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Re: [xmca] Vygotsky, Saussure, and Wolves with different dreams

Thanks, Andy. I think I am being a little dense here, because now I am uncertain of both what Vygotsky meant, and what Hegel meant as well! LOL

I get the **sense** of these distinctions, of course, but I don't think they are yet registering for me as clear **concepts**. I might even be able to more or less correctly answer a question or two about what Vygotsky said on a school quiz, but I can tell I would only be doing so on the basis of pseudoconceptual reasoning, because I can memorize the genetic order that Vygotsky says that the concept-in- itself, the concept-for-others and the concept-for-myself appear in the child - but not because I really understand **why** they appear in that order, or because I understand just **what** these kinds of concepts actually are. I couldn't, offhand, give you clear examples of these three kinds of concepts. Your quote from Hegel is helpful, but I have not fully conceptualized Hegel's treatment of these ideas, either. I'm not so sure how I'd get very far on a school quiz on that! LOL

So let me refine my questions regarding Vygotsky's points. First, what did Vygotsky mean by the terms "concept-in-itself," "concept-for- others" and "concept-for-myself"? Second, what are some examples of these kinds of concepts? Third, why does he claim that the first two, as a rule, precede the latter in a child's intellectual development?

For further thought, here are some relevant quotes from the paper, from Vygotsky, and from Kozulin.

Here is what Paula and Carol said (pg 236 in Wolves):

"It is in this respect that Vygotsky notes that the genetic preconditions of the “concept-for-myself” are already present in the pseudoconcept in the form of the “concept-in-itself” and the “concept- for-others”, because these occur earlier in the child than the “concept-for-myself”: he further asserts that this sequence is not restricted to conceptual development because it occurs as a “rule rather than the exception in the intellectual development of the child” (p. 124)."

Here is the passage by Vygotsky from Alex Kozulin's translation of Thought and Language they refer to (pg 124):

"The concept-in-itself and the concept-for-others are developed in the child earlier than the concept-for-myself. The concept-in-itself and the concept-for-others, which are already present in the pseudoconcept, are the basic genetic precondition for the development of real concepts. This peculiar genetic situation is not limited to the attainment of concepts; it is the rule rather the exception in the intellectual development of the child." (7)

In Footnote (7) to the above passage in Thought and Language (on page 268), Kozulin comments:

"7. Vygotsky's discussion of the phenomenon of pseudoconcepts has far- reaching philosophical implications. First of all, if the conscious awareness of one's own intellectual operations ("concept-for-me") is only a secondary achievement, which follows the practical use of these operations, then the individual cannot be considered a self-conscious center of activity. [Note from Steve: I don't grasp what Alex just said.] The individual appears rather as a "construction" built at the crossroads of the inner and outer realities. Second, the phenomenon of functional equivalence between real and pseudoconcepts warns us against taking the functional appearance of communication for its ultimate content. The usage of "one and the same" words and subsequent "understanding" may be illusory. Such illusion of understanding, based on the confusion between functional and essential characteristics, constantly emerges in child-adult communication, in the dialogue between different social groups, and in contacts between different cultures. For further discussion of this point, see Alex Kozulin, "Psychology and Philosophical Anthropology: The Problem of Their Interaction," *The Philosophical Forum*, 1984, 15(4):443-458."


On Aug 4, 2009, at 7:58 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:

Steve Gabosch wrote:
What did LSV mean by a "concept-for-myself," (a phrase, I understand, is derived from Hegel)?

Hegel would never have used quite the phrase, "concept-for-myself", but the way Vygotsky is using the idea: first concept in-itself, then for-others, and only last for-myself - i.e., self- consciousness, is quite consistent with Hegel's idea. It's really a play on Hegel.

For example from Hegel's Introduction to the History of Philosophy:

"But consciousness really implies that for myself, I am object to myself. In forming this absolute division between what is mine and myself, Mind constitutes its existence and establishes itself as external to itself. It postulates itself in the externality."

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