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Re: [xmca] Piaget on Within-Stage Variability

The following passage from *Cultural Psychology* may be wrong, but may be
promising. Its ancient now,
of course, and the ancients had a unique human ability to be incorrect,
unlike us! :-)
PS-- Note the non-accidental similarity to Engels.

 *The Issue of Temporal Succession*

In attempting to characterize the temporal relationship between phylogeny
and cultural history, one early 20th century misconception that the Russian
cultural-historical psychologists shared with their anthropological
colleagues in the United States was that there is a strict temporal
succession: first comes phylogeny, then cultural history. They summarized
their notion of how the different developmental domains interact as follows:

... one process of development dialectically prepares for the next one,
transforming and changing into a new type of development. We do not think
that all three processes fall into a straight-line sequence. Instead, we
believe that each higher type of development starts precisely at the point
where the previous one comes to an end and serves as its continuation in a
new direction.

 The first sentence in this passage appears a straightforward statement of
the reasonable idea that phylogeny constitutes the context for
cultural-history and that cultural history forms the proximal context of
ontogeny. Each time two streams of history come together, a context is
created in which a new processes, a new type of development, emerges. This
idea needs to be held on to and elaborated.

But, as Wertsch (1985) has pointed out, the idea that each "higher" level
starts precisely at the point where the previous one comes to an end is a
real problem. This idea reflects a "critical point" theory of cultural
origins of the kind proposed by Alfred Kroeber (1917) when he introduced the
idea of culture as a superorganic reality separate from phylogeny. As seen
in Figure 6.2,  Kroeber depicts cultural history "lifting off" from

[Figure 6.2]

phylogeny. The evidence presented earlier that mediation through artifacts
makes its appearance in the hominid line millions of years before the
appearance of homo sapiens argues against a critical point theory and for a
process of dialectical interaction between phylogenetic and cultural
history.[1] <#_ftn1>

 A second problematic assumption in the passage cited above is that there is
a genetic hierarchy within and among domains. I am uncertain about what it
could mean to say that ontogeny was a "higher level" than phylogeny or
cultural history, except in so far as ontogenies are always constituted of
the most recent developments in phylogeny and cultural history. This sort of
interpretation of evolution-as-progress, a pervasive notion in the 19th
Century and 20th Centuries, is subject to a plethora of criticisms, and not
only by post-modernists (Toulmin, 1990).

With respect to understanding the dialectical interaction among genetic
domains, Vygotsky himself offered a more promising description in a
statement written at almost the same period concerning the course of

The growth of the normal child into civilization usually involves a fusion
with the processes of organic maturation. Both planes of development--the
natural and the cultural--coincide and mingle with one another. The two
lines of change interpenetrate one another and form what is essentially a
single line of sociobiological formation of the child's personality. To the
extent that development occurs in the cultural medium, it becomes
transformed into an historically conditioned biological process (1930/1960,
p. 47)

This statement retains the idea that there is a qualitative reorganization
of the developing entity brought about when different genetic domains fuse.
But instead of the principles of one domain replacing the other, the two
become intermingled into a single life system in which a new, synthetic,
principle of development operates.


<#_ftnref1>     [1]The graph in Figure 6.2 might also be interpreted as
depiction of Engel's statement that "The eternal laws of nature to an ever
greater extent are changing into laws of history."

On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 1:26 PM, Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns <
jlarream@uniandes.edu.co> wrote:

