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[Xmca-l] Re: In Defense of Fuzzy Things
- To: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: In Defense of Fuzzy Things
- From: Huw Lloyd <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2014 18:17:04 +0100
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Thanks Andy. That's an interesting observation which I'll attend to next
time I read T&S.
My main response to this, however, is simply the appreciation that an
author has for his audience. If Vygotsky (and Bateson and I would expect
Dewey too) know (or hold as a firm belief) that the only way a reader will
properly understand them is by working upon their own conceptions (i.e.
engaging in the theory, not simply spouting it), then it follows that they
cannot simply deliver the material on a plate.
However, the business of referring to clear observables as
epistemologically preferable (or stronger) when such observables are highly
suggestive (and effectively carry the underlying meaning for the reader
without the supporting theory) seems like a useful heuristic.
I had another thought but my eldest says its tea time!
On 18 July 2014 16:21, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> 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
> 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 Blunden*
> Huw Lloyd wrote:
>> "Nevertheless, when we read Chapter One of Thinking and Speech, we see
>> 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)"