From: Peter Moxhay <moxhap who-is-at>
Date: Mon Apr 28 2008 - 06:23:41 PDT


I agree with you on the difficulty of adequately both translating
ponyatie (Begriff) and predstavlenie (Vorstellung). I make the following
choices based on struggling to correlate the pretty-good existing
translations of Ilyenkov with what I've seen some of the more recent
translations of Kant and Hegel, plus trying to avoid a conflict with how
some terms are used in the educational literature:

ponyatie (Begriff) = "concept" (rather than "notion," which was used
early on in translations to Hegel but sounds vague); I think this is now
a pretty clear choice

predstavlenie (Vorstellung) = "conception" (rather than
"representation," which would be good but has a special use, for
example, in mathematics education); this is a somewhat risky choice but
was used successfully, I think, in some translations of Ilyenkov. It
conveys something less strong than "concept," though it is unfortunate
that in English it's based on the same root as the latter.

The big problem, of course, is the lack of discussion of this
distinction in the psychological or educational literature in English.
It's just not in our toolkit. As you know, there is a very rich
discussion of this in the Soviet philosophical literature, most of which
is unfortunately inaccessible to the non-Russian reader. Ilyenkov and
Davydov have good discussions, of course, but even their writing may not
be so accessible to readers who don't have prior knowledge of activity
theory or dialectical logic. A good treatment of this distinction in
English, for the general reader, remains to be written.


[Sasha wrote:]

Explaining all this I meet a great difficultness with the lack of proper
English terminology (or, probably, my poor knowledge of English). In
and in Russian there is a clear distinction between two notions, and two
terms: Begriff = pon¹atie, and Vorstellung = predstavlenije.
The highest form in development of thinking is obviously pon¹atie
And in the same time it is the universal form of thinking. While
predstavlenije (Vorstellung) is subordinated notion. The obscheje
predstavlenije is understood in dialectical culture as a meaning of
like something that enables us to distinguish among the known and fixed
the matter of language culture objects. But one can have predsatavlenije
without having understanding of the essence of the object.
Thus the brilliant illustration of such divergence of two forms of
(Predstavlenija and Pon¹atia) are so called ³artificial notions² from
Vygotsky-Sakharov¹s experiments, as well as many similar constructions
psychological theory. The artificial notion is an empty notion, which is
something that cannot be understood not because their utmost complexity
because their utmost vacancy. Logically as ³artifcial notion² we have an
evident example of general definition (obshchego predstavlenija), not
understanding (ne pon¹atie). So it corresponds not with dialectic logic
in its Hegel and Marxist form, but with formal logic, with logic of John
And this distinction is not something academically formal but the core
distinction for dialectically thinking researcher. Thus Davydov based
his theory of developmental instruction just on this distinction. (I¹m
to ask Peter Moxhay - the translator of Davidov¹s latest book - how he
the problem with insufficiency of English terminology in this case.)
 As for the idea of ³thinking body² it is equal to basically new and in
same time genuine Marxist and Spinozian idea of thinking as not banal
manipulation with words and other conventional signs, but as a special
of acting of one (active or ³thinking² body) according to the shape of
other body, taken in the moment of its live realization.
All this was fundamentally explored in Ilyenkov¹s works and I agree with
that the joint rereading of this works would be extremely useful for all
us as a step to rethinking the traditional understanding of CHAT.
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Received on Mon Apr 28 07:30 PDT 2008

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