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Re: [xmca] Help? - Microgenesis, Microgenetic, Microgeny?

David, I don't really say "we can't distinguish in principle between tools and signs" - "tool" and "sign" (or symbol) are different concepts. The point is only whether the objects they reference (the "extension" of the concepts in that lingo) can be grouped into mutually exclusive sets of entities. The answer is "no." I can distinguish between the victor at Jena and the loser at Waterloo, but know that they might also be the same person. OK? You're the linguist here after all. "Dichotomy" and "distinction" are not the same, just as "sense" and "reference" are not the same.


kellogg wrote:

... That brings me to Andy's post. I think I disagree on (at least) three points:

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 human behavior.

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. 4, Andy!)

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

David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

--------- 원본 메일 ---------

    *보낸사람*: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
    *받는사람* : "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
    *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
    own and
    others' minds. I think this is the distinction which is
    /underlying /his
    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
    and the
    same keyboard can be used to control a machine or send a message
    to the
    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
    child's own
    behaviour, and he does not see learning to use a tool as doing
    that: you
    have learnt to ride, but you still need to be on a bicycle to do
    it, I
    suppose. It is a bit like the distinction between a "potential
    and a "true concept." A potential concept can be acquired as a
    system of
    actions organised around a tool, but it is still only potential. Once
    the same activity is organised even when the tool is not present,
    but by
    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
    ..." And
    because the distinctions he is making are brand new and original,
    he has
    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,

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