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Re: [xmca] Re: microgenesis?

Unfortunately I can't find the source from where I found the meaning of lytical. It's not in the on-line OED. The context is here: http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1934/problem-age.htm where I have inserted an explanation to the effect that lytical as opposed to critical means fading from one to the other rather than making a sudden "leap" with no stable in-between positions. So by using the two words, both with Greek roots, Vygotsky is drawing attention to two interdependent types of development: one fading out and in, the other cutting from one to the other. So yes, it is a bit more specific than "gradual".


Greg Thompson wrote:
Apologies for the intrusion, but I had a quick point of clarification, for the uninitiated, what is meant by "lytic"? (all I could come up with pertained to "lysis" or the breaking down of cells - which would seem to suggest a different sense of "development" - a breaking down so that things can be reintegrated. Is that the idea?).

On Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    I don't know where Americans being dolts comes into it, Mike. Some
    of my best friends are Americans. :) But let's move on from that.

    The point, as I see it, is trying to extract from what we can
    reaonsably understand Vygotsky to be  saying, something which we
    believe could be correct and significant. To do this I think we
    have to understand the concept of "development" always in a
    particular context. A truism for anyone here I think. What it
    means to me is that I cannot just ask: what transformations in
    psychological functioning constitutes "development"? The
    necessary, relevant context is what role in what cultural and
    historical community is the person to play, in the short term and
    in the longer term. So the question of what constitutes
    development is age-specific, culturally specific and future-oriented.

    (Of course, the world changes, and what was development yesterday
    may become oppressive and detestable tomorrow and vice versa, but
    let's abstract from cultural and historical change for the moment.)

    >From the standpoint of natural science what I have posed is an
    absurdity and incompatible with basic tenets of science ...
    because I have made development dependent on events and relations
    in the future. In my opinion, that is just as it should be: kids
    go to school "for a purpose" - although what we mean by "purpose"
    in this context (the child's? the parents'? the state's? in
    retrospect? under advice? sponatneous?). But again, let's just put
    the problems arising from the idea of human actions being part of
    object-oriented activities to the side for the moment.

    So you ask: "what does the word DEVELOPMENT mean in the concept of
    a zone of proximal DEVELOPMENT?"

    I have to ask /which/ zone of proximal development, which crisis
    or lytic period are we talking about. Now I guess we can manage to
    give a general answer to the question: general questions require
    general answers. What "development" means is relative to which ZPD
    you are talking about. On the other hand, the presence of the ZPD
    itself depends on the development being posed. Achievment of a
    specific new mode of action with those around you, transforming
    your relations and your identity and your actions in the social
    situation depends on the expectations of those around you,
    according to broader cultural expectations and possibilities.

    A teacher or other "helper" interested in fostering development
    (if they can be presumed to reflect general, broader cultural
    expectations) has in mind what new functioning will be a necessary
    step towards the child becoming an autonomous citizen of the

    As Vygotsky insists, this poses for the child and her "helper" two
    different kinds of situation: either /lytical/ development or
    /critical/ development. Lytical development is gradual and
    prepares the basis for developmental leap. To argue whether the
    gradual progress made in strengthening the relevant psychologhical
    functions in this phase is or is not development is in my opinion
    /just words/. Gradual accumulation of strength in those activities
    which the child is basically able to do, but maybe not very
    confidentally and well is a necessary preparation for transcending
    their age-role and entering into a phase of critical development
    in which they have a chance of successfully coming out the other
    side. It is by completion of the critical phase of development -
    the leap - which transforms the child's identity and role, that
    "/the development" is realised/. All the preparation in the world
    proves to be not development if it is not realised in facilitating
    the critical transformation.

    So, excuse me please for however imperfectly rehearsing
    egg-sucking for grandma's erudition.

    I personally regard it as a matter or "mere words" whether "child
     X at last managing to recognise the difference between d and b
    today," for example, is described as a development. In the context
    of course it is; it is a step. You want to call that a
    "microgenetic development"? Personally I don't have a problem with
    that. David may, but paraphrasing Oscar Wilde: "Microgenesis is
    not one of my words."  But if the child at last managed to repeat
    the Gospel According to St Luke by rote, and you wanted to
    describe this as a microgenetic development, I would want to hear
    the developmental plan that made that claim coherent.

    Where if anywhere does this leave us?

    My apologies for using so many words to say so little.
    Just trying to be clear and careful.

    mike cole wrote:

        Hi Andy--

        Well to begin with, thanks for keeping the discussion alive. I
        am away from home without books or control of my time, so I
        want to ask a question that may highlight what is central to
        my queries here.

        If what you write is correct, what does the word DEVELOPMENT
        mean in the concept of a zone of proximal DEVELOPMENT? Its all
        fine and dandy to point out what dolts Americans are for not
        understanding that learning leads DEVELOPMENT in classroom
        instruction, that but classroom lessons are clusters of events
        that take place in microgenetic time WITHIN ontogenetic lythic

        Where does that leave us?


        PS- the url below lays out in some detail where the idea of
        acquisition of reading as a cultural-historical developmental
        process. Old and never published. But at least we might refine
        what is indexed by the phrase
        "learning to read."


        On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 7:32 PM, Andy Blunden
        <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

            So this thread does not die ...
            You said, Mike, "So I am seeing the same solution to thinking
            about the ontogeny/microgenesis relationships by analogy
        with the
            phylogeny/cultural-history relation."

            I don't see the analogy there. Phylogeny and ethnogeny are two
            (overlapping and mutually determining) processes with two very
            distinct material bases, viz., genes and artefacts. But
            to read/write and development of abstract thinking (and other
            leading activities in a developmental ZPD) is not such a
            it is a relation between critical phases and lytic (gradual)
            phases of development. This is quite a different relationship.

            The analogy I would see for something which couold be called
            microgenesis would be the /situation/: a concept develops
            momentrily in a person and their actions in a situation. The
            situation is not a factor in phylo- or ethnogensis, it
            belongs to the very short time scale, and its material
        basis is
            activity. I grant that no-one might use "microgenesis" in
        that way
            and no-one may be doing research into that process these
        days. I
            don't know. But the situation is a distinct material basis for
            development and one on which Vygotsky did a great deal of
        work. On
            the other hand, I think /all/ processes of development
        have both
            critical and lytical phases (c.f. Gould's punctuated

            What do you think?


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Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Department of Anthropology
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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