Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cole & Wertsch (1996) Where is the mind?

Cole, M. & Wertsch, J.V. Beyond the Individual-Social Antimony in Discussions of Piaget and Vygotsky. Human Development, 39: 250-256.

Mainstream View

Piagetans: individual childen construct knowledge through their actions in the world

Vygotskians: understanding is social in origin

In Piaget’s writing, he acknowledges the importance of the social world.

In Vygotsky’s work, he insisted on the centrality of active construction of knowledge.

Where is the mind located?

Because what we call mind works through artifacts, it cannot be unconditionlly bounded by the head or even by the body. Rather, it must be seen as distributed in the artifacts that are woven together and that weave together individual human actions in concert with and as part of the permeable, changing events of life.

The human environment is surrounded by the achievements of prior generations

Human artifacts include: language, various systems for counting; mnemonic techniques; algebraic symbol systems: works of art ; writing; schemes, diagrams, maps, mechanical drawings, all sorts of conventional signs, and so on.

Artifacts do not serve simply to facilitate mental processes that would otherwise exist. Instead, they fundamentally shape and transform them.

Higher functions are, by definition, cultrually mediated.

Artifacts are recognized as transforming mental functioning in fundamental ways.

[Note: human-computer interaction studies a human and a machine in conjunction; some believe that that developing artificial intelligences is a less fruitful direction than creating great human-computer systems]

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