Re: [xmca] Karpov's Book

From: ignacio dalton <iedalton who-is-at>
Date: Sat Apr 12 2008 - 07:17:34 PDT

hi david, mike, and all
  seems interesting to learn more about this book.
  is there any chance to get it on internet ?
  ignacio dalton

David Kellogg <> wrote:
  Sorry, Mike--

I know, that last posting had all the complexity of Sun Wukong wandering through the garden of the Emperor of Heaven. I did indeed set out to comment on Karpov, but I got distracted by Eugene's golden peaches.

Yes, Karpov has the worst of both of the worlds Eugene describes as "cultural historical" and "sociocultural". On the one hand, he thinks the Stalinists correctly characterized LSV's position on the Uzbek peasantry, and on the other he appears to think that this is a pretty fair view of the cognitive abilities of the Uzbeks. I think LSV's real position was anticipating the emergence of a new culture and not applauding the imposition of a "Western" one.

Other problems with the Karpov book (The Neo-Vygotskyan Approach to Child Development):

a) A recapitulationist view of the relationship between cultural history and ontogeny (p. 19)

b) The claim that children acquire language 'only if adults "don't understand" nonverbal means of communciation that children try to use in the context of their object-centred joint activity and encourge children to use words." (p. 129). What possible evidence for such an assertion could ever exist? None!

c) The belief that object substitutions are also handed down from parent to child (e.g. the child riding a stick will think it is a stick until it is called a horse by an adult). Again, it's hard to imagine what could be construed as evidence for this. The evidence given does not go very far: an adult asks a child what he is cooking and the child answers, truthfully, sticks and rocks. (p. 133)

d) "Human progress, in general, occurs when every new generation appropriates the essence of knowledge accumulated by previous generations." (p. 185) This is a novel form of Zeno's paradox; it seems to rule out the possibility of human progress in principle.

e) No crisis. None! Even the adolescent crisis is brought on by the intransigence of parents (p. 212).

f) The attempt to integrate the genetically based notion of IQ advocated by Arthur Jensen with Vygotskyan thinking about cognitive development (pp. 236-238).

All of these points seem to add up to a very CONSERVATIVE view of development; one that is based on a model of cognitive development not far from cultural reproduction, and cultural reproduction curiously close to biological reproduction, a mysterious process that adults do and children undergo. When you transpose that picture to the "development" of Central Asia, it's not pretty. But for that very reason, I don't think that's what LSV or ARL could have had in mind.

And here I must confess an interest. I currently have two young Uzbek students, the sort of young people whose enculturation Luria might have been looking forward to (one Muslim and one of Korean heritage). I am finding them both kaleidoscopically enculturated, given to surprising juxtapositions of language and ideas at almost every turn of a conversation, and I wouldn't exactly characterize any of them as "Western".

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
xmca mailing list

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
xmca mailing list
Received on Sat Apr 12 07:19 PDT 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu May 01 2008 - 17:14:13 PDT