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[Xmca-l] Re: sense, meaning and inner aspect of word
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: sense, meaning and inner aspect of word
- From: David Kellogg <email@example.com>
- Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2015 08:06:17 +0900
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You're right--Jean Paulhan was a very interesting fellow. He was editor of
the lit crit journal founded by Cocteau and others, which first published
Sartre and Camus. He was also a member of the resistance (but the journal
wasn't; it was shut down for collaboration with the Nazis). For those who
require a little more lively interest, he was apparently the "hero" of the
"Story of O", which was the previous generation's version of "Fifty Shades
of Grey". All that, AND a Christian minister (partly in rebellion against
his father, who was a free-thinker).
But Vygotsky's referring to an uninteresting 1929 article by this very
interesting chap. Here's what our man actually says:
p. 289: "Le sens d'un mot, dans son acceptation la plus large, c'est tout
l'ensemble de faits psychologiques que ce mot e/veille dans un esprit, et
que la re/action de cet esprit ne rejette pas, mais accueille et organise."
(The sense of a word, in its broadest acceptance, is all the psychological
facts which the word evokes in a mind which the reaction of the mind does
not reject but instead accomodates and organizes.)
On p. 293 he contradicts this with a story about an acquaintance of his
for whom the name "Scipion" evokes a plate of scrambled eggs, not,
according to Paulhan, part of either the sense or the meaning of the name.
So we can see that right away Paulhan has some trouble with the distinction
between private "sense" and social sense. But this distinction is really
the key to the problem, because private sense is to social sense as actual
meaning in use is to potential meaning in a language system.
On p. 304 poor Paulhan is totally stumped by the expression "beyond
words", or "beyond my power to express" or "inexpressible", because these
expressions do very clearly evoke a psychological fact which many people
share, and therefore, contrary to what the words actually say, they have
both sense and meaning. But if they say something OTHER than what they
On p. 305, he argues that the sense and also the meaning of "furious"
stems from PAST experiences of fury. Presumably, then, the meaning of
"death" stems from our past experiences of death?
Moving right along (p. 318-319) , Paulhan decides that lies do not have
any meaning. But if they do not evoke a stable, socially shared zone of
sense how can they be effective as lies?
Interestingly, when Paulhan sits down to write a whole book ("Les deux
fonctions de language") he decides that the whole distinction between
"sens" and "signifance" is nonsense and insignificant, and he ignores it!
As A.A. Leontiev remarked, Paulhan just means the connotation and
denotation of words, not the real meaning in use and the potential meaning
in the dictionary.
So here's the problem. Vygotsky clearly HAS read this article and DOES use
it: the stuff on the world having the "sense" of the solar system--all of
that stuff is here. But the key distinction that Vygotsky really needs--the
distinction which is related to GENERALIZATION and to ABSTRACTION, which
will allow him to show how word meanings can develop into true
concepts--that's what's missing. And that's what is right there in
Volosinov, alongside a social mechanism which will allow us to show how
socialization into language is also individuation into free will.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
On 11 February 2015 at 10:23, Glassman, Michael <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hi David,
> It has been a long time since I did some exploration into Jean Paulhan. I
> had thought he was a very important literary/theater critic in Paris,
> actually more famous than his father at the time (I didn't know he was a
> Christian minister - hmmm). But I remember reading that his small magazine
> was very influential. I may be wrong about this, fog of philosophy and all
> that. I also remember that the section he wrote on sense and meaning was
> much more than a throw off. I remember reading a pretty intricate couple
> of pages. He was a really interesting fellow.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com [mailto:
> firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of David Kellogg
> Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:16 PM
> To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: sense, meaning and inner aspect of word
> The weird thing, Andy, is that Paulhan never said any such thing.
> Vygotsky's referring to Paulhan's essay "Qu'est-ce que le sens des mots?"
> where Paulhan, who is a Christian minister and not to be confused with his
> well known philosopher father, simply takes the banal view that words have
> connotations as well as denotations. Paulhan becomes extremely distressed
> when he tries to explain what the denotation of a phrase like
> "inexpressible in words" is, and gives up. When he tackles the whole
> question at book length, he uses completely different categories of
> I have always believed, and now I am quite sure, that this section of
> Thinking and Speech originally referred to Volosinov's distinction between
> "thema" and "meaning", from "Marxism and the Philosophy of Language".
