Re: [xmca] Historical Development

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at>
Date: Sun Feb 24 2008 - 08:12:34 PST


Your message deserves a thoughtful reply. But right now I'm past the
deadline for delivery of a book manuscript, scrambling to pull all the
threads together in the final chapter. I'm going to duck out of this
conversation for a couple of days, no more, to finished the darned thing.
I've learned that the best way to complete a project is to have the next one
pressing for attention, and this discussion is helping me to write the last


On 2/24/08 12:40 AM, "David Kellogg" <> wrote:

> Martin:
> I've been thinking about your question on whether Marx would have approved
> LSV's experimental method. Luria remarks in "Making of the Mind" that LSV's
> experiments would only be considered interesting student projects today. I
> think that's probably true; and LSV probably knew it too. He just didn't have
> the conditions to carry out the kind of ethnographic work that you did in
> "Changing Classes". Still, when you read LSV's contemporaries, say, Meumann or
> Ribot, you are struck by LSV's vastly superior understanding of scientific
> methodology.
> I'm not really sure that LSV saw a big distinction between nomothetic and
> idiographic research; he did a LOT of clinical work, and he also did
> experiments, and it seems to me that his experiments were quite clinical and
> his clinical work experimental too. It was "research then hypothesis" and then
> "hypothesis then research", in a pretty cyclical fashion. I certainly don't
> see anything wrong with that, and I can't see that Marx would either.
> I think LSV probably WOULD have recognized Peirce's distinction between
> coenscopic science and idioscopic science, though. The work that LSV does in
> aesthetics and linguistics and even pedology (as opposed to psychology) is
> coenscopic in the sense that it "contents itself with observations such as
> come within the range of every man's normal experience and for the most part
> in every waking hour of his life", while his work in psychology and medicine
> and his and Luria's cultural-historical research is idioscopic in the sense
> that it "depends upon special observation, which travel or other exploration,
> or some assistance to the senses, either instrumental or given by training,
> together with unusual diligence, has put within the power of its students"
> (quoted in that Colpietro book Andy recommended). LSV would recognize this as
> a real division.
> But Peirce considers psychology coenscopic. In fact, he sees social
> psychology as a branch of general psychology, and semiotics a branch of social
> psychology, and linguistics a branch of semiotics, all coenscopic. This is a
> rather 19th century way to look at things
> but it does have the advantage of .being democratic. Folk theories about
> language are really a perfectly valid way of doing linguistics and for many
> practical purposes superior to more idioscopic methods (because people's
> consciousness of language is an inseparable part of the way they use
> language).
> Volosinov has a better idea. He starts with the study of ideology, by which
> he means nothing more or less than the generation and propagation of ideas.
> This takes place through signs, which means that semiotics is a branch of
> ideology (the study of ideas).
> Volosinov points out that language is the only really "neutral" sign, by
> which he does not mean that it is in some sense politically neutral; only
> that, unlike musical notation or numbers for example, it is multi-functional;
> in theory there is no expressible human experience that cannot be put into
> language.
> That explains why language keeps colonizing other areas of semiotics (viz.
> Volosinov's own specialism of musicology, which was invaded by opera, lyrical
> ballads, etc.) Psychology, interestingly enough, comes last in the tree; it's
> just the study of how ideological processes that were once social and
> inter-mental become psychological and intra-mental (and vice versa).
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> ---------------------------------
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Received on Sun Feb 24 08:14 PST 2008

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