[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] A Flock of Already Roasted Pigeons

Hello SNUE

I am sympathetic to the conceptual moves you are promoting in the note
below, but as so often happens, especially when is an autodidact in such
matters, as I am certainly, in the ideas of LSV and language, answers keep
begeting questions.

So here are a couple of more.

1. Can we move beyond "instructed" concepts to "social-institutionally
arranged for concepts?" I ask because it seems to me that the broader
category (not sure how broad it is and intuit that it needs delimiting),
ought to cover cases such as those illustrated by the work of Ed Hutchins
on Trobriand discourse, Max Gluckman on law in traditional African
societies, and other such cases. Easy access to the Trobriand example
is at http://lchc.ucsd.edu/Histarch/fe79v1n2.PDF

2. I am puzzling over the senses in which it is true that "Concepts do not
"exist" as objects, and yet scientific language in English tends to treat
them as such."  Not so in Russian? English does seems real good at
entification and turning processes into things, but I am again intuiting,
with very limited
knowledge of a few other languages, that it is not unique in this respect.

3. And then there is the case of a unicorn. There are a lot of aspects of
that poem that I find intriguing. Just one is that if I ask a class of, say,
300 undergraduates if they have every encountered a unicorn, at first no one
will to admit to having seen one. Then I ask them to vote on the following
question by raising their hands: "If you had to guess, would you consider a
unicorn good or bad." 99.99% raise vote for good. Hmmmm, they know if its
good or bad, but have never encountered one. And, after some discussion they
get around to acknowledging that many have in fact encountered, in some
materialized, "objectified" form, a unicorn.

I am among this naive majority.

Ditto with respect to Wizards, very important entities in my life and not as
non-existent concepts.

I know there are lots of different questions in these ruminations and now I
have to turn to the serious business of pretending to be an educator
concept with very difficulty to pin down objects!), it being Sunday, when I
get to work "on my own." Efforts at enlightenment, including reprints,
warmly accepted!


On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 9:40 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

> Mike--
> Thanks to you and your freind Reindeer for the unicorn. It's a welcome
> addition to something that my former grad students and I were discussing
> over roasted pigeons, Shanghai pasta and a mean Australian Merlot.
> I told our group about your etymological analysis and suggested that
> "scientific concepts" (that is, "научных понятий") really means "instructed
> concepts" or "taught concepts" in the same way that oбучeния really means
> something like "instructed learned". That's why Prout translates the term as
> "academic concepts"
> Yongho pointed out that in Korean, and in Japanese, and in Chinese, the
> term we use for "spontaneous" as opposed to "nonspontaneous" concepts is
> really "naturally occurring" as opposed to "artificial". Obviously, we have
> to be careful not to confuse artificial concepts in the sense of instructed
> concepts with artificial concepts in the sense of the experimental ones of
> Chapter Five. But Vygotsky does say, at the beginning of Chapter Six, that
> there is a sense in which instructed concepts are artificial.
> Now, Shushu says that science concepts are really just one kind of
> "instructed concept". Other kinds include ethical concepts (which are taught
> in Korea as opposed to natural morality children bring from home), aesthetic
> concepts (as opposed to naive realism), and of course the kind of
> sociological concepts which Vygotsky is REALLY talking about in Chapter Six
> (e.g. "proletarian" as opposed to "My daddy is a worker"), which most
> Western academics would probably NOT accept as scientific.
> In Korea there is also a special, polite register of Korean that is used
> informal education and which needs formal instruction. And of course ALL
> foreign language word meanings, for reasons that Vygotsky makes very clear,
> are instructed concepts. The "analogy" between science concepts and foreign
> language concepts is not just an analogy; it's a pointer to a deepgoing
> psychic affinity.
> This affinity is what Yongho is pointing to when he argues that spontaneous
> means "natural" rather than simply "random" or "aleatory" and that
> nonspontaneous means in some sense "artificial" or "designed" instead of
> purely "scientific". This is why Jay says that science concepts are really
> just distinguished by their position in a set of thematic relations (they
> "fit in" to a hierarchy as opposed to just "following on" from a given
> common graphic-visual purview).
> Of course, as "fit in" and "follow on" suggest, it is partly a matter of a
> paradigmatic relationship between concepts instead of the concrete
> syntagmatic one of everyday life, the sort of thing LSV notes when he argues
> that the reason why similarity relations emerge conceptually before
> difference ones do is because they require a hierarchy, a structure of
> generalization, while differences can be noted perceptually.
> So, I think this is how our group would mull over your questions, although
> of course if you were actually here we would be too busy being Korean and
> deferential and plying you with wine and kimch to give such direct answers.
> MIKE: 1) LSV appears to believe that scientific concepts only arise in
> school, where school entails special forms of discourse and written
> language. Does that imply that people who have not attended school or
> acquired writing think only in everyday concepts?
> SNUE: I think we would say NO, because science concepts are only ONE form
> of volitional, hierarchized, and paradigmatized concept. There are other
> kinds. People in courtrooms use volitional concepts, and so do practitioners
> of religious rites. Every painting is a volitional concept. Even people who
> have followed a programme of apprenticeship instead of formal instruction
> will be able to describe their knowledge in a fairly volitional way.
> MIKE: 2) What is the relation between indicative/nominative/----->naming
> things that cannot exist and everyday/scientific distinction.
> SNUE: I think we'd say that the connection is this. Concepts do not "exist"
> as objects, and yet scientific language in English tends to treat them as
> such. So because of the way our language works we need some way of naming
> things that do not exist.
> Halliday points out that making the word "growth" out of the verb "grow" or
> "depth" out of the word "deep" is an instance of METAPHOR, a creation of a
> thing that never was and never can be, purely for the convenience of
> creating hierarchies and writings sentences that look a little like
> mathematical equations. (Eunsook and I did  something on this, actually:
> http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a907046497~db=all~order=page<http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content%7Econtent=a907046497%7Edb=all%7Eorder=page>
> (as always pdfs available from the author on request!)
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education (SNUE)
xmca mailing list