> "Thema" is the concrete sense that a word has in a specific situation: it
> is what "you" means when I use it to refer to Andy Blundent. "Meaning" is
> all the potential meanings that a word might have, considered abstractly:
> it is what "you" means in the dictionary, in general, as a potential way
> of addressing every single or group of humans on earth. All words have
> both, but some have more of one and others have more of the other (e.g.
> proper nouns have more Theme and common nouns more meaning; verbs, which
> are all common verbs in the sense that we don't try to pretend that actions
> are once-occurent, are more Theme when they are tensed and more Meaning
> when they are infinitive).
> Lucien Seve confirms that Vygotsky was a close reader of Volosinov,
> particularly in the last few years when both were teaching at Herzen
> Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad (and both were dying of tuberculosis).
> Vygotsky's references to Volosinov were all edited out of his works.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> On 27 January 2015 at 14:16, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
> > Larry, this question (the meaning of "the inner aspect of a word, its
> > meaning" has come up before, and I think not satisfactorily answered.
> > I did a search on "Thinking and Speech" for all the uses of the word
> > "inner". 283 of the 329 of them are "inner speech" and all the others
> > are referring to mental or psychological, and then there's "inner
> > aspect of a word."
> > The related term is "sense," and in Chapter 7, citing Paulhan
> > apparently with approval, he says:
> > "First, in inner speech, we find a predominance of the word’s sense
> > over its meaning. Paulhan significantly advanced the psychological
> > analysis of speech by introducing the distinction between a word’s
> > sense and meaning. A word’s sense is the aggregate of all the
> > psychological facts that arise in our consciousness as a result of
> > the word. Sense is a dynamic, fluid, and complex formation which has
> > several zones that vary in their stability. Meaning is only one of
> > these zones of the sense that the word acquires in the context of
> > speech. It is the most stable, unified, and precise of these zones."
> > So a word's sense is the *totality* of "*all* the psychological facts
> > that arise in our consciousness as a result of the word."
> > But meaning (i.e., I suggest, "sense") "is only *one of these zones"
> > of the sense that the word acquires in the context of speech."
> > So the inner aspect of the word is *part* of the totality of the
> > psychological facts that arise as a result of the word.
> > Specifically, it is what we intend, or "the most stable, unified, and
> > precise of these zones," whereas in uttering the word there are all
> > sorts of associated feelings etc., which are not "meant" but are part
> > of the sense nonetheless.
> > ?
> > Andy
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> > --
> > *Andy Blunden*
> > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> > Larry Purss wrote:
> >> Henry
> >> I am referring to chapter 9 in the book "The Cambridge Companion to
> >> Vygotsky"
> >> Here is the link to google books
> >> https://books.google.ca/books?id=pn3S9TEjvUAC&printsec=
> >> frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
> >> Henry, what is "inner form" ? The answer to this is very complicated
> >> and includes exploring the relation of "sense and meaning" II would
> >> recommend getting the book from a library as every chapter is
> >> Vladimir Zinchenko's chapter I found very informative as Vladimir
> >> puts Vygotsky and Shpet into dialogue in a way that offers a close
> >> reading of Vygotsky.
> >> Today Peter sent a page on this same topic. The sentence "in other
> >> words, we are dealing with signs that do not only refer to things but
> >> also express some MEANING." (Shpet, 1927)
> >> Inner form is the exploration of the "but also express some meaning"
> >> There is the external referring to things AND the "internal form" the
> >> aspect of sign that expresses the "living form" of word, image, and
> >> action.
> >> As Martin and Mike have mentioned we are exploring the phenomena that
> >> emerges from within the "gap" and does involve imaginal processes.
> >> This is my interpretation of "inner form" but I would invite others
> >> to correct my [mis]understanding on the way to more clarity Larry
> >> On Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 9:49 AM, HENRY SHONERD <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >> wrote:
> >>> Larry,
> >>> Please help me:
> >>> 1) What is “inner form”?
> >>> 2) I can’t find the Zinchenko article in my emails. Was it sent out
> >>> or a link to it?
> >>> Thanks for your help.
> >>> Henry