Re: [xmca] sense and meaning

Date: Tue Jul 12 2005 - 10:41:21 PDT


It is my understanding that Vygotsky goes beyond merely stating that
meaning is tied to context by distinguishing between syncretic meaning
(that which comes from the senses) complex meaning (that which comes from
graphic/concrete everyday) and concept (that which is the abstraction of
the first two). Once a person then moves to the conceptual meaning of
words they are in a better position to be active in new ways.


                      Roth To:, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
                      <> <>
                      Sent by: cc:
                      xmca-bounces who-is-at web Subject: Re: [xmca] sense and meaning
                      07/11/2005 11:36
                      Please respond
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I think you can read Vygotsky, Il'enkov, Mikhailov, Heidegger, Marx all
in the same way as meaning being associated with practical
understanding, whole of activity, and generalized possibilities; sense
is personal, associated with the relation of action to activity, and a
concrete realization. Heidegger says that words do not HAVE meaning,
they ACCRUE to meaning; that is, as Marx, for Heidegger meaning
precedes sense, is associated with lived-in situations as a whole,
involving not just individuals but collectives. Meaning transcends
words--words, or rather utterances, have a sense in a particular
activity, and as all actions, have a different sense in a different

If you say "I haven't got time" to your colleague asking you whether
you want to write a review essay, this is one thing; it is a whole
different ball park when you say it to your teacher who is asking you
to finish some assignment, or something else of that nature. The sense
of the expression is a function of the activity. . .


On 11-Jul-05, at 8:36 AM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:

> I tried to work out the sense/meaning tangle a few years ago
> in a paper published in the AERA journal Review of
> Educational Research. I think it was 2001, the title "If
> meaning is constructed, what is it made from?: Toward a
> cultural theory of reading." I'm traveling now so don't have
> the ms. handy, but I can send it when I return home if I
> remember. Peter
> ---- Original message ----
>> Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 21:59:12 +0700
>> From: Phil Chappell <>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] sense and meaning
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
> <>, Mike Cole <>
>> I'm not sure I can offer much here, Mike, but in the vortex
> of voices,
>> I'd like to add what I understand. Whenever I am confronted
> with the
>> concepts "sense" and "meaning" I immediately attend to the
> notion of
>> thought and context. Being an English speaker and therefore
> only having
>> an approximation of the semantic differences between sense
> and meaning
>> in Vygotsky's writings (meaning (znachenie) and sense
> (smysl)), I ask
>> is "sense" the socio-personal history of the communicative
> use of a
>> lexical item applied to the immediate spheres of human
> activity; and is
>> meaning the most predictable use of the word across social
> contexts?
>> SFL uses a theory of congruency that has come under
> criticism for being
>> deterministic, however if understood within the the genetic
> approach
>> used not only by Vygotsky, but also by SFL'ers (for example
> Jim
>> Martin), it is seen as an informed approach to social
> semiotics - it
>> looks at actual uses of language to make judgements about
> language use
>> in human activity. Sense and meaning can take on much more
> critical
>> applications; for example "sense" - for LSV word meaning in
> the context
>> of speech - can be thought of dynamically in the context of
> ways that
>> people engage with texts and the ways that these
> communicative
>> activities influence the social positions of the
> interactants. Meaning
>> can be thought of as "most expected meanings" in terms of
> those taking
>> a more synoptic view.
>> Rough thoughts.
>> Phil
>> On 09/07/2005, at 9:56 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
>>> In reading the work of Halliday, Hasan, and Bernstein, I
> am unclear
>>> about whether their
>>> notions of meaning do or do not coincide with Vygotsky's.
> One form of
>>> this uncertainty is
>>> whether and how a distinction between sense and meaning,
> which is
>>> central to LSV's
>>> ideas about language and thought, are viewed from an SFL
> perspective.
>>> Perhaps its there
>>> and I am blinded by my own past history?
>>> mike_______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
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