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[Xmca-l] Re: "Mediation" as Error Correction
- To: Lplarry <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: "Mediation" as Error Correction
- From: Lplarry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 06:31:55 -0800
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A further reflection on the notion of *structures* of primitive thinking.
Vygotsky refers to the German term *sound pictures* expressing the original unity of gesture language and sound language.
He references Junod who suggests that sound/picture language conveys shades of meaning that the higher abstracting and generalizing languages would be incapable of expressing. This structure of language leaves a deep imprint on the whole *structure* of primitive mans thinking.
Thinking that uses this structure of language, just like the language itself, is thoroughly concrete, graphic, and pictorial in its detailed descriptions.
Now Levy-Bruhl makes a value judgement saying this *structure* of language/thinking displays an inadequate power of abstraction which is expressed through a different *structure* of language.
Levy-Bruhl refers to the peculiar internal pictures or IMAGE-concepts which are the *material* for the sound/picture concepts and thinking *structure of this TYPE OR KIND of thinking.
IF we stay with this notion of various types or styles of thinking *structure* I believe we can explore if the sound/picture *structure* is not only *primitive* but can also be understood as expressing contrasting *structures* of consciousness .
One version of this would be to suggest that thesound/picture structuring expresses Dionysus whereas the absract structuring personifies Apollo.
This moves the exploration of various types of *structuring* phenomena to the arena of alternative themes as styles of *consciousness* and infers that the sound/picture structure of consciousness remains relevant for enlivening and animating and deepening conscious experience expressing various types or kinds of structuring, each with its own themes.
This may be wild con-jecture but it is how I was reading the notion of the primitive as expressing a particular *structure* of consciousness.
From: "Lplarry" <email@example.com>
Sent: 2016-02-15 4:29 AM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: [Xmca-l] Re: "Mediation" as Error Correction
Vygotsky quotes Gatschet to make a contrast between modern and primitive use of language.
"We tend to speak precisely, whereas an Indian draws as he speaks; we classify, he individualized. For these reasons, the speech of primitive man, in comparison with our language, truly resembles an endlessly complex, accurate, plastic, and photographic description of an event, with the finest details.
Notice the focus on speech AS drawing images in contrast to classifying. THIS focus is endlessly plastic AND accurate.
Now I want to introduce Bob Dylan and his song *Visions of Johanna* and ask us to place his language into Gatschets contrasting notions.
Remember that the symbolism of dylans language transformed our relation to music and culture.
From: Greg Thompson
Sent: 2016-02-14 9:08 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: "Mediation" as Error Correction
Fascinating stuff David - I particularly wonder about montages as
But I also have wondered about this whole business about Levy-Bruhl. I came
across a very nice piece by Jonathan Z. Smith entitled "I am a parrot
(red)" (Can be found in his book Map is not Territory or in the original
article here: Smith, J. Z.. (1972). I Am a Parrot (Red). History of
Religions, 11(4), 391–413. Retrieved from
J.Z. describes how the original ethnographic citation was to Karl von den
Steinen who conducted ethnographic research among the Bororo. Yet, as he
notes below, it was popularized (in a somewhat twisted form) by Levy-Bruhl.
Here is J.Z.'s take on it:
"The citation in Levy-Bruhl is quite close to von den Steinen's original.
Levy-Bruhl has added the detail that von den Steinen "could not believe it"
and has made one significant alteration in direct quotation. Von den
Steinen had asserted that the Bororo understood themselves to be araras
just as a caterpillar may speak of himself as a butterfly. Levy-Bruhl's
version omits the ambiguity between present and future (or the Aristotelian
actuality and potentiality) in order to emphasize the element of
participation. In his translation, the Bororos insist that "they are araras
at the present time." (Compounding the misrepresentation, Levy-Bruhl
italicized his addition of actuellement.)41 The mischief done by this
cannot be overemphasized. It is Levy-Bruhl and not von den Steinen's
original report (no matter what the footnote may cite) which will be used
by most subsequent writers as an illustration of primitive mentality."
