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Re: [xmca] Intensions in context and speech complexity ; From 2-?: Zinchenko on internalization and externalization
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Intensions in context and speech complexity ; From 2-?: Zinchenko on internalization and externalization
- From: Mike Cole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 16:42:32 -0700
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Thanks very much for that wonderful summary/explication, Steve. So much to
"keep in mind."
Externalizing in pixels helps to think about it.
Note that Engestrom consistently talks about internalization/externalization
as parts of a single process of
bi-directional, participatory transformation -- or so I interpret him.
Seems like Jay's emphasis on multiple, overlapping, time sc
On Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 12:04 PM, Steve Gabosch <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I want to pick up on a very interesting comment by Dot regarding
> internalization in her July 23 response to Peter:
> "It is the development of psychological functional organs (as opposed to
> morphological organs) that can be studied as the result of internalization,
> not internalization itself (although a number of neuroscientists are doing
> very interesting work)."
> I happen to be reading an article by V. P. Zinchenko, "From Classical to
> Organic Psychology: In Commemoration of Lev Vygotsky's Birth," based on a
> talk he gave in 1996. It appears in the 2002 collection edited by Dot and
> Anna Stetsenko, Voices Within Vygotsky's Non-Classical Psychology.
> V.P. Zinchenko's article touches on the psychological functional organs
> idea touched on by Dot, and how it relates to internalization. I will be
> sharing VPZ's thoughts on this and other aspects of internalization in a
> series of quotes from the article.
> VPZ explains that **internalization** is best understood in terms of the
> process of **externalization**. This is a potent concept Anna Stetsenko
> promoted in a 2005 paper in the MCA Journal, which we discussed here on xmca
> at the time.
> In my opinion, VPZ's article sheds rather more light on the core questions
> involved in the cultural-historical exploration of internalization than
> Peter's little "romp" seems to. See what you think.
> My selection of 12 or so quotes and combinations of quotes of various
> lengths touches on topics such as:
> 1. what are functional psychological organs
> 2. mediation and the construction of functional psychological organs
> 3. how internalization is intertwined with externalization
> 4. the basis of internalization
> 5. some of the limitations of Soviet activity theory
> 6. some historical reasons for the limitations of Soviet activity theory
> 7. replacing the concept of "internalization" with "differentiation of
> 8. the relationship of subjectivity and externalization
> 9. Vygotsky's concept of the sign and externalization
> 10. word and deed as equal partners in psychological processes
> 11. the problem of the naturalistic interpretation of internalization
> 12. Vygotsky on thinking and action
> 1. VPZ explains the concept of the functional psychological organ, first
> by referring to Ukhtomsky (1978).
> "Ukhtomsky believed that subjective, mental entities are objectivized in
> the "body" of the functional organs of an individual (i.e., virtual organs
> as particular skills, as opposed to morphological organs such as an arm).
> These functional organs are just as real as the usual morphological ones.
> Ukhtomsky (1978) defined functional ogans as "any temporary combination of
> forces that are capable of achieving a specific outcome," p. 95) or as
> activities distributed in time and space. He wrote that an individual's
> functional organ is similar to a dynamic mobile agent. As exampls of
> functional organs Ukhtomsky mentioned psychological phenomena, such as
> memories of the past, intentions, and an integral view of the world. He
> emphasized that these are novel formations [*novoobrazpvaniya*], which arise
> when individuals interact with the environment, in their activity, as they
> actively come forard to meet the demands of their environment." pg 7.
> "Scholars such as N.A. Bernstein, A.V. Zaporozhets, A.N. Leontiev, and A.R.
> Luria broadly used and developed the concept of functional organs, or an
> individual's novel formations. They believed that an individual's
> functional organs have certain bodily properties, for example, they have a
> biodynamic sensuous affective "tissue." Functional organs or psychological
> functional systems should be viewed as matter (tissue) that eventually
> constitutes the spiritual organism, the anatomy and physiology of the human
> spirit itself." pg 8.
> "In Vygotsky's writings, the term *psychological functional system* is
> analogous to the notion of *functional organ*." pg 8.
