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[Xmca-l] Re: Agent, Range, and Beneficiary

Thank you David for the nice elaboration on Bogdanov-Belsky's work, and the particular painting's relevance to Vygotsky. I like it very much when several volumes (in literature, in music) are conceived as forming a coherent whole, and not only conceptually but also aesthetically. 

On the use of concepts, I totally agree that we need to understand their historical origin and development, and can't but acknowledge the lack of and limitations associated with such an inquiry in most of today's uptakes. I am personally very interested in understanding the how, why and what-for of Vygotsky's concepts and writings and how to build upon in current theorizing. If I raised the question was just because I also  see how notions such as ZPD, in the work of authors such as (just as an example) Newman & Holzman (1993), who in my view do their best to keep true to Vygotsky's epistemological orientations and concerns, get out of the notion a lot without limiting it to a function of diagnosis and without keeping it within the context of the problem of age. Another thing, of course, is whether the different uses of terms such as "diagnosis" or "the problem of age" may be very different and even incommensurable across use-settings.

Thanks and again congratulations for your beautiful and laudable work.

From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
Sent: 07 April 2016 07:48
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Agent, Range, and Beneficiary


Glad you asked! All the covers of our books are by the same artist,
described below, who specialized in rural schools. With every cover we
usually have a note on the inside jacket in which we thank the Russian
museum which donated the painting and explain how we think it's connected
to the book. Here's what we wrote this time (more or less):

"The cover picture, “Visitors”, by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky (1868-1945), was
generously provided by the Museum of Art of Arkhangel in Russia. It is one
of a whole series of paintings done by the artist on the theme of village
children visiting a teacher. In this picture, the children are visiting the
teacher on the day of lanterns, a Russian holiday which celebrates the
risen Christ and which also celebrates Christ’s first miracle, which was
turning water into wine at the Wedding in Cana.

"Vygotsky uses this metaphor in one of his earliest books, “The Psychology
of Art”, to describe how human imagination does not simply reproduce images
or recombine them (as Christ does later when he multiplies the loaves and
fishes). Imagination can’t be explained by the socialization of an everyday
experience. Instead, imagination (which includes the creation of academic
concepts as well as higher aesthetic ones) is better explained at the
reverse process: The individuation of a supra-individual experience.
Creating academic concepts and higher aesthetic feelings are not so much
like multiplying ordinary loaves and everyday fishes; they are more like
turning the water of everyday life into wine.

"Notice how different the children's expressions are: curious, expectant,
and even a little suspicious. Note how this is liked to but distinct from
their "calendar" or "passport" age. Vygotsky sees psychological development
as the child’s individuation of the cultural endowment. In this book,
Vygotsky begins to show us what a very long journey that is, how many ages
it takes, and how many times the path twists and turns back upon itself in
crises. "

And here's what the other covers look like:


I don't see anything wrong with ideas like "scaffolding", or "mediation",
or "psychological tools". But I think that if we really do admire the ideas
and not simply the name, we need to understand that none of these are
originally his, and in fact he devotes quite a few pages of Chapter Two in
HDHMF to why "psychological tools" should not be used.

I don't think people HAVE to like Vygotsky--you are free to prefer Bruner
if you want to discuss scaffolding, and Hegel if you want to mention
mediation, and Bodrova and Leong or Descartes if you want to talk about
psychological tools. Actually, all of those names will give you better
street cred in Korean universities, and probably elsewhere too.

But the zone of proximal development is a diagnostic device, and it's
measured in years when Vygotsky formulates it. Shouldn't we find out why
before we decide he didn't know what he was talking about?

David Kellogg

Macquarie University

On Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 8:05 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

