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Re: [xmca] Two "Neoformations" or One?
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Two "Neoformations" or One?
- From: mike cole <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2010 18:05:57 -0700
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Where is anthropomorphic epistemology, now that we need it??
On Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 5:46 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
> I think the main thing about Chapter Six is that Vygotsky decides that man
> made the concept in his own image, and not in the image of an apple.
> In Chapter Six a concept is a doing, feeling, thinking, speaking and above
> all developing entity and not a senseless, timeless, thoughtless and
> wordless block of wood whose only relations with others are those that we
> impose on it.
> So at the end of Chapter Six we have a pretty clear idea of how higher
> forms of verbal thought develop in their creator's image. They develop from
> the outside in, but of course we are talking about the outs and ins of
> social man and not biomechanical man; the class, the community, the family,
> and the classroom, and not the hair, skin and toenails.
> (The problem with teaching this today is, as Eagleton says, everybody wants
> to talk about the bodies we eat and copulate with and nobody really wants to
> consider the ones we work and produce and enter into relations of
> exploitation with. Our model of communication is, alas, much more like
> consumption and copulation than exploitation and production, and more is the
> So I think that the main thing about Chapter Seven is that Vygotsky is now
> in a position to show how the process actually works, by reverse engineering
> the outside-in way it developed. Unlike you, I don't care much for the cloud
> and the rain metaphor (in Chinese, the "game of rain and clouds" is a
> literary euphemism for copulation). But it makes complete sense to me to see
> real-time communication as being the reversal of the process by which the
> various planes it must pass through once developed. As with foreign language
> learning and native language learning, microgenesis not only does not
> recapitulate ontogenesis, it often actually reverses it.
> Now, it appears that while Vygotsky was working on Chapter Six and Chapter
> Seven, he was lecturing at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad.
> Apparently, at exactly the same time, Valentin Volosinov was working there.
> It is absolutely inconceivable to me that these two men, who had so much in
> common (including large amounts of quoted material) did not meet and talk
> quite regularly, though I can imagine that neither one would want to
> make very much of the fact (Volosinov cites Vygotsky only once and Vygotsky
> never even mentions Volosinov's name, though he shamelessly lifts his
> I mention this detail because the whole section on "sense" and
> "signification" is almost meaningless if you go back and you read the
> original Paulhan source. As A. A. Leontiev remarks, Paulhan is talking about
> nothing more than the tired old distinction between denotation and
> connotation. Being a protestant minister and not a psychologist, he even
> manages to hopelessly muddle that up.
> On the one hand, he insists that purely idiosyncratic meanings are "beneath
> sense" (e.g. his association of a certain man he knows with a plate of
> scrambled eggs), and on the other he decides that when we say that something
> was "too... for words" we are actually expressing a signification, because
> we just expressed the fact that it was impossible to express a sense, and
> yet there appears to be something communicated after all. Or not, as the
> case may be. No wonder Paulhan gave the whole idea up in his book length
> treatment of the topic (La signification des mots, 1929).
> So I assume that Lev Semyonovich talked this all over with his occasional
> colleague Valentin Nikolaeivich in what must have been some extremely
> absorbing chats around the faculty samovar. "Sense" is simply what Volosinov
> calls theme, that is, the concrete, pragmatic specificity of language, taken
> on the psychological as well as the socio-interacitonal plane. And
> "signification" is what Volosinov calls meaning, that is, the abstract,
> self-similar, semantic generality of language, taken on a plane that is
> always present in psychology as well as social interaction, but in its pure
> form is only found in classrooms, dictionaries, and definitions.
> One of them never repeats. The other never changes. And yet,
> microgenetically, the unchanging meaning is what helps us create the
> ever-changing theme. And ontogenetically immutable meaning is nothing more
> than the accumulated logical residue of billions upon billions
> of flickering, fluttering and fast disappearing themes. (See? Lenin wasn't
> such a philosophical neophyte after all!)
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> PS: Ah! The process of representing the thought! Well, here are three ways
> to unpack it.
> a) There is a school of speech reception called "analysis by synthesis". It
> proceeds from the assumption that we analyze the speech stream by assuming
> that WE are producing it, and trying to figure out what we would be feeling
> and thinking if we were the producers of the sounds that we are
> perceiving. It's a good deal more technical than this, and some models of
> "analysis by synthesis" involve an "associative store" that we would not
> want to subscribe to, but the basic idea is absolutely consistent with
> Tomasello and Trevarthenan (and Bakhtin); the basic psychological impulse
> behind all human understanding is an act of imaginative empathy.