> 2. VPZ goes on to relate functional psychological organs to mediation, and
> how mediators or psychological tools enable the construction of these
> "Meditation constitutes the very core of cultural-historical psychology.
> Meditational acts (now being intensively studied by B.D. Elkonin and his
> colleagues) contain the secret of development, the secret of how real forms
> are transformed into ideal ones, and vice versa. When objects, tools, and
> signs are incorporated into natural psychological forms (to retain
> Vygotsky's term, which he was repeatedly criticized for), the latter are
> transformed into ideal cultural ones. These forms then acquire an object,
> tool, sign, word or symbol - related to the instrumental, mental capacity of
> operations, actions, and activity in a broad sense.
> "What does the concept of *transformation* actually mean? Transformation is
> the process in which novel functional organs are constructed. This process
> is performed by means of mediators that Vygotsky called "psychological
> tools," or "psychological instruments." pg 9.
> 3. VPZ sees that part of the problem with discussions of internalization is
> how the naturalistic interpretation of the internal (which, of course,
> Vygotsky directly opposed) tends to dominate discussions of internalization.
> The process of internalization involves not just moving **in** but also
> moving **out**.
> "As long as we are bound to a naturalistic understanding of what the
> internal is (that is akin to the Freudian naturalistic understanding of the
> unconscious), internalization will continue to be viewed as *growing into*
> emptiness, into *nowhere*. Leont'ev was aware of the flaws of such a
> naturalistic interpretation, and in his later work he insisted that in the
> processes of internalization the internal plane is born, that is, it emerges
> for the first time. However, Leont'ev did not study this process.
> Nonetheless, what he said is sufficient to conclude that internalization
> involves simultaneous *growing into* and *growing out*. In other words,
> internalization should not be taken to mean that activity is plunged into
> some "depths" of the internal plane. Internalization should not be likened
> to the Freudian mechanism of repressing memories into the unconscious." pg
> 4. VPZ offers the following summary of internalization, which parallels
> Vygotsky's concept of the sociocultural transformation of lower mental
> functions into higher:
> "With regard to internalization, the crux of the matter is that in order
> for a process to grow, and for it to be able to then generate anything new,
> this process must first exist and go through certain transformations." pg
> 5. VPZ suggests that Soviet activity theory's concept of internalization
> was inhibited by a naturalistic interpretation of internalization that
> caused researchers to ignore some key insights by Vygotsky into
> "A naturalistic interpretation of internalization delayed research into
> object-related activity and object-related actions as such." pg 16
> "Orientation, memorization, decision-making and the like happened to be
> viewed as representing a higher level, whereas execution and performance
> were reduced [by activity theorists such as AN Leont'ev, A.V. Zaporozhets
> and others, see pg 15 -sg] ] to elementary, lower, even primitive processes.
> Naturally, everybody wanted to do research at the higher levels and abandon
> the "lower" ones as quickly as possible. Many did so in their pursuit of
> the theory of internalization, according to which practical actions connect
> with concrete, rough, visible objects *growing into* a subtle ideal matter
> [culturally meaningful material -sg], and are then transferred into an
> internal plane. This view was partly inspired by Vygotsky's division of
> mental processes into natural and cultural, or lower and higher ones. What
> was ignored in this approach was that Vygotsky viewed movement exactly as a
> higher process, similar to the process of perception, memory, and attention,
> and he also linked movement to the development of symbolic activity
> (Vygotsky, 1984, p 54 [Collected Works, (Vol 6): Scientific legacy. Moscow:
> Pedagogy.])." pg 16.
> 6. VPZ offers an explanation for this narrow naturalistic approach to
> internalization in Soviet activity theory.
> "It is not the fault but the misfortune of Soviet psychology that the
> concept of "object-related activity" has never been theoretically developed.
> Pyatigorsky has recently drawn attention to this fact. This task was
> tackled by E. Ilyenkov [Russian philosopher; 1924-1979] and V. Davydov
> [1930-1998], and E. Yudin [1930-1976]. Yet, the philosophical concept of
> object-related activity, as well as the concepts of external and internal,
> remain [continue -sg] to be implemented in psychology in a quite
> naturalistic manner. Indeed, why did psychologists (including S.L.
> Rubenstein [1889-1960] and A.N. Leont'ev [1903-1979]) prefer such concepts
> such as "object-related activity," "object-practical activity,"
> "object-sensuous activity," to that of "spiritual/mental-practical
> activity," which would be in line with Hegelian and Marxist philosophy? The
> answer to this rhetorical question is quite clear from a sociological
> perspective. These psychologists simply had no choice. In the hostile
> Soviet ideological climate, the issues of spirituality (i.e., immaterial
> aspects of reality) were not on the agenda. Instead, practice was placed at
> the center of everything and was regarded as the origin of knowledge, as the
> criterion of truth, and as the highest value. During those times, to even
> introduce the concept of object-related activity was nearly a heroic deed, a
> kind of challenge to society, a protest against an epoch that entailed a
> bizarre combination of slavery and empty activism on the one hand, and true
> enthusiasm and creativity on the other. This concept, however, lost many of
> its important spiritual/mental, and ideal dimensions. The "soul" of objects
> of activity was lost, as well as the symbolic functions enshrined in them in
> the process of their creation. Even works of art had to meet the criteria
> of socialist realism and other ideological requirements. As a result,
> activity had to be characterized not in spiritual/mental, but in material
> terms." pg 17.
> 7. VPZ suggests that the concept of internalization can be replaced by the
> concepts of differentiation of movement, joint action and social activity
> (which I would like to see more explanation about, by the way). He says
> that this "differentiation of movement" is not just about
> **internalization** per se, but also needs to include **externalization**.
> "Returning to object-related activity, if we assume from the very beginning
> that *material* is as much ideal as it is material, as much object-related
> as it is mental (and even spiritual/mental); and if we assume that movement
> lives not in its external form, but also in its internal form; and, if we
> admit that object-related action is not only mediated by external
> instruments or semiotic menas, but also contains within itself, in its
> internal form, an image, purpose, intention, motive, word; and ultimately,
> if we assume that the object-related activity is itself a kind of ideal form
> - then in this case, the concept of internalization will become unnecessary
> for theoretical psychology. One should not, however, be too zealous in
> rejecting this concept even though it is already beginning to be replaced
> with the concept of *differentiation* of movement, object-related (or joint)
> action, and object-related (or social) activity (see Gordoyeva, 1995;
> Zinchenko, 1995a). In such differentiation, the germ cells of mental
> formations that are present from the start in object-related activity are
> not internalized *to* anywhere; but, on the contrary, are objectivized and
> externalized; that is, they grow outward and become independent of
> object-related activity." pg 18.
> 8. After quoting Rubenstein, VPZ continues his discussion of the
> limitations of reducing activity to its components. He points away from
> this narrower application of activity theory toward the richer prospect of
> researching subjective, internal forms via **externalization**. He explains
> that subjective, internal forms of activity can generally only be
> conceptualized by the person and observed by others **after** they have been
> "Thus, one should not focus so much on reducing activity to its components,
> but focus on how the external forms are elaborated and how internal forms of
> activity and its constitutive actions are developed. It is important to
> note that internal forms represent the realm of the subjective, and yet they
> resist being described as internal. This is like the situation with a
> myriad of emotions and feelings, shades of color, smells, and so on, which
> are so hard to conceptualize. Such things can be conceptualized only after
> they have been objectivized, externalized." pg 18
> 9. VPZ continues, relating this idea of externalization to Vygotsky's
> "Such an interpretation sits well with Vygotsky's assumption that through
> the use of mediators, higher mental processes are brought outwards,
> transformed into external activity, and that a person's behavior is
> transformed into an object that can then be mastered. Vygotsky's idea that
> signs move from the inside outwards should not be taken literally. It is
> just such literal interpretations that gave rise to the commonly accepted
> notion of internalization. However, the core of Vygotsky's view is that by
> means of signs, the mental functions are brought outwards, are objectivized,
> and transformed into external (more exactly, into observable) actions and
> activities." pg 18.
> 10. Turning to the question of word and deed, and thought and action, VPZ
> suggests that Vygotsky viewed them as equal partners.
> "To discuss the problem of how word and deed are interrelated, one does not
> need to reflect so much on what is at the beginning and what is at the end.
