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Re: [xmca] Re: Vygotsky and Saussure and Whorf and language, and culture

Seems like this is the critical point for discussion, Greg:

Does Vygotsky's ideology of language (whether expressed by
LSV or those to follow) have some way to account for this
critical feature of semiosis (i.e, indexicality)? And if
not, then is it compatible with such a theory?
(and, of course, a failing here is not a serious blow to
Cultural Historical Activity Theory, it simply points to a
blind spot that suggests adding a compatible theory).

Darned if i know. What is Vygotsky's "ideology of language?" Does he ever
use the term?
Or do we want to turn to Voloshinov, or.....??? David Kg? You have been
reading a lot here,
can you help?

Gotta read the Goffman article (gotta find it first). The issue of recipient
design in talk seems really important as well as the situated,
double sidedness of emotion, like the little kid who stops crying when he
discovers his mother is not there to hear him. All all of the
phenomena we are talking about are goint "inside out" and "outside in"
simultaneously, albeit at different rates and different
intensities. And, as David Kg has noted, a lot of the inside/outside talk is
metaphorical and, i fear, the metaphors are befogging our

Re the Luria observations. A lot of ink has been spilled on this, but one
finding I came across recently
is by Li, Zhang, and Nisbett (2004) who report that college students at
Beijing university were most likely to carry out  Luria-style categorization
tasks that pit taxonomic vs functional categorizaion FUNCTIONALLY. Of
course, they argue this
is because of the Chinese students' contextualist orientation, not because
of their lack of education or involvement in industrialized
society. One can make up a lot of stories about these kinds of studies --
too many.

mike... still trying to sort it out (metaphorically speaking)

On Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 5:18 PM, Gregory Allan Thompson <
gathomps@uchicago.edu> wrote:

> Yes Mike, that last post was still a bit long, so a special
> thanks for your engagement and comments. They helped me to
> distill out two central questions (and following these pithy
> questions I'll elaborate -- once again in too many words):
> 1. Does the outer/inner distinction necessarily involve a
> dualism that we might find problematic?
> 2. Does Vygotsky have a way of capturing signs which
> function "indexically".
> I engage the first question with the example of emotion as
> an example of a "mental state" (and I would extend the
> argument about "emotions" to "mental states"). Emotion is
> commonly seen as originating "on the inside" and then
> expressed to others "on the outside" through
> various "affectations" (including language). Here I am
> arguing against this notion that emotions are spontaneous
> productions of the "insides" of a person. Rather, I am
> suggesting that emotions (as with "mental states" more
> generally) exist somewhere between self and other. I agree
> with David that there are some basic emotions that aren't so
> strongly culturally or social contextually mediated, but
> which are an endowment of the species. But this doesn't
> necessarily mean that they are "internal" since they then
> would be a part of a reflex arc - a stimulus-response
> relationship with the world - and thus not
> exactly "internal" in the sense in which we like to think of
> our "internal" psychological lives in which things have
> an "origin" in our heads.
> As to the Goffman reference, it is worth mentioning a bit
> more (especially when I took a look back at it and was
> reminded that this is the article that Goffman directly
> references the Vygotsky/Piaget debate about "eelf-talk"
> vs. "egocentric speech").  in Response Cries Goffman
> argues that utterances like "ouch!", "oops!", "shit!" all
> involve "recipient design". That is, they are not simply
> transparent representations of internal emotions or mental
> states (as with Bloomfield or Wierzbicka), but are
> designed so as to be appropriate to the contexts in which
> they are uttered. (there is also a line of argument that
> dovetails nicely with an article recently referenced about
> self-talk in adults, in which Goffman presents some of the
> taboos against self-talk in public - one of his
> more "obvious" arguments).
> With regard to the second question (I'll hold off on going
> into Silverstein's usage of Peirce since I think enough can
> be said just using Peirce and the notion of indexicality),
> one concern that stays with me and which seems
> to appear from time to time on this list (most
> notably by Andy Blunden and Jay Lemke, but also by many
> others) is the way in which language connotes (indexes) an
> identity. Thus, to speak a certain way (e.g., a dialect,
> genre, etc.) is to suggest that one is a certain sort of
> person. For example, the use of third person singular gender
> neutral "one" points to an "academic" register and an
> academic identity (and whether or not this particular
> identity sticks to a particular person will depend on the
> congeries of imbricated (or not) indexicalities constituting
> that person's projected subject-hood - n.b. words
> like "congeries" and "imbricated" are also good ways of
> indexing the academic personae - as is knowing proper
> pluralizing rules for Latinate constructions - but these are
> by no means determinative that one isn't talking with /
> reading the email of a complete fool).
> This indexing of identity becomes quite important as a
> motivator/determiner for human action (in a sort of
> hermeneutic circle of "one is what one does" and "one does
> what one is"). In human interaction, people are constantly
> engaged, intentionally and non-intentionally, in projects of
> self-construction in whic we seek to demonstrate a
> certain "worth" to our Self. These projects are engaged in
> largely through the semiotic form of indexicality.
> For example, one could interpret Luria's study with the
> peasants and their different ways of categorizing objects as
> a moment of struggle over what is indexed by each type of
> categorization (the "practical" vs. the "academic"). This
> may be taking things too far again, but
> one can imagine a sort of clash of identities when the big-
> city university researcher encounters the quaint country
> peasant by "quizzing" ("examining"? "testing"?) the
> peasants. As a peasant, one can imagine an experience of the
> impropriety of the situation and a sense in which one would
> want to challenge the "holier than thou" attitude of the
> researcher by refusing to engage with the world in the way
> that they might want you to. This is an old argument that
> has happened so many times in so many different ways between
> working class persons and "educated" upper-class persons
> (and there's a lovely ethnography of a recent realization of
> this debate enacted in a bar on the south side of Chicago.
> The ethnography is by Julie Lindquist - the book is called A
> Place to Stand: Politics and Persuasion in a Working Class
> Bar and although I don't think she gets to my point about
> how identities are indexed by different argument genres, it
> is nonetheless a very rich and detailed and well-presented
> participant ethnography making an argument about
> consciousness/thinking in a very Marxian mode).
> I use the Luria example simply as an example of how indexes
> of identity might become relevant to interactional moments
> (including psychological "tests"). The big question that
> remains is:
> Does Vygotsky's ideology of language (whether expressed by
> LSV or those to follow) have some way to account for this
> critical feature of semiosis (i.e, indexicality)? And if
> not, then is it compatible with such a theory?
> (and, of course, a failing here is not a serious blow to
> Cultural Historical Activity Theory, it simply points to a
> blind spot that suggests adding a compatible theory).
> I suspect that some of this has been hashed out on XMCA, and
> appreciate responses that simply point me to previous
> discussions on these topics. But, in the event that your
> thinking might have changed, I do also enjoy hearing other's
> current thinking on these issues.
> Best,
> greg
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