[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: [xmca] Types of Generalization: concepts and pseudoconcepts
It seems as though Vygotsky's theory recognized only one kind of
adult, rational concept, which he called at various times the "true
concept," the "scientific concept," etc. In Ch 6 of T&S Vygotsky
contrasted his theory of the true concept with the "spontaneous" or
"everyday" concept, which he seems to have associated with various
forms of complexive thinking, including the pseudoconcept, the
potential concept, the preconcept, etc.
On the other hand, Davydov's theory, appreciative of the
accomplishments and critical of the shortcomings of Vygotsky's work on
concept formation, recognizes not just one but **two** kinds of
rational concepts, which he calls the empirical concept (more
precisely, the "general conceptualization") and the theoretical
concept (the "content-based generalization"). I find his general
arguments for this persuasive, and consistent with a philosophical
book I have found influential on my thinking about concepts - as did
Davydov - Ilyenkov's The Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete
in Marx's Capital (1960).
However, so far as I can tell, while Davydov discusses Vygotsky's work
on complexes, he did not fully incorporate this work into his theory.
Why not? Or has he? More on this below.
Andy, in speaking of an "absolutely non-empirical social factor" in
human activity I take it you are affirming the CHAT principle that
cultural knowledge is, for a large part, derived by the individual
**indirectly** through the words, artifacts and actions of other
people, through **cultural** interaction, and not just **directly**
through individual **sensory** experience. Is this what you mean?
Also, Andy, you suggest that for you or me, a 'rook' is a concept, but
for a child, it is probably a potential concept (or might be, may I
add, a pre-concept, or a pseudo-concept). How is that different from
suggesting that for concept-trained adults, cev, bik, mur and lag are
concepts, even though for a child they might be a pseudo-concepts?
Not quite understanding your argument ...
The problem may lie in whether we are using the term "concept" in the
one-rational-concept-system theory of Vygotsky or the two-rational-
concept-system theory of Davydov. I was using Vygotsky's system. One
reason I am having trouble easily jumping from LSV's system to VVD's
is some confusion I am having over terminology, along with Davydov's
(for me, so far) unsatisfying account of complexive thinking.
Interestingly, Davydov seems to only employ the term "true concept"
twice in Types of Generalizations. Once as part of a quote from
Bruner et al, and once in the section in Chapter 6 on Vygotsky's work
on concept formation, nearby some of the quotes you cite. Here is
what Davydov says about true concepts:
"From the standpoint of dialectical logic, concepts, as they are
encountered in our everyday speech, are not concepts in the proper
sense of the word. They are, rather, general conceptions of things.
But it is indisputable that they are a transitional stage from
complexes and pseudo-concepts to true concepts in the dialectical
sense of the word [65, pp. 196-197]."
In a sense, this may be the same problem that you point to in your
essay, Andy, where Vygotsky was using the generic term "concept" to
refer to both all concept formations at all developmental levels as
well as to their most highly developed forms. Davydov, and perhaps
you, may sometimes be doing something similar - "concepts," "true
concepts," "concepts in the proper sense of the word," etc. Maybe a
clearer taxonomic nomenclature is needed. Or maybe there is something
I am not yet quite getting.
Davydov's suggestion that general conceptualizations are
**transitional** between "everyday" speech, that is, "complexes and
pseudo-concepts," seems very important to me. Is there a place where
he specifically develops this idea, or perhaps, where someone else
does? Understanding how to fully incorporate what we know about
complexive thinking into a general theory of concept formation might
help me to make the leap from Vygotsky to Davydov.
On Sep 12, 2009, at 8:33 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
Steve Gabosch wrote:
One, what do you mean by "an absolutely non-empirical social factor"
One. When I say "absolutely non-empirical" I do not try to deny that
all knowledge begins from the senses. For example, if I drive on the
left because the law requires me to, I still have to be able to read
signs, understand speech etc. to know and obey that law. But you
wouldn't call that "empirical" would you? Concepts come to us
through using artefacts in joint actions with other people, i.e.,
activity, not passive contemplation. See "Theses on Feuerbach."
Conceptual knowledge presupposes all the senses, but is not thereby
any game. In chess, for example, rooks and pawns are "concepts" -
Two. I thought about exactly this one as well. So if playing a good
game of chess, knowing the moves for Kings and Knights etc., and how
to play a good strategy, implies *conceptual* thought, then all the
primary school children who participate in chess championships are
alredy masters of true concepts. And it doesn't stop there, does it?
The implication is that *logical thinking* is ipso facto, conceptual
thought. But primary school kids in general use logical argument,
apply strategies in games, learn arithmetic and grammatical rules,
So why is LSV so insistent that conceptual thought is possible only
for adolescents? I couldn't find the reference, maybe someone can,
but I am sure LSV believes that logical thinking and argument by
giving reasons "belongs" to the 7-11 age group, not 15+ - like with
LSV's example of a "dog", "rook" may be a concept for you, but for a
child "rook" is a potential concept.
The point is that "machine-like" logical thought is not conceptual
thought. It relies on pre-concepts, or what Davydov calls
(charitably in my view) "empirical concepts" or on one occasion
Does that help?
http://www.erythrospress.com/ Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel,
Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea
xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list