Re: [xmca] sense and meaning

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Tue Jul 12 2005 - 11:48:46 PDT

Hi Eric and others,

sounds become words when they are recognized as "other" (see Hegel),
which entails the othering of the Self, and therefore the emergence of
the subject--object dialectic, which we may embody linguistically in
the subject-verb-object structure. It does not make sense to talk about
subject and object without the verb, but without subject and object
there is no doing (verb), without subject no object, without object no

Words as "words" (as distinct from animal warning sounds, which are
understood by other animals as warning sounds) presuppose the
dialectical unfolding of consciousness. Pure self-identity (of
consciousness) is an abstraction, for consciousness of itself requires
consciousness of something different than consciousness. . .


On 12-Jul-05, at 10:41 AM, wrote:

> Michael;
> It is my understanding that Vygotsky goes beyond merely stating that
> meaning is tied to context by distinguishing between syncretic meaning
> (that which comes from the senses) complex meaning (that which comes
> from
> graphic/concrete everyday) and concept (that which is the abstraction
> of
> the first two). Once a person then moves to the conceptual meaning of
> words they are in a better position to be active in new ways.
> eric
> Wolff-Michael
> Roth To:,
> "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
> <> <>
> Sent by: cc:
> xmca-bounces who-is-at web Subject: Re: [xmca]
> sense and meaning
> 07/11/2005 11:36
> PM
> Please respond
> to xmca
> I think you can read Vygotsky, Il'enkov, Mikhailov, Heidegger, Marx all
> in the same way as meaning being associated with practical
> understanding, whole of activity, and generalized possibilities; sense
> is personal, associated with the relation of action to activity, and a
> concrete realization. Heidegger says that words do not HAVE meaning,
> they ACCRUE to meaning; that is, as Marx, for Heidegger meaning
> precedes sense, is associated with lived-in situations as a whole,
> involving not just individuals but collectives. Meaning transcends
> words--words, or rather utterances, have a sense in a particular
> activity, and as all actions, have a different sense in a different
> activity.
> If you say "I haven't got time" to your colleague asking you whether
> you want to write a review essay, this is one thing; it is a whole
> different ball park when you say it to your teacher who is asking you
> to finish some assignment, or something else of that nature. The sense
> of the expression is a function of the activity. . .
> Michael
> On 11-Jul-05, at 8:36 AM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
>> I tried to work out the sense/meaning tangle a few years ago
>> in a paper published in the AERA journal Review of
>> Educational Research. I think it was 2001, the title "If
>> meaning is constructed, what is it made from?: Toward a
>> cultural theory of reading." I'm traveling now so don't have
>> the ms. handy, but I can send it when I return home if I
>> remember. Peter
>> ---- Original message ----
>>> Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 21:59:12 +0700
>>> From: Phil Chappell <>
>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] sense and meaning
>>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>> <>, Mike Cole <>
>>> I'm not sure I can offer much here, Mike, but in the vortex
>> of voices,
>>> I'd like to add what I understand. Whenever I am confronted
>> with the
>>> concepts "sense" and "meaning" I immediately attend to the
>> notion of
>>> thought and context. Being an English speaker and therefore
>> only having
>>> an approximation of the semantic differences between sense
>> and meaning
>>> in Vygotsky's writings (meaning (znachenie) and sense
>> (smysl)), I ask
>>> is "sense" the socio-personal history of the communicative
>> use of a
>>> lexical item applied to the immediate spheres of human
>> activity; and is
>>> meaning the most predictable use of the word across social
>> contexts?
>>> SFL uses a theory of congruency that has come under
>> criticism for being
>>> deterministic, however if understood within the the genetic
>> approach
>>> used not only by Vygotsky, but also by SFL'ers (for example
>> Jim
>>> Martin), it is seen as an informed approach to social
>> semiotics - it
>>> looks at actual uses of language to make judgements about
>> language use
>>> in human activity. Sense and meaning can take on much more
>> critical
>>> applications; for example "sense" - for LSV word meaning in
>> the context
>>> of speech - can be thought of dynamically in the context of
>> ways that
>>> people engage with texts and the ways that these
>> communicative
>>> activities influence the social positions of the
>> interactants. Meaning
>>> can be thought of as "most expected meanings" in terms of
>> those taking
>>> a more synoptic view.
>>> Rough thoughts.
>>> Phil
>>> On 09/07/2005, at 9:56 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
>>>> In reading the work of Halliday, Hasan, and Bernstein, I
>> am unclear
>>>> about whether their
>>>> notions of meaning do or do not coincide with Vygotsky's.
>> One form of
>>>> this uncertainty is
>>>> whether and how a distinction between sense and meaning,
>> which is
>>>> central to LSV's
>>>> ideas about language and thought, are viewed from an SFL
>> perspective.
>>>> Perhaps its there
>>>> and I am blinded by my own past history?
>>>> mike_______________________________________________
>>>> xmca mailing list
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