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[Xmca-l] Re: Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of proximal development



Below is a brief passage from Luria's *Making of mind* that is perhaps
relevant to the discussion of function. Easies to hand, if not most
comprehensive.
mike
-------------------------------

Most investigators who have examined the problem of cortical localization
have understood the term function to mean the "function of a particular
tissue." For example, it is perfectly natural to consider that the
secretion of bile is a function of the liver and the secretion of insulin
is a function of the pancreas. It is equally logical to regard the
perception of light as a function of the photosensitive elements of the
retina and the highly specialized neurons of the visual cortex connected
with them. However, this definition does not meet every use of the term
function.



When we speak of the "function of respiration," this clearly cannot be
understood as a function of a particular tissue. The ultimate object of
respiration is to supply oxygen to the alveoli of the lungs to diffuse it
through the walls of the alveoli into the blood. The whole of this process
is carried out, not as a simple function of a particular tissue, but rather
as a complete functional system, embodying many components belonging to
different levels of the secretory, motor, and nervous apparatus. Such a
"functional system," the term introduced and developed by P. K. Anokhln in
1935, differs not only in the complexity of its structure but also in the
mobility of its component parts. The original task of
respiration_restoration of the disturbed homeostasis_and its final
result_transportation of oxygen to the alveoli of the lung, followed by its
absorption into the blood stream_obviously remain invariant. However, the
way in which this task is performed may vary considerably. For instance, if
the diaphragm, the principal group of muscles working during respiration,
ceases to act, the intercostal muscles are brought into play, but if for
some reason those muscles are impaired, the muscles of the larynx are
mobilized and the animal or person begins to swallow air, which then
reaches the alveoli of the lung by a completely different route. The
presence of an invariant task, performed by variable mechanisms, which
bring the process to a constant invariant conclusion, is one of the basic
features distinguishing the work of every "functional system."



The second distinguishing feature is the complex composition of the
functional system, which always includes a series of afferent (adjusting)
and efferent (effector) impulses. This combination can be illustrated with
reference to the function of movement, which has been analyzed in detail by
the Soviet physiologist_mathematician N. A. Bernshtein. The movements of a
person intending to change his position in space, to strike at a certain
point, or to perform a certain action can never take place simply by means
of efferent, motor impulses. Since the locomotor apparatus, with its
movable joints, has many degrees of freedom because different groups of
articulations participate in the movement, and since every stage of the
movement changes the initial tonus of the muscles, movement is in principle
uncontrollable simply by efferent impulses. For a movement to take place,
there must be constant correction of the initiated movement by afferent
impulses, which give information about the position of the moving limb in
space and the change in muscle tone. This complex structure of locomotion
is required to satisfy the fundamental conditions preserving the invariance
of the task and its performance by variable means. The fact that every
movement has the character of a complex functional system and that the
elements performing it may be interchangeable in character is clear because
the same result can be achieved by totally different methods.

(p. 123-124 of the 2010 re-issue of the *Making of mind*)

On Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 12:09 PM, Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com>
wrote:

