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Re: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis" (timeo Vygotskii et dona ferentem)
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis" (timeo Vygotskii et dona ferentem)
- From: Anton Yasnitsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 15:32:29 -0700 (PDT)
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- Reply-to: Anton Yasnitsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
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Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that Vygotsky did talk about "meaning" (i.e. of a word) as a unit of analysis,
but definitely no in the sense that for Vygotsky this was the unit of analysis of thinking-and-speech.
But meaning [of a word] definitely does not work as the unit of the analysis for the study of consciousness.
According to Vygotskii, that is.
In fact, Vygotsky is struggling for identifying the unit of analysis of consciousness during two-three years of his life,
but hardly comes to any definite solution. In fact, at the very end of Thinking and Speech, the posthumous unauthorized
collection of Vygotsky's works of at least two distinct periods of his thought development of roughly 1928-1934,
Vygotsky speculates that thinking and speech are the key to the problem of consciousness and clearly confesses
that he is only at the threshold of the problem of consciousness, -- but this is the best what we have.
On a number of occasions, Vygotsky discusses some other possible units of analysis of psychological phenomena
other than thinking-and-speech, such as, for instance,
'smysl' (sense, Sinn) which is not the same of 'word meaning' or
'perezhivanie' (literal translation of Erlebniss; roughly, 'emotional sense-making' or 'meaningful life experiencing'), etc.
However, quite unfortunately, no or, more precisely, virtually no empirical studies were done, therefore, all these
metaphors and phrases remained not operationalized and pretty void. Perhaps, with "perezhivanie"
(as emotional experiencing) we are more or less safe, that is, quite well know what and who
inspired Vygotsky talking about Erlebniss and, therefore, know where and who to look at. --
This is Kurt Lewin and his numerous 1920-1930s studies on action and emotion. By the way, Vygotsky and his Circle
were absolutely fascinated by these studies and most enthusiastically replicated them during 1930s.
They even had plans for Topological Meeting in Moscow or Kharkov in 1936. Isn't it nice? :)
Still, 'smysl' as presumably a unit (?) of analysis (??) of consciousness (???) is very much problematic, --
not as a speculative notion, but as a conceptual tool for an empirical study. The main complexity is:
how one would operationalize "smysl/sense"? Hmmmm...
In this respect, I am glad Achilles mentioned introspection. Indeed, it seems in our quest for consciousness
we return to the age-old method of introspection, or, if one prefers a somewhat newer parlance, "verbal protocol",
or "think aloud protocol": introspection reincarnated and rehabilitated in contemporary [post-]cognitive psychology,
if I am not mistaken, by Eriksson and Simon.
Still, for the study of consciousness I guess I would go for introspection, anyway... :)
From: Martin Packer <email@example.com>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:07:46 PM
Subject: Re: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis" (timeo Vygotskii et dona ferentem)
Yes, couldn't we take LSV to be saying that an analysis of "meaning" is central to the scientific study of consciousness? Just as Marx considered an analysis of "value" to be central to the scientific study of capitalist society? And then Thought and Language would be an illustration of such an analysis - of meaning as it circulates through the word, the concept, the thought...
Doesn't seem so hyperbolic to me.
On Apr 23, 2013, at 3:55 PM, Achilles Delari Junior <email@example.com> wrote:
> Thank you Anton,
> I agree with the repetition of the use of "hyperbole" as language figure in Vygotsky's texts is a fact that difficult textual analysis (oh, if can exist such a thing like a method of "textual analysis"). Really, for instance, there are many "central problems" of psychology in Vygotsky different works ("mediated action", "freedom", "higher psychological functions"...). But, if you take "meaningful word" as analytic unit for "consciousness [problematic] problem" (if it is posed as a "problem", we can suppose that is problematic, don't we?), is not without propose, nor sou chimeric, to quest for "A" (not necessarily "THE", even because in Russian there is no such grammatical class: "definite article" or "indefinite article") kind of method of analysis. Leaving this aim totally out of our research goals also is not so interesting, because interpretative task can fall in relativistic proceeding, and nothing will make really any sense beyond that of the
own introspection of the subject and of the researcher. The studies from Vygotsky and Sakharov, Vygotsky and Shif, was some kind of attempt to understand the development of meaning (this is a semantic aspect of human life), and indirectly, the [problematic] development of consciousness, through its unit of analysis, for instance. You can not study directly the hole "mysterious character" of consciousness, but you even can study of object of analysis of psychology through it's clues, semiotic "indexes". Nobody will know directly how really is a simple "atom", even so, some guys try to understand objectively it through its manifestations, reconstructing theoretically the way from inside to outside and vice versa - this is a more moderate Vygotsky's analogy that we find in "Historical sense of the crisis of psychology", for instance...
