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Re: [xmca] Types of Generalization: concepts and pseudoconcepts
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Types of Generalization: concepts and pseudoconcepts
- From: Carol Macdonald <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2009 07:41:18 +0200
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2009/9/14 Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
> Steve, I think Vygotsky is neither clear nor consistent, but making all due
> allowances, he was right; Davydov is clear and consistent, but he is wrong
> on occasions. Pity Vyvogotsky did not live longer. But it means we have to
> put a consistent and tenable understanding together ourselves.
> Firstly I believe Vygtosky took the "scientific concept" only as a
> microcosm of the concept, and recognised that the everyday life of an adult
> is full of concepts (i.e. proper concepts). He gives "dog" as an example. In
> general concepts originate out of "expert systems" of some kind, i.e.,
> institutions, but not necessarily science: e.g. sport, the Church,
> literature, ... This will not be the first occasion that LSV's use of a
> micrcosm has caused people to think that he thinks the micrcosm is the
> So Vygotsky reognizes many types of concept, and I don't think Vygotsky
> limited "rationality" to science. He began life as a literary critic after
> On how individuals acquire knowledge, you are right of course, that
> whatever form a child's knowledge takes, it is acquired through
> artefact-mediated collaboration with adults, at least until the age of ~7
> when interaction with peers starts to rival interaction with adults.
> One of LSV's strentghs v-a-v Davydov is that LSV really concerns himself
> with the transition - this is where wolves in sheeps clothing comes from.
> But Davydov simply regards everyday non-conceptual thinking as a barrier to
> learning scientific conceptual thought. He doesn't really see a transition
> at all.
> Steve Gabosch wrote:
>> It seems as though Vygotsky's theory recognized only one kind of adult,
>> rational concept, which he called at various times the "true concept," the
>> "scientific concept," etc. In Ch 6 of T&S Vygotsky contrasted his theory of
>> the true concept with the "spontaneous" or "everyday" concept, which he
>> seems to have associated with various forms of complexive thinking,
>> including the pseudoconcept, the potential concept, the preconcept, etc.
>> On the other hand, Davydov's theory, appreciative of the accomplishments
>> and critical of the shortcomings of Vygotsky's work on concept formation,
>> recognizes not just one but **two** kinds of rational concepts, which he
>> calls the empirical concept (more precisely, the "general
>> conceptualization") and the theoretical concept (the "content-based
>> generalization"). I find his general arguments for this persuasive, and
>> consistent with a philosophical book I have found influential on my thinking
>> about concepts - as did Davydov - Ilyenkov's The Dialectics of the Abstract
>> and the Concrete in Marx's Capital (1960).
>> However, so far as I can tell, while Davydov discusses Vygotsky's work on
>> complexes, he did not fully incorporate this work into his theory. Why not?
>> Or has he? More on this below.
>> Andy, in speaking of an "absolutely non-empirical social factor" in human
>> activity I take it you are affirming the CHAT principle that cultural
>> knowledge is, for a large part, derived by the individual **indirectly**
>> through the words, artifacts and actions of other people, through
>> **cultural** interaction, and not just **directly** through individual
>> **sensory** experience. Is this what you mean?
>> Also, Andy, you suggest that for you or me, a 'rook' is a concept, but for
>> a child, it is probably a potential concept (or might be, may I add, a
>> pre-concept, or a pseudo-concept). How is that different from suggesting
>> that for concept-trained adults, cev, bik, mur and lag are concepts, even
>> though for a child they might be a pseudo-concepts? Not quite understanding
>> your argument ...
>> The problem may lie in whether we are using the term "concept" in the
>> one-rational-concept-system theory of Vygotsky or the
>> two-rational-concept-system theory of Davydov. I was using Vygotsky's
>> system. One reason I am having trouble easily jumping from LSV's system to
>> VVD's is some confusion I am having over terminology, along with Davydov's
>> (for me, so far) unsatisfying account of complexive thinking.
>> Interestingly, Davydov seems to only employ the term "true concept" twice
>> in Types of Generalizations. Once as part of a quote from Bruner et al, and
>> once in the section in Chapter 6 on Vygotsky's work on concept formation,
>> nearby some of the quotes you cite. Here is what Davydov says about true
>> "From the standpoint of dialectical logic, concepts, as they are
>> encountered in our everyday speech, are not concepts in the proper sense of
>> the word. They are, rather, general conceptions of things. But it is
>> indisputable that they are a transitional stage from complexes and
>> pseudo-concepts to true concepts in the dialectical sense of the word [65,
>> pp. 196-197]."
>> In a sense, this may be the same problem that you point to in your essay,
>> Andy, where Vygotsky was using the generic term "concept" to refer to both
>> all concept formations at all developmental levels as well as to their most
>> highly developed forms. Davydov, and perhaps you, may sometimes be doing
>> something similar - "concepts," "true concepts," "concepts in the proper
>> sense of the word," etc. Maybe a clearer taxonomic nomenclature is needed.
>> Or maybe there is something I am not yet quite getting.
>> Davydov's suggestion that general conceptualizations are **transitional**
>> between "everyday" speech, that is, "complexes and pseudo-concepts," seems
>> very important to me. Is there a place where he specifically develops this
>> idea, or perhaps, where someone else does? Understanding how to fully
>> incorporate what we know about complexive thinking into a general theory of
>> concept formation might help me to make the leap from Vygotsky to Davydov.
>> - Steve
>> On Sep 12, 2009, at 8:33 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Steve Gabosch wrote:
>>>> One, what do you mean by "an absolutely non-empirical social factor"
>>> One. When I say "absolutely non-empirical" I do not try to deny that all
>>> knowledge begins from the senses. For example, if I drive on the left
>>> because the law requires me to, I still have to be able to read signs,
>>> understand speech etc. to know and obey that law. But you wouldn't call that
>>> "empirical" would you? Concepts come to us through using artefacts in joint
>>> actions with other people, i.e., activity, not passive contemplation. See
>>> "Theses on Feuerbach." Conceptual knowledge presupposes all the senses, but
>>> is not thereby "empirical."
>>> any game. In chess, for example, rooks and pawns are "concepts" - yes?
>>> Two. I thought about exactly this one as well. So if playing a good game
>>> of chess, knowing the moves for Kings and Knights etc., and how to play a
>>> good strategy, implies *conceptual* thought, then all the primary school
>>> children who participate in chess championships are alredy masters of true
>>> concepts. And it doesn't stop there, does it? The implication is that
>>> *logical thinking* is ipso facto, conceptual thought. But primary school
>>> kids in general use logical argument, apply strategies in games, learn
>>> arithmetic and grammatical rules, etc, etc.
>>> So why is LSV so insistent that conceptual thought is possible only for
>>> adolescents? I couldn't find the reference, maybe someone can, but I am sure
>>> LSV believes that logical thinking and argument by giving reasons "belongs"
>>> to the 7-11 age group, not 15+ - like with LSV's example of a "dog", "rook"
>>> may be a concept for you, but for a child "rook" is a potential concept.
>>> The point is that "machine-like" logical thought is not conceptual
>>> thought. It relies on pre-concepts, or what Davydov calls (charitably in my
>>> view) "empirical concepts" or on one occasion "general notions."
>>> Does that help?
>>> Andy Blunden
>>> http://www.erythrospress.com/ Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel,
>>> Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea
>>> xmca mailing list
>> xmca mailing list
> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20
> xmca mailing list
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