> Francine,
> I quite agree that it's the development of the word meaning and its
> influence upon the organic , natural functions that causes them to be
> conscious and get running on the right appropriate most helpful track ,
> that is , when they are , as Vygotsky says , crowned . What causes me to go
> further is that this is not the end of a process which life requires . When
> functions become conscious , rich with benevolence of speech , there
> appears the domain of acts ; acts which formerly were carried out blindly
> because of the natural organic instincts but now are being carried out
> correspondingly as conscious , willful , volitional ones for which reason
> could be erected to transform . Words and broader conceptions , as in their
> nature , are defective to transform the world ; they could transform the
> mind and the psyche . Dialectics and interactions between the two are due ,
> too .
> Regards
>       From: larry smolucha <lsmolucha@hotmail.com>
>  To: Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com>
>  Sent: Friday, 27 February 2015, 21:19:33
>  Subject: RE: [Xmca-l] Re: Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of
> proximal development
>
> #yiv2080325588 #yiv2080325588 --.yiv2080325588hmmessage
> P{margin:0px;padding:0px;}#yiv2080325588
> body.yiv2080325588hmmessage{font-size:12pt;font-family:Calibri;}#yiv2080325588
> Message from Francine:
>
> Haydi,
>
> Are you saying that the central concept in Vygotsky's theory is the
> development
> of word meaning, and not the development of higher psychological functions?
>
> My understanding of Vygotsky's writings does not exclude the importance of
> the
> development of word meaning. Does you perspective disregard the
> development of
> consciously directed higher psychological functions?
>
>
>
> > Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:07:51 +0000
> > From: haydizulfei@rocketmail.com
> > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of
> proximal development
> >
> > Hi Francine !
> > This is all brilliant , fantastic but just expressing the dominant
> province of Vygotsky's work the way I think which might be wrong . That
> dominant province is "word' and broader conceptions of "word" .
> > Think of this please :
> > "The experiment with the pictures indicates that a child of three sees
> separate objects and an older child thinks of the world as a system of
> effects. It develops that if one and the same picture (let us say, the
> prisoner in jail) is  shown to  a three-year-old, he will say, "a man,
> another man, a window, a mug, a bench," but for a preschool child it would
> be: '~ man is  sitting, another is  looking out the window and a mug is  on
> the bench," We know that the opposite is  true: both the three-year-old and
> the very young child resolve all the separate objects according to their
> functions, that is, they determine them through [actions]. For the child,
> it is [actions] that are primary. When we try to find the first, primary
> word, then we find that this is the name of an [action] and not an object;
> the child names a word that signifies an [action], then a word that
> signifies an object."
> >
> > "Summarizing the data, we come to this conclusion: a fatal contradiction
> has arisen between the development of thinking as presented by the story
> with the picture and everything that we know about the development of
> thinking from life. In both cases, the relations seem to be inverted. It is
> curious that all of these notions can be confirmed by experiments and
> facts. We can take a thousand children and show yet again that this is the
> case  with the picture. It is an incontrovertible fact, but it must be
> interpreted differently."
> >
> > "Let us conduct an experiment because only experiments can give a
> definitive answer. There are several simple ways to do this that seem to me
> to be extremely clever. We will try to exclude the child's speech and we
> will try to get responses to the picture by some other means and not
> through words. If the proposition is true that the child does not think of
> the world as separate things but can say only separate words and cannot
> form their connections, then we will try to get along without words. We
> will ask two  children not to tell a story, but to perform what the picture
> shows. It develops that the children's play about the picture
> sometimes lasts 20 or 30 minutes, and primarily and most of all in  the
> play, those relations are captured that are in the picture. To put it more
> simply, if the child is  asked to dramatize the picture and not to tell its
> story, then, according to the experiments of Stern, the four- or
> five-year-old child dramatizes the prison picture the way a twelve-year-old
> tells it. The child understands very well that the people are in jail: here
> the complex narration about how the people were caught, how they
> were taken, that one looks out the window, and that he wants to be free is
> added. Here a very complex narration is  added about how the nanny was
> fined for not having a ticket on the trolley. In a word, we get a typical
> portrayal of what we see in the story of the twelve-year-old."
> >
> > The one screen rule has been breaking down many times by the initiators
> themselves . However , I end this portion here .
> > From: larry smolucha <lsmolucha@hotmail.com>
> > To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > Sent: Wednesday, 25 February 2015, 10:27:05
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of
> proximal development
> >
> > Message from Francine"
> >
> > Hi Larry,
> >
> > Yes, I agree there is an way in which my perspective and Chaiklin's can
> > be intertwined. First, my reading of Vygotsky is that higher functions
> are
> > consciously directed, unlike elementary functions which are spontaneous.
> > For Vygotsky all functions first exist (in animals, and in infants and
> preschoolers)
> > as spontaneous processes of attention, perception, emotion, imagination,
> and
> > realistic thinking. Through the process of the internalization of the
> verbal guidance
> > of a more knowledgeable person, these functions become consciously
