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Re: [xmca] Adult before their time?

The issue came up from a qualification of a qualification. It is true what you said, that the Heidegger thread is also relevant to my book, because it is about concepts.

The issue came up because I had a couple of pages describing Vygotsky's claim that only in adolescence are children able to acquire true concepts, the difference between true concepts and pseudoconcepts and the unity of the two, and how it is only because of the young person's entry into a social position with professional responsibilities, participation in politics, and so on, outside the protection of the home and school support system, that they can acquire true concepts.

But then I thought, what is the evidence? how would one know anyway? and what would happen if a child still too immature for true conceptual thinking were to be thrown into responsibility in the wider world, having the rug pulled out from under them too early, so to speak? True conceptual thought is (1) impossible because they have not yet laid down an adequate substratum of pseudo- and potential concepts, but (2) possible because they are participating in societal activity, with a social position, etc. And then I remembered this phrase "grown up before their time," so I thought: what does that look like? what sort of concepts does the child acquire? do we have pre-adolescents learning concepts? what is the negative effect of such precocity?

The same section of Vygotsky (vol 5 pp 26ff) where I found him talking about the adolescent learning concepts in the context of *ideology* as a result of participating in societal life (instability, rigidity, romanticism), I found things like "The unit ..., the simplest action with which the intellect of the adolescent operates, is, of course, not a representation, but a concept," and "The word, becoming a carrier of the concept, is ... the real theory of the object to which it refers," and lots of other stuff relevant to the other thread.


Duvall, Emily wrote:
Good points, Jon.
I wonder, Andy, if you are looking more at children who take on adult
rolls due to traumatic/ unplanned change in their sociocultural
conditions/ in the necessity of the activit(ies) they must perform...

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of Jonathan Tudge JRTUDGE
Sent: Friday, October 23, 2009 7:46 AM
To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Adult before their time?

Greetings, chaps!

Don't we need to distinguish between children who have been recruited as

child soldiers or who currently live in war zones and others who are viewed as "adult before their time"? Just because many of us have become

accustomed to a lengthy adolescence and an adulthood that may not start until the 20s, it was typical until the last couple of hundred years in most places for adulthood to start far earlier. Even after passage of the Factory Acts in England at the start of the 19th century 10-year-olds were still working up to 12 hours a day. In rural parts of Africa, at least until the advent of universal (or at least widespread) primary education

girls as young as five were routinely expected to care for their younger

siblings, and there was no expectation that engaging in productive
labour would only start at age 10.

Jonathan Tudge
155 Stone

Mailing address:
248 Stone Building
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
PO Box 26170
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170

phone (336) 256-0131
fax   (336) 334-5076


Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
10/23/2009 05:30 AM
Please respond to
ablunden@mira.net; Please respond to
"eXtended Mind, Culture,        Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

"eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

Re: [xmca] Adult before their time?

I think the answer to my question may be found in the combination of a paper which Emily sent me: "What Children Can Tell Us About Living in Danger" (by James Garbarino, Kathieen Kostelny, and Nancy Dubrow Erikson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development, Chicago), and Vygotsky's chapter on "Development of Thinking and Formation of Concepts in the Adolescent" in Volume 5 of the LSV CW.

Garbarino & Co. look at a number of zones of conflict, such as the Gaza Strip, and among other things observe that "fanatical" ideology is a vital support for people, especially children, who are faced with enormous moral and emotional pressures. Not hard to see why.

Vygotsky mentions first of all in his explanation of how adolescents acquire concepts as part of a completely new type of thinking characteristic of the "transitional period," the entry into and an interest in ideology. Ideology has the same psychological structure as "science" (cf Davydov's paper on "scientific concepts") especially the abstract sciences like maths and physics. He also says that the child who has just arrived at concepts cannot acquire dialectical thought. This means that adolescents first acquire conceptual thought in the form of relatively rigid systems of meaning, a.k.a., "fanatical" ideology.

