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[Xmca-l] Re: Communication, Co-generalization, and Crises

Rod, Mike, David,
I know i am now in over my head, trying to follow this nuanced and complex conversation through communication, co-generalization and crises. 
I have been reading Vygotsky’s last lecture on school age in conconjunction with Ruquiya’s paper (semiotic mediation language and society: Three exotripic theories – Vygotsky, halliday, Bernstein).

To read both papers in a zig-gap-zag back and forth immersion in this topic or theme (textual theme)

Here is Ruqaiya  as she enters our conversation on this emerging topic of communication, co-generlization and what she refers to as the *experiential or representational* aspect of semiotic mediation.

RUQUIYA:  a second contradiction in Vygotsky’s theory is that his views on language as system posits the history of the development of linguistic meaning is social BUT meaning itself is representational/experiential.  He wishes to stress the sociogenesis of higher mental functions, but the only meanings he finds of interest are the meanings that do NOT DIRECTLY relate to interpersonal relations.

My turn is up, but i do recommend reading both David Kellogg’s translation of Vygotsky’s last lecture in con/junction with Ruqaiya’s paper. This way of reading each paper through the other may allow Baritones to foreground soprano voices within the exploration of semiotic mediation.

PS Ruquia briefly mentions gesturing as a semiotic modality or means of co-generating meaning but my turn is up.

Sent from my Windows 10 phone

From: Rod Parker-Rees
Sent: November 9, 2016 5:32 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Communication, Co-generalization, and Crises

This raises questions for me about how we understand the word 'concept'.

This can be understood as referring to things that go together but really things that are taken together - the 'con' seems to do double work, both the togetherness of the things which are taken together and the togetherness of the cultural agreement to take these things AS going together. So concepts, as we usually use the term, are co-generalizations or conconcepts? Things which we (together) agree to think of as going together.

It is easy to miss the sociocultural 'agreement' aspects, as it is in 'understanding', which no longer resonates with a sense of joining in with (or standing among) others.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of mike cole
Sent: 09 November 2016 05:40
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Communication, Co-generalization, and Crises

These are interesting ideas, David. I will respond and ask questions in italics between paragraphs because the overall note seems to contain some sub-themes worth comment on their own.


On Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 5:55 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

>  Huw:
> I think in general we tend to overstate the differences between
> Vygotsky's thinking in different periods, because we notice that he
> changes his wordings and we assume that means he has changed his mind.
> We forget that Vygotsky steals most of his words from other people
> ("egocentric speech", "pseudoconcept", "mediation", "neoformation",
> etc.) and then works them into his own system of concepts, and it's
> the system of concepts that is really new, not the words.
> ​*I agree,but its hard to keep the chronology straight and a lot of
> his
ideas come from Western Europe/US sources*​. *The translations of terms across systems cannot help but be a distorted lens which use of common terms hides from us. Unwitting players in the pseudoconcept game.* ​

> So for example Yasnitsky and Van der Veer claim that Vygotsky gave up
> instrumentalism, abandoned the distinction between higher and lower
> psychological functions, and tried to become a Gestaltist, and failed.
> None of this is true, as far as I can tell. The final lectures--right
> up to the one I sent around--have a central role for word meanings,
> maintain that the higher psychological functions are specifically
> human and the main expanadum, and include some pretty harsh criticisms
> of the Gestaltists, who were by then showing distinctly Nazi tendencies.
> ​*The stages of instrumentalism, functional systems, to "perezhivanie"
> (transactionalism?) have always seemed to me a clear case where
> earlier stages are sublated. He was critical of Gestaltists for their
> reductions to biology and the fascism associated with it, but the
> problem of the whole in relations to parts and the centrality of
> structuration seems to remain. How else could one step in instruction
> create two steps in development?* ​

> But it is certainly true that the words change, and some of the words
> that have caused the most trouble--interestingly enough--disappear.
> For example, Vygotsky stops using the word "reaction", he no longer
> talks about "vrashevaniye" or "introvolution", and he only uses the word "internalize"
> once, when he is talking about a whole system of concepts (not when he
> is talking about reactions). So the question arises--what takes its place?
> Here's what we put in the "Thinking at School Age" chapter that I sent
> around. Criticisms from Russophones?
> ​*The issues raised here seem really central to understand, but I am
> not sure I fully understood them all.*​
> Vygotsky contrasts обобщения (“generalization”) and общения
> (“communication”, “contact”, “interaction”). But if we translate these
> terms as “generalization” and “communication” respectively, we obscure
> the fact that they have the same root: “commonality” or “sharing”.
> *​OK, got it, the unity of generalization and communication, in
> russian, have the same root as "common-ness (обще​-ness)​."​ But I
> have trouble getting from there to "meta-communication." Maybe my
> denseness.*

> ​
> ​In Russian, об is a preposition, meaning “about” or “of”, so we might

render this contrast as “about-communication” or “meta-communication” vs.
> “communication”. But this would allow the sociological, interpersonal
> side of Vygotsky’s meaning to eclipse the psychological, intra-personal side.
> ​*Why and when do we have to allow such eclipsing given the
> theoretical formulation above? Missed that.*

> ​
> Another way to put it would be to say that “generalization” is really
> “inter-generalization”, because it is between the child and the
> environment, and “interaction” is really “intra-generalization”—within
> the child.

*​I find that very difficult to follow but the next sentence reads correctly to me... although I am not sure what 'the child derives" means.* ​

> The child derives intra-mental generalizations through a process of
> inter-personal communications, by interaction using shared word values
> within a speech community. This “community generalization” or “common
> generalization” or “co-generalization” for short is what is enabled by
> word meanings shared within the speech community. These meanings the
> child at first only partially shares.