> directed
> > attention, perception, emotions, imagination, and realistic thinking
> (i.e., become
> > higher functions).
> >
> > But, there is also a training in cultural traditions of thinking (what
> Chaiklin calls
> > functions) - in particular, realistic thinking can develop into several
> disciplines
> > of logical/ analytical thinking such as Aristotelian logic, dialectical
> thinking,
> > mathematics, and thinking in scientific concepts. An interesting
> question arises:
> > Can someone think in scientific concepts but not be able to consciously
> direct
> > their own thinking in scientific concepts? Such a person would have
> acquired
> > higher level thinking in Chaiklin's use of the term but not in
> Vygotsky's use of
> > the term 'higher functions'. Such a person would lack metacogntive
> awareness
> > of how their own thought processes proceed. This would be a high level
> > practitioner in a form of disciplinary thinking, who just robotically
> follows a
> > procedural way of thinking. I think there are people like that.
> >
> > A second point to keep in mind, is that Vygotsky used the term higher
> psychological
> > functions rather than higher mental functions. For the most part, the
> terms can be
> > used inter-changeably. Higher psychological function is more appropriate
> when
> > discussing consciously directed emotions. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
> is a practical application of Vygotsky and Luria's writings (by Donald
> Meichenbaum), that uses
> > the verbal guidance of the therapist as a model for the client's
> self-talk to help the
> > client control their own emotions and moods. Also, Vygotsky did say that
> different
> > higher psychological functions can function together as psychological
> systems.
> >
> > I will look more closely at Gadamer's writings. If reciprocal
> interaction means
> > that the cultural traditions are both internalized and changed by the
> individual -
> > I agree. The latter part is the central point in my understanding of
> Vygotsky's theory of creativity. Through both internal dialogues
> (dialectics) and external conversations
> > new ideas, art forms, inventions,emerge.
> >
> > Oh, one more point my understanding of the research on collaborative
> learning is that
> > it is most effective when someone in the peer group knows something more
> than
> > the others. That something more moves the group into the zone of proximal
> > development. Peers might be at the same level in many areas, but as
> individuals
> > they might have higher level skills that they can help the others
> acquire. For, example
> > if a group is working on an original story, someone might be good at
> metaphorical
> > thinking but not the best in grammar and spelling. Other people might be
> very good at grammar and/or spelling.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 07:54:25 -0800
> > > From: lpscholar2@gmail.com
> > > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of
> proximal development
> > >
> > > Francine,
> > > Your answer to my question moves me to return to the notion of
> "reciprocal
> > > interaction" and my interest in Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics.
> Is
> > > it possible that Chaiklin's understanding of "functions" [as expressing
> > > "traditions"] and your elaboration of Vygotsky's "functions" such as
> > > "imagination and analytic thinking" are intertwined and that we can
> imagine
> > > the person " a if" a weaver of tapesties that INCLUDE both
> understandings
> > > of "functions" [crystallized and open-ended]  The term "reciprocal
> > > interaction" I am approaching as Simmel used this term.  Francine, your
> > > statement:
> > >
> > >  "Vygotsky introduced something very different. The dynamics of
> consciously
> > > directing
> > > one's own thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors  allows for
> > > creativity.
> > > Vygotsky also said that consciously directed higher mental functions
> (such
> > > as imagination
> > > and analytic thinking) can be used in collaboration as psychological
> > > systems"
> > >
> > > I am asking if there is "space" or the possibility of opening a "zone"
> > > where yours and Chaiklin's notions of "function" can mutually and
> > > reciprocally enrich each "other" ?
> > >
> > > I look forward to reading your chapter [and book]
> > >
> > > Larry
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 11:24 PM, larry smolucha <
> lsmolucha@hotmail.com>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > Message from Francine Smolucha:
> > > >
> > > > Larry,
> > > >
> > > > Seth Chaiklin in redefining Vygotsky's terminology (functions and
> zone of
> > > > proximal
> > > > development), creates a developmental model that is very static.
> Vygotsky,
> > > > however,
> > > > is very clear in describing a dynamic model of how elementary
> > > > psychological functions
> > > > develop into consciously directed higher psychological functions
> through
> > > > the internalization
> > > > of speech. This is very different from Chaiklin defining higher
> > > > psychological (or mental)
> > > > functions as higher level concepts involving more abstract thinking,
> such
> > > > as scientific
> > > > concepts - this is more like an cultural model of Piagetian concrete
> and
> > > > formal operational
> > > > thinking.
> > > >
> > > > I think you hit the mark when you said that Chaiklin's developmental
> model
> > > > produces
> > > > crystallized and sedimented psychological functions that are
> preordained
> > > > by a particular
> > > > culture. [This is different from Piaget's structuralist theory in
> which
> > > > reasoning with scientific concepts naturally emerges at certain
> ages]. By
> > > > making the term 'higher' simply refer to
> > > > the higher skill level designated by a particular culture - it all
> becomes
> > > > culturally relative.
> > > >
> > > > Vygotsky introduced something very different. The dynamics of
> consciously
> > > > directing
> > > > one's own thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors  allows for
> > > > creativity.
