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[Xmca-l] Re: The Ideal and Nicaraguan Sign Language

It hardly seems that Vygotsky could have meant what Mike is taking him to
mean or else we would have the logical impossibility (if we accept
evolution as I assume V did) that the ideal form has always already been
"there" all the way back to the first instance of human existence. "In the
beginning was the word (and it contained all later ideal forms)"? That
seems improbable that someone concerned with "development" like Vygotsky
would have thought that way. For Vygotsky does development only happen in
ontogeny but never in phylogeny?

Andy, I'm wondering why you would call this a "once-in-human-history
event"? Seems like this event captures perhaps the WHOLE of human history,
no? From iconicity and indexicality to the symbolic function? But the
symbolic function only develops as a coordinated project between people
large numbers of people who develop conventional but arbitrary relations
between signs and things.

I assume I'm missing something glaring here.

Very confused.

On Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 6:46 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Mike has drawn our attention to the Nicaraguan Sign Language
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaraguan_Sign_Language
> as a counter-example to Vygostsky's claim:
>    "that if no appropriate ideal form can be found in the environment,
>    and the development of the child, for whatever reasons, has to take
>    place outside these specific conditions (described earlier), i.e.
>    without any interaction with the final form, then this proper form
>    will fail to develop properly in the child."
> In my opinion, this once-in-human-history event does not invalidate the
> principle Vygotsky was elaborating. Just like every attempt to say what
> distinguishes the human being from the animal seems to be faulted by the
> latest clip from YouTube, all such absolute claims are almost bound to fail
> at some point. But the principle, illustrated by the fact that children
> growing up in Russia speak Russian and understand the meaning of
> perezhivanie whereas we don't, etc., is hardly faulted by NSL.
> The other thing that Mike suggests is that the principle of the ideal
> being present in the environment carries with it the negation of the idea
> of the social formation itself being subject to continuous change. Again, I
> think Vygotsky just takes this as outside the concerns of Psychology. His
> essay on Socialist Man http://www.marxists.org/
> archive/vygotsky/works/1930/socialism.htm shows that in fact he saw the
> psychology of people as primarily determined by the social formation of
> which they were a part and he saw that social formation as evolving. He was
> of course a modern, albeit I suspect a modern with a considerable capacity
> for irony.
> Now, this raises the difficult question of what Vygotsky may have meant by
> "ideal." Or, what he thought is a mystery, but what should *we* understand
> by ideality? It is well known that Vygotsky was surrounded by a number of
> fellows who were aficionados of Hegelianism, even if Vygotsky himself had
> never studied Hegel, so it is fair to suggest that the Hegelian concept of
> the Ideal is relevant in this context, of reconciling "ideal" as the norm
> in a given social formation and "ideal" as the notion of infinite,
> historical perfectability. For Hegel, "ideality" expresses both these
> principles; that is, that any relation contains within it a "gap" which
> makes it open to perfectability, and that "gap" is ever present, and its
> existence expresses what Hegel calls The Idea, that is to say, the
> ever-unfolding spirit of human freedom. Etc. It only requires that the Idea
> is present for any relation to be mutable. This is deep and challenging
> philosophical stuff which we don't really need, if we can just accept that
> "the ideal" does not mean something fixed and final, just an evolving norm:
> ever-shifting goal posts.
> Andy
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
882 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602