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Re: [xmca] Experiences or an experience

David, I've been enjoying your posts today on the problem of units of analysis, and now lines of development - really great stuff. And thanks for the new word, prelapsarian, and the metaphor of the tree roots and trunk. One extra point to keep in mind, possibly lost in the river metaphor, which had a different purpose, is the way the two lines of development speech and thinking transform one another once they meet. Not sure yet how to think of language change in these terms, but I'll keep reading your always intriguing and thought- provoking posts.

- Steve

On Aug 27, 2010, at 4:45 PM, David Kellogg wrote:


It seems to me that the object of a developmental analysis is always a process (language change) and never a thing (language). The object of the historical linguistic analyses I suggested as examples is not a language, but the process of standardization or destandardization (e.g. Mandarin from lingua franca of the mandarinate to a national standard language, or contrariwise, English from the Queen's English to an international lingua franca for rich and/or educated people).

A tree has two roots. They merge in a single trunk, from which branches emerge. But when we examine the branches, we notice that they are morphologically much more like the trunk than like the roots. We often find that LSV's analysis into units yields something that has two roots and many branches.

Perhaps his model for this was western thinkng itself, which in LSV's time was considered to have two roots (Hellenism and Hebraism) which evolved separately for roughly two thousand years and then merged in a single trunk in the renaissance. The resulting new branches (e.g. faith and fiction, law and literature, the Sacred and the Profance) may LOOK like one of them is more Hebraic and one is more Hellenistic, but when we look closer we see that they are more like the enlightenment trunk then the pre-enlightenment roots.

For example, the Protestant reformation is profoundly Hellenistic in its individualism and its all too human god, and on the other hand renaissance paintings of the Greek myths are heavily beholden to Adam and Eve. There is Hebraism in nineteenth century readings of Homer (Pope's translation, and of course Frazer's "Golden Bough) and vice versa, Hellenism, in the way we read the Bible today (the New Testament is very Greek and neo-Platonist in parts, and of course Saint Paul and Saint Augustine were blithering anti-semites).

Thinking and speech works this way. At roughly age two, the two currents of non-verbal thinking and non-rational speech merge and mingle, and nothing is ever quite the same again. So it is wrong to ever reduce the units of verbal thinking (word meaning) to one or the other; you can never go back to the prelapsarian purity of the infant.

That is why language change cannot be reduced to the change of one language into another, and why we have to treat the object of investigation and the unit of analysis as different. The object of investigation is not language per se, but rather language differentiation and language transformation. A developmental analysis cannot reduce any process to a thing (although curiously we often do find it helpful to reconstrue a thing a process, and to understand the units of a process as a struggle between two mutually defining "products").

The Nile has two tributaries, the Blue and the White, and they meet in the city of Khartoum. When the Nile reaches Alexandria and the Mediterranean, it splits into many mouths again. But no matter how many mouths there are, we will probably find that each one contains both blue water and white.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

l.com> wrote:

From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Experiences or an experience
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Friday, August 27, 2010, 11:46 AM

Andy, David, Achilles

Thanks for your clarifications and dialogue [or should I say trialogue] on
this thread.

Andy, "life is not so easy" but your elaboration of the complexity in this
thread was helpful.
As I interpret the comments within  this  thread

"word meaning" as a unit of analysis helps explain the "object" of "verbal thought" which comes into existence at approximately 2 years of age. To explore an alternative object of analysis such as "pre-verbal thought" is to search for an alternative unit of analysis. "Verbal thought" after age 2 is the "macrocosm" of consciousness but NOT THE TOTALITY. If we are attempting to explain phenomena that "may be" [abductive conjecture] outside the object of "verbal thought" then word meaning is not the unit of analysis that should be engaged. We must look for an alternative unit of analysis or

The broader category or "object of analysis" is "consciousness" which is
defined as the relation or interplay of the human being within the
environment. In order to explain "consiousness" as the human/ environment
interplay and to explain the genetic and historical FORMATION of
"consciousness" the most coherent "unit of analysis" is pereshivanie.

Is this interpretation of this thread misunderstanding the train of thought
or am I somewhat on track?


