Below is my slideshow that I show at the beginning of the fall semester of 2013.
Welcome to my class!
keywords:applied linguistics, communicative language ability, critical applied linguistics, alternative approaches to SLA, EFL/ESL, TEFL/TESL, Exploratory Practice, Arendt, Luhmann, Wittgenstein, media ecology, neuroscience, philosophy, postmodernism, martial arts
In philosophy, the brain in a vat is an element used in a variety of thought experiments intended to draw out certain features of our ideas of knowledge, reality, truth, mind, and meaning. It is based on an idea, common to many science fiction stories, that a mad scientist, machine, or other entity might remove a person's brain from the body, suspend it in a vat of life-sustaining liquid, and connect its neurons by wires to a supercomputer which would provide it with electrical impulses identical to those the brain normally receives. According to such stories, the computer would then be simulating reality (including appropriate responses to the brain's own output) and the person with the "disembodied" brain would continue to have perfectly normal conscious experiences without these being related to objects or events in the real world.
The simplest use of brain-in-a-vat scenarios is as an argument for philosophical skepticism and solipsism. A simple version of this runs as follows: Since the brain in a vat gives and receives exactly the same impulses as it would if it were in a skull, and since these are its only way of interacting with its environment, then it is not possible to tell, from the perspective of that brain, whether it is in a skull or a vat. Yet in the first case most of the person's beliefs may be true (if they believe, say, that they are walking down the street, or eating ice-cream); in the latter case their beliefs are false. Since the argument says one cannot know whether one is a brain in a vat, then one cannot know whether most of one's beliefs might be completely false. Since, in principle, it is impossible to rule out oneself being a brain in a vat, there cannot be good grounds for believing any of the things one believes; a skeptical argument would contend that one certainly cannot know them, raising issues with the definition of knowledge.
The brain in a vat is a contemporary version of the argument given in Hindu Maya illusion, Plato's Allegory of the Cave, Zhuangzi's "Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly", and the evil demon in Rene Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy.
A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate and other species including birds. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.
Joint attention is the shared focus of two individuals on an object. It is achieved when one individual alerts another to an object by means of eye-gazing, pointing or other verbal or non-verbal indications. An individual gazes at another individual, points to an object and then returns their gaze to the individual. Scaife and Bruner were the first researchers to present a cross-sectional description of children's ability to follow eye gaze in 1975. They found that most eight- to ten-month-old children followed a line of regard, and that all 11- to 14-month-old children did so. This early research showed it was possible for an adult to bring certain objects in the environment to an infant's attention using eye gaze.
Subsequent research demonstrates that two important skills in joint attention are following eye gaze and identifying intention. The ability to share gaze with another individual is an important skill in establishing reference. The ability to identify intention is important in a child's ability to learn language and direct the attention of others. Joint attention is important for many aspects of language development including comprehension, production and word learning. Episodes of joint attention provide children with information about their environment, allowing individuals to establish reference from spoken language and learn words. Socio-emotional development and the ability to take part in normal relationships are also influenced by joint attention abilities. The ability to establish joint attention may be negatively affected by deafness, blindness, and developmental disorders such as autism.
Other animals such as great apes, orangutans, chimpanzees, dogs, and horses also show some elements of joint attention.
Charles Goodwin (2000)
Action and embodiment within situated human interaction
Journal of Pragmatics
Volume 32, Issue 10, September 2000, Pages 1489-1522
A theory of action must come to terms with both the details of language use and the way in which the social, cultural, material and sequential structure of the environment where action occurs figure into its organization. In this paper it will be suggested that a primordial site for the analysis of human language, cognition, and action consists of a situation in which multiple participants are attempting to carry out courses of action in concert with each other through talk while attending to both the larger activities that their current actions are embedded within, and relevant phenomena in their surround. Using as data video recordings of young girls playing hopscotch and archaeologists classifying color, it will be argued that human action is built through the simultaneous deployment of a range of quite different kinds of semiotic resources. Talk itself contains multiple sign systems with alternative properties. Strips of talk gain their power as social action via their placement within larger sequential structures, encompassing activities, and participation frameworks constituted through displays of mutual orientation made by the actors' bodies. The body is used in a quite different way to perform gesture, again a class of phenomena that encompasses structurally different types of sign systems. Both talk and gesture can index, construe or treat as irrelevant, entities in the participants' surround. Moreover, material structure in the surround, such as graphic fields of various types, can provide semiotic structure without which the constitution of particular kinds of action being invoked through talk would be impossible. In brief it will be argued that the construction of action through talk within situated interaction is accomplished through the temporally unfolding juxtaposition of quite different kinds of semiotic resources, and that moreover through this process the human body is made publicly visible as the site for a range of structurally different kinds of displays implicated in the constitution of the actions of the moment.
(1) learning becomes dynamic adaptivity to -- or alignment with -- the environment;
(2) if cognition extends into the world, then so must learning;
(3) learning primarily involves the thickening of mind-world relations rather than their progressive attenuation;
(4) learning enables action in, more than (abstract) knowledge of, the world; and
(5) we learn through environmental action.
A key sociocognitive claim is that we learn as we live -- that learning and being are integrated processes. As we continuously adapt to our environments, something of that adaptation is retained -- that is, we learn by experience. If this point seems too obvious to mention, then why does mainstream learning theory, including in SLA studies, insist on separating acquisition from use? (p. 149)
The most sociocognitively promising noncomputational learning research to date is anthropological. This research suggests that learning is not so much extraction of meaning from the environment as increasing (and increasingly meaning-full) participation in it. (p. 150)
A crucial point here is that learning/teaching/understanding takes place in the world: It is publicly enacted and publicly available. Far from being locked away in cognitive space, learning is effected in the hybrid, partly public forum of sociocognition. (p. 151)
Q: What do you think of the following emphases of sociocognitive approach?