> Vygotsky uses several "hyperbolic" statements, but he was not so fool, to take this so literally. Also not me, naive but no so fool...
> Болшое спасибо. До свиданиа.
> P.S. And about the creation of a new kind of biological socialist human being, I completely agree with you, this was a serious mistake, "nonsense dream".
>> Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 10:28:21 -0700
>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis" (timeo Vygotskii et dona ferentem)
>> To: email@example.com
>> It is absolutely impossible to disagree with Rauno's comment. Indeed, the "semicheskii analiz" of Vygotskii
>> is one of those programmatic statements, quite characteristic of this person, who, inter alia, would repeatedly claim that
>> The new society will create the new man.
>> When one mentions the remolding of man as an indisputable trait of the new mankind and
>> the artificial creation of a new biological type,
>> then this will be the only and first species in biology which will create itself...
>> END of QUOTE
>> Indeed, such--and similar utopian and programmatic, yet thoroughly and hopelessly scientifically ungrounded--
>> Vygotskii's statements are not to be taken for granted.
>> So, regardless of whether we agree or disagree (i.e., fully agree? mainly agree? partially agree?
>> disagree on most points? fundamentally disagree in virtually any respect?) with Vygotskii,
>> the really meaningful question,
>> I believe, is what exactly, *ACCORDING to VYGOTSKII*, is the
>> "Semiotic [and/or "semantic" = semicheskyj] analysis" that, yet again according to this guy,
>> "is the only adequate method for the study of the systemic and semantic structure of consciousness."
>> And, more specifically, how exactly did ipse Vygotskii perform this kind of analysis?
>> The answer, I guess, is as follows:
>> Vygotskii DID NOT KNOW how exactly perform this "the only" analysis, and in this respect
>> he did not go much further his usual programmatic, but pretty void from scholarly standpoint statements.
>> So, if we dismiss the numerous "Vygotskian", including Wertsch's,
>> interpretations of the Master's Teaching as irrelevant to our main question here, --
>> on the excellent criticism of the "Vygotskians" see Miller's "Vygotsky in perspective"
>> http://upbo.com/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9781107412477&ss=fro --
>> then the three points made here previously are very much worth considering:
>> 1. Nobody (even ipse Vygotsky!) has invented a method which reveals the structures of consciousness.
>> 2. The very concept of consciousness is ... empirically ... problematic.
>> 3. There is no single method that would reveal the secrets of consciousness.
>> Good luck with the search for meaning anyway! Perhaps, some Gestaltists' work will help?
>> If interested feel free to check the link: http://psyhistorik.livejournal.com/80047.html --
>> most stuff in Russian, but some references in English are certainly of help.
>> Also, you might want to explore how those Russian guys attempted to do the
>> "semicheskii analiz" to the extent they understood this idea roughly in mid-1930s.
>> But in order to do this, one needs to be able to read Russian, too. Yet again,
>> see the entry, it might help: http://psyhistorik.livejournal.com/80047.html
>> Good luck again! ;)
>> From: Achilles Delari Junior <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:56:11 AM
>> Subject: RE: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis". Can you help me?
>> Thank you. This problematic concept is the object of study for Vygotsky's psychology. This is the problem for those people who agree with Vygotsky.
>>> From: email@example.com
>>> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
>>> Subject: RE: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis". Can you help me?
>>> Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 08:43:28 +0000
>>> You should not take Vygotsky's remark (the only adequate method for the study of the systemic and semantic structure of consciousness) so seriously. Nobody has invented a method which reveals the of structures of consciousness. The very concept of consciousness is both empirically and philosophically problematic. There is no single method that would reveal the secrets of consciousness.
>>> Rauno Huttunen
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Achilles Delari Junior
>>> Sent: 23. huhtikuuta 2013 7:29
>>> To: email@example.com
>>> Subject: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis". Can you help me?
>>> Greetings for all,
>>> Please, I understand that I have a major methodological problem in my nearest research project: "how to understand human making-sense through the concrete acts of a person's speech?". Along many years I had thought about Vygotsky's claim that ""Semiotic [and/or "semantic" = semicheskyj] analysis is the only adequate method for the study of the systemic and semantic structure of consciousness." (see http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1934/problem-consciousness.htm). But it is not so clear how to proceed "Semiotic/semantic analysis". Then, if you pleased, could somebody help me, shining my mind about the (im)possibilities about somebody really learn *how to do* such kind of analysis? Here in Brazil, close to me, there is nobody working with something in this direction, then I have no local resources to ask for... Forgive me about the naive character of the question, but I really want to learn about.
>>> Thank you very much, once more. Best wishes.
>>> Achilles from Brazil.
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