Re: [xmca] LCA:Complementarity

From: ruqaiya hasan (
Date: Mon Jul 04 2005 - 22:02:22 PDT

Hello Mike
yes I am in total agreement with you. If something I wrote gives the
impression that Luria thought his Uzbek subjects did not have 'higher mental
functions' then that is a bad piece of writing by me, for which apologies.
In fact I can't quite recall but somewhere I have expressly quoted Luria as
attributing the results to the educational experience of the subjects (may
be in Reading picture reading: a study in ideology and inference in Foley
(ed) Language, Education and Discourse. London: Continuum 2004). And I also
share your "scepticism about the enthusiasm for schooling that Luria
espoused". I guess I was arguing more that knowing the careful thinking of
both Vygotsky and Luria, it is to be doubted that they would have attributed
the Uzbek results to absence of higher mental function; I was particularly
keen to bring into the debate that the "symbolic" function of language as
envisaged by Vygotsky is a function that every normal human has; if that is
the quality of language essential to semiotic mediation then all of us have
this experience; if there are distinct orders of semiotic mediation (shall
we say Bernstein's codes) then it is only reasonable to ask that they and
their etiology be identified nonambiguously. Has this been done?

On Ochs and Schiefflin, I guess their work post-dates Halliday's. Are their
many references to Halliday in their work? SFL linguists typically like to
have an explicit analysis of language along with statements relating
language to culture, cognition etc. So that maybe one reason for the absence
of reference to Ochs and Schiefflin's work. On another tack, I have often
thought it would be great to have someone doing their doctoral research on
"the politics of academic referencing"!


----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Cole" <>
To: "eXtended Media, Culture, Activity" <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 3:18 AM
Subject: [xmca] LCA:Complementarity

Bruce tells me that my problems with receiving xmca messages has been fixed.
We'll see.

Based on my readings of Wells, Halliday, and Hasan, I find the proposal for
the complementarity
of LSV, Halliday, and Bernstein compelling. This past winter I conducted a
graduate class where
we read Jim wertsch's 1985 book on Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind
which Ruquaiya
refers to in her first article in the readings. Jim focuses there on
discourse and propositional referentiality
and his commentary seems important background for actually working out a
unified cultural historical
approach that incorporates contemporary work on lexiocgrammar. But I do not
know how to bring that
into a discussion that is already packed with things to read.

I also believe that the work of Ochs and Schiefflin, who make a strong case
for the idea that the acquisition
of language is simultaneously acquisition of the sociocultural order into
which children are born needs to be
brought into the discussion. It seems to fit very well with Halliday's
emphases but does not seem to been
into the discussion by SFL folks, or at least, not in my limited reading.
Does anyone else think this work

There is one point on which I think Ruqaiya errs in her discussion of
Luria's Central Asian work (if I understand her
characterization correctly) and it is important to get straight in seeking
to deal with issues of cultural historical variation
in thought. It is not the case that Luria claimed that Uzbeki peasants lack
higher psycholgical functions. All humans
are said to have higher psychological functions by virtue of the fact that
their thought and action is mediated by
culture. Rather, as Wertsch discusses, LSV and ARL believed that one must
include an analysis of evolution/development
of cultural means as a cultural historical process. They use the term
"rudimentary" mediational means, for example, in
connection with what they referred to as "primitive peoples." Specifically,
Luria believed that traditional central asian
peasants used functional graphic modes of mediation which were superceded by
taxonomic logical modes of mediation
associated with literacy, schooling, and involvement in industrial modes of

I have my quarrels with Luria's conclusion and share scepticism about the
enthusiasm for schooling that Luria espoused. But
it is not correct, in my view, to believe that he attributed only elementary
(not culturally mediated) forms of mental life
to Uzbeki peasants.

This issue may not be central to the question of the complementarity of the
views of Halliday and Vygotsky, but it certainly
touches directly on questions of Bernstein/Luria/LSV connections, so I
wanted to raise it here. I still have Ruqaiya's second paper to get
through and look forward to others comments on this work.



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