*Does the community generalization- to common generalization, to co-generation end correspond to the extreme, externalize form of sense? So these are different ways of expressing the conventionality/historical nature of word meaning?​*

​*Seems to me that not only the child at first, but the human of any age for ever after only partially share the conventional/valued word meanings of the society that mediate everyday experience (to use some borrowed
words!) of one's same of the species' delights.​*

> This word обобщения usually translated as “generalization”. Because
> this turns out to be a very important point in this particular lecture
> and in the lectures that follow, we will take the liberty of
> translating as “co-generalization”. A “co-generalization” is a
> generalization about generalizations made by the child through
> construing the shared generalizations of word values in a speech community.

*​This seems the biggy to pull of. What, in truth, do russianophiles have to say about it?*


> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
> On Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 11:15 AM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > Where does 'co-generalization' come from, David? Perhaps a good
> > carry
> over
> > from your consideration of political milieu is the factor of tension
> > in
> > development: tension to foster attention, a socialised 'will' if you
> like.
> >
> > Best,
> > Huw
> >
> > On 7 November 2016 at 21:16, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Well, of course, Peg is really right--or at least half right. That
> > > is,
> > the
> > > American elections are not just a plebiscite on sexual assault,
> > > and
> using
> > > the term "sexual predator" reduces the whole thing to the kind of
> > > "tu quoques" argumentation which makes up the whole of the
> > > Republican
> > case
> > > these days. Actually, for the first time in my memory, the
> > > American elections are about real issues that actually touch the
> > > lives of
> ordinary
> > > people, namely sexism, racism, and the impunity conferred by real
> > > fame
> > and
> > > largely imaginary wealth.
> > >
> > > But I would like to know that the other half is also right: that
> > > is,
> that
> > > xmca's normal concerns with mind, culture, and activity do not
> > > require radio silence in times of crisis. Let me talk about
> > > another crisis and
> > see.
> > > Unlike the USA, South Korea has had, since 1949, six different
> > > constitutions. Until very recently (1997) the peaceful transfer of
> power
> > > was the exception and not the rule: governments changed if and
> > > only if people took matters into their own hands, either through
> > > mass demonstrations or violent military coups or both (the one
> > > apparent exception was when the current president's father, Bak
> > > Jeonghi, was
> > forced
> > > to call an election by the Nixon administration: on the verge of
> > > losing
> > to
> > > Kim Daejeong, he peacefully overthrew himself instead).
> > >
> > > Now, Vygotsky also describes development in terms of six crises
> > > (Birth, One, Three, Seven, Thirteen and Seventeen) and five more
> > > or less stable periods of equilibrium (Infancy, Early Childhood,
> > > Preschool, School
> Age,
> > > Adolescence). In fact, the Zoped (assuming that "ped" means
> > > pedological
> > and
> > > not pedagogical) really refers to the functions that belong to the
> > > NEXT zone of development and not the actual one: if a child can
> > > simply take
> > over
> > > functions from the environment and make them his or her own, then
> almost
> > by
> > > definition they are functions that belong to the zone of actual,
> > > and
> not
> > > the zone of proximal, development. That means that for every
> > > stable
> > period,
> > > the Zoped is going to be a crisis (and of course that, along with
> > > prolepsis, accounts for the unpredictability of the Zoped which
> > > Peg
> > noted).
> > >
> > > Korean crises not when people are overexploited and ruthlessly
> > suppressed;
> > > that is a much better description of the stable periods in Korean
> > history.
> > > Crises happen just when people become superproductive and try to
> > > self-emancipate. I think crises of development in the child also
> > > happen
> > the
> > > same way: that is, during normal periods, the environment is
> > communicating
> > > with the child and the child is taking over co-generalizations by
> > > restructuring them to fit the child's extant psychological system.
> > > But Vygotsky says that there are moments when this cannot happen,
> > > because
> the
> > > psychological system itself must be restructured: the central
> > neoformation
> > > dissolves the social situation of development.
> > >
> > > During normal times, the environment is the source of development
> > > and
> the
> > > child's personality is only the site of development: but during
> > > these
> > crazy
> > > crises (the crisis of "autonomous speech", the crisis of the
> negativistic
> > > "proto will", the crisis of the affected, manneristic, clownish
> > > "proto-self"), it is almost as if the child, superproductive and
> active,
> > > wants to "turn the tables", transforming the personality into the
> source
> > of
> > > development and adapting the environment to it instead.
> > >
> > > One of the most puzzling things in Vygotsky's last lectures is the
> > Central
> > > Line of Development. On the one hand, these are always forms of
> > > "communication" and "co-generalization". And on the other, because
> > each
> > > Neoformation is entirely new, what is Central in one period is
> Peripheral
> > > in the next: perception, for example, is the maximally developing
> > function
> > > in Infancy, but memory is the leading function in Preschool.
> > > Speech is
> a
> > > Central Line of Development in early childhood but Thinking in
> > > School
> > Age.
> > > How can BOTH of these things be true?
> > >
> > > It seems to me that both of them are true.Communication represents
> > contact
> > > with the social environment, and this is always foregrounded
> > > during
> > stable
> > > periods and backgrounded during crises. Co-generalization
> > > represents
> what
> > > we use to call "internalization", and this is foregrounded during
> crises
> > > and backgrounded during stable periods. In addition, the content
> > > of the communication and co-generalization changes as the child
> > > develops, from doing things in Infancy, to saying things in Early
> > > Childhood, to
> feeling
> > in
> > > Preschool, and to thinking in School Age. When co-generalization
> becomes
> > > super-productive, we get conscious awareness, and  with awareness,
> > crisis.
> > > With crises, worlds change.
> > >
> > > David Kellogg
> > > Macquarie University
> > >
> >

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