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Re: [xmca] Piaget on Within-Stage Variability

Larry, I am surprised you say "The empirical sciences put 'true' concepts as the HIGHEST value." I don't know what you mean by "empirical sciences" but for *analytical* science, what Vygotsky called "pseudoconcept" is the *only* kind of concept. I have always taken this to be what is behind Valsiner's view.
Larry Purss wrote:
On a similar topic, I  continue to reflect on Valsiner's perspective that
the level of "pseudoconcepts" [externally mediated and not systematic] are a
fundamental and central  level of cognitive processing for most
interactivity in the life world.   Thinking with "true" concepts may be a
specialized form of cognition which is "valued" in particular academic
institutions [and also particular work places] but by calling it "higher"
[geographical metaphor]  gives "true" [really real] concepts a privileged
"value" description of "better" as a way to judge or evaluate a particular
historically developed form of cognition which is very USEFUL, but is it the
apex of development?

I wonder if there is a tension between "true" concepts and the notion of
"attunement" or primary sensorimotor coordination of interactivity.  Throw
in Herbert Clark's pointing out how institutional structures mediate
interactivity [independently of my personal "intentions"] and "true" higher
concepts seems to be one among a variety of ways of coordinating

The empirical sciences put "true" concepts as the HIGHEST value but this may
be a NORMATIVE value which expresses a particular "tradition" or framework
or horizon of understanding.  By valuing "systematic" ways of cognizing as
"higher" are we de-valuing other ways of cognizing that may be as "adaptive"
in particular contexts [as INTERweaving] but not so systematic.
[Moscovici's theory of "social" representations of cognition as "poly"
contrasting with Durkheim's theory of "collective" representations]

The earlier discussion on the place of "metaphor" in our theory of cognition
is an example of a form of cognizing that is NOT systematic but is it
therefore a "lower" form of cognizing.  Metaphor's power may be in its power
to disrupt "systematic" thinking by introducing novel linkages between
ideas.  EMERGENCE may also be in tension with "true" concepts [which

I may be showing my misunderstanding of the shared understandings of the
vocabulary as understood on CHAT as I eclectically move between conceptual
systems, and if my thoughts are muddled, I find this topic is fraught with
potholes as I try to navigate my way through.

I don't have answers to these musings but the questions leave me wondering


On Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 5:33 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

In the early-mid 1950's a remarkable group of scholars met in Geneva to
discuss issues of development. The entire book of discussions on child
development is too big to make a pdf of, but the discussion on stages and
mechanisms of change, involving Piaget, Margaret Mead, Lorenz, Grey
Walter, Tanner the growth guy, and others could be if there is sufficient
interest -- or perhaps Mead's paper.

This is the set of meetings sponsored by Macey Foundation which got Piaget
and Mead talking about culture and development and contributed a lot to the
large set of empirical studies in the late 1950's. In reading the
as part of re-viewing the cross-cultural landscape, I came upon this
statement in the discussion about stages.

This is the same point that Bowlby raised when in his reply to my
essay he said 'I wonder if Piaget accepts the idea that, at all ages,
behaviour is regulated by cognitive processes of different degrees of
development-that in some of our actions we operate with a fullyfledged
intelligence and in others none at all, and that in respect
of anyone activity we may shift from one level to another?'
Well, I fully accept this idea. Our cognitive functions are certainly
not uniform for every period of the day. Although I am mainly engaged
in intellectual operations, I am for example at an operatory
level for only a small part of the day when I devote myself to my
work. The rest of the time I am dealing with empirical
trial and error. At the time when I drove a car and my engine went
wrong it was even empirical trial and error on a very low level, as
you can imagine. Every moment I am indulging in pre-operatory
intuition. At other times I go even lower and almost give way to
magical behaviour. If I am stopped by a red light when I am in a
hurry it is difficult for me not to link this up with other preoccupations
of the moment. In short, the intellectual level varies considerably,
exactly like the affective level, according to the different times of the
day, but for each behaviour pattern I think we shall find a certain
correspondence. For example, for a primitive emotion a very low
intellectual level, and for a lofty aesthetic or moral sentiment a high
intellectual level. We shall always have this correspondence between
the two aspects.*

How did it come about that this discussion was forgotten? I have never seen
Piaget quoted in this way in the English or Russian language translations.
My French is too lousy to have any idea about that. The closest I can come
to systematic investigation by Americans that follows this logic is in the
work of Kurt Fischer and his colleagues.

For me a big question is: How does this kind of variability get organized
along with the diachronic sequence of transformations laid out in Boris's
article in the Vygotsky Companion very interestingly elaborated upon by
David Kel? This question is related to my constantly worrying the issue of
what is meant by "social situation of development" (singular) for people
think that higher psychological functions are organized according to the
activities they mediate as well as the properties of the mediational


PS- Still reading LSV's *Educational Psychology* and working up to David's
essay on the Psych of Art and its place in development of LSV's thinking.
That far behind!
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*Andy Blunden*
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