On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 8:12 AM, Achilles Delari Junior <
achilles_delari@hotmail.com> wrote:

"Life is not so easy"... this is very right. Beyond concrete selection of a unit, we can see a complex meta-conceptual, methodological arrange of terms in LSV, not ever detailled - and not all connected in a single word, neither period of creative work of this author. For instance we can find the problem of "object of analysis" as a broader whole (not ever totality?) and the "unit of analysis", as "part" but containing the whole *main* contradictions
(I guess not *all* contradictions). But I wonder we must connect even
"object of analysis" also with its "explanatory principle" (another
important meta-concept). Maybe a "unit of analysis" could be a kind of mediation between the object of analysis and its "explanatory principle" - I think the exploratory principle as social human existence... consciousness as function of human existence (social by definition) but not a immediate
function... what could be only "reaction" - but a mediated one - for
instance mediated by word meaning. I understand the problem of
generalization/social interaction (obushchenie/obobushchenie ? how to
translate?). Another metca-concept transversal for all analitical task is, of course, is the own genetic aproach, even better, historical apprach - withouth which nothing will be understood well... Then we must be put the
three first categories is movement to really understand the object of

What do you think? This could makes some sense?


P.S. Nevertheless I did not understand claerly the difference between
"explanatory principle" and "motrice power" as Vygotsky explain in the book
about The Crisis of Psychology... I guess a sample is that for
psychoanalisys "sexuality" is "motrice power" and unconsciouss is
"explanatory principle", orh vice versa... but I don't know well what the correspondent for own historical-cutural psychology. I only can see social
relations, human social existence as both - explanatory principle and
motrice power... but this could be a mistake of mine... I don't know.

Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 00:30:55 +1000
From: ablunden@mira.net
To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
  > Subject: Re: [xmca] Experiences or an experience

I gave a pat answer to David earlier because I didn't want
to get into a big debate about this, but life is never so
easy is it?

In the context of the study of comparative linguistics (is
that the right term?) "a language" is the complex whole
whose movement and dynamics of change you want to
understand. As you say, Achilles, it is in fact the "object
of analysis."

What is the unit for the study of a "a language" is not
something which can be said off the cuff. It requires deep
study and understanding I don't have. But I would observe
for starters that a language cannot be considered separately
from the people, social practices and other constellations
of artefacts which constitute it. But what is the unit of
analysis? I don't know. According to Herder, every people
has the Schwerpunkt, or strong point, basically "leading
activity" and it would be this leading activity that should
be looked at. But I don't know.

As to a pereshivanie, it is, yes, a unit of analysis for
Vygotsky for a more general study of consciousness, as in
the relation of a human being to their environment. "Word
meaning" as you say, David, is a unit of analysis only for
verbal thought, a specific mode of consciousness which
Vygotsky takes as the macrocosm for all consciousness. But
macroscosm is not totality.


Achilles Delari Junior wrote:
Please David, when "a language" is "an unit of analysis", what is the
"object of analysis" in this case? Don't you agree that when LSV for
instance, talk about a "word meaningn" or a "perezhianie" as an unit of analisys, this is a unit for analysis of consciousness development as an
object of analysis?

Thank you.


Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 15:55:28 +1000
From: ablunden@mira.net
To: vaughndogblack@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: [xmca] Experiences or an experience
CC: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu

Yes, of course. I hesitated before sending that. In the
appropriate context "a language" is the unit of analysis.


David Kellogg wrote:
Of course, language CAN be a unit of (cultural historical) analysis.
Suppose we are trying to understand, for example, how languages
from standard languages into lingua franca (e.g. French in eighteenth
century Europe, Latin in the middle ages, English today)and vice
versa (e.g. Swahili). Then languages are a unit of (historical
linguistics) analysis, but they are not a unit of psychological

I think that word meaning is indeed a unit of analysis for
consciousness,  and it is a superior unit of analysis than
which is too general and which often does not contain the properties
the whole (e.g. animal activity). But I think word meaning covers
consciousness only after a particular point (the point at which
becomes rational and thinking becomes verbal, let us say, age two).
Perhaps Vygotsky was looking at "perizhvanie" as a rather more
general unit of analysis for a different set of problems (not
only consciousness as we know it, but thinking in preverbal children

It is a little fashionable, in my neck of the woods, to argue that
cognitivist approaches to language acquisition and socio-cultural
(a.k.a. cultural historical) accounts are "incommensurable
that comparing the ZPD to Krashen's "i + 1" (that is, the
"next structure" that a language learner can acquire) is a little
trying to measure mass with a unit of information (kilobytes instead
kilograms). See, for example, the work of Dunn and Lantolf.

