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Re: [xmca] Vygotsky, Leontiev and Luria

Thanks David,

I find it productive to sequence your email backwards.  I ended mine by
asking "whether 'development' and a statement like 'the principle which
explains' can ever be made to be happy with each other --'in principle' so
to speak?".  To which I take the last paragraph in your email to be the
active reply:

"So it seems to me that Vygotsky and Luria are arguing that the previous
view, according to which perception and motor phenomena cannot be teased
apart, applies ONLY to one kind of perception, viz. the elementary,
“natural” and not the higher, sociogenetic function. The laws that govern
this higher form of perception are completely different, and that difference
is really not dependent on the purpose of our analysis at all: it is
perfectly objective, and can be verified both through artificial and natural
experiments, as well as by the very persistence of life on earth and the
proliferation of its historico-cultural forms."

Which is a Yes, because the principle which explains human development in
its higher sociogenetic function captures the fact of sign as organizing
tool of the "societal" as opposed to merely the social

And the sociogenesis of the sign really does fit the bill (though not for
> Leontiev, who cannot accept that it is not simply tools and aims and
> motives, but signs that create the social organizations that define activity
> as human labor).

Differently from animals, for whom

> there is a “primary unity” between perception and motor action, and that
> perception SEPARATE and even SEPARABLE from action "only" exists in the
> analysis of the psychologist

humans can study the function of sign-tools in other humans (as in
Morozova's and Head's experiments)  precisely because the primary unity of
perception and motor action ceases to exist (or at least is not the
governing phenomenon) in humans as far as the societal is concerned.  This
can be seen positively in the psychic energy "dam" function of ad-hoc
narrative sense making that kids engage in when asked to relate two
difficult-to-relate things, and negatively, in the lack of such narrative
sense in aphasics who cannot "tell themselves a story" in which hitting a
ball as a second, and not a primary, consequence, can exist.  Either way, we
arrive at

It’s not clear why the “functional dam” is so dependent on the immediate
> presence of speech or why it can’t be built up from other forms of symbolic
> representation, but here too you can see that what was supposedly merely an
> artifact of analysis turns out to be much more factual.

And this fact-icity resists my "it depends what kind of explanation you're
after" observation, because the sociogenesis of sign as organizing tool and
its societal function are there there:

> The objective significance of these distinctions [between the merely
> epiphenomenal and the genuinely objective] really does not rest in the
> purpose of our description; it is genuinely objective, in that it touches
> fundamental issues like the survival of the species rather than ephemeral
> issues having to do with the particulars of the way we discover phenomena.

Which is pretty categorical.

But I like Lions, and had them in mind in asking my question.  Attached is
an article that I find interesting because it suggests that lion hunting
does elicit a separation of motor action from perception in animals, and, to
my mind, a kind of "feline narrative" about how actions now might best be
organized to get to something more than a few steps removed in the future.

This is not by way of disagreement, but only to wonder about the genuinely
objective and the merely epiphenomenal in regards to development.


Attachment: Stander, P. E. 1992. Cooperative Hunting in Lions - The Role of the Individual. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 29, No. 6. pp. 445-454.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

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