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[Xmca-l] Re: Dynamics of Developmental Change



Henry:

I enjoyed the van Oers article a lot--the idea of development as the
decontextualization of the mediational means has always bothered me. I
subscribe to a Hallidayan notion of context: it's not a "whatever" that
lies beyond text, but rather a set of things from a situation or from a
culture which has been selected for encoding into a semantics. So the
crucial element is in indeed meaning, although not in the sense that van
Oers uses meaning but more in the sense of "I didn't meant to do it" or "I
meant to do it".

But...what I did mean to do was not to refer to Wertsch and the fibre glass
vaulting pole of the mind but rather to refer to the work that Mike and
Sylvia Scribner did in "Culture and Thought" and especially "Psychology of
Literacy". Both of these works expose the fallacy of trying measure minds
by "decontextualized" means, e.g. the syllogism test that Luria was so
interested in. Both of these works point out that tests too are a context:
they are just one an unfamiliar one where the ability to select has been
usurped by the test taker. You remember J.W. Oller--he was the one who
proved that even non-verbal IQ tests are really verbal tests. Every word we
still carries the smell of all the other words with which it has collocated
and the savour of all the other words with which it has colligated.

So what would a non-decontextualized ToM test look like? Here are two, and
they both suggest (to me) that the infant actually STARTS from the point of
view that affects exist, although they are not necessarily "minds" in the
sense of being individualized. The first is a fourteen day old infant,
Nigel, with a bad boil on his elbow. He is crying. But as soon as his
mother notices the boil, the crying stops. How is this possible? The pain
continues. Shouldn't the crying continue too?

The second is a set of experiments that Fajans does on infants in a creche
in Germany, used by Vygotsky in his "Infancy" chapter (Collected Works,
Vol. 5, p. 234-235). Fajans discovers that infants do not always decrease
their drive for obtaining a particular object as the object moves out of
reach (thought they sometimes do). Vygotsky says this is because the infant
still does not really understand the limits of his or her own body. Then,
with some of the infants who have lost interest in the object, interest is
rekindled when another person approaches the object. Vygotsky says this is
because the infant has already understood that her or his main way of
acting on the world is not directly but with the hands of others. Vygotsky
says:

Мы встречаемся здесь с совершенно новым феноменом: в предметной ситуации
ничего не изменилось. Ребенок воспринимает предмет столь же отдаленным и
недостижимым, как и раньше. Он еще ни в малой мере не сознает, что он
должен обратиться к помощи взрослого для того, чтобы завладеть недостижимой
для него целью. Но аффективное побуждение к предмету, находящемуся на
расстоянии, зависит от того, лежит ли этот предмет в том же поле, в котором
ребенок воспринимает и человека, или нет. Предмет возле человека, даже
недостижимый и находящийся в отдалении, обладает такой же аффективной
побуждающей силой, как и предмет, находящийся в непосредственной близости
от ребенка и достижимый с помощью собственных усилий. Нельзя яснее, чем в
опытах Фаянс, показать: отношение к внешнему миру для ребенка целиком
определяется отношением через другого человека и в психологической ситуации
младенца еще слиты ее предметное и социальное содержание.

“Here we encounter a completely new phenomenon: in the object situation
nothing has been changed. The child perceives the object as remote and as
inaccessible as before. He is not even to the smallest measure aware that
he must seek the help of an adult to get the goal which is unattainable for
him. But the affective motivation of the object located at a distance
depends on whether this object lies in the same field in which the child
perceives the person or not. An object near a person, even if it is
unreachable and located at a distance, exerts the same affective motivating
force as objects which are located in immediate proximity to the child and
attainable by his own effort.  This could not be clearer than in what the
experiments of Fajans show: the relationship to the external world for a
child is wholly defined by the relations to other persons, and the
psychological situation of the infant has merged the object and social
content.

Оба соображения: 1) незнание ребенком собственного тела и 2) зависимость
его аффективного притяжения к вещам от возможности совместного переживания
ситуации с другим человеком— целиком и полностью подтверждают господство
«пра-мы» в сознании младенца. Первое из них с негативной стороны прямым и
непосредственным образом свидетельствует, что у ребенка еще нет сознания
даже своего физического «я». Второе с позитивной стороны указывает на то,
что самое простое аффективное желание возгорается у ребенка не иначе, как
при соприкосновении предмета с другим человеком* не иначе, как при условии
психической общности, не иначе, как в условиях сознания «пра-мы».

