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Fwd: [xmca] V.P. Zinchenko's article: From Classical to Organic Activity
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 8:58 AM
Subject: Re: [xmca] V.P. Zinchenko's article: From Classical to Organic
To: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
I am reading a ton and am in contact with both wertsch and vpz about this.
Did you mean to send only to me?? If not, why not re-send to xmca. His first
published article was in 1956. What happened that year in russia, remember?
I'll respond after I hear back from you.
On Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 10:25 PM, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Thanks for this response to my questions and musings. Your immersion in
> Zinchenko's writings left me curious so I googled V.P Zinchenko and was led
> to his chapter 4 "Vygotsky's Ideas About Units for the Analysis of Mind" in
> the edited book by J Wertsch (1985) titled "Culture, Communication, and
> Cognition: Vygotskian Perspectives" I would like to post a section from
> this chapter starting on page 100 to further the conversation.
> Zinchenko starts off by citing Vygotsky,
> "every unit must reflect characteristics of cognition, sensation, volition
> or purpose, intelligence and activation. Otherwise it may be a unit of
> physiological or biomechanical analysis, but it is not a unit of
> psychological analysis.
> Zinchenko then draws our attention to Vygotsky's use of "meaning" as a
> proposed unit of analysis. However P.I. Zinchenko challenged Vygotsky's use
> of the category of "meaning" as a universal or genetically primary unit for
> analyzing mind. Meaning lacked "motive force" to change into
> consciousness. V.P. Zinchenko then cites Vygotsky to document that Vygotsky
> also realized that meaning is not the primary unit. In the concluding
> chapter of Thinking & Speech (page 314) Vygotsky wrote,
> "The thought is still not the last instantiation in the process...BEHIND
> thought there is an AFFECTIVE and VOLITIONAL tendency. Only it can provide
> an answer to the last "why" in the analysis of thinking."
> This last quote is interpreted by Zinchenko to suggest that only the
> cognitive aspect of thinking is FIXED in meanivng.
> Mike, I believe Zinchenko's exploring Vygotsky's notions of "units of
> analysis" and suggesting that the basic "cell" of mind is affective and
> volitional has huge implications.
> It is at this point I would like to shift to John Shotter's articulation
> of "the emotional-volitional tone in our actions" (page 54) His ideas are
> outlined in the edited book by Martin and Kirschner (2010) titled "The
> Sociocultural Turn in Psychology"
> Chapter 2 "Inside Our Lives Together: A Neo-Wittgensteinian Construction"
> is exploring the centrality of the emotional-volitional tone in our lives
> together. It is in our ACTION -GUIDING ANTICIPATIONS that the expressions
> of others arouse in us [through intonated voices, facial expressions, and
> bodily postures that we find "what is crucial to our sociocultural
> development into autonomous members of our community" These jointly
> created, transitional, passing phenomena occur spontaneously between us and
> are neither yours nor mine: they are truly "ours" Shotter points out "We
> can credit as OUR OWN behavior only what we ourselves intend.: all else just
> HAPPENS to or within us" (page 55) This emotional-volitional tone exerts
> its effects on us in the bodily efforts we have to make in EXPRESSING
> ourselves AND in coming to an understanding of others expressions. In
> coming to EMBODY these effects our children "are brought up to perform THESE
> actions, to use THESE words as they do so, and to react in THIS way to the
> words of others" (Wittgenstein 1953 as cited in Shotter)
> Shotter then summarizes this neo-Wittgensteinian perspective by stating,
> "In other words, central to our understanding of the use of words, our own
> and other people's, is not our having an inner mental representation of what
> a person's talk is ABOUT, of what CAUSES the person to utter particular
> words. It is the arousing of an expectation that is CRUCIAL, the
> expectation that something NEXT must happen....Rather than its
> representational function (which it sometimes clearly does have), it is an
> utterances CAPACITY TO MOTIVATE, to "call for" a precise kind of RESPONSE
> (that will itself "call" for further responses from others that is crucial.
> Thus, central among the many other features of such responsive talk is its
> ORIENTATION TOWARD THE FUTURE". (Wittgenstein, 1953)
> Shotter at this point cites Bakhtin in recognizing the emotional-volitional
> tone of living words,
> "The word in living conversation is directly, blatantly, oriented toward a
> future answer-word: it PROVOKES an answer, ANTICIPATES it, and structures
> itself in the answers direction. Forming itself in an atmosphere of the
> already spoken, the word is at the same time determined by that which has
> not been said but which is needed and in fact ANTICIPATED by the answering
> word, Such is the situation of any living dialogue" (Bakhtin 1981, p.280)
> Mike I hope this extended response to your responses is an example of the
> formation of "mind" or "perspectives" as a process of "going on" and
> "calls" us to reflect on the centrality of the "affective-volitional"
> [Vygotsky] or the "emotional-volitional" [Wittgenstein & Shotter] as the
> "cell" or possible unit of analysis.
