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Re: [xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 53

I want to echo some of David's remarks about "Thinking & Speech." In many
ways it is a beautifully crafted book, despite being hastily assembled. One
of the beauties is the way it begins and ends with the largest of ambitions:
an understanding of consciousness as a whole. An enourmous task, which V has
to trim to manageable proportions. Consciousness, he proposes, is always a
system of dynamic relations among the various psychological functions.
Perception, memory, attention, thinking, speech are continually working
together as a unified whole. Their relations are dynamic, changing as the
child develops. To understand this system we should not separate functions
for study in isolation. We need to study their relations. Analysis of the
relationship between thinking and speaking, then, contributes to the larger
project of understanding consciousness, but this relationship has to be
approached as dynamic, and always having the other functions in the

The word is perfectly situated for the analysis of the dynamic relation of
thinking and speech, for it is the unit of sound and meaning, of social and
individual, of linguistic and cognitive (as generalization), of thought and
communication, of intellect and affect, of subject and object.

And so it is the "inner aspect" of the word that is studied - its internal
organization as, again, a complex whole. "This is the word viewed from the
inside." This is what V calls "word meaning" - inside the word where
thinking and speaking are united. V admits that not all of these
relationships within the word could be studied - including the relation of
verbal thinking to the whole of consciousness. So although at the end of the
book his focus broadens again from the word to consciousness as a whole, the
work is unfinished. But it is clear to me that the project he defined in
Crisis, that of a scientific, materialist study of consciousness, was still
what he was pursuing at the end of his life. "Thinking & Speech" was his
final word, sadly, but it was not the conclusion of the project. It was an
examination of consciousness from only one perspective. It was able to
articulate the ontogenetic transition from one form of consciousness -
sensation - to a more advanced form - thinking. 'Thinking' in the narrow
sense is merely a part of 'thinking' in this larger sense of a form, a mode,
a manner, of conscousness that the word makes possible.


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