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[Xmca-l] Re: how to broaden/enliven the xmca discussion


(Just a quick note. I'm rushing off to our weekly Vygotsky
seminar--we're finishing up the first volume of the Lectures on
Pedology in which "The Problem of the Environment" appears in its
natural environment!)

I think another way in which Mr. Bae's analogy between Marx's
treatment of the commodity and Vygotsky's treatment of the word
meaning is helpful is that we linguists are prone to word fetishism in
the same way that bourgeois economists are prone to commodity
fetishism. That is, we tend to think of word meaning as a
thing-for-itself rather than as a relation between real people or a
relation between a person and a self.

So--just think of yourself READING the conversation on XMCA. Of course
you are thinking in word meanings; you can practically hear my voice
as you are reading these words. But if you time how long it takes you
to read these words, you will find that it takes far less time than it
would for me to say them, much less write them. So you can't actually
be hearing my voice or even mentally voicing my words. What exactly is
going on?

What is going on is actually what goes on in listening and speaking
all the time without us really noticing it. We hit the high points of
what people are saying (which are often indicated by indexical means,
by intonation and by facial expression) and we absolutely ignore the
rest. This is why it's so hard to recall the exact wording of what
someone says in any accurate way. Thinking WITH word meanings is very
different from thinking word-meaning-by-word-meaning; it's the
difference between playing a piano with both your hands and playing it
with two fingers.

But thinking with word meanings is still very different from the way a
toddler or even a preschooler thinks. When a parent takes a child to
meet a preschool teacher, the child will forget the name of the
preschool teacher but remember the color and texture of her clothes,
and even the smell of her hands. With the parent, isn't it much more
likely to be the other way around?

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 11 October 2014 08:59, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> I had never thought of the meaning/value connection, David. Thank Mr
> Hicheol for me!
> I need to read more about tema which is not a term I am familiar with being
> used in this context before.
> I gather that the idea of reading the two articles on the problem of the
> environment proved uninteresting. As a sign of my decriptude I had totally
> forgotten that Andy had written a whole essay about the contrast because I
> had it compartmentalized as part of a discussion among Russians that we
> have been poking our noses in to. I would not recommend starting with
> Andy's essay because it might discourage reading the two articles
> themselves. I have read the Vygotsky over a couple of times with special
> focus on question of units of analysis arising from one of David's earlier
> notes.
> Perhaps its only me, but when our conversations quickly spiral into three
> more heavy tomes to read just to get near what the note writer is
> suggesting, and when it involves Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty
> (whose work, at least, i know a little about!), I get to feeling
> overwhelmed. I was hoping that maybe a sharp contrast and a discussion that
> focused right on it, might be useful.
> No stopping the racing train, i guess.
> mike
> On Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>> When we were translating "Thinking and Speech", one of our old
>> Marxists, Mr. Bae Hicheol, pointed out that "znachenie" can also be
>> translated as "value", and that "sense" and "signification" can easily
>> be understood along the lines of Marx's analysis of the commodity into
>> a use value and an exchange value. I think this is precisely
>> Volosinov's model for "tema" and "znachenie": "tema" is the use value
>> of a word in a concrete act of thinking and speech, while "znachenie"
>> is an abstraction (thus more stable than "tema") created by the
>> process of exchange itself. There are limits to the analogy, of
>> course, but it is certainly not the case that use value is "private"
>> while exchange value is "public".
>> David Kellogg
>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>> On 10 October 2014 23:01, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>> > On the contrary. It was quite explicit.
>> > The first slide showed two columns. On the left were the were the Russian
>> > and German words for "personal meaning" and the inadequate English word,
>> > sense, on the right the Russian and German words for objective or public
>> > meaning and the inadequate English word, meaning.
>> > The next slide illustrated this dualism graphically with public and
>> private
>> > domains represented.
>> > The whole point was the Cartesian problem of the relation between the
>> two.
>> > It seems that the word "dualism" is not a "dirty word" where he comes
>> from,
>> > and the idea of theorising social change, which was a theme of 2 of the 4
>> > keynote speeches, was also not a priority for him.
>> >
>> > His Oral presentation (immediately after mine on the Thursday) was
>> devoted
>> > to representation of the autoregulation processes of social and
>> > psychological systems.
>> >
>> > Andy
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> > *Andy Blunden*
>> > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>> >
>> >
>> > Martin John Packer wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Did Dmitry simply not recognize the dualism in the theory he was
>> >> presenting, Andy?
>> >>
>> >> Martin
>> >>
>> >> On Oct 10, 2014, at 7:26 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>>
>> >>> You are quite right Martin, that it was my report of Dmitry's speech
>> that
>> >>> was being referred to and also correct to chide me for irony. Irony is
>> >>> really out of place in discussing such complex questions. However,
>> Dmitry
>> >>> was not criticising his grandfather's theory; he was continuing it.
>> When I
>> >>> said that I didn't think that such a stark dualism was a fruitful
>> place from
>> >>> which to begin a discussion of meaning, he didn't really see the point
>> of my
>> >>> remark, simply agreeing that there could be local or regional meanings
>> which
>> >>> departed from the norm. So the irony, I admit, was all mine, and I
>> apologise
>> >>> for inappropriate use of irony in this instance.
>> >>> Andy
>> >>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >>> *Andy Blunden*
>> >>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> Martin John Packer wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Just to reduce confusion, I want to point out that it was Andy who
>> >>>> provided this account of  Dmitry Leontiev's presentation at ISCAR,
>> not me.
>> >>>> And I think Andy was rejecting the argument. In fact, if I understood
>> >>>> correctly (there was a lot of irony in Andy's message!), D. Leontiev
>> was
>> >>>> both summarizing and criticizing a position that his father (A. N.
>> Leontiev)
>> >>>> had made. Martin
>> >>>>
>> >>>> On Oct 10, 2014, at 3:35 AM, Rod Parker-Rees
>> >>>> <R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk> wrote:
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> I would challenge Martin's  account of Dmitry Leontiev's  argument
>> that
>> >>>>> meaning is objectively fixed to 'what is' -  'irrespective of one's
>> personal
>> >>>>> relation to it' - yes, znachenie - common sense or agreed meaning is
>> more
>> >>>>> 'objective' than smysl but it is still socially constructed -
>> meanings are
>> >>>>> agreed by dint of their common use (what people do 'as a rule')
>> rather than
>> >>>>> because they reflect an absolute objectivity.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >
>> >
> --
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.