[xmca] Water Into Wine

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Fri Sep 21 2007 - 19:59:11 PDT

About a year ago, Mike was reading Chapter One of Thinking and Speech with his class and they were discussing the example of the water molecule on p. 45 (Collected Works Vol. 1), which I said was from Mill. Sure enough, here's the original quote. But what a difference!
  "Men are not, when brought together, converted into another kind of substance, with different properties; as hydrogen and oxygen are different from water, or as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and azote are different from nerves, muscles, and tendons. Human beings in society have no properties but those which are derived from, and may be resolved into, the laws of the nature of individual man. In social phenomena the Composition of Causes is the universal law." Chapter 7: 1
  You can find the WHOLE thing here:
  You can see that Mill means exactly the opposite of what Vygotsky is trying to say; Mill thinks that societies really are reducible to individuals. It's all a bit like when LSV mangled Ribot and ended up with something much truer. My (ex-)grad student Yongho likes to say that LSV was peculiarly constructed so that his lips could not touch water without turning it into wine.
  A propos, a vexing question. On p. 235 of Educational Psychology, LSV says
  "...(E)very form of punishment is harmful, from the psychological point of view, and there is no place whatsoever for punishment in Soviet schools. The very idea of a child committing some misdeed always ponts to a defect in the educational process."
  And then a page later, he says:
  "Though rewards and punishments have to be banished from Soviet schools because of their harmful influence, it is nevertheless beyond question that some portion of their effect will have to be retained, for otherwise the nature of children's drives, which happen to be a powerful motivation of their deeds, will have to be made use of in the realm of education (?). This positive element (?) should be retained and manifest itself through the reversion or return of every one of a child's actions back to him in the form of the impressions of the effect it has on those around him."
  This makes no sense at all to me. Is it just a terrible translation? Can anyone turn it back into wine?

  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Fri Sep 21 20:01 PDT 2007

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