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RE: [xmca] FW: vygotsky in perspective
I think there are really two DIFFERENT issues here, and they can be easily separated even though they are of course also connected. One issue is translation, and the other is interpretation.
They are both real problems. Here's page 47 of the Collected Works. Vygotsky (and maybe Luria) are talking about the famous mediational triangle, and "X" marks the mediational spot:
"The mediating member, as one might imagine, is simply a method of improving and perfecting the operation, having the specific function of retrograde effect."
And here's the same sentence on p. 145 of the Vygotsky Reader:
"The intermediate link in this formula is not, as might ahve been supposed, simply a method of improving and perfecting the operation. By possesing the specific functions of reverse action..."
One of these is not only wrong but terribly wrong (it's the first one, in case you were wondering). And it really does matter if we want people to take this stuff seriously.
Interpretation is also a real problem, but it's a different problem. If there were really only one meaning, only one context in which Vygotsky makes sense, then we could forget all about him and just go back to bed, perchance to dream of the 1960s cognitive revolution where generalizations were perhaps incorrect but at least makeable.
But translation and interpretation are not just distinct; they are also linked. For example, the "mediational triangle" has usually been expanded to include different rules, communities, and divisions of labor. But in addition to that this quotation, correctly translated, makes it clear that it's the REVERSIBILITY of signs (that is, their DIRECT effect on the SUBJECT) that gives them their psychological (and not simply their sociological) properties.
I think that putting "vygotsky in perspective" means going beyond invoking the magical name in an incantatory way. But it also means going beyond the usual academic game of killing the old prophet and annointing the new one with his blood.
To me, it means translation for interpretation, two issues that are linked because what we interpret does depend on how we translate, and distinct because context has to be fixed in one case and flexed in the other.
I do hope they both matter. Lensky devoted the short, storm-tossed years of his not-so-brilliant genius to Olga, and I guess I am going to devote the long, grey years of my scintillating mediocrity to this.
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Wed, 7/13/11, Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Peter Smagorinsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: [xmca] FW: vygotsky in perspective
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 10:10 AM
The author is new to me:
Ronald Miller, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Ronald Miller is Emeritus Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. His teaching and research interests have been in the field of cognitive development with a particular focus on learning and change, especially in relation to academic literacy and access to higher education, and he has been involved in the study of Vygotsky and Piaget's theories for over 30 years.
Is anyone familiar with his work?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of mike cole
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 12:53 PM
To: Anton Yasnitsky; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] FW: vygotsky in perspective
Seriously Anton? I was asked to review the book but had to decline for
I guess if this is as good as V&V that checks me out of the game. So far
as I can tell, people like Jim Wertsch and I were SO wrong, that either we
were unbelievably stupid (in which case, what nefarious things did we do to
be allowed to do any interpreting at all!?) or
we are just a bad lot. Or maybe both?
As Peter says, it stops short of shooting!
On Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 9:13 AM, Anton Yasnitsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>wrote:
> Thanks for posting this, Peter!
> The book is an absolute and unconditional treasure, a mandatory reading for
> anybody interested in Vygotskian issues, and, I truly believe, it will soon
> become a classic source, like van der Veer and Valsiner's (1991)
> "Understanding Vygotsky".
> For those interested, some excerpts are available online @
> From: Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com>
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:29:06 AM
> Subject: [xmca] FW: vygotsky in perspective
> I just got notice of a new book on LSV:
> Main Author: Miller, Ronald, 1943-
> Title: Vygotsky in perspective / Ronald Miller.
> Primary Material: Book
> Subject(s): Vygotskii, L. S. (Lev Semenovich), 1896-1934.
> Psychologists Soviet Union.
> Psychology Soviet Union History.
> Publisher: Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press,
> Description: xiii, 451 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
> Notes: Includes bibliographical references and index.
> "Lev Vygotsky has acquired the status of one of the
> masters in psychology. Following the English
> and publication of his Collected Works there has been
> new wave of interest in Vygotsky accompanied by a
> burgeoning of secondary literature. Ronald Miller
> that Vygotsky is increasingly being 'read' and
> understood through secondary sources and that
> have claimed Vygotsky as the foundational figure for
> their own theories, eliminating his most distinctive
> contributions and distorting his theories. Miller
> away the accumulated layers of commentary to provide
> clearer understanding of how Vygotsky built and
> developed his arguments. In an in-depth analysis of
> last three chapters of Vygotsky's book Thinking and
> Speech, Miller provides a critical interpretation of
> core theoretical concepts that constitute Vygotsky's
> cultural-historical theory, including the development
> concepts, mediation, the zone of proximal
> conscious awareness, inner speech, word meaning and
> Table of Contents: Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction; 2. A
> thematic overview; 3. The development of concepts; 4.
> The development of scientific concepts; 5. The
> development of scientific concepts: critique; 6.
> and word; 7. Michael Cole
> artifact mediated action: setting the record straight;
> James V. Wertsch
> cultural tools and mediated action: getting it wrong; 9.
> James V. Wertsch: mediation and the zone of proximal
> development; 10. The essential commentators; 11.
> Vygotsky: mediation.
> Location: On Order for Stacks
> Call Number: No call number available
> University of Georgia Libraries
> University of Georgia
> Jackson St.
> Athens, GA 30602
> xmca mailing list
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