> On Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 9:47 AM, mike cole <email@example.com> wrote:
>> Hi Larry-- I posted that article and ever since I have been immersing my
>> in VPZ's work, starting with the earliest materials in English. It is one
>> hell of a task. Volodya has written a great deal over a long period of
>> In the hope that others can find something interesting, as well, I will
>> respond with
>> comments interspersed with yours.
>> On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 10:02 PM, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>wrote:
>>> Mike, thanks for posting this fascinating historical perspective on VPZ's
>>> perspective on the development of cultural historical theory. There are
>>> many interesting points he discusses but I want to draw attention to one
>>> particular section on page 23. Natalia mentioned that Piaget's emphasis
>>> the development of logic was a castrating move that destroyed a green
>>> world. VPZ, in a similar theme suggests that a preoccupation with the
>>> artificial (civilization) as a reductive move may also lead to emptiness.
>> *This kind of conclusion is perfectly understandable as part of V's
>> disgust with Soviet Power but, if you will excuse a twisted pun, it is
>> throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am preoccupied with the role of
>> the products of prior human activity in the constitution of human nature. I
>> do not reduce the artificial to civilization and neither does V.*
>>> Page 22 opens with a discussion of how a childs operations are different
>>> from operations in higher animals. With the help of speech a temporal
>>> emerges alongside the spatial. The child becomes able to DIRECT her
>>> attention to the future while acting in the present. "The plan of future
>>> actions become DIFFERENTIATED against all the possible actions and thus
>>> become clear." Attention becomes differentiated from perception. This
>>> rise to the problem of choice (or volition) among many possible actions,
>>> instruments, and objective means.
>>> *V's emphasis on the future orientation of action is right at the center
>>> of my current interests. In one of his writings he discusses "vicarious
>>> perceptual actions" which have this future orientation and cites the work of
>>> Tolman who studied choice behavior in rats. As a consequence, I think it
>>> might be a good idea to pause and consider the connection between choice and
>>> volition. Tolman was famously accused of leaving rats "lost in thought." at
>>> the T of the maze where a choice is to be made. I grew up being taught to
>>> apply the lessons learned from rats to humans; rats as a model for human
>>> choice seems like a poor choice to me now.
>>> It is the next paragraph which I found myself interesting. VPZ writes,
>>> 'Let me put the problem in even more categorical terms. What we value
>>> in a person is not his or her artificial or mediated dimensions, but the
>>> capacity to be natural, direct, sincere, genuine, spontaneous, overt, and
>>> ultimately, the capacity to be oneself. Is it really the case that all of
>>> this is lost in the process of development and mediation? Do people
>>> develop in order to be turned into artifacts? ....
>> *Who is going to answer YES! ? It is like arguing that the mediated
>> relations of person to world replace the unmediated, "natural" relations.
>> And that sounds suspiciously like the idea of the laws of history replacing
>> the laws of nature. Very dangerous when it was suggested in the 19th century
>> and equally dangerous today, if not more so. *
>>> Fortunately, not all mediational means are artificial. The supreme
>>> according to Vygotsky, is another human being. This "other" human being
>>> actually not an artifact, according to Vygotsky, Feuerbach, Buber, and
>> *Nor is another human being "natural" *
>>> This is also reflected in the following aphorism by Bakhtin:
>>> "Man is an equation of myself and the other" In Vygotsky's theory, it is
>>> not the "force of things" but the "connection among human beings" that
>>> determines the development of higher mental functions and consciousness.
>>> *Again, either-or rhetoric. V would never argue that humans develop
>>> higher mental fuctions in the absence of culture. And he argues all over the
>>> place for the dual material/ideal constitution of culture. He is arguing
>>> against command and control Activity Theory, as he has been long before the
>>> fall of the USSR, although his rhetorical strategy has changed in the
>>> interim, a lot.*
>>> In the next paragraph be cites Prishvin who used an aphorism in a similar
>>> way: Culture is the connection of people," and "civilization is the
>>> of things" He cites Jasper who wrote: "Perhaps, man hoped to find his
>>> being in his activity, but instead has found himself, to his fear, in
>>> of the emptiness he himself created"
>> *Sure culture is central to the constitution of human beings and yes,
>> civilization is the power of things to consume nature, including other human
>> beings. But culture is not THE connection. It is a constituent of the
>> particularly human form of connections between people. (See Latour on
>> interobjectivity in MCA, accessible to all I trust).*
>>> Mike, page 22 of the article is expressing a theme which I believe is
>>> explored in current attachment theory as theorized by Fonagy in his
>>> of mentalization [reflective function] It is only by being recognized
>>> [mediated or attuned] to a significant other which catalyzes the
>>> developmental process of higher mental functions.
>>> *I have been looking for a recent VPZ paper on pre-speech interactions
>>> among babies and caretakers, but it is lost in the maze of files at the
>>> moment. There is Russian work on early infancy and social interaction that I
>>> think would help to fill out the many fascinating connections. Not sure
>>> where it is available in pdf. Perhaps Natalia or Anton could help.
>> I am hoping to catch up with myself and enter back into the conversation
>> more fully. It is always a challenge to think more deeply.
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