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[Xmca-l] Re: labour and signs

What an excellent reference, Mike!
https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/words/ch07.htm#deed (the 4th last paragraph of Thinking and Speech):

   "The connection between thought and word is not a primal connection
   that is given once and forever. It arises in development and itself
   develops. “In the beginning was the word.""’ Goethe answered this
   Biblical phrase through Faust: “In the beginning was the deed."”
   Through this statement, Goethe wished to counteract the word’s
   over-valuation. Gutsman has noted, however, that we can agree with
   Goethe that the word as such should not be overvaluated and can
   concur in his transformation of the Biblical line to, “In the
   beginning was the //deed/.” /Nonetheless, if we consider the history
   of development, we can still read this line with a different
   emphasis: “In the //beginning/ /was the deed.” Gutsman’s argument is
   that the word is a higher stage in man’s development than the
   highest manifestation of action. He is right. The word did not exist
   in the beginning. In the beginning was the deed. The formation of
   the word occurs nearer the end than the beginning of development.
   The word is the end that crowns the deed."

Surely the last word on the matter.


*Andy Blunden*

mike cole wrote:
What if word is used in the context "in the beginning was the word"? It seems that in different contexts, LSV use of the term, word, varies in meaning. So being careful about the topic/context of usage may help us.

(You don't have to take my word for it). :-)


On Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 10:35 AM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>> wrote:

    Andy and Haydi,
    Does it make any difference to this discussion that in the link to
    “Word and Action”, word is equated with speech? What if word is
    equated with gesture, as in sign language?

    > On Dec 4, 2014, at 6:58 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
    <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
    > Haydi, exactly what Vygotsky's idea was about this or that, at
    this or that time, is something beyond my powers to know. I just
    try to make sense as best I can of what I find in his writings. So
    I can only say what conclusions this has led me to. Participation
    in the labour process obviously conditions our activity and our
    thinking. But I take it that *true concepts* appear only through
    the use of signs. It will still be the case that such concept
    formation rests on tool-use - you can't eat words. Participation
    in the labour process (however broadly understood) necessarily
    entails using tools. I think the relation between tool and sign in
    concept formation is found in those two passages to which you drew
    our attention on "Word and Action":
    > I don't think these two lines of development are separate - they
    are *distinct*, but not separate.
    > I tend think that "historically" tool use was "prior" but it may
    not be the case, and I don't really think it matters. For example,
    according to Marx, the first phase of development of capital
    entailed gathering workers together in a workshop as wage workers,
    without making any change whatsoever in the labour process itself,
    and all the revolutionising of machinery only happened later.
    > So if that was how it worked in the dawn of humanity, that is,
    that the form of cooperation preceded the revolutionising of the
    means of labour, this would support the claim for sign use to
    pre-date tool-use in the formation of intellect. But I don't know
    and I doubt that anyone knows. The point is just that these two
    lines of development have their distinct bases and develop side by
    side in connection with one another.
    > Hope that helps, Haydi.
    > Andy
    > *Andy Blunden*
    > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
    > Haydi Zulfei wrote:
    >> I'm no authority to say things act this way or that way but I'm
    allowed to display my understanding . In this very piece , V
    challenges "instrumental method" . In "Crisis" , he does the same
    . I wonder what you might take by encountering so much talk about
    the "New Psychology" or the "New Methodology" with lots of
    evidence he showers on us to document his sayings . Shortly , was
    he a Marxist of the Day or Not ? This could help us with many
    things . What seems to be ambiguous for me is the last three lines
    of the paragraph . Is that what you mean by pre-linguistic stage
    that after this stage , no use of tools is to be observed ? I'm
    sure you won't . Mike is all right with the term 'rudimentary'
    because the to-be MAN (primitive) acts on the instant , is
    interested in THROWING bones or dice not in their physical or
    chemical properties as is the case with later stages . Hence use
    of stimulus-device not sign-device . But with full use of tools
    and their sophistication we approach the appearance of language
    which converts the NATURAL functions . V even locates their due
    places , one the stem of the brain , the other the different
    layers of the cortex . We know about ANL saying a day might be
    reached when scientists become full workers and workers full
    scientists or quasi-scientists but that day has not yet arrived .
    Not to become lengthy , I refer to the important point that we do
    not internalize tools but we do internalize signs , speech and
    this is where V warns us against .
    >> The reason that Vygotsky gives us this story about the knot in the
    >> handkerchief and the coin-toss is that he wants to suggest a
    genesis of
    >> the semiotic use of artefacts which does *not* originate from
    the use of
    >> tools for working on matter.
    >> Yes , yes , Vygotsky says , I parrot it many times . Then , I
    put the question where does it come from (before rudiments) . Let
    me once again stress on the fact that V asserts the two lines of
    development are separate one from the other in phylogenesis .
    >> His claim is of course entirely speculative
    >> and I take it to be a rhetorical move. So far as I know,
    Vygotsky is in
    >> agreement with the idea that collaboration creates the situation in
    >> which people need to share generalisations and thus "invent" speech
    >> properly so called. Here is in agreement with Engels, but I
    think he
    >> wants to assign only a very early (pre-linguistic) role to the
    >> holding that the tool can only give rise to the *potential
    concept* and
    >> not a *true concept* as such. This idea is consistent with what the
    >> distributed cognition people want to do and also with the
    >> story told in the labour paradigm. In our own day, the role of
    tools in
    >> the formation of mind is really unmistakable. But I think we
    need to be
    >> just as flexible as I think Vygotsky was on these questions.
    >> What V says is use of tools finds its meaning within 'work
    activity' of which you are a master . But these lines smack of
    historic precedence of speech and co-constructing of speech over
    working activity . Where have I got wrong ?
    >> Haydi

It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.