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Re: [xmca] Visual Thinking?
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Visual Thinking?
- From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2009 22:51:25 -0500
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The best way I can try to express how I think that Vygotsky thought of
pseudo-concepts is to use a pseudoconcept that we all use in everyday
life -- even though we could use a real concept instead.
Here is the example:
What is tomato? A fruit or a vegetable.
If you use conceptual thinking -- it is a fruit -- based on a
systematic definition of fruits (as a part of a plant, its ovary full
of seeds), while "vegetables" are plants themselves.
But would you put a tomato in a Fruit Salad?? I guess, no! Tomatoes
are vegetables when it comes to our culinary thinking -- which is a
remnant of copmlexes -- a pseudoconcept at best.
If you classify a tomato into vegetables -- you are using CONCRETE,
PERCEPTUAL (in this example -taste) and culturally-historically
inherited classification -- whether strictly conceptually right or
wrong is immaterial. This is what happens to children (according to
Vygotsky) : their "word meanings are not developing freely,
spontaneously, directed by the child her/him-self; but rather they
develop through paths directed by the ways that are established in
the speech of the adults." (This is now my free translation from the
translation into Serbo-Croatian, which is usually also very similar to
That is I think what Vygotsky meant. The principles of organizing
meanings lead by the predefined inherited language usage ("of the
adults"), might be supported by very concrete, perceptual traits of
objects -- and that is a pseudo-concept. It is rigid and not "free" --
and the child (and the adult who uses it when s/he classifies tomato
into vegetables) cannot usually "explain" this meaning in the same way
as a true concept can be explained.
Hope it helps
Dr. Ana Marjanovic-Shane
On Feb 8, 2009, at 10:22 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
Can I have a little bit of help from some of the Russophones on the
list (Anton, Mike, Achilles)?
At the end of section 9 in Chapter Five, Vygotsky is telling us
about the difference between a pseudoconcept and a real concept.
Prout, translating this in the Vygotsky Reader, renders it thus:
"This type of complex and this form of visual thinking dominate a
child 's real thinking both from the functional and from the genetic
point of view."
Seve claims that he writes this:
"Ce type de complexe, cette forme de pense/e intuitive (sic) joue un
ro^le pre/dominant dans la pense/e re/elle de l'enfant tant par sa
fonction que sous le rapport ge/ne/tique. (This type of complex,
this type of intuitive (???) thinking plays a predominant role in
the real thinking of the child as much by its function as by its
"Intuitive"? That can't be right. Let's try the Italian. Meccaci,
who almost always sticks RELIGIOUSLY to Vygotsky's actual paragraph
breaks, in this one case breaks his rule and adds a sentence from
the previous paragraph to begin the paragraph, and comes up with:
"Egli ha costruito un complesso associativo limitato; e` arrivato
allo stesso punto, ma allo stesso tempo ci e` arrivato un'altra via.
(The child has constructed a limited associative complex; arriving
at the same point at the same pace but by another road) Questo tipo
di complesso, questa forma di pensiero concreto ha un ruolo
predominante nel pensiero reale del bambino sia sotto l'aspetto
funzionale che quello genetico (This type of complex, this form of
concrete thinking has a predominant role in the real thinkign of the
child in its functional as well as in its genetic aspect)"
"Concrete"? Hmmm...Well, what Vygotsky's REALLY got is this: Форма
So that's literally "form visual of thinking". But it seems to me
that what is really going on here, what threw Seve (who as van der
Veer says is normally quite scrupulous) is that Vygotsky means
something like APPERCEPTIVE, practical, actual, factual.
It's easier for me to understand how the pseudoconcept is different
from the DIFFUSE complex than how it is different from the true
concept. The diffuse complex has a trait at its centre (rather than
a concrete object with all its different traits), but that trait
varies in an unbounded fasion, as if it were a chain of things
rather than an abstract trait: yellow, then yellow-green, then
yellow-green-blue, then yellow-green-blue-black.
With the pseudoconcept there are LIMITS and BOUNDARIES to that
variation, but these LIMITS are factual, concrete, apperceptive
limits rather than general, abstract, conceptual ones. So for
example with a pseudoconcept we can actually see the child picking
up the yellow triangle and physically comparing it to the green one,
or matching the sides of a triangle to those of a trapezoid.
Am I on the right track? Is "visual thinking" really a kind of
Seoul National University of Education
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