From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at>
Date: Mon Apr 28 2008 - 09:18:45 PDT

David, I'm confused. Are you saying it would be impossible for someone to
use a hammer and not use the concept of "hammer"?


On 4/28/08 7:25 AM, "David Kellogg" <> wrote:

> I don't understand, Elinami. How is it possible to be a language user and NOT
> use concepts like "subject", "verb", "speaker", "grammar" etc.? Even if you
> say that concept use has to be conscious, isn't the self itself a concept?
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> Elinami Swai <> wrote:
> I cannot resist Andy, who are these tribal people?
> Elinami.
> On 4/27/08, Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Sasha,
>> I just wanted to probe you little on this question of concept (Begriff) vs
>> "abstract general" (or complex or "representation", etc).
>> It seems to me that all of us, unless we have a psychiatric problem or brain
>> damage or something serious, by the time we become adults operate with
>> concepts. I notice that most theorists do not understand well what a concept
>> is and even the average Nobel Prize Winner cannot distinguish clearly
>> between an abstract general notion and a genuine concept. But nonetheless we
>> all use genuine concepts. Difficulty in theoretically making this
>> distinction explicit is a matter really of whether you have been exposed to
>> Hegelian ideas or Marx, Vygotsky, or other philosophy which incorporates
>> these insights. Tribal people for example, just as much as Logical
>> Positivist philosophers, use concepts. Is that your understanding as well?
>> Andy
>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>> ------ Forwarded Message
>>> From: Alexander Surmava
>>> Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 13:01:03 +0400
>>> To: 'Martin Packer'
>>> Cc: Mike Cole
>>> Subject: RE: Life, psyche, consciousness.doc
>>> Dear Martin,
>>> You write:
>>> To my reading, Ilyenkov's concept of ideality, based on the notion of the
>>> thinking-body, is not the same as suggesting that artifacts have a
>> cultural
>>> meaning. To me, this risks reintroducing a dualism between matter and
>>> meaning. It is a short step, to my view mistaken, to the belief that the
>>> natural sciences study matter, while the social sciences study meaning. It
>>> also leads one to think that each artifact has a single meaning. Sasha,
>> when
>>> you said that the child really understands "the meaning" of the knife, I'm
>>> sure you would agree that a child cannot grasp the complexity of the
>>> relations that a single artifact like a knife has with society as a whole.
>>> Nor can a peasant understand the full complexity of the social world in
>>> which they are living, even though they have great practical wisdom.
>>> I entirely share your idea that ³Ilyenkov's concept of ideality, based on
>>> the notion of the thinking-body, is not the same as suggesting that
>>> artifacts have a cultural meaning? The latter is something banal and
>>> doesnıt need the first. No one of semiotics will disagree with the
>> statement
>>> that each artifact has some ³cultural meaning? while all of them have
>>> hardly ever heard the very concept of ³thinking body?and evidently donıt
>>> need in this notion.
>>> As well we never declare something like the statement ³that the natural
>>> sciences study matter, while the social sciences study meaning?
>>> As for a child with a knife we do insist that to have a real
>> understanding,
>>> real idea of knife a child needs only to be taught by adult how to use it
>> in
>>> historically developed cultural manner. The knife is a tool which helps
>>> humans to cut something and a child who practically grasps this mode of
>>> operation and adequately utilizes the knife has a valid idea of knife. All
>>> complexities ³of the relations that a single artifact like a knife has
>> with
>>> society as a whole?can add nothing to this plain fact. The role of
>> society
>>> consists in elaborating the artifact and in teaching new generations the
>> way
>>> to utilize it.
>>> The knife is something basically simple. The absolute majority of mankind,
>>> those who use knifes in their everyday life needs and have only practical
>>> notion of knives. On the contrary something that pretends to be a
>>> ³scientific notion?of knife is something ridiculous and scholastic.
>>> In exactly the same way illiterate, but experienced peasant has real,
>>> practical notion say of melon, while a schoolboy with all his ³scientific
>>> definitions?is far from real comprehension of it. He can successfully eat
>>> melon but he hardly can plant it. And here just as in previous case ³the
>>> full complexity of the social world in which they are living?has nothing
>> to
>>> do with the idea of melon.
>>> Surely there are objects which canıt be grasped practically by a single
>>> person. Thus for example an idea of agriculture as a socially and
>>> historically developed system of relations which combines individual
>> forces
>>> of people over the cooperative process of production and distribution
>> canıt be realized in abstract practical manner. Such attempts can be
>> resulted in a
>>> way similar to famous fable about three blind and an elephant.
>>> The same we can say about such an object as atom or nuclear particle. A
>>> single person never deals practically with such objects. Only a
>> theoretical
>>> culture ?which is essentially a special type of cooperative practice
>>> ?lt;br>> can
>>> grasp the notion of such objects.
>>> Explaining all this I meet a great difficultness with the lack of proper
>>> English terminology (or, probably, my poor knowledge of English). In
>> German
>>> and in Russian there is a clear distinction between two notions, and two
>>> terms: Begriff = ponıatie, and Vorstellung = predstavlenije.
>>> The highest form in development of thinking is obviously ponıatie
>> (Begriff).
>>> And in the same time it is the universal form of thinking. While
>>> predstavlenije (Vorstellung) is subordinated notion. The obscheje
>> (general)
>>> predstavlenije is understood in dialectical culture as a meaning of word,
>>> like something that enables us to distinguish among the known and fixed in
>>> 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
>> thinking
>>> (Predstavlenija and Ponıatia) are so called ³artificial notions?from
>>> Vygotsky-Sakharovıs experiments, as well as many similar constructions
>> from
>>> psychological theory. The artificial notion is an empty notion, which is
>>> something that cannot be understood not because their utmost complexity
>> but
>>> because their utmost vacancy. Logically as ³artifcial notion?we have an
>>> evident example of general definition (obshchego predstavlenija), not
>>> understanding (ne ponıatie). So it corresponds not with dialectic logic
>> both
>>> in its Hegel and Marxist form, but with formal logic, with logic of John
>>> Locke.
>>> And this distinction is not something academically formal but the core
>>> distinction for dialectically thinking researcher. Thus Davydov based all
>>> his theory of developmental instruction just on this distinction. (Iım
>> going
>>> to ask Peter Moxhay ?the translator of Davidovıs latest book - how he
>> cope
>>> the problem with insufficiency of English terminology in this case.)
>>> As for the idea of ³thinking body?it is equal to basically new and in
>> the
>>> same time genuine Marxist and Spinozian idea of thinking as not banal
>>> manipulation with words and other conventional signs, but as a special way
>>> of acting of one (active or ³thinking?body) according to the shape of the
>>> other body, taken in the moment of its live realization.
>>> All this was fundamentally explored in Ilyenkovıs works and I agree with
>> you
>>> that the joint rereading of this works would be extremely useful for all
>> of
>>> us as a step to rethinking the traditional understanding of CHAT.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> Sasha
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> --
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list

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Received on Mon Apr 28 09:20 PDT 2008

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