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Re: [xmca] Consciousness
In Vygotsky, is it "the fabric of consciousness"...or "the tissue of consciousness".
Take a look at p. 172 of your Minick. He's got "Tolstoy is not concerned with the concepts that the chid acquires in learning a system of scientific knowledge but with words and concepts that are woven into the same fabric as those that have developed in the child."
But here's Seve: "Tolstoy speaks of the concept in relation to the teaching of literary language to children. Therefore, what he has in mind I not the concepts that the child acquires during the process of assimilation of a system of scientific knowledge but words and concepts of current language, which, previously unknown and therefore new, are inserted into the tissue of childish concepts which have already been formed."
And here's Meccaci: "Thus he has in mind not the concepts that are acquired by the child in the process of assimilating a system of scientific understanding but words and concepts of ordinary language which are new or unknown to the child, which are inserted into the tissue of the childish concepts which is already formed."
At the beginning of 6.6 (p. 224 in your Minick) we've got this: "How is the individual concept--this stitch that we tear away from a living integral fabric--intertwined and interwoven with he system of concepts present in the child?"
In Seve, it's this: "How is the isolated concept, like a cell which we have detached from the whole, living tissue, interlaced and woven into the system of child concepts, out of which it cannot appear, survive, and develop?"
Here's Meccaci: "An isolated concept, a cell which we have torn from the living, whole tissue—how is it interlaced with the whole tissue of the system of child concepts within which it must appear, live, and develop?"
There are a lot of instances of this throughout! In fact, EVERY place where Vygotsky says "tissue" and "cell", Minick has "fabric" and "stitch". In one place, Vygotsky even talks about "dendritic cells" (that is, nerve cells), and it is still translated as "stitch".
So we checked with Vygotsky himself:
"Как отдельное понятие, эта клеточка, вырванная нами из живой, целостной ткани, вплетена и воткана в систему детских понятий, внутри которой она только может возникать, жить и развиваться?"
Which is WELL beyond the limits of my Russian, but here's what a quick Babelfish gives:
"As separate concept, this cell, pulled out by us from the living, of integral cloth, it is intertwined and interwoven into the system of children's concepts, inside which it only can to appear, to live and to be developed?"
This looks like "tissue" and not "fabric" to me, and that is how we've translated it throughout.
I've got two other points about what you said yesterday, Mike. The first has to do with the TRIANGLE of mediation. At the beginning of Thinking and Speech (bottom of p. 40 in your Minick translation), Vygotsky warns:
"(T)here is a great deal that we once believed to be correct that has been excluded from this book because it represented simple delusion on our part."
Of course, it would be nice to have a more complete list at this point. What exactly were the "simple delusions" that had to be excluded? Well, one thing that IS clearly missing from Thinking and Speech (which is almost NEVER missing from any of LSV's pre-1930 work on thinking and speech) is the triangle of mediation, the idea of subject-object mediated by tools/signs, etc.
The second problem goes back to the lesson of the water molecule, which also figures in Chapter One and Again in Chapter Seven (and also in Bakhtin/Medvedev's "Formal Method"). Minick says that “to say that water consists of hydrogen and oxygen is to say nothing that relates to water generally or to all its characteristics. It is to say nothing that relates to the great oceans and to a drop of rain, to water’s capacity to extinguish fire and to Archimedes’ law”. (See p. 45, and also p. 244).
But Seve and Meccaci says that the whole problem is that it DOES say something that relates to all of these phenomena equally, and therefore it has nothing to say about the concrete problems concerned with the analysis of thinking and speech (e.g. explaining the structure, functions, and history of consciousness).
Here's the Russian again:
Это есть, скорее, возведение к общему, чем внутреннее расчленение и выделение частного, содержащегося в подлежащем объяснению феномене. По самой своей сущности этот метод приводит скорее к обобщению, чем к анализу. В самом
деле, сказать, что вода состоит из водорода и кислорода, значит сказать нечто такое, что одинаково относится ко всей воде вообще и ко всем ее свойствам в равной мере: к Великому океану в такой же мере, как к дождевой капле, к свойству воды тушить огонь в такой же мере, как к закону Архимеда.
So it looks to me like Vygotsky is once again complaining about OVER-ANALYSIS, but making the rather subtle point that such overanalysis leads to OVER-GENERALIZATION. The trick is to find in the particular the laws of the general phenomenon under investigation (viz. consciousness), and not general laws in general.
Seoul National University of Education
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