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Re: [xmca] Visual Thinking?

Hi to those puzzling over visual thinking,
I am speaking on this topic today in my class, so I thought I should join in. First, I don't think there is a single process of visual thinking. The DNA model (both external and internal, sorry Martin) is one kind of thinking. It is abstract, and it represents the critical features of the model. A less formal example of such "theory-advancing" images are Darwin's tree diagrams. Then, there are visual memory images (when writing your name Martin, I flashed on an image of you standing in a doorway during our Seville meetings. It was the first evening, I believe.) These latter kinds of images are embedded in concrete details and are probably connected to episodic memory. Then, there may be visual-kinesthetic thinking of which Einstein has written. The latter in its earlier manifestations may be what Vygotsky refers to, when using the term "sympractic." I can "see" and feel my alarm clock, as I register the time and turn off the alarm, and recall both of these actions.The absence of a single visual language makes the relationship between visual thinking and visual communicative means even more complex and may contribute to the difficulty of puzzling about it.
Sorry, I have to stop foroffice hours, someone is waiting,
Vera John Steiner

Mike Cole wrote:
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
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
"case (against)") with this type of connecting also being Seve's
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
and "developmental" in the strategies of adult thinking in dealing with
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
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
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
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
much by its function as by its genetic relations.)"

"Intuitive"? That can't be right. Let's try the Italian. Meccaci, who
always sticks RELIGIOUSLY to Vygotsky's actual paragraph breaks, in this
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
the same pace but by another road) Questo tipo di complesso, questa forma
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
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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Vera John-Steiner, Ph.D.
Regents' Professor of Education and Linguistics
vygotsky@unm.edu   (505) 277-4324

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