> > > > Vygotsky also said that consciously directed higher mental functions
> (such
> > > > as imagination
> > > > and analytic thinking) can be used in collaboration as psychological
> > > > systems.
> > > > This is exactly what contemporary neuroscience has found in its
> > > > brain-imaging
> > > > studies (fMRI) of the prefrontal neocortex.
> > > >
> > > > My husband (Larry Smolucha) and I are writing a chapter titled
> > > > "Neuropsychological
> > > > Systems of Cultural Creativity" for the 2nd edition of Vygotsky and
> > > > Creativity.
> > > > Cathrene, Vera, and Ana suggested to their acquisitions editor that
> Larry
> > > > and I expand
> > > > that chapter into a book. (So yes indeed, I can cite my sources
> including
> > > > Vygotsky's
> > > > works in Russian or contemporary neuroscience.)
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > > Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:08:35 -0800
> > > > > From: lpscholar2@gmail.com
> > > > > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > > > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Understanding "functions" within the "zone" of
> > > > proximal    development
> > > > >
> > > > > Seth Chaiklin's article has me reflecting on the meaning of
> "functions".
> > > > >
> > > > > The article's concluding comment is:
> > > > >
> > > > > According to the analysis presented here, the zone of proximal
> > > > development
> > > > > refers to the maturing functions that are relevant to the next age
> period
> > > > > and that enable performance in collaborative situations that could
> not be
> > > > > achieved independently.  These *functions* are not created in
> > > > interaction,
> > > > > rather interaction provides conditions for identifying their
> existence
> > > > and
> > > > > the extent to which they have developed."
> > > > >
> > > > > I read this as indicating that the functions analyzed are
> "crystallized"
> > > > or
> > > > > "sedimented" forms that "objectively" exist as "generalized"
> structures.
> > > > > Within "socially situated" settings individual persons will
> subjectively
> > > > > move through a sequence of predictable "periods".  Within modern
> social
> > > > > situations "school" is a predictable social situation and it is
> the goal
> > > > or
> > > > > desire to develop "scientific concepts" in school settings.
> > > > >
> > > > > Therefore functions described as "higher mental functions" exist in
> > > > > particular historical social situations of development, not
> universally
> > > > > applicable situations. To be more specific "scientific concepts
> function
> > > > > within school situations of development. As  Chaiklin writes:
> > > > >
> > > > > "It is important to recognize that these periods are not
> reflecting a
> > > > > biological necessity (because of genetic or other organic
> sources), even
> > > > > though the development of higher psychological functions (e.g. ,
> > > > > perception, voluntary memory, speech, thinking) are dependent on
> these
> > > > > natural conditions. .... Similarly, none of the psychological
> functions
> > > > are
> > > > > 'pure' in the sense of a biologically given module or faculty."
> [page 7]
> > > > >
> > > > > In other words there exists an "objective" zone [a general zone]
> which
> > > > > Chaiklin clarifies as a tripartite constellation of "present age",
> > > > > "maturing function", and "next age"  AS "the objective zone of
> proximal
> > > > > development" [page 7] This zone is objective in the sense that it
> does
> > > > not
> > > > > refer to any individual child, but reflects [mirrors] the
> psychological
> > > > > functions that need to be formed during a given age period of
> development
> > > > > [and in particular the higher scientific or school concepts
> developed in
> > > > > school situations.]  In order to approach the more abstract
> concepts
> > > > [which
> > > > > are going "higher"]  psychological functions need to develop first
> in
> > > > order
> > > > > to move to the next "period" or situation of concept development
> [verbal
> > > > > thought].
> > > > >
> > > > > Chaiklin then makes a clear statement of the characteristic of this
> > > > > objective zone:
> > > > >
> > > > > "The 'objective' zone is not defined a priori, but reflects the
> > > > structural
> > > > > relationships that are *historically-constructed and objectively
> > > > > constituted* in the historical period in which the child lives.
> One can
> > > > say
> > > > > that the zone for a given age period is normative, in that it
> > > > > *reflects *[LP-mirrors]
> > > > > the institutionalized demands and expectations that developed
> > > > historically
> > > > > in a particular societal *tradition of practice*.  For example
> school age
> > > > > children are expected to develop capabilities to reason with
> academic
> > > > > (i.e., scientific) concepts. Individuals who do not develop this
> > > > > *capability* can be said to *have* [LP - possess] a different
> > > > intellectual
> > > > > structure.... Reasoning with concepts is a specific manifestation
> of the
> > > > > new-formations for this age ... " [page7]
> > > > >
> > > > > In other words functions which develop are "new" formations which
> are
> > > > > normative [ "crystallized" or "sedimented"].
> > > > >
> > > > > The question that I am left with is the relation of these normative
> > > > > functions existing within particular social situations of
> development
> > > > when
> > > > > the social situations that now exist become the object of deep
> > > > questioning?
> > > > > This type of reflection and speculation is entering the realm of
> "what
> > > > > if".  What if the "objective" zone of proximal development and its
> "new"
> > > > > formations [crystallized, sedimented] itself becomes the "object"
> of
> > > > > inquiry?
> > > > >
> > > > > I hope my train of thought is coherent? Chaiklin's article brought
> > > > clarity
> > > > > to my understanding of "functions" as key concepts for
> understanding the
> > > > > meaning and sense of ZPD.
> > > > >
> > > > > Larry
> > > >
> > > >
> >
> >
> >
>
>
>
>


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