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Re: [xmca] Peter Smagorinsky on concepts

On 17 January 2012 01:36, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Huw Lloyd wrote:
>  On 16 January 2012 23:18, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:
>> ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>    Huw, I think words do not have "pragmatic force". For that you
>>    have to go something like sentences.
>> One area I don't think I've come across in my readings of Vygotsky on
>> this distinction, is the case where sentences comprises a single word.
>>  Yesterday my son put down his spoon on his baby chair, raised his arms up
>> high and called out "Dada!".  I think he was uttering a sentence.
> I think that the idea that "Dada!" is a sentence is not controversial,
> Huw. But consider this:
>   "Thought is always something whole, something with significantly
>   greater extent and volume than the individual word. Over the course
>   of several minutes, an orator frequently develops the same thought.
>   This thought is contained in his mind as a whole. It does not arise
>   step by step through separate units in the way that his speech
>   develops. /What is contained simultaneously in thought unfolds
>   sequentially in speech. /Thought can be compared to a hovering cloud
>   which gushes a shower of words" {Thinking and Speech, Chapter 7,
>   LSVCW vol 1}.
Seems fine?

> Here I take "thought" to be a concept.

 My interpretation is that equating thought (the business of thinking) or a
thought (singular consideration) and concept is a form of metonymy --
perfectly adequate in most circumstances.  I would say that the thought (in
this form, if the talk is regarding logical material) is making use of a
(scientific) concept, or more likely many (scientific) concepts, in a
similar way to how I can behold a scene and describe it.

I am happy equating "The thought" with a conception, idea, a conceiving, or
even 'my concept' (short for my conception), but not a (scientific)
concept.  If we were to call 'a thought'  'a scientific concept' it would
seem, to me, to be an incredible fudge.

It's been a while since reading T&S etc.  Does Vygotsky talk about concepts
that are not scientific concepts, that would lead you to believe that his
use of the term 'concept' is referring to anything other than a scientific

BTW, in accord with Peter, my thinking on these lines has all come from
personal (auto-didactic) understanding and consideration.  Much of Vygtosky
resonated (and still resonates) with my appreciation of these different
problems, but I do not go to the texts as the source.  I think this helps
with the fact that I am, to date, only competent with English literature,
for I'm always reading between the lines and reflecting on my understanding
which frees me, a little, from the vagaries of translation.


>>    Vygotsky says that a word is a sign for a concept. The utterance
>>    of a word does not therefore have pragmatic force on its own, as
>>    you say, but by means of its semiotic properties, contributes to
>>    the pragmatic force of a sentence or other more extended
>>    utterance. That's how I'd see it. The odd thing is that a concept
>>    is a unit which is greater than a sentence, even though a word is
>>    less than a sentence, and yet one is the sign for another.
>> This seems efficient and effective to me.  Although I'm only guessing at
>> your means of comparison -- complexity of logical predicates in this case.
> "Greater" is not really the right word. I mean that many sentences and
> other actions are required to instantiate (and not just invoke) a concept.
>>    The same applies to the relation between activity and action.
>> I can't follow this unless I know how you're comparing them --- simple
>> strategies guiding highly intricate tactics/operations?
> I mean that many actions are required to instantiate an activity. EG the
> activity of building a house, or creating the design for a house,  requires
> millions of lifting, carrying, hammering, commanding, etc., actions.
Ok, that seems fine to me.

>> Thanks,
>> Huw
> Andy
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