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[Xmca-l] Re: In Defense of Fuzzy Things

Thanks for all that David. I take it that you are sticking to what I take to be a gross misunderstanding.
*Andy Blunden*

David Kellogg wrote:

Here's what Vygotsky says in Chapter One of "Thinking and Speech".

Общение, основанное на разумном понимании и на намеренной передаче мысли и переживаний, непременно требует известной системы средств, прототипом которой была, есть и всегда останется человеческая речь, возникшая из потребности в общении в процессе труда. Но до самого последнего времени дело представлено сообразно с господствовавшим в психологии взглядом в чрезвычайно упрощенном виде. Полагали, что средством общения является знак, слово, звук. Между тем это заблуждение проистекало только из неправильно применяемого к решению всей проблемы речи анализа, разлагающего на элементы.

That is:

"Society, based on rational understanding and intentional transfer of thinking and perizhivanie, requires without fail some system of means, the prototype of which is, was, and will always remain that of human speech, which arose of necessity through social conotact in the process of labor. But until now the matter has been presented in conformity with the dominating view in psychology, in an extremely simplified way. It has been assumed that the means of contact is the sign, the word, the sound. This error stems solely from the incorrect use in the solution of the problem of speech an analysis which decomposes speech into elements."

Vygotsky then points out that this analysis is incorrect because it does not take into account that each word is a generalization--an act of thinking. He quotes a passage of Edward Sapir which has been cut from the Soviet version int the Collected Works (but which Kozulin has included in his update of the Hanfmann-Vakar translation).

В сфере инстинктивного сознания, в котором господствует восприятие и аффект, возможно только заражение, но не понимание и не общение в собственном смысле этого слова. Эдвард Сэпир прекрасно выяснил это в своих работах по психологии речи. ≪Элементарный язык, . говорит он, . должен быть связан с целой группой, с определенным классом нашего опыта. Мир опыта должен быть чрезвычайно упрощен и обобщен, чтобы возможно было символизировать его. Только так становится возможной коммуникация, ибо единичный опыт живет в единичном сознании и, строго говоря, не сообщаем. Для того чтобы стать сообщаемым, он должен быть отнесен к известному классу, который, по молчаливому соглашению, рассматривается обществом как единство≫.

"In the sphere of instinctive consciousness, in which rules perception and passion, only infection and contagion is possible, not understanding and social contact in the true sense of the word. Edward Sapir has wonderfully explained this in his work on the psychology of speech. Elements of language,” he says must be connected to an entire group, to a defined class of our experience. “The world of our experiences must be enormously simplified and generalized before it is possible to make a symbolic inventory of all our experiences of things and relations; and this inventory is imperative before we can convey ideas. The elements of language, the symbols that ticket off experience, must therefore be associated with whole groups, delimited classes, of experience rather than with the single experiences themselves. Only so is communication possible, for the single experience lodges in an individual consciousness and is, strictly speaking, incommunicable. To be communicated it needs to be referred to a class which is tacitly accepted by the community as an identity.”

Vygotsky concludes that a word meaning is a generalization, and that a generalization is an act of thinking. Ergo, the rational and intentional transfer of thinking and of perizhivanie requires an act of thinking. The fact that the child has not yet fully internalized that act of thinking does not make it any less an act of thinking.

Nor does the fact that this view was criticized by Stalinists make it any less true for me. Stalinists criticized Darwinism, you know!

David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 16 July 2014 14:34, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    David, it may seem picky, but I can't agree with this formulation
    below, in particular the use of "thinking". To interpret Vyotsky's
    observation in terms of "thinking" is to *intellectualise*
    Vygotsky, or to put it another way, to impute to Vygotsky an
    intellectualisation of human life. This move was a principal line
    of attack of Vygotsky during the Stalinist years after his death,
    so it is important not to repeat it now. You correctly analysed
    the difference for a child of having a drunk for a mother, rather
    than for a father or a neighbour. But this was not a question of
    what the child *thought* about these relations, but the real
    significance of each relation for the child having its vital needs
    met, within the horizon of consciousness of the child. And I use
    "consciousness" here as a Marxist, to indicate the entirety of
    subjective processes of the child which mediate between their
    physiology and their behaviour, not as a synonym for the
    intellect. The child will perceive their situation (and threats to
    it) in the only way they can, that is, in an age-appropriate way.
    And they will change their own activity in response to the
    perceived threat also in an age- and circumstances-appropriate way
    too. All of this - significance, perception, needs - are not to be
    interpreted as categories of thinking, but categories of the
    life-activity of living beings, that's all, not necessarily
    thinking. But of course, the capacity for thinking - the use of
    symbolic actions - and the capacity for extended reflection on an
    experience, are additional resources and points of vulnerability,
    over and above vital relations which do not imply intellectual
    *Andy Blunden*

    David Kellogg wrote: ...

        It's not that nothing is real until thinking makes it so; it
        is only that
        meaning is made by thinking and not simply by experiencing. ...