Re: [xmca] RE: meaning and sense and has anyone any opinion

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Fri Jul 22 2005 - 08:00:48 PDT

Peg-- Your synopsis--
 So, maybe 'meaning' can be understood as the paradigmatic and 'sense' as
syntagmatic of a mutually constitutive set.
 makes sense to me (so to speak!-- our language cripples us!!).
 It fits well with the LSV's idea that meaning is the most stable end of a
spectrum/dimension/dialectical process and
with his treatment of "true" concepts that exist synchronically in a
systematic relataion to each other.
 What is missing from the terms that go with sense/meaning is any idea of
the relative prominance/role of emotion
in their constitution/functioning. I think of sense as also dynamic in that
it is a process of reduction of an incohate mass
of in situ cobbling together of some way to externalize just the right
artifact with which to negotiate futures with co-labor-ators.
 PS-- Much earlier I asked about what might be the corresponding distinction
in Halliday. If there was an answer, I missed it.
I am still not giving up on the idea that we can pull some sort of
systematic results from the LCA discussion.

 On 7/22/05, Peg Griffin <> wrote:
> Gordon, I've often thought along the lines you explore about how it
> relates
> to Vygotsky's meaning/sense discussion. Maybe it reflects his roots in
> philology. If so, then maybe we can push it a little further.
> Gordon's list of alternatives were: "dynamic/everyday/narrative v.
> synoptic/scientific/paradigmatic modes of meaning-making." When I see
> "paradigmatic," I look for "syntagmatic." Maybe for Gordon this is in both
> or either "dynamic" and "synoptic?"
> I understand paradigmatic and syntagmatic as mutually constitutive not so
> much "versus." So, for example, for linguists (I think whether you look
> back to Prague School or further to Panini) the copula verb ("to be" in
> English) as a paradigm (for example: be am is are were been) is
> relentlessly
> tied to/emerging with its syntax (I am. She is. etc.). The syntagmatic
> patterning is not just a methodological frame for the morphological
> paradigm; neither one is necessarily primitive to the other (but theories
> of
> language might explore to establish this). Each constitutes the other.
> So, maybe 'meaning' can be understood as the paradigmatic and 'sense' as
> the
> syntagmatic of a mutually constitutive set.
> I don't really think this is anything new for most following this
> discussion. Just maybe a resumption?
> Thanks, David and Gordon, for ideas on the Olson book.
> Peg
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Gordon Wells
> Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2005 6:01 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: [xmca] has anyone any opinion
> >Dear Peg,
> >This is one of the best books that I have read lately about the
> >application of psychological theory to education. I really recommend it.
> >David
> >
> I agree. I found Olson's book very stimulating.
> What I found particularly fascinating was the parallel between
> learning in the classroom as an emergent phenomenon v. learning as
> framed and organized by the larger institution of education, on the
> one hand, and dynamic/everyday/narrative v.
> synoptic/scientific/paradigmatic modes of meaning-making, on the
> other. Although I haven't checked this with David, I suspect his
> late-flowering interest in the tension between these two perspectives
> on education arises from his earlier work on the relationship between
> speech and writing (cf.his provocative paper "From utterance to
> text", 1978).
> The distinction he made there with respect to the locus of meaning -
> between the negotiated, situated meaning of utterances and the fixed,
> situation-independent meaning of the text resurfaces in this recent
> book: in classrooms, meaning is co-constructed in the ongoing
> discourse and what is 'meant' by teacher or students is rarely
> understood in the same way by all parties. By contrast, within the
> institution of education, what is 'meant' in relation to goals,
> organizational structures, curriculum and criteria for success is
> specified in written documents, whose meaning is assumed to be fixed
> and understood identically by all concerned.
> This seems to be related to the sense and meaning contrast that is
> currently under discussion.
> Gordon
> --
> Gordon Wells
> Dept of Education,
> UC Santa Cruz.
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