1. Emphasis on particularity
2. Emphasis on process
3. Emphasis on holism, integrativeness, and relationality
4. Emphasis on variation
5. Emphasis on concrete experience and performance
6. Emphasis on extended cognition
7. Emphasis on action as inter-action
Discursive psychology (DP) is a form of discourse analysis that focuses on psychological themes.
Discursive psychology starts with psychological phenomena as things that are constructed, attended to, and understood in interaction. An evaluation, say, may be constructed using particular phrases and idioms, responded to by the recipient (as a compliment perhaps) and treated as the expression of a strong position. In discursive psychology the focus is not on psychological matters somehow leaking out into interaction; rather interaction is the primary site where psychological issues are live.
It is philosophically opposed to more traditional cognitivist approaches to language. It uses studies of naturally occurring conversation to critique the way that topics have been conceptualised and treated in psychology.
Discursive psychology was developed in the 1990s by Jonathan Potter and Derek Edwards at Loughborough University. It draws on the philosophy of mind of Ryle and the later Wittgenstein, the rhetorical approach of Michael Billig, the ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel and the conversation analysis of Harvey Sacks.
Discursive psychology conducts studies of both naturally occurring and experimentally engineered human interaction that offer new ways of understanding topics in social and cognitive psychology such as memory and attitudes. Although discursive psychology subscribes to a different view of human mentality than is advanced by mainstream psychology, Edwards and Potter's work was originally motivated by their dissatisfaction with how psychology had treated discourse. In many psychological studies, the things people (subjects) say are treated as windows (with varying degrees of opacity) into their minds. Talk is seen as (and in experimental psychology and protocol analysis used as) descriptions of people's mental content. In contrast, discursive psychology treats talk as social action; that is, we say what we do as a means of, and in the course of, doing things in a socially meaningful world. Thus, the questions that it makes sense to ask also change.
On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just One
Anna Sfard, teaches mathematics education as a member of the Faculty of Education
EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER March 1998 vol. 27 no. 2 4-13
This article is a sequel to the conversation on learning initiated by the editors of Educational Researcher in volume 25, number 4. The author’s first aim is to elicit the metaphors for learning that guide our work as learners, teachers, and researchers. Two such metaphors are identified: the acquisition metaphor and the participation metaphor. Subsequently, their entailments are discussed and evaluated. Although some of the implications are deemed desirable and others are regarded as harmful, the article neither speaks against a particular metaphor nor tries to make a case for the other. Rather, these interpretations and applications of the metaphors undergo critical evaluation. In the end, the question of theoretical unification of the research on learning is addressed, wherein the purpose is to show how too great a devotion to one particular metaphor can lead to theoretical distortions and to undesirable practices.
In philosophy, the embodied mind thesis holds that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body. Philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and artificial intelligence researchers who study embodied cognition and the embodied mind argue that all aspects of cognition are shaped by aspects of the body. The aspects of cognition include high level mental constructs (such as concepts and categories) and human performance on various cognitive tasks (such as reasoning or judgement). The aspects of the body include the motor system, the perceptual system, the body's interactions with the environment (situatedness) and the ontological assumptions about the world that are built into the body and the brain.
The embodied mind thesis is opposed to other theories of cognition such as cognitivism, computationalism, and Cartesian dualism. The idea has roots in Kant and 20th century continental philosophy (such as Merleau-Ponty). The modern version depends on insights drawn from recent research in psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, dynamical systems, artificial intelligence, robotics and neurobiology.
Embodied cognition is a topic of research in social and cognitive psychology, covering issues such as social interaction and decision-making. Embodied cognition reflects the argument that the motor system influences our cognition, just as the mind influences bodily actions. For example, when participants hold a pencil in their teeth engaging the muscles of a smile, they comprehend pleasant sentences faster than unpleasant ones. And it works in reverse: holding a pencil in their teeth to engage the muscles of a frown increases the time it takes to comprehend pleasant sentences.
George Lakoff (a cognitive scientist and linguist) and his collaborators (including Mark Johnson, Mark Turner, and Rafael E. Nunez) have written a series of books promoting and expanding the thesis based on discoveries in cognitive science, such as conceptual metaphor and image schema.
Robotics researchers such as Rodney Brooks, Hans Moravec and Rolf Pfeifer have argued that true artificial intelligence can only be achieved by machines that have sensory and motor skills and are connected to the world through a body. The insights of these robotics researchers have in turn inspired philosophers like Andy Clark and Horst Hendriks-Jansen.
Neuroscientists Gerald Edelman, Antonio Damasio and others have outlined the connection between the body, individual structures in the brain and aspects of the mind such as consciousness, emotion, self-awareness and will. Biology has also inspired Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Eleanor Rosch and Evan Thompson to develop a closely related version of the idea, which they call enactivism. The motor theory of speech perception proposed by Alvin Liberman and colleagues at the Haskins Laboratories argues that the identification of words is embodied in perception of the bodily movements by which spoken words are made.
Commensurability (contrast with incommensurability) is a concept in the philosophy of science. Scientific theories are described as commensurable if one can compare them to determine which is more accurate; if theories are incommensurable, there is no way in which one can compare them to each other in order to determine which is more accurate.