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RE: [xmca] Visual Thinking?

Dear David

If you were to be asking me your question "Is "visual thinking" really a
kind of practical intelligence?", I would say, in re my experience with the
blocks, "Yes, because of the two ways."  I think visual thinking is a
transitional vehicle between things and ideas.

So, to the first... "Yes" in terms of the function of this type of thinking,
because the connections that are being made are concrete and factual rather
than abstract and logical; they are based, in terms of the blocks, for
example, on what is perceptually gained (red blocks, big blocks, triangle
blocks) and not as a result of abstracting an abstract characteristic
(colour, size, shape).  And I wouldn't have a "saak" (Afrikaans "objection",
"case (against)") with this type of connecting also being Seve's "intuitive"
because the old forms co-exist with the newer ones as in geological layers
and so guessing could still be part of the repertoire (apperceptive, as you
point out).  

And the next "Yes" is the genetic form: and that is, from what I understand
it to be, the developmental form.  "Developmental" in children's development
and "developmental" in the strategies of adult thinking in dealing with both
the unknown and the intensely familiar.  It is developmental in the case of
children because they are learning to acquire "a system"; they are learning
how to abstract and to generalise and how to do this consistently, and the
nature of their development is changing.  It is developmental too, in the
case of adult thinking, because we are either working out which are the
essential rather than the functional characteristics which need to inform
the system, or because we are using short-hand because although Ana's
tomatoes ARE fruits, in our day-to-day terms they are vegetables.  It is
developmental because adults (generally) can and children are learning how.

Also, David, your analysis here of diffuse complexes and pseudoconcepts in
terms of limits greatly appeals to me: I tend to view diffuse complexes as
heaps of ideas in similar vein to syncretic representations being heaps of
things.  Vygotsky is so lyrical about diffuse complexes - do you remember:  

"Like a biblical tribe that longed to multiply until it became countless
like the stars in the sky or the sands of the sea, so a diffuse complex in
the child's mind is a kind of family that has limitless powers to expand by
adding more and more individuals to the original group" ('86, p. 118).  

In my study, the elaborate and increasingly sophisticated diffuse complexes
of the eleven-year-olds and the adolescents were remarkable in the variety
of ideas being advanced - and all of these were an interesting combination
of thinking about things and then looking at them again, and coming up with,
as you say, almost limitless suggestions.  The diffuse complexes that I
encountered seemed to be a strange mixture of the functional, factual stuff
combined with the "ideas" stuff, without any specific hierarchy or
consistency, as if the subjects were trying on ideas for size and running
away with the fun it.  

And then both the functional and the genetic come together because all of
this diffuse idea-advancing activity is pseudoconceptual: because what's
needed to get from these many-splendored ideas to a true conceptual grasp of
what cev, bik, mur, and lag mean is the ability (or insider knowledge) to
give consistent hierarchical prominence to some characteristics rather than
others, and to elevate these as a principle, an extrapolation, rather than a
collection of ideas.  And then there's what excites me most about your
posting: inviting us to consider the implications of "form visual of
thinking" that makes it far more than a question of translation:  Is there
the possibility that visualisation (extrapolation, the synoptic view, the
ability to entertain ideas in your head and not count on your fingers)
exists in precursor form as "form visual of thinking"?  

David, do you think I am mixing up apples and oranges here, and coming up
with fruit salad as a result?  Am I making a form of Ana's tomato salad
because my approach is pseudoconceptual?

Best regards
Ps - apropos this discussion on visualization, I have some ideas about
imagination and curiosity but maybe we could talk about these off-line?? 

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of David Kellogg
Sent: 09 February 2009 05:22 AM
To: xmca
Subject: [xmca] Visual Thinking?

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 genetic relations.)"
"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
наглядного мышления.
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 practical
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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