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Re: [xmca] Visual Thinking?

David-- The Russian word, naglyadno, has been a thorn in my side for many
decades and it won't go away. It is there, for example, in the work by Luria
in Central Asia where he talks about naglyadno-funktsionalnoe thought which
the translator of his book on that work translated as graphic-functional but
also talks in various terms that imply that thinking is closely
interconnected to the immediate practical experience of the person. In
recent work with Russian
colleagues, continuing our discussion about how to interpret the
cross-cultural work of Luria, Tulviste and others in the Russian tradition,
it was pointed out that he also used the term "sympractic" which again
points to a form of thinking/activity which is very situation bound and
where language and action are poorly differentiated. He characterizes the
private language of the two twins who appeared to create their own language
as "symptractic" also. And the term appears again in his books on language
and consciousness and problems of neurolinguistics.

In these same contexts, he refers to the Vygotsky-Sakharov work and the idea
that word meaning develops toward logicalness and differentiation from

Having spent a good deal of time in the past couple of years trying, again,
to make sense of all this, I come away ambivalent and often confused. I do
not think I could be of much help in applying this confusion to the
distinction between pseudo and true concepts.

PS-- There are about two pages devoted to the category of "naglyadno-action"
thinkng and naglyadno-imagistic thinking in the Meshcheryakov-Zinchenko
encylopedia of psychology and a separate entry under imagistic thinking. The
translation of those entries and explication of their theoretical
signficance would make an interesting disseration. At the end of the entry
on naglyadno-imagistic thinking, there is a quote from a V.M. Gordon
referring, you guessed it (!) to "visualnoe" thinking.

On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 1:46 AM, Paula M Towsey <paulat@johnwtowsey.co.za>wrote:

> 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
> Paula
> 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
> intelligence?
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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