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



It seems to me that walking, unlike biking, qualifies PERFECTLY as a Central Line of Development, and the abandonment of crawling for walking is a neoformation, one of the most important milestones of the Crisis at One.


Scripture first: On p. 243 of Volume 5, Child Development, Vygotsky is talking about the moments of the crisis at one (the crisis of "autonomous speech", the discovery by the child that everybody has been talking behind her back right to her face). He says:


"Establishment of walking is the first moment in the content of this crisis."


That struck me very forcefully back when you and Andy and I were discussing this manuscript in 2009. The reason is that we often find Vygotsky looking for natural (and therefore necessarily non-verbal) roots to verbal activity. For example, in Chapter Eight of HDHMF (which I am now quite certain was NOT called that) he speaks of play and drawing as the natural history of written speech, and at the end of Chapter Five of the same book he argues that sight recognition of "more" and "less" is the source of numeracy. In every case, there is some practical activity partially shared with animals that forms the biomechanical basis of a function, which distinguishes itself first by social control and then by individual control.


That was why I argued that we should look for THREE different lines of activity rather than one, and I suggested material action, mental action and verbal action (because...well, to tell you the truth, because that is how Tibetan divides up activity, and in the 1980s and 1990s I was spending quite a bit of time travelling around Tibet trying to learn the language; material, mental and verbal action turned out to be a good way into Tibetan grammar). But of course in the early years the material line of activity is going to dominate (that is, be a "central" as opposed to a peripheral line of development), later on there is a verbal dominant, and finally the dominant is mental activity (adolescence and concept formation),


The problem is that bike riding comes too late, and it's not linked to any development in the means of development itself (what we used to call "les industries industrialisants" back in Algeria).  Walking, on the other hand, comes early, right smack in the middle of the dominance of material activity (prior to the ascent of verbal activity). And, as Andy pointed out at the time, it's a revolutionary, exponential increase in the child's radius of subjectivity.


When we look at Vygotsky's criteria, we see that walking, but not biking, is an almost canonical neoformation.


a) It does not alter the substratum: the child can and does still crawl.

b) It involves internal change--I don't have to elaborate, Cole and Cole are very eloquent on precisely this point.

c) It is very clearly stage dependent: it is built upon an internal stage of toddling and it is the harbinger of activities like running.

d) It is absolutely nonlinear in its forms of development, and for a very long time it is nowhere near as efficient as the one that it functionally replaces.


It's also quite dangerous. For that reason I think toddling and walking must be:


a) A spandrel--it's something that "just happens", the way that the spandrels of San Marco, male nipples and the panda's thumb "just happen" (Gould and Vrba)

b) A secondary function which motivates it before the latent main function kicks in (the child must see it as a form of play or imitiation before the child realizes its utility as locomotion).

c) A very heavy environmental support which is, ultimately, cutlural in nature.


And all of these things, it seems to me, are even more true of autonomous speech and form the "inner link" between toddling and babbling.


David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies



PS: Andy--try Googling Hoffding. You'll see that the passage on p. 81 is actually more indebted to Hoffding than to Vygotsky's reading of the Philosophical Notebooks. But of course you are right; he did read the Philosophical Notebooks, and therefore it's quite unthinkable that he didn't read the Logic.


(Remember--I was only in the Spartacus Youth League, and then for only a little over a year. My own philosophical formation came in Algeria and Tunisia, with the Parti de l'avant garde socialiste. They were hardly Trotskyists!)






--------- 원본 메일 ---------
보낸사람: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
받는사람 : "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
날짜: 2012년 9월 26일 수요일, 00시 00분 16초 +0900
제목: Re: [xmca] Help? - Microgenesis, Microgenetic, Microgeny?
:( I am quite incapable of holding my tongue ...

The Problem of Age:

This document tells me that LSV is concerned with the development of the
child, together with its social situation, through a series of about 7
periods; each period is characterised by a distinctive role within a
characteristic system of activity called a social situation od
development, i.e., activity instantiating a particular, unique concept
of a person in the given social formation: nfant, child, schoolkid, etc.
The periods are separated by periods of crisis, the passage through
which requires a complete reorganization of the psychic functions and
the forms of activity through which that mode of psychological functions
exists, different expectations, responsibilities, etc.

This is not to say that nothing else matters. But to a huge extent,
successful passage through these critical periods is crucial to the
achievement of a normal development into adult citizenship in the given
social formation. How does it all read if we assume that it is this
which LSV is talking about when he talks about development? Not
"development" in general, but the re-organization of the psyche along
with the re-organization of those specific collaborative relationships
with others through which the child's life needs are met in the given
social formation?

If the child learns to read, that will have a huge effect on their
thinking, and widen the horizons of their activity, but the question is:
does this facilitate their movement from pre-school childhood to school?
etc., etc. That is, in any given society there are a finite series of
roles a person can occupy before the world opens up for them to the
point where they are an independent citizen (if they are lucky enough to
enjoy that privilege at all).

Does that help? Is there a paragraph we can tackle?


mike cole wrote:
> Thanks all for the specification of textual origins, they help a lot.
> With respect to bicycle riding which I have been thinking about while
> being bus driver and busboy for my grandkids: I can see how it runs
> into trouble because chimps can acquire the ability to ride a bike
> and LSV's focus on on higher psychological functions. However, it
> seems to have a lot of the properties he invokes to hold onto the
> specifically human/higher psych functions. If it does not count, then
> I guess that the shift from crawling to walking does not qualify as a
> microgenetic/developmental change either.
> Is that a correct interpretation of LSV? It rules out any
> developmental change between birth and the acquistion of language
> doesn't it? If so, the scope of the term, development, with respect to
> LSV and ontogeny differs from my own views.
> Since qualitative change in the organization of sensory-motor behavior
> appear off the table when discussing HIGHER psych functions, might you
> turn your scalpels to the acquisition of the ability to read a
> phonetic alphabet fluently? How am I going wrong in believing that
> acquisition of reading is a developmental process in which learning
> also plays an essential role that shifts in the course off acquisition?
> mike
> PS- I will only be online occaisionally in the coming week owing to
> travel and ucsd startup. Thanks again for the helpful input.
> On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 8:06 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
> Just to pick up on your comment, David:
> kellogg wrote:
> (See also Vygotsky's discussion of ways of translating
> Hegel into Russian on p. 81 of Vol. 4, Andy!)
> If the translator of LSVCW had read Lenin's annotations on
> Hegel this passage might hve been clearer. It is a direct
> allusion to Lenin on how to translate "aufheben" though it is
> actually the editor's footnote which is usually quoted!
> http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/cons-logic/ch01.htm#f20
> Andy
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*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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