From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at>
Date: Mon Apr 28 2008 - 13:13:04 PDT


I suppose that arguably the concept of a hammer will include a bit of use.
(Though it's interesting how many are declaring that they don't know what a
concept is!) But does that mean that the use of a hammer will include a bit
of concept?


On 4/28/08 2:36 PM, "Ed Wall" <> wrote:

> Martin
> Now I'm confused. You say 'use a hammer' and then 'not use the
> concept of a 'hammer."' I suspect I don't know what a 'concept' of a
> hammer is, but wouldn't it include a bit of use?
> Ed
> On Apr 28, 2008, at 12:18 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>> David, I'm confused. Are you saying it would be impossible for
>> someone to
>> use a hammer and not use the concept of "hammer"?
>> Martin
>> 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
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Received on Mon Apr 28 13:21 PDT 2008

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