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Re: [xmca] Re: microgenesis?

Not sure if I responded off list first or if Andy did, but we have been
having a conversation offline that I thought I'd put online.

I find "lytic" to be a fascinating way of describing development if one
reads the word literally as meaning "dissolving" or "loosen" instead of
Andy's gloss as "gradual," which, imho, loses important potential of the
meaning of "lytic development."

Having worked doing cell culture in a lab before, I often had to "lyse"
cells. This is when you introduce an enzyme or other mechanism to break up
the cell wall so that you are left with the constituent parts (e.g.
mitochondria, DNA, mRNA, and lots of other proteins). You can then perform
further tests on the lysed material that can cause the material to be
organized in a way that would otherwise have been impossible (e.g., perform
electrophoresis to see what mRNA are present).

It seems like there is something very important in this sense of the word
"lytic" for understanding development. It seems that part of what is being
described here is the sense in which developments can actually involve the
breaking down (lysing!) of previous psychological "structures" or
"formations". This seems to me to be a wonderful corrective to the commonly
assumed model of development as simple linear progression.

For example, there is a classic example of very young kids who can
conjugate verbs correctly b.c. they have memorized each conjugation for
each tense (e.g. run - present tense, ran - past tense), but then when they
start to learn the rules of conjugation, they sometimes will no longer
produce them correctly b.c. some past tenses don't fit the patterns that
they are learning - e.g., past tense of "run" is not "runned". So their
memorized understanding of "ran" must be "lysed"! The result is that from
the dissolving (loosening?) of that prior structure of meanings a new
meaning emerges (here the formal rule: add "ed" to the present tense of a
verb to make it past tense).

Does this jive with others' understandings of "lytic development"?


On Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 6:47 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> 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<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".
> Andy
> 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?).
>> -greg
>> 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
>>     community.
>>     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?
>>     Andy
>>     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
>>         periods.
>>         Where does that leave us?
>>         mike
>>         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."
>>         http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/**NEWTECHN.pdf<http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/NEWTECHN.pdf>
>>         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
>>         learning
>>             to read/write and development of abstract thinking (and other
>>             leading activities in a developmental ZPD) is not such a
>>         relation,
>>             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
>>         essentially
>>             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
>>         evolution).
>>             What do you think?
>>             Andy
>>     ______________________________**____________
>>     _____
>>     xmca mailing list
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>> --
>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>> Department of Anthropology
>> Brigham Young University
>> Provo, UT 84602
>> http://byu.academia.edu/**GregoryThompson<http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson>
> --
> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
> ------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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