‘real world’, like all thinking, is shaped by the dynamic encounter between the culturally endowed mind and its total context, a subtle interaction that shapes 1) Both tile human subject and the world within which it acts. The study is focused on mundane daily, activities, such as grocery shopping for ‘best buys’ in the supermarket, dieting, and so on. Innovative in its method, fascinating in its findings, the research is above all significant in its theoretical contributions. Have offers a cogent critique of conventional cognitive theory, turning for an alternative to recent social theory, and weaving a compelling synthesis from elements of culture theory, theories of practice, and Marxist discourse. The result is a new way of understanding human thought processes, a vision of cognition as the dialectic between persons-acting, and the settings in which their activity is constituted. The book will appeal to anthropologists, for its novel theory of the relation of cognition to culture and context; to cognitive scientists and educational theorists; and to the ‘plain folks’ who form its subject, and who will recognize themselves in it, a rare accomplishment in the modern social sciences.
This paper reformulates some of the questions raised by extended mind theorists from an enactive, life/mind continuity perspective. Because of its reliance on concepts such as autopoiesis, the enactive approach has been deemed internalist and thus incompatible with the extended mind hypothesis. This paper answers this criticism by showing 1) that the relation between organism and cogniser is not one of co-extension, 2) that cognition is a relational phenomenon and thereby has no location, and 3) that the individuality of a cogniser is inevitably linked with the question of its autonomy, a question ignored by the extended mind hypothesis but for which the enactive approach proposes a precise, operational, albeit non-functionalist answer. The paper raises a pespective of embedded and intersecting forms of autonomous identity generation, some of which correspond to the canonical cases discussed in the extended mind literature, but on the whole of wider generality. In addressing these issues, this paper proposes unbiased, non-species specific definitions of cognition, agency and mediation, thus filling in gaps in the extended mind debates that have led to paradoxical situations and a problematic over-reliance on intutions about what counts as cognitive.
Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? The question invites two standard replies. Some accept the boundaries of skin and skull, and say that what is outside the body is outside the mind. Others are impressed by arguments suggesting that the meaning of our words “just ain’t in the head“, and hold that this externalism about meaning carries over into an externalism about mind. We propose to pursue a third position. We advocate a very different sort of externalism: an active externalism, based on the active role of the environment in driving cognitive processes.