> Martin's idea that we should study the glitches of cognition that Piaget
> dismissed as performance is an excellent one. Actually, the same reasoning
> is on the basis of much of the recent (well, not so much) interest in
> variability in development (back to Piaget's quote) and the use of
> microgenetic methodologies (see Siegler & Crowley as an example).
> Jorge
> Jorge Larreamendy-Joerns, Ph.D.
> Profesor Asociado y Director
> Departamento de Psicología
> Universidad de los Andes
> On Nov 12, 2010, at 4:17 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
> > David,
> >
> > I think your proposal that Piaget considered these momentary variations
> in cognitive level merely changes in performance, irrelevant to his studies
> of competence, is a convincing one. Structuralist approaches tend to have
> the aim of identifying a formal level - of binary oppositions, or group
> logic, or recursive rules - that 'underlies' what they consider to be mere
> surface phenomena. This competence is assumed to be "some abstract cognitive
> ability" (Levinson, Pragmatics, p. 25).  Chomsky's linguistics is a clear
> case in point; Chomsky considered irrelevant such phenomena as hesitations,
> repairs, grammatical lapses, as well as processing limits such as memory
> capacity. These were simply aspects of performance; his job, as he
> understood it, was to characterize the underlying competence that generated
> all and only grammatical sentences.
> >
> > This way of understanding Piaget also has the merit of suggesting what a
> better approach would be. Linguists since Chomsky have very successfully
> studied the things Chomsky paid no attention to as evidence for the
> real-time pragmatic organization of speech in context, to the point where
> the central doctrine of the autonomy of syntax has largely been rejected. In
> the same way, we could look at these shifts in cognition that Piaget
> acknowledged but dismissed as ongoing changes in gear that are suited to the
> environmental affordances and demands of any given moment. If a traffic
> light turns red in front of me I am perfectly capable of figuring out an
> alternative route if there is a need for that kind of complex thinking, if
> there is an emergency, for example. But when there is not, there is a cost
> to such operational thinking, while there is little cost to fuming over the
> way frustrations tend to cooccur and conspire to thwart my plans.
> >
> > LSV proposed that learning and development are tied together - neither
> separate nor identical - and that although we need to metaphorically untie
> the knot to understand what is going on, in practice the knot will always be
> there. He also proposed that child and situation are always knotted, so that
> Piaget's aim of identifying an abstract cognitive competence that defines
> the child in isolation from their circumstances will always miss the mark.
> >
> > Martin
> >
> > On Nov 11, 2010, at 12:10 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
> >
> >> I just finished retranslating Piaget's comments on from the French
> original in Francoise Seve's translation of Thinking and Speech (the
> original manuscript in Piaget' s hand was apprently LOST by MIT Press and
> parts of it had to be retranslated from the English).
> >>
> >> One of the things you notice in reading this is that Piaget has a very
> strong tendency to concede things and then discount their importance (e.g.
> Yes, Vygotsky was right about the fate of self-directed "egocentric speech"
> but it doesn't really matter because by the time inner speech develops,
> intelligence has already emerged through other mechanisms).
> >>
> >> It seems to me that this is another good example. Piaget concedes that
> there is an enormous amount of variability within stages (at least DOWNWARD
> variation, the centration of the child imposes a very clear limit on upward
> variation), but ir really doesn't matter because what we are looking at is
> performance errors; the child is simply unable to perform his competence,
> and this has no real effect on that underlying competence which depends on
> development.
> >>
> >> Vygotsky turns this completely upside down. It is precisely this
> variability of performance that LEADS development. What happens is that not
> that the child UNDERPERFORMS some putative competence clearly limited by
> some supposed developmental glass ceiling. What happens is that the child
> OVERPERFORMS his mental structures thanks to various affordances in his
> environment, and the "intro-revolution" of those affordances is what creates
> new mental structures.
> >>
> >> I just listened, over lunch,  to Mike's talk on Zopeds (I kept waiting
> to hear exactly why he called it that, and all he said was that it's easier
> to say in English). At first, I was a little irked by the name (I prefer
> "Nemode", for Next Moment of Development!). I was also a little irked by the
> emphasis on dual stimulation. For me, the term "dual stimulation" suggests
> very early Vygotsky, reflexology, and the "second signal system"
> interpretation of speech.
> >>
> >> But I can see that if we could just come up with some other name for it,
> "dual stimulation" is a really important concept. I think, in fact, it would
