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RE: [xmca] Message in a Bottle Erratum

Dear Mike

In rummaging around with Chapter Five's blocks, I've come to look at ways of
thinking from syncretic representations through to abstract mathematical and
scientific ones as a range of different forms of pre+conceptual
representation that are based on different kinds of rules.  The form and
content of these representations are unique, then, to the rules that are
being invoked in particular social situations of learning.  This might sound
like stating the obvious, but what this perspective helps me to do is view
Vygotsky's ideas of school concepts as ways of thinking that happen to
invoke particular rules - abstract, logical, systematised, hierarchical,
language-bound, and so on.  It also helps me to agree with you about
institutionalised concepts not being the sole privilege of conceptual

But where the transition from complexes to concepts - whether these are
everyday or scientific concepts - is likely to happen is in a schooling
environment, and in the sense of what happens at school, complexes do need
to be left at the school door.  But not really left there entirely: David's
expression is that the new forms arise from the ashes of what went before;
and Vygotsky says of generalisation in "real" (rather than the artificial
concepts of the blocks studies) concepts that "the products of the
intellectual activity of the earlier phases are not lost".  This is what I
want to look closely at over the next while (at the developmental side to
this).  So, the toolkit is added to and, over time, several kinds of ways of
thinking are more likely to take up predominance.

Except when we're faced with new things (words or situations):  then,
because we're outsiders, or novices, we'll probably have difficulty
distinguishing between the essential and the functional aspects of whatever
it is we are now faced with.  We'll probably flounder around a bit back in
the concrete, factual way of dealing with things before we're able to
abstract what the essentials really are.  The difference between this
abstracting faculty of an adult and the concrete and factual approaches of
an eight-year-old, for example, is that adults can anddo, whereas the
eight-year-old's way of thinking makes perfect and logical sense to him (did
your DVD eventually arrive, Mike?).

But I don't see everyday thinking as synonymous with complexitive thinking,
although there are overlaps in the kinds of rules involved. It seems to me
that concepts are a range of conceptual representations from everyday
generalised representations of things to academic/scientific concepts, which
are formed by generalisation working in harmony with abstraction and
presided over by a signifying use of language to produce an abstract/ed
notion of particular principled, bounded system.

In any case, I think the enrichment of one by the other - and creativity
too? - continues for a long time...

Best regards

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: 28 May 2009 06:07 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Message in a Bottle Erratum

I get the idea of true concepts depending upon schooling, David and Paula.
But i am sceptical of the conclusions you appear to agree upon on two

1. I do not believe that school is the only institutional setting that
induces thinking in concepts. Perhaps LSV did.

2. I do not believe, and I believe there textual evidence to show that
Vygotsky believed that they were left at the school door. Schooling adds to
the toolkit. It does not uniformly replaced the prior toolkit of everyday

Am misinterpreting the significance of what you two are saying?


On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 6:31 PM, David Kellogg

> Paula just sent me something quite kind about my Message in a Bottle.
> Praise from Paula is praise indeed, particularly where Chapter Five of T&S
> is concerned.
> I was just letting it go to my head and linger when I noticed the
> stupid mistake:
> "So in this sense the new theory in which concepts (sic) are left at the
> school door is not entirely inconsistent with the old theory according to
> which thinking in concepts really only takes place in the transitional age
> (i.e. adolescence)."
> Of course, it's COMPLEXES that the 1934 Vygotsky is suggesting may be left
> at the school door. Sorry, I must have left my head on the subway
> usually it's just my hat.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
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