I have raised this issue before and somone (Anna Stetsenko) said that
current evidence contradicted me, but i could not find the contradiction
in the sources provided, so since it is so central an argument, it may
well be worth repeating.
The claim is this:
the development of a gesture [into a word (mc)] as (1) reaching for an
object, (2) a reaction arises, but not on the part of the object, but
another person, who completes the grasping for the child, and in being
directed towards another person, the gesture becomes contracted, and (3)
becomes a gesture for oneself. And I think this is as good as any a
representation of the Hegel passage I have given the link to.
One relevant article is at the following accessible url.
The work of Butterworth on infant pointing, which implicates an important
maturational ("natural line of development") component also needs to be
considered. Easy access to this can be found via google
The child in the world: embodiment, time, and language in early
... - Google Books Result
These results do not negate the role of adult interpretation in the
development of early words, or gestures, but they do complicate the
picture I think. Easy and repeated repitetation of LSV on this point is
not going to be taken serious without us taking seriously contemporary
evidence and theoretical claims.
On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 5:23 PM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com
Mmm, well I had a read of the relevant passage in Hegel again last
night, Steve, and again modified my opinion of its meaning. Here is
a link to the point which is the nearest Hegel comes to this relation:
I find this prettty opaque quite honestly, but I think if you read
it on the assumption that Hegel is talking about the differentiating
out of (c) individual consciousness (which is what Hegel meant by
"psychology") from (a) animalistic action/reaction and (b) the
collective consciousness of a cultural group, you might just get
some sense out of it.
LSV put it this way:
"All cultural development of the child passes through three basic
stages that can be described in the following way using Hegel’s
analysis." (LSV CW v. 4 p. 104) My paraphrase of the rest of the
paragraph: the development of a gesture as (1) reaching for an
object, (2) a reaction arises, but not on the part of the object,
but another person, who completes the grasping for the child, and in
being directed towards another person, the gesture becomes
contracted, and (3) becomes a gesture for oneself. And I think this
is as good as any a representation of the Hegel passage I have given
the link to.
Vygotsky may have learnt about this passage secondhand from Lewin.
But everyone knew about the Hegelian phrases "thing-in-itself",
"thing-for-us" and "thing-for-itself", since these were part of the
popular discourse around Hegel in Marxist circles. So I presume
"concept-in-itself," the "concept-for-others" and the
"concept-for-myself" is a kind of play on these concepts. But
"concept-for-myself" is just not something you'd find in Hegel. The
concept is always objective for Hegel.
Now what Vygotsky meant by it:
"Concept-in-itself" I take to be the unconscious use of words by a
small child as an indivisible part of an action, a "handle" for a
thing. This is close to the Hegelian idea, because the child is not
yet conscious of having a concept or thing-name at all; it is
indissolubly connected to the object itself.
"Concept-for-others" I take to mean the use of a word for
communicative action, e.g. asking an adult for assistance, and it is
directed at the adult.
"Concept-for-myself" is the use of language by the child to control
its own actions, speech growing in, as they say, towards silent
speech. I don't know if I entirely concur with Kozulin in saying
this, but the idea you quote from Kozulin is certainly closely
connnected, because the use of words to achieve intelligent
*control* of one's own actions is surely closely connected with
awareness of one's own consciousness (and behaviour). And I think
you can link LSV and Hegel with (a) and (b) but I can't see it with (c).
That's where I'm at with all this Steve.
Steve Gabosch wrote:
Thanks, Andy. I think I am being a little dense here, because
now I am uncertain of both what Vygotsky meant, and what Hegel
meant as well! LOL
I get the **sense** of these distinctions, of course, but I
don't think they are yet registering for me as clear
**concepts**. I might even be able to more or less correctly
answer a question or two about what Vygotsky said on a school
quiz, but I can tell I would only be doing so on the basis of
pseudoconceptual reasoning, because I can memorize the genetic
order that Vygotsky says that the concept-in-itself, the
concept-for-others and the concept-for-myself appear in the
child - but not because I really understand **why** they appear
in that order, or because I understand just **what** these kinds
of concepts actually are. I couldn't, offhand, give you clear
examples of these three kinds of concepts. Your quote from
Hegel is helpful, but I have not fully conceptualized Hegel's
treatment of these ideas, either. I'm not so sure how I'd get
very far on a school quiz on that! LOL
So let me refine my questions regarding Vygotsky's points.
First, what did Vygotsky mean by the terms "concept-in-itself,"
"concept-for-others" and "concept-for-myself"? Second, what are
some examples of these kinds of concepts? Third, why does he
claim that the first two, as a rule, precede the latter in a
child's intellectual development?
For further thought, here are some relevant quotes from the
paper, from Vygotsky, and from Kozulin.
Here is what Paula and Carol said (pg 236 in Wolves):
"It is in this respect that Vygotsky notes that the genetic
preconditions of the “concept-for-myself” are already present in
the pseudoconcept in the form of the “concept-in-itself” and the
“concept-for-others”, because these occur earlier in the child
than the “concept-for-myself”: he further asserts that this
sequence is not restricted to conceptual development because it
occurs as a “rule rather than the exception in the intellectual
development of the child” (p. 124)."
Here is the passage by Vygotsky from Alex Kozulin's translation
of Thought and Language they refer to (pg 124):
"The concept-in-itself and the concept-for-others are developed
in the child earlier than the concept-for-myself. The
concept-in-itself and the concept-for-others, which are already
present in the pseudoconcept, are the basic genetic precondition
for the development of real concepts. This peculiar genetic
situation is not limited to the attainment of concepts; it is
the rule rather the exception in the intellectual development of
the child." (7)
In Footnote (7) to the above passage in Thought and Language (on
page 268), Kozulin comments:
"7. Vygotsky's discussion of the phenomenon of pseudoconcepts
has far-reaching philosophical implications. First of all, if
the conscious awareness of one's own intellectual operations
("concept-for-me") is only a secondary achievement, which
follows the practical use of these operations, then the
individual cannot be considered a self-conscious center of
activity. [Note from Steve: I don't grasp what Alex just
said.] The individual appears rather as a "construction" built
at the crossroads of the inner and outer realities. Second, the
phenomenon of functional equivalence between real and
pseudoconcepts warns us against taking the functional appearance
of communication for its ultimate content. The usage of "one
and the same" words and subsequent "understanding" may be
illusory. Such illusion of understanding, based on the
confusion between functional and essential characteristics,
constantly emerges in child-adult communication, in the dialogue
between different social groups, and in contacts between
different cultures. For further discussion of this point, see
Alex Kozulin, "Psychology and Philosophical Anthropology: The
Problem of Their Interaction," *The Philosophical Forum*, 1984,
On Aug 4, 2009, at 7:58 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
Steve Gabosch wrote:
What did LSV mean by a "concept-for-myself," (a phrase,
I understand, is derived from Hegel)?
Hegel would never have used quite the phrase,
"concept-for-myself", but the way Vygotsky is using the
idea: first concept in-itself, then for-others, and only
last for-myself - i.e., self-consciousness, is quite
consistent with Hegel's idea. It's really a play on Hegel.
For example from Hegel's Introduction to the History of
"But consciousness really implies that for myself, I am
object to myself. In forming this absolute division between
what is mine and myself, Mind constitutes its existence and
establishes itself as external to itself. It postulates
itself in the externality."
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