Re: [xmca] Toolsfor thought (corrigendum)

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jul 05 2007 - 21:22:07 PDT

Dear Bella:
  The reference has always been very puzzling to me, and I'm very grateful to have somebody who was actually THERE to straighten this out.
  The article I read in which Luria refers to Chomsky's deep structures in the brain is actually 1976, not the sixties. Here are some notes I took when I first read it a few years ago.
  In Soviet Studies in Language and Language Behavior (North-Holland Linguistic Series 24) Amsterdam, New York, and Oxford: North Holland.
  Luria, A.R. (1976) A neuropsychological analysis of speech communication. 191-207.
  Luria¡¯s article traces the following path (from Thinking and Speech, p. 282)
  a) Motive (affective and volitional tendency, ¡°the wind which sets the cloud in motion¡±)
  b) Thought (¡°a hovering cloud that gushes a shower of words¡±)
  c) Inner Speech
  d) External Speech
  a) Luria begins by accepting Skinner¡¯s distinction between tact and mand, but for Luria these are descriptions of motives and not of the utterances themselves. (192) I agree with that.
  b) He then discusses ¡°thought¡±, and claims that all words have thought with the possible exception of collocations/exclamations (¡°ugh!¡± ¡°look!¡± ¡°damn it!¡±) and to some extent dialogue speech. I don't agree with this at all; it seems to exclude affect from the realm of thought. I'm not sure why anyone would want to do that. Is music less "thoughtful" than literature simply because it is less verbal? Is mathematics less thoughtful than social science?
  Even more puzzling is the caseswhere Luria says that in an exchange where "the content of the answer is determined to a considerable degree by the interlocutor and in which the existence of finer thought is asumed only in cases in which the answer prepared is not wholly determined by the question." If I understand this correctly, Luria thinks that in the following exchange, A is thinking but B is not.
  A: Marry me or I will kill myself.
  B: OK.
  c) On p. 193 Luria associates inner speech with Chomsky's "deep structures" and implies that these are located in the brain. , , which ARL associates (194) with Chomsky¡¯s deep structure!
  194: ¡°If previously it was frequently imagined that the utterance was the embodiment of thought in separate words and series of words, now in accordance with the ideas of generative grammar this process is gradually beginning to be depicted otherwise. The initial conception of thought, supported by the mechanisms of reduced, predicative inner speech, is first converted into a general (still insufficiently clear and unexpanded) pattern of an utterance or pattern of a sentence, which only later gradually assumes a more clear-cut, differentiated character and only in the following stage begins to be embodied in words.¡±
  This clearly suggests the existence of mentalese, something Vygotsky vigorously denies. Incredibly, ARL even cites Vygotsky¡¯s rejection of the idea that thoughts take on words the way bodies clothe themselves. Yet this is exactly what his use of ¡°deep structure¡± implies, since ¡°deep structures¡± necessarily are separate from the lexicon. I don't see the difference between grammatical trees that take on lexical leaves and bodies that put on clothes; it seems to me to be the same metaphor, with exactly the same problem.
  d) The stage of ¡°search for words¡± and the stage of ¡°search for syntactic structures¡± to express logical grammatical relationships comes after the stage of inner speech, according to Luria (p. 195).
  p. 200: Luria argues for a theory of coherence:
  ¡°One of the factors that must play a part in this process (of preserving the unity and consistency of the narrative) is what Vygotskij called the mechanism of the ¡®influence (or infusion) of meanings¡±: each successive sentence must retain in its structure elmens of the preceding sentence; this ensures the unity of the exposition and without such a condition a coherent narrative would become a chain of isolated, unconnected sentences, each of which would fail to maintain the continuity of sense¡±
  He then tries to link this to grammatical words like ¡°which¡± ¡°that¡± and ¡°because¡±. But in fact it¡¯s VERY difficult to put together two sentences in any way that does NOT suggest a coherent narrative. e.g.
  A: It's raining in Paris.
  B: And fish swim in the sea (Widdowson 2004)
  When we hear this, B's retort seems to mean something like "NATURALLY!"--this happens precisely because B knows that A will be FORCED to create coherence out B's rejoinder, so "As surely as fish swim in the sea, it is raining--again--in Paris".
  The building of coherence simply does not depend on explicit cohesion, but on the interpretation of motives, just as interpreting utterances as tacts and mands does not depend on the grammatical form of the utterance but rather on grasping the motive behind it, as ARL initially noted.
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Thu Jul 5 21:24 PDT 2007

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