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Re: [xmca] Vygotsky, Saussure, and Wolves

Speaking for myself, my silence had two causes. First of all, like Andy, I was rather awestruck by Martin's paragraphs on Marx's method, and like Martin himself I was reflecting on them. But secondly I was reading Paula and Carol's article, "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing" and reflecting on whether I should force my grads to read it next quarter. The first part of it contains the best synopsis of Vygotsky's sprawling, often contradictory presentation of the taxonomy of syncretic heaps, complexes, and preconceptual formations that I've ever read.
Before I do that, though, I want to know the answer to the following questions on the first page of Paula and Carol's piece, which I think are actually related to Martin's questions about what work has been done to find out whether children and the researchers who do word meaning research are not "sleeping on one bed but having different dreams".
a) In the abstract, Paula and Carol refer to the "ontogenesis of concept formation".  What does the ontogenesis of concept formation mean? Does it mean the same thing as concept formation or does it mean the way in which concept formation changes in the ontogenesis of the child?
b) "Lupine behavior" means conceptual FUNCTION. "Sheep's clothing" means that they are STRUCTURALLY similar to complexes. As Vygotsky says at the end of Chapter Seven, only the historical, genetic method can really reveal either. But the experimental method does not really test the history of concept use at all; Vygotsky saw it as a logical test which gives us the "essence of a genetic study in abstracted form" (see Minick translation, p. 146). This really gets us back to the "Strange Situation" question I asked over a year ago (which Vygotsky reverts to at the end of Chapter Six): to what extent CAN we extrapolate genetic processes from logical tests? This is what Martin is asking, and I really don't know the answer. I think Vygotsky changes his mind on this question somewhere between Chapter Five and Chapter Six. 

c) In the first paragraph, Paula and Carol discuss functional equivalence of pseudoconcepts and concepts.  in some places, Vygotsky talks about EVERYTHING--including syncretic heaps--as the child's functional equivalent's of concepts, so in places Vygotsky simply means what is IN THE CHILD'S EYES functionally equivalent. But in other places he suggests that the pseudoconcept alone is in EVERY WAY functionally equivalent to the concept (and therefore indistinguishable, even using questions). Obviously, functional "equivalence" must be relative, relational, and in the eyes of the beholder.
I think that the key is that pseudoconcepts and concepts are equivalent in function but they are not equivalent in structure, because the structure depends on the SYSTEM and of course the SYSTEM is quite different. For example, self-directed speech can be functionally different from social speech but structurally very similar at three, and still in the spoken aloud mode even at seven. Form follows function, but sometimes at quite a distance; exaptation means that we adopt things functionally first and only later adapt them structurally. 
d) Finally, I note that the word "pseudoconcept" is a good example of how adults as well as children have different dreams when they use the same word (or, to adopt Paula, Carol and Lev Semyonovich's expression, how they wear different clothing when they hunt in the same pack). It's not actually Lev Semyonovich's coinage at all; it's from Stern. But Vygotsky is always hollowing out other people's words, and placing his own candles within.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education
PS: Martin, I'm a little confused by your refs to folk psychology. In T&S Chapter Four (and also in Mescharyakov 2007, which Paula and Carol reference) we see that folk psychology and folk physics do NOT refer to the child's own concepts, but rather to everyday thinking taken from the child's social situation of development; they are the inter-mental forms of the functional equivalents of concepts tht we find intra-mentally in the children.
--- On Sat, 8/1/09, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky and Saussure
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2009, 8:19 AM

I'm going to use the silence as an opportunity to reflect on my own message - Reading what I wrote about Marx's method again in the context of the discussion here it occurs to me that Marx, like Vygotsky, was writing about the changing character of word-meaning. I'd not thought about Capital in quite that way before. On the other hand, LSV doesn't, to my knowledge, draw a distinction between children's analytic concepts and their dialectical concepts. Has anyone out there worked on this? (Paula?)

I'm currently reading the literature on young children's categories (folkbiology, folkpsychology), and much of this research seems to assume exactly the equivalence of adult and child word-meaning that LSV called into question, so the topic is important. For example, the researcher names for the child a picture of an animal, and then asks a question (Does X have a heart?) to which the child can reply only yes or no. The characteristics of the child's 'categories' are inferred on the basis of an assumed equivalence of word-meaning.

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