> Hi David,
> Congratulations for the huge accomplishment! As Martin, I would also (as I
> guess many in this list) be VERY interested in reading the English
> intermediate drafts of this text.
> On a side note, I was wondering on the origin and history of the painting
> in the book's cover (apropos recent discussions on xmca on pictures and
> semiosis), if you wanted to share.
> Also, regarding ZPD and measurement in years, I wonder whether, in today's
> context, it would make sense to continue talking about measurement (or
> diagnosis) (not that I think Vygotsky's uptake in current literature is
> always acquainted with even the English translations, or with his larger
> project, but just trying to see what the gains/loses implicit in your
> complain).
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> on behalf of Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> Sent: 06 April 2016 23:28
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Agent, Range, and Beneficiary
> Hi David,
> I don’t have to time to take on a serious editing role, but as you know
> I’ve made good use of your English version of Thinking & Speech, and even
> sent back to you some suggested edits. I’m not using it in class now,
> because for better or worse there are Spanish translations. But it
> continues to be very helpful to my ongoing efforts to surpass the jargon
> and better understand Vygotsky.
> So if you might be willing to share your English intermediate drafts of
> this text, I would be very interested in reading them. My own understanding
> of children’s development has been much influenced by Vygotsky’s lectures,
> but as you note what’s available in English is very limited.
> Martin
> > On Apr 6, 2016, at 4:04 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Martin:
> >
> > A couple of years ago I asked on the list if anybody would be willing to
> > edit the English version, and the silence was deafening. So we've just
> been
> > publishing them in Korean.
> >
> > I now have an undergraduate helping to edit them for free and he's pretty
> > good. The real problem is the publisher. I've approached a few publishers
> > but nobody is seriously interested yet.
> >
> > Interesting, no? Considering how often people mine poor Vygotsky for
> > jargon, often jargon that isn't even his but only a little gold dust
> seeded
> > by some previous miner in the hope of jacking up the price of his claim
> > ("scaffolding", "microgenesis", "psychological tool", etc.).
> >
> > Take, for example, the ZPD. When you read Vygotsky, it's measured in
> years.
> > When your read anybody else, it isn't. Doesn't anybody ever wonder why?
> >
> > Well, the answer is right here--in Korean. Today our seventh volume is
> > coming out. Here's the cover!
> >
> > dk
> >
> > On Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 1:19 AM, Martin John Packer <
> mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> Right, but my question was whether there is an English version of your
> >> translation.
> >>
> >> Martin
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>> On Apr 5, 2016, at 10:41 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Martin:
> >>>
> >>> No, we use the Russian. There isn't a German text for these lectures:
> >> it's
> >>> the 2001 "Lectures on Pedology" which has not been translated into any
> >>> language. I think we're the first, and it's going to be into Korean. My
> >>> Korean is still not publishable, so I use English, that's all. (My
> >> English
> >>> isn't really publishable either, but I found somebody who will edit it
> >> for
> >>> free.)
> >>>
> >>> It's true that Vygotsky uses German words when he first introduces the
> >>> concepts: "Eigensinn" for wilfulness and "Trotz alter" for obstinacy.
> But
> >>> he switches into Russian right away, and a lot of his examples are pure
> >>> Russian (e.g. "Hu da!" for the critical threenager).
> >>>
> >>> In the second (2001, Korotaeva) lecture,  which he begins by referring
> >> back
> >>> to the unfinished work of the first (1984/1998 RCW/ECW) fragment,
> >> Vygotsky
> >>> delivers the goods: he really does describe what is new, consider the
> >>> central and peripheral lines of development that leads to it, and give
> >> the
> >>> "zone of its proximal development"--that is, its relation to the NEXT
> >> zone
> >>> of development (measured in years and not in minutes as is the fashion
> >>> amongst impatient Western scholars).
> >>>
> >>> This is the clearest example of critical periods as a "turning of the
> >>> tables"--a moment when the child tries to become the SOURCE and not
> just
> >>> the SITE of development, a moment when the child attempts to substitute
> >> his
> >>> own developing volition for the influence of the environment.
> >>>
> >>> Sorry--I got the title wrong last time. "Agent", "Range", and
> >> "Beneficiary"
> >>> are part of Halliday's ergative model, a model which is becoming
> >>> increasingly important in English (and is already very important in
> >>> languages like Chinese). It's a model which gives the "Medium" of a
> >>> process equal importance with the "Process" which unfolds through the
> >>> medium, and in that sense it's quite different from, but complementary
> >> to,
> >>> the kind of Subject-Verb-Object transitivity we see in most English
> >>> grammars.
> >>>
> >>> Compare:
> >>>
> >>> "He shut the door." (Subject-Verb-Object)
> >>> "The door shut". (Ergative)
> >>> "She boiled the kettle." (Subject-Verb-Object)
> >>> "The kettle boiled." (Ergative)
> >>>
> >>> Cooking verbs ("The stew boiled"), verbs for operating machinery ("The
> >> car
> >>> drives well"), and a wide range of scientific English ("Stalactites
> >> form")
> >>> are better analysed ergatively, but pain and disease can be analysed
> >> either
> >>> way:
> >>>
> >>> "I am battling cancer." (SVO)
> >>> "The cancer metastasized." (Ergative)
> >>> "I am having a bad reaction to chemotherapy." (SVO)
> >>> "Chemotherapy really sucks." (Ergative)
> >>>
> >>> You can see that there are different theories of experience at work:
> one
> >>> structure is good for emphasizing the role of man acting on an object
> in
> >>> his environment (the "tool" relation which is placed at the centre of
> >>> activity theory), while the other tends to work through the subject
> (the
> >>> "internalization" relationship which Vygotsky himself emphasizes). One
> >>> corresponds to the environmentalist, "brainwashing and torture"
> >> explanation
> >>> of why 21 Americans didn't return home after the Korean war, while the
> >>> other is much more internal and insidious.
> >>>
> >>> Both are wrong of course, but that's the way with all these
> >> nature/nurture
> >>> explanations: the truth lies beyond both extremes, since neither nature
> >> nor
> >>> nurture nor even the two put together can ever give us free will.
> >>>
> >>> David Kellogg
> >>> Macquarie University
> >>
> >>
> >>
> > <Cover.pdf>