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Re: [xmca] Re: Vygotsky and Saussure and Whorf and language, meaning, and culture
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Vygotsky and Saussure and Whorf and language, meaning, and culture
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- Date: Sat, 8 Aug 2009 06:59:10 -0700 (PDT)
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Paula and Carol's article uses Mescheryakov's 2007 article on Vygotsky's terminology. This has advantages, and it has disadvantages. For me, the main advantage is that it really does explain what "inward" and "outward" mean.
Mescheryakov points out that there are really FOUR genetic laws, not one. I find the word "law" a little sloppy to begin with, so I have little compunction about "reorganizing" the laws thus:
a) NATURAL functions are reorganized as CULTURAL functions (e.g. caves as houses, fur as clothes, parts of the digestive and repiratory tract are reorganized as the vocal tract in communication)
b) SOCIAL functions are reorganized as INDIVIDUAL functions (e.g. discourse as grammar)
c) EXTRAMENTAL functions are reorganized as INTRAMENTAL functions (e.g. self-directed speech as "inner" speech)
d) SPONTANEOUS functions are reorganized as VOLITIONAL functions (e.g. everyday concepts are reorganized as science concepts, the mother tongue as the foreign tongue, nonvolitional grammar as complex morphology)
Let's consider that all four laws are really just instances of a general principle, which might be phrased as "outside in". That is, since the mind is a less developed sociopsychological nature which finds itself "within" (surrounded by) a more developed functioning whole (nature, society, activity, the non self-conscious self).
In each case functions are reorganized from the outside in, but in each case we have to take the word "in" rather the way eric's list takes the word "up", that is, as a resultative particle and nothing more.
"Inward" development is not simply relative, it's rather metaphorical, because there is no "inside" to the in. There is only a metaphorical sense in which cultural functions are more "in" than natural ones, in which homes are more "inside" humanity than caves, etc.
The same thing is true of the other uses of "in". There is only a metaphorical sense in which a science concept, being volitional accessible, is more "in" than an everyday concept.
In fact, the same thing is true of the use of the word "law". Law a) is really something on the order of a natural law; there are virtually no exceptions, at leas not until much later, when it becomes possible for some cultural functions to reorganize nature itself (e.g. global warming).
But law d) is full of exceptions, and in fact there is an important sense in which the exceptions are more common than the rule in data; teachers spend a lot of time unpacking science concepts into everyday concepts, as a kind of "breaching experiment" (to return once more to Garfinkel) that shows what science concepts are made of.
I very much like the idea that emotion is performative and socially learned. However, I think I would qualify it somewhat; there are clearly SOME emotions (having to do with fight or flight, sex, the way in which teenagers take to candy, greasy pizza and Thunderbird wine) which are natural functions, and others that are cultural reorganizations of these (a sense of justice, love, and acquired tastes in general). There is no obvious reason (to my mind) why emotion should not also obey the four genetic laws.
Seoul National University of Education
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