> help us DIFFERENTIATE variability within the various stages. Kim Yongho and
> I tried to do that in our article "Rules Out of Roles", which argued that
> WITHIN schoolwork it helps to differentiate between the "main activity"
> (which is for the most part neither conducive nor susceptible to
> development) and a "leading one" (which necessarily occupies a small
> fraction of the school day but which plays a leading role in development).
> >>
> >> It seems to me, though, that we got it wrong. We assumed that because
> "rules" are more abstract form of dual stimulation, they must be
> developmentally higher. This appeared to be corraborated by the much poorer
> quality of the language we saw generated in the rule-based games compared to
> the role plays. The problem is that rules and roles are so thoroughly
> interpenetrated in any game that any statement like this is based on a
> rather arbitrary classification that has little psychological reality for
> the child.
> >>
> >> So how do we go forward? The more I think about it, the more it seems to
> me that Paula's work on Chapter Five might be the key. But one has to
> consider each of the preconcepts described by Vygotsky not as products but
> as results of dual stimulation, or tool/sign bearing processes. Its as
> processes that we can really talk (as Vygotsky does in Chapter Six) of
> generalizing the generalizations instead of just throwing them away and
> starting over again like poor old Sisyphus.
> >>
> >> In Chapter Five, LSV points out that there is a kind of link between
> each new psychological structure and some important activity in the child's
> daily life: the collection is clearly connected to activities like brushing
> teeth, putting on clothes, going to bed, while the chain complex is
> connected to games like tag where the loser becomes the "it" and generates
> new losers, and the diffuse complex suggests an imaginative tale--which
> means it is at a HIGHER level of development rather than a LOWER one as Kim
> and Kellogg 2007 argued.
> >>
> >> Tonight I am teaching some grads about a new elementary school book
> written by a colleague across the hall. There are five characters:
> >>
> >> Kobi (a Martian who speaks English)
> >> Mike (a little Jewish boy, maybe Mike Cole with Leon Trotsky's hair)
> >> Dami (a Korean girl)
> >> Sally (a British girl with two pet hamsters)
> >> Jisu (a Korean boy)
> >>
> >> The idea is to have FIVE different activities with these characters
> corresponding to the different preconceptual structures of Chapter Five:
> >>
> >>
> >> T: Listen and CIRCLE. I am Jinsu. I am Kobi. We are Jinsu and Mike. We
> are Kobi and Sally…etc. Who has more circles? More, more, more! Who has
> many? Who has most? Each circle is a HUNDRED won! What’s your score?
> >>
> >>
> >> T: Listen and CIRCLE: I am a boy. I’m a girl. I’m a child. I’m a Korean.
> We are foreigners. We are humans. More, more, more! What's your score?
> >>
> >>
> >> T: Listen and CIRCLE. The rainbow club has one of EACH kind of child.
> Who has the biggest rainbow club? More, more, more! What's your score?
> >>
> >> CHAIN COMPLEX: This is based on the Korean "frying pan game". Each child
> says a name and then another name--that child is next. Make a mistake and
> you get hit in the head with an imaginary frying pan.
> >>
> >> Round One
> >> S1: I am Kobi!
> >> S2: I am Dami.
> >> S3: I am Sally.
> >> S4: I am Jisu.
> >>
> >> Round Two
> >> S1: I am Kobi. you are Sally.
> >> S3: I am Sally. You are Jisu.
> >> etc.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> T: Listen and circle, adding ONE or MORE members, e.g.
> >>
> >> S1: I am Jisu.
> >> S2: I am a Korean. (Jisu and Dami)
> >> S3: I am human. (Jisu, Dami, Sally, Mike)
> >>
> >> You can see, though, that if you differentiate TOO much like this, you
> get exactly what Mike warns against in his talk: development is simply
> reduced to learning, specifically, to learning the particular conceptual
> structure that we find in the "dual stimulation" apparatus!
> >>
> >> David Kellogg
> >> Seoul National University of Education
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> --- On Wed, 11/10/10, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
> >> Subject: [xmca] Piaget on Within-Stage Variability
> >> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> >> Cc: "Patricia Greenfield" <greenfield@psych.ucla.edu>, "Glick, Joseph"
> <jglick@gc.cuny.edu>, "Boris Meshcheryakov" <borlogic@yahoo.com>, "Jerome
> Bruner" <jerome.bruner@nyu.edu>
> >> Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 5:33 PM
> >>
> >>
> >> 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
> discussion
> >> as part of re-viewing the cross-cultural landscape, I came upon this
> >> statement in the discussion about stages.
> >>
> >> *PIAGET:
> >> 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
> >> professional
> >> 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
> who
> >> think that higher psychological functions are organized according to the
> >> activities they mediate as well as the properties of the mediational
> system?
> >>
> >> mike
> >>
> >> 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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