> b) Jay Lemke points out that if we divide language into the three
> "Hallidayan" levels of soundings, wordings, and meanings, we CANNOT have a
> one to one correspondence at any level (because a one to one correspondence
> renders the whole semantic stratification useless--why not just go straight
> from sounding to meaning, or from meaning to sounding, which you please?).
> His solution is what he calls META-redundancy: sounding does not repeat
> wording or repeat meaning, but instead redounds their redundancy. A sound
> stands not for a wording or a meaning but for the whole act of
> the representation of meaning by a wording. A meaning stands not for a word
> nor for a sound but for the whole process of reconstrual of word by a
> c) You know the Russian formalists (and their cousins, the Acmeists) were
> much enamored the threefold distinction between form, content, and material
> (the FORM of a statue is Michelangelo's style of "non finito", the CONTENT
> is his idea of the Pieta or his David or his Titans emergent, and the
> MATERIAL, about which he himself wrote obsessively but two which we pay
> almost no attention today, was the marble blocks he so coveted, which he
> would call "my beautiful meat").
> You can see that the relationship between form, content, and material is
> rather like the relation between meaning, wording, and sound. In fact,
> Vygotsky's friend Mandelstam has this to say about it:
> "But the word is not a thing. Its significance is not the equivalent of a
> translation of itself (...) It is most convenient and in the scientific
> sense most accurate to regard the word as an image; that is, a verbal
> representation. In this way, the question of form and content is removed;
> assuming the phonetics are the form, everything else is the content. The
> problem of what is of primary significance, the word or its sonic
> properties, is also removed. Verbal representation is an intricate complex
> of phenomena, a connection, a "system". The signifying aspect of the word
> can be regarded as a candle burning from inside a paper lantern; the sonic
> representation, the so-called phonemes, can be placed inside the signifying
> aspect, like the very same candle in the same lantern."
> Mandelshtam, O.E. (1977) Austin: University of Texas Press. Selected
> Essays. (Translated by Sidney Monas.) pp. 75-76.
> --- On Sun, 4/25/10, Martin Packer <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> From: Martin Packer <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Two "Neoformations" or One?
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Sunday, April 25, 2010, 4:01 PM
> I have had in front of me all week a half-finished reply to your message
> about mastery and conscious awareness. We have had an out of town visitor
> this week, and it has been my responsibility to make sure she isn't
> kidnapped or subjected to food poisoning or just plain lost, and so my reply
> still isn't finished. But today I found some time to read over your
> translations of chapter 7, since that is the topic for class on Tuesday and
> I am woefully unprepared.
> There are lots of interesting ideas in your comments to this chapter, but
> one really leapt out at me: that "When we speak, the sound does not
> represent the thought. The sound represents to others only the PROCESS OF
> REPRESENTING THE THOUGHT. By understanding this process (which is specific
> in every case) they can reconstruct the thought for themselves."
> I have (redundantly) said several times on xmca that I find the work of
> Wolfgang Iser and Hayden White very helpful, since it shows us something
> about the way a listener/reader actively works with a text, oral or written.
> Their work is based on the insight that the meaning of a text is not
> contained 'in' it, but is an event, an occurrence, of interpretation and
> Consequently, I find very appealing your gloss of LSV's description of the
> complex process of the relation between thinking and speaking. But I think
> you've made a leap here that leaves me a little breathless, and hesitant to
> follow. The sound does not represent the thought, yes. The other person has
> to reconstruct the speaker's thought on the basis of their words, yes. But
> perhaps you can unpack for me a little what you mean by saying that the
> sound "represents... the process of representing the thought"?
> What I find in these passages is the proposal that a thought can be
> expressed in many different ways, that there is always a subtext, a "latent
> sense," an aspect of thought that goes unexpressed or hidden, and that
> consequently an utterance can be interpreted in several different ways.
> Thinking is holistic; a thought is a whole which must be decomposed and
> reconstituted to produce a sequence of words. What was simultaneous must be
> developed sequentially, as a storm cloud unleashes a torrent of raindrops.