Seems like the Bororo are as interested in "becoming" as are the
J.Z. has lots more to say about the argument regarding "primitive thinking"
On Sun, Feb 14, 2016 at 12:20 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>
> Here's one:
> But the one I was referring to was Thinking and Speech Chapter Five, part
> 13. I'm afraid that in order to understand what Vygotsky is REALLY saying
> about this example (which is from an ethnographer called Von Steinen via
> Levy-Bruhl) you need to understand his whole argument about complexes vs.
> I don't think Vygotsky is really saying that "primitive man" does not
> believe in the law of the excluded middle. First of all, he knows (and
> Frits Stahl was later to prove) that one of the most basic functions in
> language, found in every language without exception, is negation, and
> negation operates on the basis of non-overlapping categories of being and
> non-being (but also on the basis of categories which are consciously and
> explicitly fictitious in the sense of being non-actual). Secondly, Vygotsky
> himself doesn't believe in the law of the excluded middle, because
> dialectics excludes it ("becoming" is neither being nor non-being).
> Vygotsky is saying that it is perfectly possible for a child, a primitive
> man, an ape...and even a college professor--to have categories that include
> both parrots and people (e.g. "totem", or "living creature"). It is these
> categories that Eisenstein is interested in, because they are the
> categories of which the "montage" is the "germ cell" (note that these terms
> are used by Eisenstein the same meaning that they have in Vygotsky and
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
> On Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 2:12 AM, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > David,
> > Pardon my ignorance but can you give the associated quote from vygotsky,
> > and perhaps also include the conclusion he draws?
> > This is of course of great interests to anthropologists at what has come
> > to be called "the ontological turn." I could imagine them making the same
> > statement as Eisenstein but drawing a nearly opposite conclusion. ("They
> > really are red parakeets!").
> > Greg
> > Sent from my iPhone
> > > On Feb 13, 2016, at 3:31 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>
> > >
> > > Huw, Mary....
> > >
> > > Well, in the Dynamic Assessment literature there's a split. Some argue
> > for
> > > "interventionist" DA, which works on the following assumptions:
> > >
> > > a) The ideal form is present in the curriculum which is given
> > > b) The path to the ideal form is one of carefully graded "prompts"
> > (similar
> > > to the cline I gave earlier, that is, a focus on:
> > >
> > > 1. The EXISTENCE of an error ("'This is book'. Are you sure that's
> > right?")
> > > 2. The LOCATION of the error. (*This is...?")
> > > 3. The NATURE of the error ("How many books?")
> > > 4. The WAY TO CORRECT the error ("This is a....?")
> > > 5. The active ACCEPTANCE of correction ("No, now listen. 'This is a
> > book.'")
> > > 6. The passive RECOGNITION of correction ("No, now listen. 'This is a
> > > book.' Repeat that for me!")
> > >
> > > (Note in passing that this isn't that different from the idea of
> > > frustration by reducing the consequences of error and then reducing the
> > > probability of error, c.f. Bruner, Wood and Ross 1975.)
> > >
> > > The idea behind interventionist DA is that the curriculum is always
> > > and there exists (more or less) a single path to the curriculum, which
> > can
> > > be marked out by the prompts 1-6. The RATE of progress to the
> > > model will change, but the ROUTE is invariable.
> > >
> > > You can see that two corollaries follow from this idea of invariant
> > > and variable rates. The first is that the interventionist DA model is
> > > assessment oriented, which appeals to principals as well as to
> > independent
> > > minded learners. The second is that the interventionist DA model is
> > > particularly conducive to the mass production of teaching materials
> > > sideline the teacher, the sort of thing that Mary is worried about in
> > > Washington.
> > >
> > > The second option is just the opposite: it's called "interactionist"
> > > and it's highly favored by Jim Lantolf (and Steve Thorne, Mathew
> > > Neguerlea-Azola, and other writers associated with Penn State
> > University).
> > > The idea is just the opposite: there isn't a single path, and the route
> > to
> > > "communicative competence" can be highly variable so the whole is
> > > to negotiation.
> > >
> > > You can see that this model is not so assessment oriented, and that it
> > > foregrounds the teacher and will tend to disempower publishers at the
> > > expense of teacher trainers (and, more worryingly, non-native speakers
> > > the expense of native speaker
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