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



Thanks for those comments, Huw. Much appreciated. In connection with one remark you made below, can I draw attention to one thing though, something that I think is often overlooked?

When you read through chapter 5 of T&S, the one on formation of concepts in childhood, i.e., "spontaneous concepts," what he describes is only a series of about 10 different forms of activity, not different mental formations or capacity. I have observed that it is possible to make sense of this strange series of forms of activity by means of hypethisising (or reifying) various "mental capacities" - the ability to isolate objects from a background, the ability to abstract one feature from a concrete object, the ability to synthesise objects into groups in some way and add new members, the ability to represent functional sets of objects, the ability to use adult words as a guide to isolating objects and situations, the ability to forms habits on situations, and the ability to act according to a finite set of rules. But Vygotsky *does not do that*! He just identifies the various forms of activity which we can see are made possible if we reify these capacities as mental formations of some kind and their various combinations.

I find it easier to remember and understand it that way. That's how our minds work. We are born realists and when we reify something we feel we understand our actions around it. But Vygotsky holds back from that, and actually *restricts himself to the description of forms of activity*, and then calls this "concept formation". Generally, I think people read this chapter as describing a series of about 10 distinct mental capacities or formations, which it certainly isn't.

Andy
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*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


Huw Lloyd wrote:
...
"Nevertheless, when we read Chapter One of Thinking and Speech, we see that
semantic structure, not activity structure, is precisely what Vygotsky has
in mind: there is indeed a clear link between feeling and thinking (else
children would never learn to think verbally), but there is also a
dialectical leap (else children would already know how)"