> Rather, one needs to consider Vygotsky's line of reasoning, according to
> which the word (thought) and deed (action) appear as equal, both of which
> are struggling on equal terms. The passages from Vygotsky, cited above, on
> the relations between thought and action, tell the same story." pg 21
> 11. A key problem with the naturalistic interpretation of internalization
> is it does not take into account creativity.
> "The largest problem is that the logic of internalization-externalization
> [in the common, naturalistic interpretation -sg] eliminates the creative
> nature of the developmental process, without which new formations cannot
> arise. This logic leaves no place for intuition, insight, and ultimately,
> for revelation." pg 21
> 12. I will finish off this long series of quotations with some of VPZ's
> comments that themselves include some relevant quotations from Vygotsky.
> The essential idea here is that the internal and external, thinking and
> action, the word and the deed, are are inextricably co-mingled co-partners
> in psychological processes, all of which are inherent aspects and products
> of human activity. The Vygotsky (1983) quotes are from the Vygotsky's
> Collected Works (Vol.5): Foundations of defectology. Moscow: Pedagogy.
> (VPZ:) "In essence, my argument has been the following: External
> (object-related) and internal (mental) activities are equally psychological,
> equally related to objects, equally ideal and cultural, equally deserving of
> psychological scrutiny. The differences that exist between them can in no
> way be related to the philosophical problems of what is primary and
> secondary, or to the fundamental problem of the origins of mind. Vygotsky
> (1983) was aware of this understanding:
> (Vygotsky:) "We also know that both types of activity - thinking and real
> action - are not separated from each other by an impassable gap; actually,
> in reality, at each and every step, we observer how thought is transformed
> into action and action is transformed into thought. Hence, both of these
> dynamic systems - the more dynamic one related to thinking, and the less
> dynamic one related to action - are not isolated from each other. In
> actuality, the transition of the fluid dynamics of thought into the more
> rigid, solid dynamics of action and vice versa ... should and actually occur
> all the time. (p 249)"
> (VPZ:) "Vygotsky (1983) then went on to make this statement even more
> (Vygotsky:) "As Schiller says, ideas readily live in harmony with one
> another, yet they violently collide in space. Therefore, when a child
> begins to think in a given situation, this not only means that the situation
> changes in how it is perceived and interpreted, but above all, that the
> whole dynamic changes. The dynamics of a real situation, when converted
> into the fluid dynamics of thought, reveal a situation's new features, new
> opportunities for movement, association, and communication among subsystems.
> However, this direct motion of dynamics from the actual situation to
> thought would be quite useless and unnecessary, if the reverse, the backward
> transition from the fluid dynamics of thought into rigid and firm dynamic
> systems of real action also did not exist. The difficulty of implementing a
> set of intentions is directly related to the fact that the dynamics of an
> idea, with all its fluidity and freedom, must be transformed into the
> dynamics of real action. (p. 250)" pg 19.
> (VPZ:) "It should be noted that in these excerpts we find nothing about
> external and internal, or internalization and externalization. And the
> opposition between object-related and psychological actions is not mentioned
> (VPZ continues:) "Leont'ev went to great lengths to show that the external
> and internal planes are characterized by structures that are fundamentally
> similar. Some of his followers transformed this careful formulation into
> the claim that external and internal forms of activity are identical.
> Vygotsky (1983) had no illusions with this regard:
> (Vygotsky:) "The dynamics of thinking do not simply mirror the dynamic
> relations that rule in real actions. If thinking changed nothing in dynamic
> action, it would be absolutely useless. Certainly, life determines
> consciousness. Consciousness arises from life and represents only one of
> its varied aspects. But having emerged, thinking itself starts to determine
> life, or, more exactly, thinking life determines itself through
> consciousness. As soon as we separate thinking from life, from dynamics and
> needs, as soon as we deprive thinking of its agency - we thereby close off
> any possibility of revealing and explaining thinking and its most
> fundamental purpose, that is, to define a mode of life and behavior, to vary
> our actions, to direct them and release them from the power of particular
> concrete situations. (p. 252)" pg 19-20.
> <end of quotes>
> - Steve
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