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Re: [xmca] Vygotsky, Saussure, and Wolves with different dreams
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky, Saussure, and Wolves with different dreams
- From: David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 16:54:39 -0700 (PDT)
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Oh, I wouldn't presume. But to me it is part of a jagged line which connects ostension, indication through gesture, naming, and signifying...and the English article system.
Of course Vygotsky probably never read Peirce. But to me that is of no consequence; I see internal dependencies on the one hand (that is, common logic) and external common references on the other (e.g. the common reference to Hegel; I am sure that someday Vygotsky's copy of the "Logic" will be discovered and even Andy will be satisfied here).
Ostension is, as Greg says,is virtually iconic, in the Peircean sense; it's object-related meaning right there in your hand. Gesture involves what Toolan calls an analytical question: what of all the possible things in the line of the gesture is the speaker indicating? In Peircean terms, it's indexical, a form of secondness. Nomination is a form of thirdness; it involves interpretation. But once named, the name becomes an object, and we can start all over again.
What Paula and Carol are really interested in understanding is signifying; that is, reference to idealized objects (complexes) and ultimately to objectified ideas (concepts). But they want to understand signifying GENETICALLY, as it arises from ostension, indication, and naming things that are present and not present, near and far, existent and non existent, in other words, signifying.
I think signifying can be explained in Peircean terms too. When, in Chapter Seven, Vygotsky explicitly links the rise of the concept to the transition from indicating to naming to signifying, he is essentially following a path well trod by Peirce, and whether he knows that he is not the first or whether he knows that the footprints he finds on the trail are those of Peirce are equally immaterial.
To your example. When you set out for the farmer's market, your idea of the apple you want to buy is not object related. It's a symbol, not an icon, nor yet an index. You have in mind not this apple nor that apple nor even these apples or those apples, but some idealized apples. You signify that apple, because you can neither grasp nor point to it.
When you arrive at the farmer's market, you point indexically to the objects you want. The farmer, if he is in the mood for ostension, will grasp one for you to examine. You reach for it, and rise to the concrete; it becomes for you an icon.
That idea of the apple in your head (as opposed to the experience of the apple in your hand or your moth) is only partly based on the ghosts of your various object-related experiences in the past with apples. It is also based on the sum total of your culture's object-related experience withs apples. All this bears fruit, in conceptual form, in the word meaning "apples". When you look at "an apple" it becomes an example of a concept, and when you eat "the apple" you have absorbed it not only ideally but also materially, down to the last atom.
I think Paula and Carol's big contribution to my own understanding of this example has to do with the way they tackle the extremely muddy section of Chapter Five that deals with potential concepts. For a complex to become a potential concept, two things and not one are required.
First of all, we have to have abstraction and generalization. But abstraction and generalization are simply two modes of moving along the lines of longitude on that Chapter Six measure of generality which runs from object relatedness to pure abstraction.
Secondly, we have to have a system and a hierarchy. System and hierarchy are what distingish science concepts from everyday ones, but (nay, so) they are also present in much attentuated form (e.g. the English article system) in everyday concepts.
T: Do you like apples? (general concept)
(T takes an apple out.) (example)
Ss: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!! Apple! (example)
(In Korean, the general concept AND the example are expressed by the bare singular of the noun. As far as I know this is also true of Russian, which similarly lacks an article system).
T: Yes, this is an apple. Now, is this apple MY apple or YOUR apple? (object related)
Ss: Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!
T: Maybe! The apple is the WINNER'S apple. Now, let's play! (object related)
Here too there is a rise to the concrete, although this is not exactly what Davydov had in mind!
Seoul National University of Education
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