‘Both considerations—(1) the child’s not knowing his own body and (2) the
dependence of his affective attractions to tings on the possibility of
sharing lived experience (переживания) of the situation with other
persons—wholly and thoroughly confirm the government of the “Great We” in
infant consciousness. The first shows clearly and immediately from the
negative side that the child does not yet have any consciousness of his
physical “I”. The second shows from the positive side that the simple
affective desire flares up in the child in no other way than in the contact
between the object and another person, in no other way than as the
condition of psychic contiguity, in no other way than as the condition of
“Great We” consciousness.” ‘

David Kellogg


On Sat, Sep 12, 2015 at 2:53 AM, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co
> wrote:

> Honestly, Huw, I'm not sure if we're in agreement or disagreement!
>
> But I'm sure there's the potential for the former!  :)
>
> Martin
>
> On Sep 11, 2015, at 12:25 PM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Martin,
> >
> > I suspect what can be missed is the awareness of the consequences of
> > logical mode...
> >
> > Some problems stemming from this are:
> >
> > 1. A tendency to assume the object is continuously present, i.e. to have
> > some continuously available faculty that was previously absent.
> >
> > 2. A tendency to drift from a descriptive object based upon the formal
> > properties to a 'defined' one.  Someone without an appreciation for
> > genetic/developmental logic may easily assume that this ToM 'object' is a
> > discrete thing that is independent of its historical development such
> that
> > at some felicitous age the 'ToM' object pings into existence for the
> > fortunate soul.
> >
> > 3. A tendency to mark as boldly distinct those continuities that may
> > actually be very minor and in many practical circumstances equivalently
> > good enough (e.g. genetic instances of 'theory', pre and post 'ToM').
> >
> > I think maybe the third point here is perhaps the most nagging one.  The
> > formal distinctions seem to exaggerate the differences which may actually
> > be quite similar.
> >
> > Taking as another example your assumption about mind, the notion of a
> > conceived object of interior phenomena as mind is merely a formally
> > conceived one, because one has taken a slice of genetic continuities and
> > treated it as a discrete independent object or, if one hasn't 'sliced'
> the
> > continuity but is merely denoting an aspect of it, then the object
> denoted
> > is, as a consequence of its formal properties, of rather limited use and
> > one that cannot be used as a foundation for a definition (other than a
> > descriptive definition).
> >
> > Expanding slightly on the first point, to have a faculty means to have a
> > potential.  To have the faculty of flying a plane (or having a ToM),
> whilst
> > not flying, is to have the potential to reliably fly (or having the
> > potential to reliably exercise a ToM), which seems to be largely a basis
> of
> > prior exercise.  Nevertheless, faculty here (as used in a pragmatic
> sense)
> > seems to be derived from reliability and precision in the undertaking,
> not
> > in its potential, even though the faculty remains a potential one even
> for
> > an experienced practitioner.   Hence we see the difference again between
> > two different logical senses in terms of 'faculty'.
> >
> > Best,
> > Huw
> >
> >
> >
> > On 11 September 2015 at 16:28, Martin John Packer <
> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> Huw,
> >>
> >> I was assuming that a mind, if it exists, is 'interior.'
> >>
> >> If I lack a faculty that I have the potential to acquire, then I would
> say
> >> that I have the potential, but not the faculty. So an infant may have
> the
> >> potential for theory of mind (if we assume that this is how adults
> >> understand other people, which is open to question), but not this
> >> particular faculty. Am I missing something?
> >>
> >> Martin
> >>
> >> On Sep 11, 2015, at 9:09 AM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >>
> >>> Martin,
> >>>
> >>> What does it mean to state that a developmental being lacks some
> faculty
> >>> that is potentially available to them?  It seems to me it either means
> >> that
> >>> this faculty lacks sophistication (and that it is then technically
> >>> incorrect to say that they lack the faculty per se) or that the
> claimant
> >> is
> >>> making a logical fallacy by applying idioms of formal logic to a
> genetic
> >> or
> >>> developmental domain.
> >>>
> >>> Why should a nascent, genetically conceived ToM be something that is
> >>> interior?
> >>>
> >>> Best,
> >>> Huw
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> On 11 September 2015 at 14:20, Martin John Packer <
> >> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> David, Carol,
> >>>>
> >>>> Why not attribute a theory of mind to infants?
> >>>>
> >>>> First, because it seems extraordinary to suggest that infants are
> >> capable
> >>>> of forming theories. Piaget certainly never suggested that
> sensorimotor
> >>>> intelligence involved the forming of theories. Vygotsky argued that
> >> infants
> >>>> are incapable of verbal thinking, which would also seem to rule out
> the
> >>>> ability to form theories.
> >>>>
> >>>> Second, because there is no reason to think that infants know anything
> >> at
> >>>> all about mental states such as beliefs and desires. Piaget didn't
> >>>> attribute such knowledge to infants. Vygotsky argued that children are
> >> not
> >>>> aware of their own 'interiority' until around school age, and if this
> is
> >>>> the case it is hard to see how they could know about the interiority
> of
> >>>> other people.
> >>>>
> >>>> Third, the researcher responsible for identifying the phenomena of
> >> primary
> >>>> intersubjectivity, Colwyn Trevarthen, does not explain it in terms of
> >>>> theory of mind.
> >>>>
> >>>> Martin
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>
> >>
> >>
>
>
>