Re: intersubjectivity
Thu, 17 Apr 1997 14:38:30 EST

Tim Connor writes:

>When I think of dialectic in PCP, I'm thinking principally of a dialectic
>between construction and action. I must construe the world in order to
>act, and I must act in order to construe

Very interesting stuff. When I read this, my response was: But isn't
construing a type of activity? Or at least a part of activity? What would
construing be if it were not a type of activity? At the very least
constructions -- symbolic or presymbolic -- are rooted in individual and
sociocultural action, no?

But then Tim wrote:

>So the question becomes "how do I symbolize my construing in such a way as
>to make it public and have others construe those symbols in such a way
>that we can construe events similarly?" Geertz's answer is that thought
>is primarily external--the public manipulation of symbols is the medium in
>which we learn to think, the internal, private manipulation of symbols a
>secondary, derived capability. I think this is correct, but I haven't
>fully worked out how it fits with PCP (given that construing is
>presymbolic). Something like this, though: construing takes place in
>action, not in the private formulation of hypotheses to be tested in
>action (the personal scientist metaphor has its limits); humans have
>evolved the capacity to symbolize constructs (and elements), and so to
>build models of our construing which we can manipulate and modify in a
>social process, and then internalize to modify the structure of our

I agree... But,

> While construing itself is presymbolic, it is the ability to
>model our constructions that gives us the flexibility to explore
>alternative constructions and so coordinate our adaptive social processes
>without having to rely on biological evolution. Culture then is both a
>medium through which we interact and one which structures our own
>processes--it's both inside and outside us, interpenetrating all human
>systems and breaking down the organizational closure that characterizes
>purely biological systems.

But to say that construing itself is presybolic almost invokes a kind of
shadow mind that exists behind symbols -- and symbols are just kind of
an addition, a medium, but something beyond symbols does the real work.
But we think through our symbols, we construe through our symbols, and
our symbolic transformations are often socially constituted.

I think that Kelly's theory has a hard time dealing with symbolic and
cultural aspects of functioning; there is a tendency to priviledge
some more "internal" or "presymbolic" process. I think all thinking
and constructing is a form of activity; symbols transform that activity.

This is a wonderful line of discussion; I hope it continues...

Mike Mascolo