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

I think I need to rest and let Mike explain what the issue is with Nicaraguan Sign Language.
Does it prove Vygotsky was mistaken? If so how?
*Andy Blunden*

Carol Macdonald wrote:

I am also confused. Sign language is a dinkum language. It has all the features of a human language, and can, because it is based in time and space, express even more in the verb than spoken language does.

If a child has no access to the local sign language, then their gestural expression will still have symbolic meaning for their caretaker.

Of course I may have missed the point.

On 14 October 2014 05:18, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com <mailto:greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>> wrote:

    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
    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
    no? From iconicity and indexicality to the symbolic function? But the
    symbolic function only develops as a coordinated project between
    large numbers of people who develop conventional but arbitrary
    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
    <mailto: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
    >    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
    >    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
    > 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
    > 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*
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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

Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
Developmental psycholinguist
Academic, Researcher, and Editor Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa