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[Xmca-l] Re: Objective and Subjective ZPDs


Being Chinese, my late mother in law didn't like portraits very much; she
preferred good landscapes with human figures sparse and rather small,
crushed and rendered insignificant by towering heights of natural beauty.
Being my mother in law, she was also critical of my skills in general and
of my portraits of her in particular. So she would remind me lovingly that
landscapes never complain about the likeness, and portrait sitters almost
invariably do. I told her that with human figures, when you want a good
likeness of a face, you just kind of smudge the outlines and make the
proportions a little fuzzy, and the human viewer's affective perception
will (more or less) gladly supply the rest. When you do that with a
landscape, it just looks like you painted it in the rain with your glasses
all wet.

The "more or less" part was me, not Seth. I am a fuzzy thinker, and I have
really stopped apologizing for it and even defended it at some length, here
on xmca among other places (e.g. my very first article, published over ten
years ago after five rejections, where I argued that "group ZPDs existed
and had to be differentiated from individual ones). I guess I think that
fuzzy thinking reflects the fuzzyl categories of language, and therefore
the fuzziness of human experience. In general when we try to be more clear
cut and precise than the experiential categories of natural language, we
end up with categories of thought that are far too distinct and
insufficiently linked. So there's a good reason why Vygotsky likes to speak
in triplets (e.g. "subjective", "internal", "individual" vs. "objective",
"external", "social").

Surely, Andy, Vygotsky wishes us to distinguish between the social
situation of development and the neoformations--as he points out, the
creation of the neoformation is what liquidates the social situation of
development (you yourself made the crucial point that the 'social
situation' includes both the child and the environment, and for precisely
this reason it involves a tension between individual and social, between
external and internal, and--dare I say it--between objective and
subjective. Just as surely, he would like to provide some link between the
two, and it's for that reason he has lines of development. To tell you the
truth, that's what I got out of your critique of Engestrom--without
MISconceptions, concepts simply cannot develop, and with only non-fuzzy
categories, we can have a perfectly good systems analysis, but no analysis
into units.

The one part of your Engestrom paper I really disagreed with was where you
say that the object of analysis can be rendered as nothing but millions of
units of analysis. Buildings are not just billions of bricks; humans are
not just trillions of cells, and language is not made up of hextillions of
words. In between the brick and the building, there are human shaped units
like rooms and there are environment shaped units like floors and ceilings,
in between the cell and the human there are organs and systems, whose
respiration and excretion is not like a cell but not exactly like a whole
human being either, and in between the word and the clause there are lots
of intermediate units like groups, phrases, and so on. So I think there
must be units that are more clause like and units that are more text lke
too. There always has to be some qualitative difference as well as
quantitative differences between the Ur-phenomenon (the unit of analysis,
word meaning, perizhivanie, etc.) and the macro phenomenon. So for analysis
into units to work at all, we need fuzzy thinking.

David Kellogg

On Mon, Sep 7, 2015 at 1:19 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Great article by Seth, David. So thoroughly researched and clearly
> explained.
> I think the problem with the notion of subjective and objective ZPDs is
> that like many others before him Seth has mixed up the subjective/objective
> distinction with the categories of universal, individual and particular,
> which is also why we get the "more or less" entering into what is supposed
> to be objective. A N Leontyev does the same thing with meanings which are
> "more or less objective".
> The culturally and historically normative is universal; that is what
> "universal" means. Like "normative" it does not mean "objective", as if
> every individual had the same one. They don't.
> What Seth calls the "subjective" ZPD should be called "individual." It is
> no more subjective than the so-called "objective ZPD.
> What is missing is that the universal it only manifested in the
> "particular" conditions of each family, school, etc., and it is this
> particular which is actual (=acting) for the given child, and not "more or
> less" active.
> ZPD is best retained, I think, as the concept which is both subjective and
> objective and inseparably so. Talking about subjective *and* objective ZPDs
> may have heuristic and pedagogical value, but I think it can, in the end,
> also contribute to confusion.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> On 6/09/2015 9:44 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
>> Sure, Andy. I think there's a copy on the lchc discussions site. But
>> here's a pdf of an early draft from Gordon Wells' course pack.
>> David Kellogg
>> On Sun, Sep 6, 2015 at 6:56 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:
>> ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>     David, do you have a PDF of an article which explains
>>     this double-barrelled concept?
>>     Andy
>>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>>     *Andy Blunden*
>>     http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>     On 6/09/2015 6:26 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
>>         Martin, Andy, Mike...and Others:
>>         I've been trying to make sense out of Seth
>>         Chaiklin's distinction between
>>         the "objective" ZPD and the subjective one. He's
>>         obviously got in mind
>>         exactly the material we are now translating:
>>         Vygotsky's attempt to render
>>         the ZPD as a "next zone of development", where the
>>         next zone of development
>>         is either
>>         a) given by the social situation of development
>>         (and therefore more or less
>>         the same for a whole age group of children).
>>         b) given by the "ripening functions" in the lines
>>         of development (and
>>         therefore different for every individual child).
>>         So here's what I've got in chart form. As you'll
>>         see, it's very different
>>         from the chart that Andy had in his 2009 article,
>>         and also somewhat
>>         different from the very elegant formulations that
>>         Martin had (which to my
>>         chagrin I can't remember very well).
>>         I've added a column of linguistic indicators taken
>>         from Halliday's 2002
>>         volume on early childhood language, because I have
>>         to be able to apply all
>>         this to data some day very soon.....
>>         This is a very sketchy schematicky sort of
>>         preliminary draft, and
>>         criticisms, objections, imprecations, and even
>>         just gutteral mutterings
>>         would be most welcome.
>>         David Kellogg