> The passage from thought to word, consequently, is always indirect, blazing
> a trail of signification. Thought doesn't coincide with words; it doesn't
> even coincide with the meaning of words, so it must pass through
> signification. LSV seems to be drawing here again the distinction between
> sense and signification. Earlier he wrote that signification is "the stone
> of the edifice of sense," and David, in your comments you suggest that his
> view differs from
> Paulhan's in seeing sense and signification as a complex unity. What he
> calls the "fundamental law of the dynamic of significations" (how LSV loved
> fundamental laws!) is that a word is "enriched" by "sense which it pulls
> from the whole context." As the word absorbs emotional and cognitive
> content from its context, it comes to signify both more and less than it
> could in isolation. This signification provides an internal mediation
> between thinking and speaking. When thinking arrives at words, the thought
> has been mediated internally by significations and externally by words. As a
> result of these mediations a thought is not simply expressed, it is
> "realized," "incarnated" in the "flesh" of language. The passage across the
> planes of verbal thinking - from thought to inner speech to the internal
> form of the word and finally to its outer form - can take an infinite
> variety of routes. Furthermore, the explanation of thinking is to be found
> not in other
> thoughts but in the motives and wishes of the speaker that underlying and
> move thoughts, as the wind moves the storm cloud. To understand someones
> speech is in the final analysis to grasp their motives.
> On Apr 20, 2010, at 4:17 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
> > Martin
> > What if "conscious awareness and mastery" were not TWO neoformations but
> only one? What I mean is that "mastery" in its fully mature, adolescent form
> is not unconscious mastery, the sort of thing we see in fluent language
> performance of grammatical rules, but instead the DELIBERATE, INTENTIONAL,
> CONSCIOUS mastery of the child's behavior, the sort of thing we see when
> errors become deliberate, intentional, and conscious acts of linguistic
> > Some Korean fifth graders are playing a game. It involves looking at
> cards and issuing invitations, e.g. "Let's go skating'" and then accepting
> the invitation and the card if you have a matching card but refusing the
> invitation and declining the card with a suitable excuse. Eunji is offered
> the skating card, and most of the children say "Let's play skating" (because
> the previous card was "Let's play basketball." Eunji declines the card using
> "Sorry I can't" but does not give a suitable excuse. The teacher asks "Why
> not?" to prompt her, and she cannot think of one, so she says "Because I
> don't have that card". According to the rules of the game, this is wrong
> because it is not a reason to not go skating and she loses the round, but it
> certainly shows conscious awareness and mastery of the rules.
> > When we look at the other "neoformations" described in Volume Five of the
> Collected Works, we frequently notice that there are several incarnations of
> the same neoformation. For example, the neoformation for the Crisis at One
> is "autonomous speech" but it is also autonomous walking and other forms of
> autonomous activity as well. The crisis of "negativity" involves nay-saying
> but it also involves nay-doing and even nay-thinking.
> > Vygotsky has a difficult problem. He has to somehow reconcile his
> pre-Decree (on pedology) work (viz, Chapter Five of Thinking and Speech)
> which is entirely about the complex and which very clearly states that the
> concept qua concept does not exist until adolescence with his post-Decree
> work (viz. Chapter Six) whcih just as clearly says that the previous work
> was wrong and that complexes must be left at the schoolhouse door in primary
> > He takes one step back--he criticizes his previous work in a thoroughly
> principled manner, without pissing on any of his former colleagues (not an
> easy feat, given the circumstances). And then he takes three giant leaps
> > a) he redefines the highest stage of complexive thinking as the
> "preconcept", viz. the concept for others, the concept which is behaviorally
> mastered but not necessarily conscious. In this way, "conscous awareness and
> mastery" can be only one neoformation and not two, but it is the
> neoformation in its preconceptual stage, a stage which corresponds to what
> was referred to, rather confusingly, as a pseudoconcept in Chapter Five.
> > b) he brings future development into the present by including the next
> moment of development as a visible behavioral potential in the present
> moment of development (what we see in collaboration). In this way,
> "conscious awareness and mastery" might be a behavior which has been
> independently mastered but whose consciousness is for the present moment of
> development still inter-mental.
