Re: [xmca] perhaps. . . sensei

From: Paul Dillon (
Date: Thu Dec 21 2006 - 09:53:29 PST

  I don't think the idea of a "cultural systems" has a "theoretical construct" upon which all anthropologists agree (or any others who use the concept of culture) so I think the zpd and culture are about at the same level in this sense. I say this as a practicing anthropologist (ie, one actively involved the study of "culture", in my case Andean culture) which is also the field in which I have my advanced degrees.
  Like the zpd , "culture" can be looked at from a lot of perspectives. There are different schools of thought about it, there is no paradigm (in the Kuhnian sense) for "culture" or for "cultural systems" so the problem is just moved back one level when you use that concept to talk about the limitations of another one.
  Nevertheless, both culture and zoped are extremely useful concepts for a variety of practical and theoretical applications. Maybe the desire to have scientific concepts that resemble those of the natural sciences is just starting of on the wrong foot when dealing with the socio-cultural (and by implication psychological) level.
  Paul wrote:
As a metaphor Vygotsky's ZPD explains his thinking very well, as a

theoretical construct it does not have the capacity to be analyzed in a

manner that separates an individual's systems from the cultural systems

which are elucidating and canalizing an individual's developments,

subsequently Valsiner has dissected Vygotsky's ZPD into three zones that

not only explain human development more precisely but provide

methodological tools that allow researchers to discuss developmental

systems with more specific lucidity.

Valsiner separated Vygotsky's ZPD into three different zones that he

labeled the Zone of Free Movement (ZFM), the Zone of Promoted Action (ZPA)

and a much more specific Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). When I

introduced his "Process structure of semiotic mediation" paper a few months

back it did not meet with much support. I do not want to spend much time

discussing his more specific zone approach because that as well may not be

what people are interested in. If people are it is available in his book,

"Culture and the development of children's actions."


Paul Dillon> cc:
Sent by: Subject: Re: [xmca] perhaps. . . sensei
xmca-bounces who-is-at web

12/21/2006 10:33
Please respond
to "eXtended
Mind, Culture,


I wasn't denying that there are "logical matrices" within the individual
practices, only that the search for one overarching definition that would
encompass all of the practices might be trying to make a road that really
goes nowhere. But even within hospitals and other institutions there are
lots of different areas of practice ranging from the technical (eg surgery)
to the political (learning how, as a nurse, you need to relate to doctors
or administrators)

Paul wrote:

Paul Dillon wrote:

"Sensei, nothing more nor less than someone farther down the road, what's
the practice and what needs does it relate to? Looking for some absolute
concept of zoped seems pointless, trying to define it so that one could
identify it in any context on the basis of a Carnapian logical matrix,
impossible. The key I think is to look at the practice, identify its road
and see how far people are along that road and how they make that road
relevant to someone who might not even know the road is there. Expanding
is moving beyond the known roads into what was previously unknown."

I beleive on the ontogenetic level (learning/development) this is extremely
helpful, but on the phylogenetic level(personality/socialization)it misses
much of the cultural-historical emphasis. Engstrom's learning by expanding
emphasises broad cultural entities (hospitals and other work places). In
these settings there are logical matrixes/structures.

what do you think?

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