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Re: [xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 47

Your comments about the limitations of the commonsense idea of my navigational ability amounting to an image of the world inside my body are valid enough, but I think that if you push this position to its extreme you end up in just as much nonsense as someone who still believes in the homunculus. An organism adapts to its environment, by changing that environment, yes, but also by changing themselves.


PS, Yes cultural-historical philosophy (if I could call it that) begins with the critique of Kant, but I understand from Ilyenkov, that Kant was responding to Hume ...

Martin Packer wrote:

I would say that Ilyenkov is clear that he is responding not to Hume or
Descrates, but to Kant. It was Kant who simply equated ideality with
individual consciousness. Ilyenkov writes that "Here “ideality” is clearly
understood as a synonym for the “pure” and the a priori nature of
consciousness as such, with no external connections."

The ability to summon Melbourn landmarks in ones imagination is an
impressive feat, but not one we should straighforwardly equate with being
able to navigate the city on foot. Like "inner" speech, it's almost
irresistable to ask *where* such visual and auditory images are located, and
then reply, in the mind! And then to assume that *all* cognitive activity
goes on in the same 'place.' Nonsense! Most of our cognition is in the
world, in practice, in the wild, an embodied intelligence.

But this is *my* objection to internal images. I'm more interested at the
moment in figuring out Ilyenkov's position.


On 2/19/09 12:44 AM, "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

I don't know if this will help or make things worse. ...

I understand your antipathy to the whole idea of "internal
images". If, as some French philosophers seemed to think,
nothing happened between Desartes and Saussure, we would
have to share your antipathy. But the German tradition was
responding to Hume not Descartes and "internal images" in
the sense of Locke or Descartes have been off the table
since 1790-something.

I think it's like "The Unconscious". We all know that the
Unconscious exists, it's part of our everyday experience. My
unconscious does half my work, at least. But from CHAT we
know that the Unconscious is a product of development which
only arises fairly late in ontogenetic development, probably
just in time to know what the words "The Unconscious" mean.

But if like Freud we make The Unconscious a basic premise of
the structure of the Mind, then that is entirely something
else, and may lead to mysticism.

I think it is the same with "internal images". I could tell
you with my eyes closed every landmark between here and the
centre of Melbourne several miles away, without the aid of a
map or anything. So having such an "internal image" is a
matter of commonplace experience. But psychological
experimentation shows that my capacity to reconstruct these
images in any form is an immensely complex process, at which
I can arrive only after some development.

Does that help, or not maybe?

Andy Blunden wrote:
In "Learning by Expanding", Engstrom quotes V P Zinchenko as claiming
that "word meaning" is very close to being a special case of "tool
mediated action". I think this is correct and one could add "joint" as
it is invariably other people that one shares meaning with, not things,
and meaning which is not shared is nothing.

A word is no more nor less ideal than a key or a dollar or a wine bottle
or a white shirt or an automobile or an open hand, but how can we
counterpose words or any artefact to activity? Activity uses artefacts
and is impossible without them; things are only artefacts insofar as
they are incorporated in Activity.


Martin Packer wrote:
But Andy, if we're following Ilyenkov's lead, don't words have an ideal
character that activity lacks?


On 2/17/09 9:11 PM, "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

(2) Apart from artefacts, is also activity. Doubtbless
activity is implicit in meaning in some way, but it is
unclear to me. I think it is a mistake to make the
foundation of consciousness just words, rather than practice.


Mike Cole wrote:
Without the time (or skill to switch to cyrrilic!) I have been thinking
about Kolya's questions, ,David.

For those who forget in the stream of xcma chatting, Nikolai asks:
where Vygotsky posits word meaning as
unit of analysis of human consciousness?
In which text and on what page? From what Vygotsky's work it is
taken? Could

I ask you to make a quotation from Vygotsky?
Thank you in advance

I was thinking how nice it would be to know how to search the vygotsky
corpus online in Russian, which I do not know how to do.

And remembering fragments of why I thought David's comments resonated
with my own intuitions, formed in part, by LSV.

such as (no quotations or page numbers, just failing memory here):

meaning is the most stable form of sense-- every totally stable?
word meaning changes in development
the closing of *Speech and Thought *that David points to, the drop
of water,
being in my eye.
The citation of the fragment from Doestoevsky where a bunch of guys are
around saying, it seems, the word "product of defecation" (oh poo!) and
every one
is using the same word and every one is both saying the same thing and
saying something different.

Don't all of these and many other examples (Paula, are the Sakharov
blocks of any help here?) point to the general conclusion that David

Might our Russian friends join Nikolai and help us to understand the
core of
the issue
David raised? Is he incorrect? Can you search the corpus and help us to
if we are misleading each other?

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:26 PM, David Kellogg

Dear Professor Veresov:

Let me begin by saying how much we enjoy your work here in Korea.
Our group
has been discussing your 2005 "Outlines" article "Marxist and
aspects of the cultural historical psychology of L.S. Vygotsky"
since we
read it last year, and I found your 2006 article "Leading activity in
developmental psychology" very useful in figuring out why I don't
accept the
whole construct of "leading activity".

I think that BOTH works are really quite central to the periodization
problem under discussion, but I also think that BOTH works refer
mainly and
centrally (and thus for me somewhat misleadingly) to a period of
oeuvre that is quite different from the one I have in mind.

The 2005 article places a good deal of stress on early Vygotsky, a
who is almost non-Vygotskyan, or at least non-psychological,
Vygotsky in his
early twenties, a student of the humanities with a very strong
sense that
nothing human is alien to them.

The 2006 article in contrast seems to me to place a great deal of
stress on
the post-Vygotsky period, and I was very surprised and pleased to
read that
the work on "leading activity" is really not as far as I had
thought from
the fragments LSV left behind in his unfinished "Child Development".

Elkonin, at any rate, seems to have been fully aware that the "leading
activity" is in no way typical or characteristic of a particular
(though Leontiev and lately Karpov have said exactly the opposite).
problem remains that I do not see any place for the crisis in this
work, and
there is no question but that MY Vygotsky, LATE Vygotsky, the
Vygotsky of
Thinking and Speech gives the crisis an absolutely central (one
might even
say a critical) role.

Of course, when I said that word meaning is a unit of analysis for
consciousness I am not simply repeating what others have said (e.g.
1985). On the contrary, I mean what for me is the most mature and
in some ways least characteristic moment of Vygotsky's own work; I
even call it the "leading activity" of his thinking.

I meant, especially, the very last three paragraphs of Thinking and
I have always found this to be a little like the last page of
"Origin of
Species", rather more than a conclusion, but a whole revolutionary
complete with a clarion call in the very last six words:

Осмысленное слово есть микрокосм человеческого сознания.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education.

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