It's a nice argument. It helps us stake out our own territory, on
cognitivists do not dare to tread, and it helps us exchange
with contiguous territories and sign mutual non-agression treaties
so on. It also gets us out of a lot of the unpleasant work of
of competing cognitivist theories; we simply declare them
incommensurable and go our merry way.

Churlishly, I am not very sympathetic to this argument. Krashen is simply wrong: he has been empirically shown to be wrong (Huilstijn
Huilstijn, for example). There isn't a universal hierarchy of
structures any more than there is one of Piagetian cognitive stages
which it is undoubtedly related). But the fact that we can show that
Krashen's attempt to map out fixed rates and routes of learning
work, that the zone of proximal development accounts for ranges and routes of development much better, tells me that at some level our paradigms are commensurable, because we are measuring the same kinds
things even if they don't exactly have the same names (Ohms and volts
not measure exactly the same thing either, but they are certainly
measurements of the same phenomenon).

Vygotsky's whole point about "units of analysis" is that that some
at which paradigms are commensurable can be too elemental. We need a
unit where the properties of the whole are still present, and the
will vary with the practical problem we want to solve. For historical
linguistics it is the language, for verbal thinking it is word
meaning, for evolution it's the species.

The point at which hypotheses such as Krashen's can be proven wrong
reduction of language into words and rules acquired in a given order) does not always help us answer the practical question we are asking
(e.g. how DO we teach children that "There is a fire" is
and even indicative and "Fire exists" is not). For this set of
problems, we may find different units of analysis, or different
refinements of a same unit of analysis (I think, for example, that
difference here has to do with the word meaning of "a" as well as the
word meaning of "there" and not necessarily the word meaning of

This is unfortunate, particularly for those of us who think that good fences make good neighbors. But the situation is really no different
physics: there is a level at which energy and information are (or at least may be) commensurable, but it's not the level at which we solve
most of our practical problems.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On *Thu, 8/26/10, Andy Blunden /<ablunden@mira.net>/* wrote:

     From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
     Subject: Re: [xmca] Experiences or an experience
     To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
     Date: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 8:50 PM

     No. Particularity is not the issue. One can make general
about units of analysis. The point is that word meaning can be a
     unit of analysis but language cannot.


     Larry Purss wrote:
      > Hi Andy
> I was pondering your question about experience and came across
     this quote by
      > Peirce.
> [in an article written by S. Paavola, K. Hakkarainen, and M.
      > "Abduction With Dialogical and Trialogical Means"]
> Peirce was discussing the role of indexical signs in relation
     our shared
      > world.
> "For example, if example be needed, suppose a man to go out
     his house at
      > night and see the light of a distant fire in the sky.  He
meets a
> and remarks, "There is a fire." If he had only said "a fire
     exists", he
> would have conveyed next to NO meaning at all. Not quite no
     meaning, since
      > the remark would even so refer to that universe that is
     known to
> both men. But in saying "There is a fire" he refers to the
> experience of THAT very PLACE and TIME, and virtually says
     if the
> second person will raise his eyes and look about him, he will
     find the
> COMMON EXPERIENCE of THAT PLACE and TIME to connect itself
with the
> experience of a light AS OF a fire, the mode of connection
being the
> familiar one that the speaker INDICATED" [In collected papers
> Andy, was your question about "an" experience indicating the
      > of "particular" shared experiences as foundational for
> ground" and not over generalized "lived experience"? [A term
     notice I
      > like to use]
      > Larry
      > _______________________________________________
      > xmca mailing list
      > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
      > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca


     *Andy Blunden*
     Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
     Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
     Book: http://www.brill.nl/scss

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