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Re: Re2: [xmca] Vygotsky's Plural Discourse!!
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- Subject: Re: Re2: [xmca] Vygotsky's Plural Discourse!!
- From: David Kellogg <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2009 19:22:46 -0800 (PST)
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Thanks, Jussi. I have three comments too, but they all fall under the heading of the first comment you made.
1) We are busily translating Thinking and Speech into Korean, and we have two major problems: we do not have any working command of the Russian language (although we do manage to look up a lot of Russian words), and there is, as van der Veer says, no really RELIABLE English translation. Just to use a very recent example, Minick, which is the best extant translation, omits the reference to ADOLESCENCE at the end of the first paragraph on the very top of p. 236. We are "triangulating" (quadrangulating?) the French, Italian, English, and Japanese translations to make up for this. It's slow, but like Italian cooking, well worth the wait.
2) I agree that Vygotsky took the (only apparently) paradoxical position that they should avoid using the label Marxist for their psychology but should accept it when used by others. I don't think that Vygotsky's desire to avoid the term "Marxist" was only caused by his distaste for official Marxism, although that was undoubtedly a factor. Lenin too used the term "social democrat" until it was thoroughly discredited in the first world war, and only then said "it was time to put on a clean shirt". I think there were two other reasons as well. First of all, he really thought that a "Marxist" psychology was a little like a Darwinian view of sociocultural history (as opposed to a Marxist one): we need to work out a method that is specific to our own domain as well as consistent with methods that our great predecessors used on their own domains. Secondly, he always DID believe that language was practical consciousness, and a label is real for OTHERS
before it is real for MYSELF!
3) It seems to me that those who reject semiosis as the key principle by which the ontogenesis of consciousness is to be explained (for example, those who prefer to dissolve the processes that are specific to semiosis in a much more general notion such as object oriented activity) have two major problems. First of all, Vygotsky very clearly says that object orientation, which is the defining characteristic of Leontiev's "activity", is not enough to explain human labor, or the difference between the way in which children and adults tackle the same experimental task, or even the trajectory of a cannonball (Thinking and Speech, p. 132). Secondly, their argument really DEPENDS on not seeing a qualitative difference between mediation using tools and mediation using signs (because after all it's object orientation that is key, not the mediational means). But of course Mescheryakov's third genetic law (in his 2007 esay in the Cambridge Companion, p. 160)
is all about the transition from external tool-mediated functioning to internal sign-mediated functioning. If tools and signs are equivalent, why is this law even necessary?
Seoul National University of Education
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