... That brings me to Andy's post. I think I disagree on (at least)
a) Andy says we can't distinguish in principle between tools and
signs. Vygotsky says we can and we must (the whole last part of his
Research Method chapter in HDHMF, pp. 60-62 in Vol. 4. His distinction
is FUNCTIONAL: the one allows mastery of the environment, but the
other allows only mastery of that part of the environment that is
b) Andy insists that Vygotsky never read Hegel. Why would he not read
Hegel? Almost everybody else in his generation did (Spet, Volosinov,
Mevedev, even Bakhtin who hardly ever read anything). To me, the way
Vygotsky re-interpreted the Ach experiments is simply a working out of
the categories we find in the Logic on the basis of Sakharov's data.
Vygotsky was fully literate in German from his mother. We know that in
Thinking and Speech Chapter Two he is reading Lenin's Philosophical
Notebooks, in whch Lenin remarks that one cannot understand the first
volume of Capital without reading the whole of Hegel's "Logic". The
Philosophical Notebooks are, largely, Lenin's marginal notes to
Hegel's Logic. We know that Vygotsky wanted to understand and
assimilate the whole of Marx's method in Capital. Why would Vygotsky
read the marginal notes and not the actual Logic? (See also Vygotsky's
discussion of ways of translating Hegel iinto Russian on p. 81 of Vol.
c) Andy says that there is no way of expressing Vygotsky's
anti-dualism in English or Russian. First of all, at the end
of Chapter Three (p. 82), he says that there are no 'higher' functions
without the lower ones, but that the lower ones cannot "exhaust"
the essence of the higher functions (he gets this from Engels'
discussion of whether neuropsychology will ever "exhaust" the content
of human thinking). Secondly, on p 91, he speculates that the "higher"
functions will soon be seen as the same kind of lumping together and
reducing to a common denominator as throwing together conditional and
unconditional reactions was in the nineteenth century. You know, maybe
sometime in the early twenty-first century?
This immanent anti-dualism, brought about by applying distinctions
WITHIN categories which were once applied BETWEEN them, is where I
think I really agree whole-heartedly with Andy. A dualist? He was Jewish!
Два мира - плотский и духовный-
Во всех явленьях бытия
Нами разлучены условно,
Они едины, знаю я.
Two worlds, thinking and extension
Thoughts within and things outside
Make creation. God’s intention
Makes them one past all divide
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
--------- 원본 메일 ---------
*보낸사람*: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
*받는사람* : "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
*날짜*: 2012년 9월 24일 월요일, 13시 03분 03초 +0900
*제목*: Re: [xmca] Help? - Microgenesis, Microgenetic, Microgeny?
Mike, in "Tool and Symbol in Child development," Vygotsky goes on at
great length and detail in distinguishing between the changes in the
child's functioning associated with the use of tools (e.g. a bicycle)
and the use of a sign. (and he includes learning by rote under the
heading of tool- not symbol-use) I hesitate to try to summarise this
discussion. But he makes a distinction between acquiring the habit of
using a tool, and adopting a symbol for use in controlling one's
others' minds. I think this is the distinction which is
elusive distinction between learning and development.
Vygotsky's "clear-cut dualism" has to be understood in terms of its
basis and the use he is making of it, i.e., to explain a conceptual
distinction in understanding tendencies of developmental processes.
Ultimately, a dichotomy between tool and sign, or even between
and symbol-use is unsustainable, least of all in our times - one
same keyboard can be used to control a machine or send a message
operator. Controlling one's own body has to be counted as tool-use in
some circumstances, and symbol-use in others.
Vygotsky does explicitly recognise that use of a tool modifies the
mental processes and enlarges the child's sphere of activity, but he
wants to focus on what he sees as *voluntary* control of the
behaviour, and he does not see learning to use a tool as doing
have learnt to ride, but you still need to be on a bicycle to do
suppose. It is a bit like the distinction between a "potential
and a "true concept." A potential concept can be acquired as a
actions organised around a tool, but it is still only potential. Once
the same activity is organised even when the tool is not present,
means of a true, semiotic representation of the tool, then you have a
"higher psychological function."
I don't think there is any easy way of representing Vygotsky's
here in English and I suspect not in Russian either. He is not saying
that there are two types of psychological activities, higher and
there are two types of concept, potential and true; there are two
of artefact, semiotic and material, even though this is precisely
he says on numerous occasions. He is talking about opposite
and sources in *processes*, and the language doesn't offer us many
of communicating this other than saying "there are two types of
because the distinctions he is making are brand new and original,
to really hammer the distinction to the point of a "clear-cut
in order to make his point, which is, in my opinion, not really about
dualisms at all. I think the same goes for learning and development.
That's my take,