Re: [xmca] soznanie/osoznanie

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Sun Feb 11 2007 - 19:32:42 PST

Did you know that the root word both for the English KNOWLEDGE and
Slavic "ZNANYE", Latin "GNOSIS" is the same Sanskrit "jna"? (remark
Here is an interesting etymological view:

Mike Cole wrote:
> OK, here is the message on this topic. It has not appeared on the archive
> where I looked for it. I
> am trying to figure out why. Thanks to Ed Wall for pointing me to it.
> There is a cluster of messages from David, Vera, Ana and Martin and ??
> here
> that seems to me
> especially important and potentially generative.
> Referring to the note I sent earlier with the analysis of the Russian who
> also knew Sanskrit, I questioned
> the issue of so- as a prefix in Russian. ditto o-
> And when we combine the two prefixes ( so-znanie/ o-so-znanie) what is
> being
> created. Peter? MGU Aspiranti?
> Anna S? ???
> znanie =knowledge
> so-znanie ~ co knowledge ????
> o-so-znanie ~~ about-co-knowledge, concerning-co-knowledge???????
> mike
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Martin Packer <>
> Date: Feb 9, 2007 6:36 PM
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Harried instructor seeks words of wisdom
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> Vera,
> I would certainly be interested in hearing more about the distinctions
> you're making between responsiveness, awareness and consciousness.
> To add to the (my) confusion, digging through my notes I've come
> across the
> following note by translator Norris Minick in Thinking & Speech (p.
> 388, n.
> 12):
> "By the phrase 'conscious awareness' we gloss the Russian osaznanie,
> which V
> carefully and consistently uses and distinguishes from the term
> soznanie or
> 'consciousness.' Vygotsky clarifies the difference between the two at
> several points in the text… the earlier translation of this volume
> (…Thought
> and language…) rendered both terms as 'consciousness,' introducing a
> confusion not to be found in the original Russian text."
> The links to neuroscience are very interesting. If I understand it
> correctly, Vygotsky's psychology was the study of consciousness and
> physiology (the material basis of consciousness). The division of
> labor that
> developed between Vygotsky and Luria speaks to this, I think. Modern
> neuroscience too often wants to treat consciousness as an
> epiphenomenon, but
> Vygotsky clearly viewed it as having a purpose: it has evolved because it
> serves an important function. After my last message I recalled Vygotsky's
> insistence that consciousness appears when action meets an obstacle. I'm
> pretty confident he says this as early as Educational Psychology, and as
> late as T&S, but I can't track down specific citations at this moment.
> And
> this links to David's comments about volition. Consciousness occurs
> when our
> prereflective action is blocked, and we must deliberate, look around, and
> consider alternatives. A two-way link to volition: Cs arises from
> practical
> activity, and serves to reorganize that activity. Cs gives us the will
> to do
> what is hard to do, what needs to be done, what at first grasp seems
> impossible to do.
> And while I'm cutting and pasting from my notes, this is from the last
> pages
> of Educational Psychology:
> "Man has set himself the goal of becoming master of his own feelings, of
> lifting the instincts to the heights of consciousness and making them
> transparent, of stretching the thread of will into what is concealed and
> into the underground, and to thereby lift himself up to a new stage, to
> create a 'higher' sociociological type, a, so to speak, super-man." 351
> None of this gives my students a *definition* of consciousness. But
> perhaps
> one has to be satisfied with a *history* of it, a story that describes
> how
> it comes into being and then departs again.
> Martin
> On 2/9/07 11:24 AM, "Vera Steiner" <> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I sent my message on consciousness before reading Martin's "harried
>> instructor seeks words of wisdom." It is a fine discussion, and my
>> apologies for not referring to it in my somewhat differently focused
>> comments.In my class last night, I tried to differentiate between
>> responsiveness, awareness and consciousness, a hard task, but if anyone
>> is interested, I would be willing to struggle with it some more in our
>> discussions. Right now, I have to leave the house and the computer,
>> Vera
>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>> Trying to get the worms out of one can I seem to have opened
>>> another, but
> I
>>> think David may have rescued me before I started to ask. Trying to
> explain
>>> why studying consciousness was important to Vygotsky, I started with
>>> the
>>> assertion that for him (and me too) consciousness is in our interaction
> with
>>> the world. I suppose that all animals have consciousness, perhaps even
>>> plants in some sense, since they respond to changes in the environment
> (day
>>> & night; the movement of the sun) and so must sense these in some way.
> But
>>> human consciousness is, one supposes, much more complex, and it
>>> develops.
>>> If consciousness is in our interactions, not in our heads, that is
> helpful
>>> when we are trying to avoid dualistic thinking. And, yes, Vygotsky was
>>> trying to give a materialistic account of consciousness, which at first
>>> seems pretty contradictory.
>>> Psychology today generally doesnıt consider consciousness: in one class
> one
>>> might study memory, in another perception, in a third language, and so
> on.
>>>> From Vygotskyıs point of view this has divided up something unitary ­
> after
>>> all, in my conscious existence I am thinking at one moment, remembering
>>> something the next, then imagining something, talking, ... and even
>>> this
>>> account divides consciousness up too much. So the proper study of
>>> consciousness is the study of all these functions in their
>>> interrelationship. It is, I said, only to keep things simple that
> Vygotsky
>>> focuses mainly on thinking and talking in the book we are reading.
>>> I said some more. I said it in (bad) Spanish and now I canıt
>>> remember it
> in
>>> English!
>>> And they said, okay, very good, but what was Vygotskyıs definition of
>>> Œconsciousnessı? Give us a definition of consciousness, and keep it
> concise
>>> and formal. They said this with a (collective) smile, so I know they
> werenıt
>>> expecting a dictionary definition, even before reading Davidıs message.
> But
>>> I wasnıt able to give a (good) answer.
>>> David, for me, too, consciousness is not cognition. I completely agree
> with
>>> you that volition is crucial for Vygotsky. (For example, I think
> Vygotskyıs
>>> position on scientific concepts is misunderstood when people say that
> such
>>> concepts enable self-control; V is clear that itıs the other way round:
>>> self-control, mastery of oneıs own psychological functions, makes such
>>> concepts possible.) But Iım not entirely comfortable *equating*
>>> consciousness with volition. I guess for a first shot Iıd say that
> volition
>>> is a relation between consciousness and functions that lack
> consciousness.
>>> One thing I like about this formulation is that it includes the
> possibility
>>> that consciousness is social, intersubjective, and that self-control
>>> has
> its
>>> roots in control-by-others. And I do believe that this was Vygotskyıs
>>> position (in-itself; for-others; for-itself). But ­ having put it this
> way ­
>>> one has to distinguish carefully between consciousness and
>>> self-consciousness, no?
>>> Enough for one day. Iım off for enchiladas. More words of wisdom from
> XMCAıs
>>> collective consciousness will be much appreciated!
>>> Martin
>>> p.s I think Osimbologia may be a Nahuatl word. ;) I saw a wonderful
>>> Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary the other day. Any takers?
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------------------------------------------------------------------------ /Ana Marjanovic-Shane, Ph.D./ /151 W. Tulpehocken St./

/Philadelphia//, PA 19144///

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