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[Xmca-l] Re: labour and signs
- To: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: labour and signs
- From: mike cole <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2014 12:26:50 -0800
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I personally would not start with a study of adolescents in order to
understand how language emerges from action-in-activity in ontogeny. I take
Luria's early work with the combined motor method to be directed exactly at
that problem. But the work has proven difficult to replicate. Perhaps
others have other suggestions of favorite places to look.
The idea of studying cultural historical change in the deed/word relations
over time using contemporary examples seems like a good way to go, but it
seems to me that circumstances such as those made visible in the study of
Nicaraguan sign over generations of newcomers to the community provide a
promising model. I need time to re-think your examples which I have not
read for a while and many xmca members probably need to given references to
so that if they want to follow the thread, they can check the fuller
On Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 8:55 PM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
> Well, Mike, while we are always interested in any information that comes
> to light about the ancient formation of language, I find that theories
> about that are invariably reifications (or exptrapolations if you like) of
> theories based (as you remark to Annalisa) on actual observations of (1)
> ontogeny, (2) the cultural-historical origin and development of the
> particular concepts themselves and the words indicating them.
> Re (1) Vygotsky has lots to say about this and of course you psychologists
> continue to investigate this in your own lifetime; from Chapter 5 of T&S,
> for example:
> * "The tasks that are posed for the maturing adolescent by the
> social environment - tasks that are associated with his entry into
> the cultural, professional, and social life of the adult world -
> are an essential functional factor in the formation of concepts.
> Repeatedly, this factor points to the mutually conditioned nature,
> the organic integration, and the internal unity of content and
> form in the development of thinking."
> * "It would be a mistake to ignore or fail to recognize the
> significance of the life-task as a factor that nourishes and
> directs intellectual development in the transitional age. However,
> it would also be a mistake to view this aspect of causal-dynamic
> development as the basic mechanism of the problem of concept
> development or as the key to this problem."
> Re (2) Engestrom has done work on this. I stand by the analysis in my
> paper on the formation of the concept of Collaborative Learning Space which
> differs only in detail in comparison with Engestrom's 7-step process, but I
> think the most decisive and spectacular evidence of all is the research
> done on the emergence of the word for the various colours in all the
> languages of the world and how this correlated with the ability to
> manufacture materials in the respective colour. In general, new concepts
> and the words for them arise when solutions are proposed for problems which
> have arisen in the course of regular, i.e., in some way rule-governed or
> institutionalised, practice (i.e., activity). A problem in practice is
> solved in practice and then named. Marx points out how the solution is
> found and practised before theorists can describe it and give a name to it,
> but I would hesitate to make this a general rule, though it may be
> appropriate in the case of broad social change.
> In relation to the word-tool business, sometimes the word naming a new
> concept names a new tool (e.g. Collaborative Learning Space), but not
> always. It may name the solution (e.g. "regulation") to a problem
> ("contradiction" in Engestrom's vocab) which is not necessarily a tool,
> sometimes the problem itself (e.g. "sexism") but in essence always
> indicates the solution not the problem, sometimes a new concept comes in
> the form of two words being a new distinction. The selection of the word
> itself is a whole other matter of course.
> Personally, my interest is in (2) above.
> Does that answer your question, Mike?
> *Andy Blunden*
> mike cole wrote:
>> Here is the quotation, Andy:
>> 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
>> highest manifestation of action. He is right. The word did not
>> exist in the beginning. In the beginning was the deed. The formation
>> the word occurs nearer the end than the beginning of development.
>> How should i be thinking about this passage if not to ask, "if the
>> formation of the word occurs nearer the end than the beginning of
>> development" what transformations of action are implicated in the
>> appearance and development of the word? I take it that in one sense, all of
>> developmental studies of language acquisition are attempts to answer the
>> question. But there it is.
>> On Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 4:16 PM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:
>> email@example.com>> wrote:
>> can you explain, Mike?
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> mike cole wrote:
>> Which still leaves us with the question of how language
>> developed out of other forms of action -- in phylogeny and
>> ontogeny-- as Haydi emphasized recently.
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.