This rings true to me. The child forced to grow up before their time who have to make sense of the wider world of societal life, politics and war, acquires fanatical, or at least, overly rigid or simplified *ideology*. What greater ideologist is there than the young Red Guard?

Does this ring true or false to people who have more experience than I do in this business?


Duvall, Emily wrote:
Beah's story is amazing... there was a very good interview with him
is well worth digging for and listening to/viewing. If you search, child soldier, on amazon you will find a plethora of

I would also suggest a few others...

Iqbal by F. D'Adamo about the rug making industry in Pakistan (Iqbal
assassinated for his work in fighting child labor after he escaped and
became an international icon in the war)... there are other
on his life

The Circuit, by F. Jimenez may be a bit out of the realm... child of
illegal immigrant... it is autobiographical, by the way.

Peter Sis' book, The Wall, is an interesting memoir/ graphic novel on
growing up behind the Iron Curtain as a child... being encouraged to
report on loved ones, etc makes for an interesting view of soldiering.

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang is another
interesting perspective on children coming from war

Another direction that could be interesting are Viet Nam and other vet
memoirs... my husband went over as a teenager and his experiences in
recon totally changed him... in other words, the PTSD... I suspect
this is the underlying, common effect that you will find in many
involving children war, being stolen/sold, abandoned, etc.
Some texts, such as Hiroshima, No Pika by T. Maruki, biographical
narrative, don't really get at the child's experience with a child's
voice, but are powerful nonetheless.

I also have on my 'to be read' shelf:
Shattered: Stories of Children and War, by J. Armstrong
Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust A. Zullo
Stolen Voices: Young People's War Diaries by Z Filipovic

Best, Em

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of David Preiss
Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 11:15 AM
To: lchcmike@gmail.com; eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Adult before their time?

Dear Andy,

As regards child soldiers, this recent book is a good reference: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.
It is testimonial.



On Oct 22, 2009, at 11:33 AM, mike cole wrote:

Andy --

Two quick points:

1. The consequences are for development of the whole child in society so focusing on the cognitive seems especially counterproductive in the cases of interest to you and xmca. And may, indeed, provide a privileged site for inquiry. But its very dangerous. A colleague of a friend of mine doing such
research was shot and killed in Rio a few days ago.

2. Good Brazilian street children or child soldiers or several
categories and you should be inundated. I was.


On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 6:19 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

Mmm that looks interesting in itself, about the modern fad among middle class parents for pushing their children to overperform academically. But I suspect I am not going to get an answer to what's intriguing me that way.

When a child is suddenly deprived of their support systems - becoming a street urchin or a child soldier for example or having to look after their siblings if the parents become dysfunctional - then they are thrown into a social situation which we talked of before, in which it is possible to learn
concepts, the very opposite of course of the "scientific concepts"
inculcated at school. I was wondering if the result is a very stunted kind of thinking (like the policeman who knows how to spot a criminal by age, race, and so on) or precocious wisdom which understands that words express social meanings, not just what they appear to mean on the surface, and
watches the lay of the land.

But what is that precocious worldliness in cognitive terms?


mike cole wrote:

Early claims:
David Elkind, The hurried child. Cambridge. DeCapo Press. 1981

On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 3:25 AM, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:

Not quite the same sort of trauma, but there's plenty of pop analysis on
the life of Michael Jackson these days. p

Peter Smagorinsky
Professor of English Education
Department of Language and Literacy Education
The University of Georgia
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 4:19 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] Adult before their time?

Can anyone tell me of any research done on the idea of
children who have "grown up before their time," as a result
of war, family disaster or otherwise having been projected
into the adult world on their own? And how is such a
characterization "adult before their time" made? On the
basis of the use of concepts?? Lack of interest in play??


Tony Whitson wrote:

I would add Nietzsche, along with Heidegger and Derrida, to what Michael

Heidegger is sometimes dismissed as incomprehensible, but Nietzsche and Derrida are more often treated as wild and reckless writers who can be
fun to read, but without looking for any careful argument.

