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[Xmca-l] Re: Activity as Hyponym

David, thank you for this!!! I was trying to interpret what Haydi wrote, because it seems packed with meaning. I got stuck on some of the statements that you expound, such as "And I don't mean : word ends , action begins ; no linear
>> advancement . through zigs and zags , heading towards will be the agenda."  

I hope to hear what Haydi says about your interpretation.


Helena Worthen

On Feb 27, 2015, at 4:51 PM, David Kellogg wrote:

> Some of the confusion is mine, I'm afraid. It began with a very confusing
> note I wrote yesterday. I was trying to explain a terminological problem in
> CHAT. In Vygotsky and Volosinov, "meaning" is a superordinate term (a
> hypernym) but it also a subordinate type of meaning (a hyponym):
>            MEANING (znachenie)
> meaning (znachenie)    sense  (smysl)
> It seemed to me that the same thing has happened with activity:
> tool use (orudnie)            sign use (znak)
> The problem is that we use "activity" for both tool use and sign use, or,
> worse, we use "tools/signs" as a superordinate term (a hypernym) and as a
> subordinate term (a hyponym).
> Now you can see that these are two different mistakes. Conflating tools and
> signs is one mistake, and using "activity" for both mediating activity and
> for tool-bearing activity is a different mistake. But I confused them.
> Haydi sometimes communicates with me off list (and in fact it's entirely
> possible that this message was mostly intended for me) and I understand
> what he says very well, because it is part of a longstanding discussion we
> have been having about what Vygotsky means when he says "In the beginning
> was the act".  To me, this means that the act is really only the beginning,
> and we need to move on in our theorization. But to Haydi it really means
> that the act is the basis of everything (and in particular the basis of
> social activism, where counts is deeds and not words).
> So here's how I read Haydi. But Haydi should correct me if I have him wrong.
> I said the dominant province of Vygotsky's work ; that means all through
>> his works , he uses terms and expressions which denote or connote "action"
>> : behaviour , operation , activity , work as labour proper and these are
>> not things which might escape your good attention .
> I READ: The reason why Vygotsky reiterates words like action, behavior,
> activity, work and labor is that this is the basis of everything, including
> language.
> HAYDI SAYS: Then denial of action is denial of what Vygotsky has taken for
> granted .
> I READ: To try to dissolve the action component of sign use is to deny the
> important role of action and to deny what is always there implicit in
> Vygotsky's treatment of sign use: communicative action is not simply
> communication (as it is in Habermas). More importantly, communicative
> action is a form of action (as it is in Marx).
> HAYDI SAYS: Vygotsky does have an unending love for word and literature ,
> art in
>> general ; Then we should not take him as being guilty because he either
> did
>> not have time or he did not want to deal with the analysis of "action" .
> I READ: It is true that Vygotsky is fascinated by the word, most viisible
> in Psychology of Art and other texts on the arts (e.g. the essay on the
> dramatic art of the actor). But in all of these action is taken for granted
> (see especially the dramatic art of the actor).
> HAYDI SAYS: In his "Higher Psychological Functions" , he first talks about
> an
>> environment , he stresses that the environment necessitates use of tools
>> even for the months-old child , then he elucidates in details the
> influence
>> of speech upon each function . It's my assumption that Vygotsky implies
>> that when everything is in place , that is , when by the blessings of
>> speech , all functions are ripe and rich and replete with influences ,
> then
>> the gown-up , adolescent , adult , man becomes ready to go fully for
>> transformations . And I don't mean : word ends , action begins ; no linear
>> advancement . through zigs and zags , heading towards will be the agenda .
> I READ: The main message of HDHPF is that the higher psychological
> functions are only RELATIVELY higher; they are still very much linked to
> lower functions, and the link is of a genetic nature. But that doesn't
> simply mean that the higher functions arise out of the lower functions; it
> also means that they can transform the lower functions in their own image.
> That is what happens: it's not the case that action just takes up where
> words fail us, any more than it is the case that man's physical evolution
> stopped when his cultural evolution began.
> HAYDI SAYS I ask : is that the case that you think that Vygotsky thought
> that with
>> rich , ripe psychological functions a la speech influence , man was
>> finished with everything to continue living ?? I'm afraid not ! Man now
> had
>> to take one very big step further , farther . To have ideals , to let them
>> penetrate cycles of activities to provide products to satisfy needs
> because
>> the richest , ripest talk will not satisfy life needs .
> I READ: Nor is it the case that physical evolution is there as a kind of
> "Plan B" when our cultural Plan A fails us. On the contrary: what language
> does is to allow potential action to become real. But even the richest,
> ripest talk does not satisfy life's needs; it must be completed by action.
> HAYDI SAYS: > Capitalism today though decaying , has opted for horrendous
> deeds and
>> wants to go ahead with these deeds through futile talks . Destructive
>> arsenals are not for defense as coming from rich beneficial talks ; they
>> won't wait for the United Nations' benevolent tribunes nor for the written
>> files therefrom , either .
> I READ: Capitalists are aware of this: they would like very much to
> relegate the forces of progress to pure talk.
> HAYDI SAYS:  The United Actions of all the oppressed peoples of the world
> may wayward
>> another big disaster !!
>> and that requires already agreed upon talks ; otherwise no deed will be a
>> crowned one !
> I READ: Oppressed people everywhere must understand that although
> phylogenetically the deed is crowned with the word, sociohistorically,
> things are the other way around: the words that have only been able to
> provide a sketch of "the good life" in art must be crowned with the deed.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies