Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tom Bartlett On "SFL Refusing To Talk Of The Mind"

On 18 November 2011 at 02:10 on Sysfling Tom Bartlett wrote:
Despite its determination not to discuss "the mind", SFL draws on much social psychology and if we view the mind as the socialised brain there should be no problem with referring to the mind in SFL. Without the mind we can't understand genres or codes - yes, they're social constructs, but where are they stored? Saying "in the collectivity" just dodges the bullet. It wasn't for nothing that Vygotsky talked of "The Mind in Society".
I think that in refusing to talk of the mind SFL is partly responsible for ceding the field of psycholinguistics to the Chomskian dualist/innatist paradim, despite having a viable alternative.

Blogger Comment:

Here are some examples of "SFL" discussing the mind.

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 565):
… we are offering the ideation base as a conceptual alternative [to] the mindknowledge, cognition … the concerns of cognitive science.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 590):
The spatial metaphor of the commonsense model is taken over by cognitive science. It serves as the sources of processes in their model of the mind — processes of storing, searching, retrieving etc within figures of doing & happening and processes of being located at/in within figures of being & having. That is, processes of sensing are reified, and processes of doing & happening and of being & having take their place. The spatial metaphor also opens up the way for modelling the mind along computational lines: human memory can be modelled on computer memory.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 594):
… the object of study of cognitive [science] is constructed by ideational metaphor, as reified sensing (perceiving, thinking) or as the names of sensing (the mind, mental phenomena).
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 595):
Since it is not taken over as theory, the fundamental insights of the folk theory are ignored: figures of “Sensers sensing (that …)” are re-construed through grammatical metaphor as participants. In particular, the domain of sensing is reified as the “mind”, so that instead of somebody perceiving things happening, or somebody thinking that the moon was a balloon, the model of cognitive science has perception, vision, cognition, learning, memory …
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 595-6): 
Since figures of sensing are reified as participants, they can themselves be construed in participant rôles. Here another feature of the folk model is taken over: its spatial metaphor is retained and further elaborated. Thus the mind is construed as a space where the metaphorical participants of sensing are involved in processes of doing & happening and of being & having: thoughts, concepts, memories, images are stored located, retrieved, activated and so on.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 599):
In a way … material reinterpretation [psychology] and ‘unconsciousness’ [psychoanalysis] are opposites: the first reconstrues sensing in terms that are more readily observable by scientific method (ie method other than introspection), while the other introduces a factor that is even less readily observable than conscious sensing: unconscious motivation. But they share the characteristic that they construct the ‘mind’ as remote from our everyday experience with sensing. At the same time the ‘scientific’ models of the mind fail to extend consciousness in the way it is extended by the grammar of English.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 599, 600):
There are, in fact, two complementary perspectives embodied in the semantic and grammatical systems of English; and together they point towards an alternative interpretation both of ‘information’ as constructed in cognitive science and of the individualised ‘mind’ that is its object of study. … [These are] the construal of processes other than the mental (saying and symbolising), and that of meaning as enacting as well as meaning as construing.
 Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603):
… the concept of ‘mind’ should be brought into close relation with other phenomena — biological, social, or semiotic. … But once this has been done, the mind itself tends to disappearit is no longer necessary as a construct sui generis. Instead of experience being construed by the mind, in the form of knowledge, we can say that experience is construed by the grammar; to ‘know’ something is to have transformed some portion of experience into meaning. To adopt this perspective is to theorise “cognitive processes” in terms of semiotic, social and biological systems; and thus to see them as a natural concomitant of the processes of evolution.
See the discussions here.

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