> > c) he begins to work out, quite explicitly, the behavioral, mental, and
> verbal descriptions of each moment of development as part of a unified (but
> unfinished) scheme of Child Development. That is why not just the age period
> of adolescence but all of the age periods described in Volume Five have
> different manfestations in action, thinking and speech (and after the Crisis
> at One the central line of development is always a verbal line)
> > William Hazlitt, a failed painter, romantic, dissenter, and essayist who
> hung around with Coleridge and Wordsworth but unlike them never gave up his
> belief in the French Revolution and his fierce hatred for monarchy, wrote,
> while still very young, an essay in which he criticized all of the previous
> psychological writing by Locke and Hume which tried to explain behavior from
> the inside, by ascribing the child's actions to his "passions" or his
> "interests". Hazlitt argued that the child's future man (what his friend
> Wordsworth referred to when the he said "the child is the father of the
> man") is unreal but extremely real to the child, and in that way the child's
> relationship to that future person is very similar to the child's
> relationship to OTHER PEOPLE in his environment. That means that
> development, motivated by actions taken with the future child and the
> virtual self that the child sees around him in mind, can be both interested
> and disinterested,
> > both reducible to the child's interests and passions and not so.
> > Unlike Vygotsky, Hazlitt lived on a few more decades after this mighty
> leap, but he was never able to publish the ramifications of this "theory of
> human action" in a single volume. The weird thing is that it peeks out at
> you from most of the essays that Hazlitt did write, on things like boxing,
> painting, and...the way his friend Thomas Keane played Hamlet in the
> Shakespeare play.
> > David Kellogg
> > Seoul National University of Education
> > --- On Mon, 4/19/10, Martin Packer <email@example.com> wrote:
> > From: Martin Packer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Subject: Re: [xmca] The strange situation
> > To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
> > Date: Monday, April 19, 2010, 6:47 AM
> > Thanks, Sue. That makes perfect sense, doesn't it - there is indeed then
> a focus in the Golden Key Schools on the two neoformations that LSV
> emphasized: conscious awareness and mastery. One thing that puzzles me,
> though, is that LSV proposed that these neoformations are involved in the
> use of concepts, not of complexes, and Gennady Kratsova writes that the
> program assumes that concepts will not be used until adolescence. Yet they
> apparently make efforts to encourage conscious awareness and mastery in
> younger children.
> > Can you tell us more about the way moral development is viewed in the
> Golden Key Schools, and how the "nurturer" takes care of this?
> > Martin
> > On Apr 18, 2010, at 1:40 AM, Sue March wrote:
> >> Hi Martin
> >> I was at the summer school last year. According to my notes the term
> >> Gennady used was овладение (ovladenie) which I would translate as
> mastery or
> >> mastering rather than acquiring. I do not know if this is how it is
> >> translated though - others may be able to elaborate on this.
> >> Have just caught up with this interesting conversation over the weekend
> >> (perils of part-time PhD study). The "pair pedagogy" is indeed a
> >> part of creating the ZPD in Golden Key Schools. There are different
> >> in Russian for the two teachers - one is a "teacher" or учитель
> >> and the other a "nurturer" or воспитатель (vospitatel') who takes care
> >> the moral upbringing of the child, two aspects of development that were
> >> separate in Vygotsky's time and which are reunited in the GK schools.
> >> The Golden Key School methodology (including pair pedagogy) was
> developed by
> >> Elena and Gennady together with their colleague Elena Berezhkovskaya.
> >> Elena and Gennady have also published the following chapter which may be
> >> interest:
> >> Kravtsov, G. G., & Kravtsova, E. E. (2009). Cultural-historical
> >> in the practice of education (S. March, Trans.). In M. Fleer, M.
> Hedegaard &
> >> J. Tudge (Eds.), World yearbook of education 2009: childhood studies
> >> the impact of globalization: policies and practices at global and local
> >> levels. New York: Routledge.
> >> Sue March
> >> PhD Candidate
> >> Monash University, Australia
> >> Sue.March@education.monash.edu.au
> >> On 18/04/10 11:26 AM, "Martin Packer" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> >>> P.S. Gennadi Kravtsov writes that "Acquiring is a very important
> concept in
> >>> Vygotsky's theory." Can any one tell me what Russian word is being used
> >>> and how it is usually translated, because I don't think 'acquire'
> appears as a
> >>> central concept in the English translations I am familiar with.
> >>> Martin
> >>> _______________________________________________
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