No Dialectical Pumpkins yet please.

From: Bill Barowy (
Date: Sun Apr 25 2004 - 16:15:55 PDT

On Saturday 24 April 2004 9:36 pm, Steve Gabosch especially wrote:

> Since the concept of development and its theoretical expression in
> dialectical materialism was not part of either the Glassman paper or the
> Greblen-Shields review, I suggest we start a different thread on this if
> people want.

Steve has drawn a nice analysis (as I expected). I think Steve's comment
above points to problems in the understandings of both papers, UNLESS
however, this topic was omitted because of the publications space
limitations. We'd have to inquire fuirther to be sure.

I'd like to expand on one sense of the dominant script to which I referred
e.g. little "consideration of the greater theoretical context in which the
quote rests" This I wrote in part because of the above omission AND because
Gedler and Shields insistence of the individual nature of the zoped. The
dominant script to which i infer/refer here includes a western perspective
that places cognition only inside the head -- arguably more fully described
as a western non-dialogical non-dialectical non-social ahistorical
perspective. If we interpret Vygotsky through this perspective, then
integration with Bakhtin would seem very difficult. (Personally i'm not
interested in integration of vygotsky with dewey at this point) The evidence
supporting Gredler and Shields participation in the dominant script (I'm
simply arguing for plausibility here, I don't intend to conduct a full study
of Gredler and Shields) includes their apparent neglect of:

1) Vygosky's *Instrumental Method in Psychology* which states what IMHO is
the basis of activity (as how Leont'ev writes of activity) being the unit of
analysis of child development, i.e. "The instrumental method studies not only
the development of the child but his/her education" (p140). This points to
the need for a greater unit of analysis than just the child, in (logical)
contradiction to Gredler and Shields definition.

2) Vygotsky's formulation of the general genetic law *The genesis of higher
mental functions* notes "Any function in the child's cultural development
appears twice, on on two planes. First it appears between people as an
interpsychological category and then within the child as an
intrapsychological category." (p163) This is a key concept that supports an
interpretation of the zoped to include the assistance of others (and
auxiliary means, see below).

3) The method of double stimulation in *the problem of the cultural
development of the child* is an historical-genetic method in which one
examines different configurations of "auxiliary means" to map out the
changing (and arguably potential) development of the child, i.e., "the
child, in mastering himself...goes on the whole in the same way as he does in
mastering his external nature, e.g. by technical means." This is what
Gredler and Shields seem to completely miss in their interpretation of the

4) Vygotsky's *The problem of the environment* notes "... the environment
cannot be regarded as a static entity and one which is peripheral in relation
to development, but must be seen as changeable and dynamic. Here we have
enrironment, a situation which influences the child in one way or another and
directs his development. But the child, his development, keeps changing,
becomes different. and it is not just the child who changes, for the
relaitonship between him and his environment also changes, and the same
environment now begins to have a different influence on the child" (p346)

The only real claim this evidence supports well is that Gredler and shields
really do not understand how the zoped fits into a dialectical and culturally
cohesive theory of child development. (Or perhaps they don't think Vygotsky
thought this way). The strong claim I make about their participation in all
those other characterizations of a dominant script is a conjecture to be
either further supported or refuted.

Anyway, I'm interested in exploring the grounds of our interpretations of
these two papers, and not really in detouring through Ilyenkov's pumkin


Thanks Steve!


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