If you don't expect either of them to be writing seriously, you won't read them seriously and you won't see what they're writing. N said as much, but then if you're not taking him seriously, you won't take him
seriously when he says that, either.

I saw an interview with D once where the interviewer, in the interview, in D's presence, ventured that deconstruction was basically the same as
the US sitcom "Seinfeld"--It's just a matter of taking everything
ironically. D replied that if you want to know anything about
deconstruction, you need to do some reading. The interview was pretty
much over at that point.

On Wed, 21 Oct 2009, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

I don't know what people read that Heidegger has written. I personally
have not met a person who has read Sein und Zeit to the end, people appear to read secondary literature rather than the primary. Moreover,
nobody appears to be talking/writing about Unterwegs zur Sprache
(David K., this should be of interest to you), or about Holzwege and other works. First, I can't see anything that would fit the political
ideas of Nazism, for one, and I can't see anything that would be
understandable in terms of the quote that Steve contributes below.

I do understand that Heidegger is difficult to read---I had to take
repeated stabs since I first purchased Sein und Zeit in 1977.

Heidegger, by the way, does very close readings of some ancient Greek philosophers. And when you pay attention to his writing, and do the same with Derrida, for example, then you begin to realize that the
latter has learned a lot from the former.

Now that my English is better than my German ever has been (although
it was my main language for 25 years) I personally know about
problems of translations. Above all, any of the mechanical
translations that have been proposed on this list won't do even the
simplest of texts. And it is about more than literal content.

We can learn from both of them, Heidegger and Derrida, that things are more difficult than they look, and even more difficult than reading
their texts.


On 21-Oct-09, at 7:37 PM, Steve Gabosch wrote:

I appreciate Martin's insights on Heidegger, as I do those of others. I for one don't really know that much about Heidegger's ideas. I am
glad to learn from those that have studied him.

Here is an interesting glossary entry on Heidegger in a book of
Marxist essays by George Novack (1905-1992), Polemics in Marxist
Philosophy: Essays on Sartre, Plekhanov, Lukacs, Engels, Kolalkowski, Trotsky, Timpanaro, Colletti (1978). The glossary to the book was
written by Leslie Evans and edited by Novack.

"Heidegger, Martin (1889-1976) - German existentialist philosopher. His ideas were best expounded in Sein un Zeit (Being and Time, 1927). A philosopher of irrationalism. Heidegger maintained that the chief impediment to human self-development was reason and science, which led to a view of the world based on subject-object relations. Humans were reduced to the status of entities in the thing-world which they were thrown (the condition of "thrownness"). This state of inauthentic being could be overcome neither through theory (science) nor social practice, but only by an inward-turning orientation toward one's self, particularly in the contemplation of death. Heidegger was influenced by Kierkegaard and Husserl (see entries), and in turn deeply affected the thought of Sartre, Camus, and Marcuse. He was himself a chair of philosophy at the University of Freiburg in 1928 after his mentor,
Edmund Husserl, had been forced to relinquish it by the Nazis.
Heidegger supported Hitler, which led to his disgrace at the end of
World War II and his retirement in 1951 to a life of rural
seclusion."  (pg 307-308)

- Steve

On Oct 21, 2009, at 5:04 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:

I think Martin is completely right in the proposition that (taking
account of the continuing fascination the academy has with Heidegger)
his works should be read to understand why and how Fascism and
Heidegger's philosophy supported each other and what should be done
about it.

As Goethe said "The greatest discoveries are made not by individuals
but by their age," or more particularly every age is bequeated
certain problematic by their predecessors, but the different
philosophers confront that problematic in different ways. To say that
those on either side of the battle lines in the struggle of a
particular times have something in common, seems to be in danger of
missing the point.

Also, in my opinion, Husserl and Heidegger may have been responding
to Hegel, but between them they erected the gretest barrier to
understanding Hegel until Kojeve arrived on the scene. But that's
just me. A grumpy old hegelian.


Martin Packer wrote:

A few days ago Steve made passing reference to an article that
apparently Tony had drawn his attention to, titled "Heil Heidegger." I Googled and found that it is a recent article in the Chronicle of
Higher Education.
<http://www.chroniclecareers.com/article/Heil-Heidegger-/ 48806/> The focus of the article is Heidegger's links with and support of the Nazis, and its principal recommendations are that we should stop paying attention to Heidegger, stop translating and publishing his
writing, and "mock him to the hilt."
I feel I should comment on this, since I have occasionally drawn on Heidegger's work in these discussions. I certainly have no intention of apologizing for Heidegger, who seems to have been a very nasty person, who was responsible for some deplorable actions. I do want to question, however, the proposal that because of these facts we
all would be better off ignoring his writing.
I was introduced to Heidegger by a Jewish professor of philosophy who shared his last name (coincidentally as far as I know) with one of the best-known victims of antisemitism. At that time less was
known about Heidegger's Narzism, but by no means nothing, and
recall discussion in the classroom of the issue. I came to feel that the last thing one should try to do is separate the man's work from his life. Perhaps if he had been working on some obscure area of symbolic logic, say, that would have been possible, but Heidegger had written a philosophy of human existence, and this would seem to *demand* that there be consistency between what he wrote and how he
lived. Indeed, perhaps it would be important to study the
writings to try to understand where he went wrong; at what point in
his analysis of human being did Heidegger open the door to the
possibility of fascism? I think in fact that it is in Division II of
Being and Time, where Heidegger is describing what he called
'authentic Dasein,' which amounts to a way that a person relates to time, specifically to the certainty of their own death, that the
mistake is made and the door is opened to evil.
Carlin Romano, the author of the article, doesn't seem to know
Heidegger's work very well. Dasein ("being there," i.e. being-

the-world) is not a "cultural world," nor do "Daseins intersect," as he puts it. (But I suppose that he is mocking Heidegger.) And that brings me to my other reason for recommending that we continue to read Heidegger, his politics and (lack of) ethics notwithstanding. It is that his analysis throws light on issues that have been raised in this group, and were important to LSV and others. I am sure it seems odd to link a Nazi philosopher to a socialist psychologist, but I am hardly the first to see connections. Lucien Goldmann wrote
"Lukacs and Heidegger," a book in which he acknowledged the
incongruity but argued that there are "fundamental bonds" between the two men's work, that at the beginning of the 20th century "on the basis of a new problematic first represented by Lukacs, and then
later on by Heidegger, the contemporary situation was slowly
created. I would add that this perspective will also enable us to display a whole range of elements common to both philosophers, which
are not very visible at first sight, but which nevertheless
constitute the common basis on which undeniable antagonisms
elaborated" (p. 1).
What is this common basis? It is that of overcoming the separation
between subject and object in traditional thought, overcoming
subject/object dualism, by recognizing the role of history in
individual and collective human life, and rethinking the relation between theory and practice. As Michael wrote, Heidegger reexamined
the traditional philosophical distinction between an object (a
being) and what it *is* (its Being), and rejected both idealism and essentialism to argue that what an object is (and not just what it 'means') is defined by the human social practices in which it is
involved, and in which people encounter it. These practices,
course, change over historical time, so the conditions for an object
to 'be' are practical, social, and historical. And since
define themselves in terms of the objects they work with, the basis
of human being is practical, social, and historical too.
I continue to believe that this new kind of ontological analysis,
visible according to Goldmann in the work of both Lukacs and
Heidegger, influenced in both cases by Hegel, is centrally
important. If we can learn from studying Heidegger how to
acknowledge these cultural conditions without falling into a
valorization of the folk, without dissolving individuals in
collective (a failing of the Left just as much as the Right), then
we will have gained, not lost, by reading his texts.

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