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Re: [xmca] Types of Generalization: concepts and pseudoconcepts
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Types of Generalization: concepts and pseudoconcepts
- From: Jay Lemke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 13:14:48 -0700
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A small follow-up, having now read at least Andy's comments on
Davydov, if not the Davydov itself.
I would agree very broadly with what Andy says, and highlight one
point and note one that is perhaps underemphasized.
Maybe it's because of Davydov's view, but it seems clear to me that
LSV emphasizes very strongly and consistently the key role of verbal
language, and so we ought really want to know more about exactly how
the ways in which children and early adolescents use verbal languages
changes as they come to mediate their activity more along the lines we
might call acting-with-true-concepts.
What struck me as very important, that Andy emphasizes (and Davydov
also?) is that the development of true concepts depends on their use
in social institutions. This limits the relevance of artificial-
concept experimental studies in ways that would not be apparent in a
more purely cognitive science paradigm (or old fashioned empirical-
concept ideology), because the similarity to natural true concepts is
only logical-formal, and not also social-institutional. A lot of my
own students tend to get this wrong, because they identify the social
with the interpersonal, such that there is still a similarity (in the
micro-social milieu of the experiment itself as a social activity).
But not at the macro-social institutional level.
And here perhaps is also a clue to my query about how the modes of
mediation differ across the historical cases (Foucault), the cross-
cultural cases (Levi-Straus), the post-modern cases (Wittgenstein,
Latour), and even the everyday true concept vs. formal scientific-
mathematical true concept cases. The difference arises in and from the
institutional differences. Could we perhaps combine LSV's insights
into how this works in the developmental case (changes in the social
positioning of the child/adolescent), L-S on the functioning of mytho-
symbolic mediated activiity in rituals and social structuration
processes, F on changes in the historical institutions (medieval-early
modern), and L on heterogeneity of mediation in relation to
heterogeneity of actant networks? to understand better how this
institutional context and its processes play out?
I left out Wittgenstein, but he may help with an intermediate scale,
not the large social institutions, but the game-like activities of
which they are composed.
I'll be looking at Davydov to see what he offers in these terms.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
On Sep 11, 2009, at 5:51 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
I have prepared a response to Davydov's book, but it is 4,000 words,
so I have attached it in a Word document. But here is a synopsis.
Davydov claims that in his analysis of the Sakharov experiments,
Vygotsky fails to demonstrate any real distinction between a true
concept and an abstract general notion (what is usually and
mistakenly taken for a concept in non-Marxist thought).
I claim that he has a point, but Vygotsky is guilty only of some
unclarity and inconsistency in his language, and makes the
distinction very clear. And Davydov should pay more attention to
what Vygotsky says about the relationship.
Davydov works with a mistaken contrast between scientific concepts
and the general notions derived from everyday life. Scientific
concepts are by no means the only type of true concepts and everyday
life is full of concepts.
Nonetheless, Davydov has a point. It is evident that Sakharov, the
author of the orignal, oft-cited report evidently is guilty exactly
as charged by Davydov. And no-one seems to have noticed!
Although Paula and Carol are consistent and correct in everything
they say in their paper, they err on one occasion only when they
cite Kozulin citing Hanfmann. It is as if people equate logical use
of generalized empirical notions with conceptual thought, never in
their own words, but only by means of citing someone else's words.
I think this is the legacy of a lack of clarity in Vygotsky's
4,000 words attached. And apologies for not entering the discussion
of Paula and Carol's paper earlier, but I was not clear in my own
mind on these problems, and Davydov helped me get clear. Better late
Andy Blunden (Erythrós Press and Media) Orders: http://www.erythrospress.com/store/main.html#books
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