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Re: [xmca] The Meltzoff/Wolves Thread: Mike's "decoupling" and a Sakharovian footnote for David
Paula, David, Carol, and everyone,
I like David's effort to view the concept dialectically, as the
emergence of idea from subject and object. And I agree, with a slight
modification, that formal logic generates mechanical, fictitious,
**static** objects, whereas dialectical logic strives to reflect real,
And I like David's effort to connect this insight to Vygotsky's
concept structures. Picking up on a suggestion from his post, I
think a dialectical way of looking at the general subject-object
relationship in terms of the different levels or structures of concept
formation (syncretism, complexive thinking, concept-making proper,
etc.) would be to follow Vygotsky's approach in T&S (CW Vol 1) Chapter
6.6 - 6.8 and emphasize how the **relationship** between the subject
and object significantly **changes** in each of these levels or
According to Vygotsky, as I read him in Ch 5 and Ch 6, in syncretic
formations, concepts (generalizations) are formed based on
relationships between a child's **impressions** of the characteristics
of objects. In complexive formations, concepts (generalizations) are
based on relationships between a child's specific observations and
other sensing of **concrete characteristics** of objects, processes,
etc. When a child begins to grasp scientific concepts, they begin to
become conscious of their own conceptualization process and their
culture's methods of comparing all concepts (generalizations) with one
another along two dimensions: how a given concept compares to other
concepts in terms of their relative position in a kind of universal
scale or hierarchy of abstractness/concreteness, and what specific
object(s) that concept is being related to.
I am still puzzling over what exactly a potential concept is, and will
give some thought to David's insight that "A potential concept is a
concept for others but not for myself." Interesting thoughts, as
On Aug 23, 2009, at 6:52 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
Yes, I noticed that too. Here's what I make of it. A concept in
dialectical logic is really a process: it's the emergence of idea
from subject and object (Hegel's Logic). But the concept in formal
logic is really a product: it's a definition that includes all and
only the members of a set which conform to a particular logical
operation, so it's at bottom just an object.
The emergence of an idea from subject (syncretism) and object
(complex) is where Vygotsky gets the distinction between "potential
concepts" and "true concepts". A potential concept is a concept for
others but not for myself. For example, there is actually no word in
English for the kind of fake lemon-lime fizz referred to by the
trade names 7 Up or Sprite in America, but Koreans refer to it
generically as "sai-yi-da", (derived from a misapplication of the
English word "cider").
For an American coming to Korea, "sa-yi-da" is a potential concept
(and a source of potential misunderstanding) since it might apply to
any apple juice but not, at least initially, to lemon-lime soda.
It's a concept for others but I don't know what it means, and when I
use it I may think of it as a misapplied English word rather than a
Korean concept. (The same thing is true, of course, for an American
going to the UK, where cider is a form of beer made from apples
instead of barley and malt).
When the word "immersion" came to the USA (from the Canadian
immersion programmes) it was a concept for Canadians but not for
Americans. Notoriously, it was used in California, Arizona, and
Massachusetts to mean almost its opposite: a one year programme
aimed at subtractive bilingualism rather than a programme which
incorporated the whole of the child's primary and secondary
education with additive bilingualism as its goal.
I think it's understandable that Mike wants to decouple age and
schooling; I am always astonished when I talk to American kids about
their school life and discover that they conceive of it almost
entirely as a social milieu with hardly any academic content. For
our kids (and I think for Vygotsky's kids too) it is really the
other way around; children here discuss school almost entirely in
terms of schoolwork.
As for Vygotsky, he says that neither chronological age nor school
grade is identical with mental age, "(b)ut since the processes of
child development are closely connected with the teaching of the
child and the separation of teaching into levels depends on enormous
practical experience, then naturally breaking childhood up according
to a pedagogical principle brings us extremely close to a real
division of childhood into spearate periods. (Vol. 5, p. 187). This
is why his periodization includes things like "preschool" and
"school age"; I'm not sure if he would go for more granularity than
I didn't get a chance to comment on your gems, Paula.
". . .just one name for the same colour . . . like all the other
names aren't the same colour. . . . So, all the names are actually
the colours and there aren't any colours [left] in the middle."
It seems to me that "just one name for the same color" is a
tentative hypothesis, which is then falsified by the next statement
"like all the other names aren't the same color". The child then
hypothesizes that each name includes all the colors "So all the
names are actually (all) the colors." That way there are no colors
left in the middle, which there would be if there were just one name
for the same color, because there are five colors.
This is consistent with a complex-collection solution. It's also
". . . [the] same names can go in the-what-the places the one's
called [i.e., the bik corner]"
That is, all the biks can go in the bik corner.
"What I'm doing . . . I'm turning over the one and if it's the same
then I put it next to them [of the same label]".
That is, if it's a bik then it goes next to the biks in the bik
And "So . . . if it's not the same group then you put it in another
group that's called the
That is, if it's not a bik then you put it in another group that
called the (cev, mur, lag) group.
"It's not easy but it's quite hard".
Actually, "but" often means "and" in many languages including
English:"I"m ugly, but I'm gentle." It's not only not easy but it's
also quite hard."
"You can put more less water in here, an'. an. it's more smaller
than all the others".
The subject has clearly discovered negative quantities. On to
Seoul National University of Education
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