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

Andy, the aim, as I understand it, is to articulate a monist account of
ontogenesis in a social form of life. If this leads to absurdity it would, I
suppose, demonstrate that monism fails just as miserably as dualism. But I
don't yet think this is the case.

Yes, an organism adapts by changing both its environment and itself. But
such a broad statement says both too much and too little. It's as true of a
snail as of a human. If we don't attribute minds (of the Kantian kind) to
snails there's no logical necessity to attribute them to humans either, at
least if we can find a more convincing alternative.

In a separate message I will try to unpack Ilyenkov's acount of how humans
change themselves. We can get our teeth into that.


On 2/20/09 12:57 AM, "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> 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.
> Andy
> 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:
>> Andy,
>> 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.
>> Martin
>> On 2/19/09 12:44 AM, "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>> Martin,
>>> 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
>>> 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.
>>>> Andy
>>>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>> But Andy, if we're following Ilyenkov's lead, don't words have an ideal
>>>>> character that activity lacks?
>>>>> Martin
>>>>> 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.
>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> Nikolai
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> strongly
>>>>>>> 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?
>>>>>>> really?
>>>>>>> word meaning changes in development
>>>>>>> the closing of *Speech and Thought *that David points to, the drop
>>>>>>> of water,
>>>>>>> perhaps,
>>>>>>> being in my eye.
>>>>>>> The citation of the fragment from Doestoevsky where a bunch of guys are
>>>>>>> standing
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> -LSV
>>>>>>> blocks of any help here?) point to the general conclusion that David
>>>>>>> was
>>>>>>> asserting?
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> understand
>>>>>>> if we are misleading each other?
>>>>>>> mike
>>>>>>> On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:26 PM, David Kellogg
>>>>>>> <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:
>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>> non-Marxist
>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>> Vygotsky's
>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>> Vygotsky
>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>> period
>>>>>>>> (though Leontiev and lately Karpov have said exactly the opposite).
>>>>>>>> The
>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>> human
>>>>>>>> consciousness I am not simply repeating what others have said (e.g.
>>>>>>>> Werstch
>>>>>>>> 1985). On the contrary, I mean what for me is the most mature and
>>>>>>>> therefore
>>>>>>>> in some ways least characteristic moment of Vygotsky's own work; I
>>>>>>>> might
>>>>>>>> even call it the "leading activity" of his thinking.
>>>>>>>> I meant, especially, the very last three paragraphs of Thinking and
>>>>>>>> Speech.
>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>> program,
>>>>>>>> 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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