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Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2011 01:23:28 +1000
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Ha, ha! I;m not concentrating. First I sent this to Anna only, in error,
but then, I notice, I made a big error.
I meant to say I think our disagreement hinges mainly around how we
understand what Vygotsky meant by "*unit of analysis*."
Andy Blunden wrote:
There are a few minor things, but I think our disagreement hinges
mainly around how we understand what Vygotsky meant by "word meaning."
anna sfard wrote:
Good, Andy, I like disagreement, except that am always surprised (not
to say in awe) when it comes so quickly :-)
* Wittgenstein is nice, but I am interested in Vygotsky not LW. I
think LSV is far deeper. Though of course others are more than
welcome to use LW's concepts if they so desire.
Wouldn't use "nice" as the best description of Wittgenstein, but
whatever the epithet, being interested in LSV is, for me, not a good
enough reason to be not interested in LW. I think both are deep
thinkers and both have lots to offer, often in a complementary manner.
* I'd be interested in the source for your claim that "concept" was
his unit of analysis for development.
He created a whole theory of concept development, from the syncretic
stage, through complexes, to pseudoconcepts, to concepts. Since he
saw word meaning as the unity of thought and speech, this was his way
to investigate the development of human thinking.
* The quotes you give seem to confirm for me that as a unit of an
activity, "act" is exactly the right term for his use of "word meaning."
Act is a one-time thing. Word meaning is supposed to generalize.
* I'd be interested in your source for "word unit" being replaced by
"word concept" as his "official" unit in his study of intellectual
development and when "word unit" or "word concept" were the unit of
There is no such thing as "word unit". There is unit of analysis.
Vygotsky first said that word meaning is his unit of analysis (see my
first quote in the previous letter) and then used the concept in this
* I think most terms and concepts we use connote things rather than
processes, activities or relations. Human beings are born realists.
If we abandon the process- meaning of words we give up our whole method.
You are right, we are incorrigible objectifiers (at least in our
Western culture), but the fact that we are doing this does not mean
it is a good thing to do, especially when you try to understand
things better. Reifications/objectification, which we perform all the
time whether we want them or not, are often our worst enemy, because
we render thing permanent and human-independent. Deconstruction can
help. But maybe we agree at this point? If we do, why did you put it
as one of the "points of disagreement"?
* I think "discourse" cannot be a unit of analysis for anything
because it is not a single, ie., unit but also history and
development do not take place within discourse.
This is a good example of the reified use of history and development.
These two are not things that happen in some medium. Things develop -
historically or otogenically. Discourses, such as mathematical,
literary, scientific, political, etc., may be great units of
analysis, provided we are able to put up with the blurriness of their
boundaries and with the fact that they are like the Heraclitean steam
into which you never really step twice.
* What do you think Anna. Have I understood your meaning correctly?
Well Andy, what do you think? Have I understood YOU correctly?
Joint Editor MCA:
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
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