RE: [xmca] personality

From: Alexander Surmava <monada who-is-at>
Date: Wed Oct 10 2007 - 20:10:14 PDT

Surely, all you including "old Charley" (:-) – I mean Marx) are quite right. The real, not only imaginary collective object-oriented activity is indispensable in the beginning, genetically. But even in functional plan we have to retain this real and practically oriented communication to save ourselves as a human personalities. Recall examples when sailors being leaved alone in an uninhabited island progressively lose the image and likeness of Human being.

But I strongly object to Pierce's speculation.

Thus he writes: “The first is that a person is not absolutely an individual. His thoughts are what he is 'saying to himself,' that is, is saying to that other self that is just coming into life in the flow of time. When one reasons, it is that critical self that one is trying to persuade”…

I think that in the real process of reasoning, in such a reasoning which has its aim not to play up to our teacher, chief or buyers of our intellectual product we have to persuade not only our inner critical self but such a most stubborn thing as objective reality. This task is much more difficult than to persuade ourselves.

Peirce continues: “all thought whatsoever is a sign, and is mostly of the nature of language”.

A word as a sign, according to its conventional nature is something very easy. There is a good Russian proverb “Hot’ gorshkom nazovy, tol’ko v petch ne stav’” (Name me a pot, only save me from being put into the oven”). The situation when a subject acts according to the objective shape of its object fundamentally differs from the first one in which a subject acts only in verbal plan. To gain a real understanding (concept or Begriff) of say a circle (this is an example from Spinoza) we have not content ourselves with verbal definitions, but to elaborate such a universal tool which enables us (or anybody else with our practical and theoretical aid) to reconstruct any circle practically. Spinoza means we have to construct a plain pair of compasses. Such a material artifact will represent not itself, not its own angular body, but something totally unlike to it – all circles, moreover it will represent the universal nature of all circles. This type of “simbolic” representation is known in dialectical tradition of Marx and Il’enkov as ideality. It is obvious that ideality has nothing to do with conventionality as dialectic with semiotic.

Surely the spoon is a sign of eating and food, but it is not a conventional sign. A spoon to act as a spoon must have some special not in the least conventional shape. And (according to LSV’s experiments) you will never succeed in inducing a child to act with ball instead of spoon in the special REN game. Because a ball can hardly replace the spoon in the special “spoon” gesture. Vygotsky considers it as a weakness of children’s thinking – the fact that child doesn’t recognize the conventional nature of words. On the contrary from the point of view consistently dialectical psychology this fact is proof of object-oriented (not conventional) nature of human as well as child’s thinking.

All attempts of deaf and blind teachers to form association between some object and some conventional sign as a first step of acquiring of human language which they consider a semiotic system of conventional signs were unsuccessful. The deaf and blind person refuses to understand and to remember such an association.

The situation radically changed when instead of this often cruel training come joint with adult hand-in-hand object oriented activity in which the spoon played a role of human (ideal) tool. After such an experience a child not only realize the cultural meaning of a spoon, but he/she easily understands the special symbolism in which a spoon means human food and human way of eating, so that he/she is ready to shift from spoon as it is to gesture of eating with aid of spoon and finally to the word - conventional language sign.

Much earlier than Pierce and much more profound in this problem was Goethe who translating the Bible in “Faust” this way:


It says: 'In the beginning was the Word.'

Already I am stopped. It seems absurd.

The Word does not deserve the highest prize,

I must translate it otherwise

If I am well inspired and not blind. (1224-28)


Unfortunately I failed in my attempts to find full fragment in WWW in English. May be some of you will help me in this.

For those who understands Russian I give this fragment in congenial translation of Boris Pasternak.


"V nаchаle bylo Slovo". S pervykh strok

Zаgаdkа. Tаk li ponial ia nаmek?

Ved' ia tаk vysoko ne stаvliu slovа,

Chtob dumаt', chto ono vsemu osnovа.

"V nаchаle mysl' bylа". Vot perevod.

On blizhe e'tot stikh peredаet.

Podumаiu, odnаko, chtoby srаzu

Ne pogubit' rаboty pervoj frаzoj.

Moglа li mysl' v sozdаn'e zhizn' vdokhnut'?

"Bylа v nаchаle silа". Vot v chem sut'.

No posle nebol'shogo kolebаn'ia

Ia otkloniaiu e'to tolkovаn'e.

Ia byl opiat', kаk vizhu, s tolku sbit:

"V nаchаle bylo delo", - stikh glаsit.


And finally the latest remark. Kozulin opposes Vygotsky to Leont’ev as liberal semiotic to official activist. I’m afraid that this is not entirely correct. The opposition between Vygotsky and Leont’ev really took place, but it hasn’t an ideological character. Moreover Leont’ev himself failed in overcoming the semiotic dead end. But this is just another issue and moreover I am dead tired because was writing this post all night through.












-----Original Message-----

From: [] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden

Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 7:00 PM

To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity

Subject: RE: [xmca] personality


Exactly Maria, :) or, as CS Peirce put it:


"Two things here are all-important to assure oneself of and to remember.

The first is that a person is not absolutely an individual. His thoughts

are what he is 'saying to himself,' that is, is saying to that other self

that is just coming into life in the flow of time. When one reasons, it is

that critical self that one is trying to persuade; and all thought

whatsoever is a sign, and is mostly of the nature of language. The second

thing to remember is that the man's circle of society (however widely or

narrowly this phrase may be understood), is a sort of loosely compacted

person, in some respects of higher rank than the person of an individual




!! a group is "a sort of loosely compacted person" !! or a person is a

"sort of tightly compacted group"??



At 02:49 PM 10/10/2007 +0000, you wrote:



>beyond the developmental aspect there may be also a functional one, as

>part of what Rene Kaes calls our psychic groupality, our internal groups

>being all alone we're still part of a (imaginary, symbolic?) group, my

>personality "remains" just because I was once engaged in an activity

>with others even if I'm not now



> > Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 09:39:35 -0400

> > From:

> > Subject: Re: [xmca] personality

> > To:

> >

> > I believe what Sasha meant was the genetic, or developmental aspect as

> > opposed to the functional one. So, the answer would be: one might have

> > personality being all alone (functional level), however, personality

> > emerges only through interaction between human beings (genetic, or

> > developmental level of description).

> >

> > ...Anyway, Sasha will definitely respond better to this.

> >

> > --- <> wrote:

> >

> > >

> > > Sasha:

> > >

> > > You wrote:

> > >

> > > Human personality appears only in case when

> > > (minimum) two human beings are solving a common objective task in other

> > > words they conjointly act against their common object and realize it in

> > > active hand in hand and in the same time contradictory interaction.

> > >

> > > So. . .I have no personality when I am by myself?????

> > >

> > > eric

> > >

> > >

> > >

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Received on Wed Oct 10 20:12 PDT 2007

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