Re: [xmca] LCA:Complementarity

From: ruqaiya hasan (
Date: Tue Jul 05 2005 - 20:04:35 PDT

yes Mike, you are right, but there is a slippage here. Most of the
experiments in Luria concerned concept formation, classification, and/or
(syl)logical reasoning; these are often also cited as the prime examples of
higher mental function -- which is what might explain the slippage, though
not quite excuse it! I will certainly be more careful with my formulation
next time.

Yes, I like this listserve precisely for the reason that it opens up
different orientations to the same problem -- that's great and I certainly
hope that I am learning from it. One thing that might perhaps be already
available somewhere information about which might help is a Readings Advice
section (preferably for people like me a graded list!) which might guide one
into understanding the vocabulary (what Bernstein used to call "the language
od description"). Something of that kind would help me immensely with the
concept of activity.

I use "politics of academia" as another expression referring to roughly what
Bourdieu called "appropriation of intellectual capital". There is also what
Bernstein's phrase"formation of pedagogic identity"; we learn through one
theory and may be 'the least effort principle' persuades us to stay within
those safe boundaries.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Cole" <>
To: "ruqaiya hasan" <>
Cc: "eXtended Media, Culture, Activity" <>
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2005 9:10 AM
Subject: Re: [xmca] LCA:Complementarity

Hi Ruqaiya-

It is only late in the day that I have time to get to xmca. Perhaps in time
for your morning cofee?
Anyway, the passage about Luria I was referring to is the following: With
regard to his Uzbek subjects Luria suggested that the absence of higher
mental functions was due to
the lack of schooling in his subjects, as if the lack of schooling, ie
failure to 'benefit' from official

Yes, Ochs at least (I only have a couple of the books here) references
Halliday. But he does not appear
to be a key figure in her fermament. Nor, desipte Gordon's gentle urging,
has he been one in mine. A number of
the criticisms fairly levelled at Vygotsky could easily be sent my way as
well, I am sure.

It seems to me that one important function of an enterprise such as this
(eXtended mind, culture and activity)
sort of discussion group is the cross-polination of ideas that it affords.
And the acdemic politics are greatly
muted by the highly distributed nature of the discussion -- very few of us
have, or care to have, control over the
academic fates of those with whom we are conversing. But we know we don't
know, even if it is that we don't
know what it is that we don't know that we should know. And to those who are
in it as a matter of politics, good luck
to them. They would almost certainly be better of at the moment studying how
to do research on education that
wins the approval of our education bureaucracies or learning how to conduct
fmri studies of undergraduates solving
math problems.

I think that the set of article laid before us provide a lot of
opportunities for learning. Whether we avail ourselves of
the opportunity or not is pretty much up to the participants.

On to the rest of the days xmca thoughts.

On 7/4/05, ruqaiya hasan <> wrote:
> 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"!
> Ruqaiya
> ----- 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
> relevant?
> 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
> life.
> 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.
> mike
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