[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] concept


As everyone knows, I am a fan of Hegel. I frequently throw
in observations about Hegel's take on this or that question.
But Hegel's whole outlook is based on his concept of
"Spirit" which neither I nor probably anyone on this list
accepts as a valid concept. I spent many years - yes, years
- working over Hegel to work out how to appropriate his
philosophy thorugh an interpretation of "spirit". So I know
now, "what is alive and what is dead in the philosophy of
Hegel." My task was made easier by the fact that Marx had
already travelled the same road. And Vygotsky had followed Marx.

Now there are a number of other writers, for example,
American pragmatists like Peirce and Mead, whose ideas are
not Marxist but they are close enough to Vygotsky and Marx
that it is not very difficult to appropriate their ideas.
Someone like Bourdieu, coming from structuralism is also
easy to appropriate. Bourdieu's idea of "field" is almost
identical to Dorothy Holland's concept of "figured world"
which comes from Activity Theory.

All these things are important to me, so when I'm having a
conversation I am not speaking with forked tongue and if my
meaning is not clear I can explain it, and render it into
words the meanings of which I share with my respondent.

I cannot have a sensible conversation with someone who is
mixing ideas of Activity Theory with "soul" and someone like
Derrida who thinks that writing is prior to speech, and
people who refuse to recognize categorical distinctions
between consciousness and matter, and philosophies basedon
stream of consciousness. I can have a conversation, with
anyone, but if we are going to really communicate across
ideological divides, we need to use a common language and
shared concepts, even if these concepts are non-scientific,
everyday concepts. Communication without any shared
conceptual frame and shared community of practice is an
illusion I suspect.

So please, if you refute my explanation to Eric of what I
think "concept" means in the Vygotskyan frame, can you do so
with words and concepts which are meaningful to me?


Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
In the Heidegger-Derrida lineage of thinking, language and world are irremediably intertwined; but language is later arriving, language as re-presentation. There are forms of "communication" that precede representation, for example, in the warning calls of birds and so on. At some point in anthropogenesis, there is retention (Husserl), and this allows and requires language as re-presentation. Now it was Heidegger who points out first that there is an ideology (the metaphysical one) of presence, which does not distinguish between present and the presence of the present, which it can be only through representation. We can think of something only when it is there in retention, when we can re-present it and therefore do as if the something is present when in fact it is absent. Re-presentation really makes salient the absence of the present. There is temporalization and spatialization associated with this disjuncture that occurred somewhere in human evolution. "Concepts" are possible only because of this phenomenon, because of representation, which allows us to have the same sound-word to denote very different experiences, my beloved plum tree in front of my office window is a tree as much as each of the three apple trees that I planted in the front yard, as the quince tree, the two pear trees. All of these are trees, and they can only be because the same sound-word is useable across time and space and to different entities (which at least involves some comparison), and all of this is possible only because of the initial disjuncture between present and the presence of the present.
And so it goes.

On 2009-10-28, at 9:10 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:

Michael & Andy, Steve & lurkers:

This is an extremely interesting conversation pertaining to the kernel of
human development.

Getting back to the example of water freezing.  If a child is making
kool-aid and takes ice cubes out of the freezer and then puts water in the
ice cube tray to make more ice his actions are based upon the 'concept' of
water freezing.  Michael; I, like Andy, see no words used in the child
freezing water but rather an activity that revolves around a socialized
more of making ice cubes.

However, I can also examine within the history of human development the
imprinting of natural occurences within the human experience.  These
natural occurences do not begin in the word and are indeed separate from
the word.  The influences vary from dances and song to the burning of
insence, etc

Is there room?

What do lurkers think?

What do lurkers do?


Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
10/28/2009 08:46 AM
Please respond to ablunden; Please respond to "eXtended Mind, Culture,

       To:     "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
       Subject:        Re: [xmca] concept

I don't think you can describe people and their action as
"attachments" of a word, Michael.
What do you mean by "soul"?


Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
It is precisely the limitations of this theory of concepts as words that

we have tried to deal with in the piece I recently shared the reference
to. Concepts cannot be words with attachments, or you are in the same
waters as with the concept of meaning. What about the concept of
concept? What about the meaning of concept? And the concept of meaning?
How come you privilege words, which really denote material patterns
(scratches and traces in some medium, sound patterns).
I think it would be worthwhile to pick up in Derrida and his analysis
and critique of language, that begins with looking at the ancient Greek
thoughts about how the soul gets imprinted from nature, and the soul
then is expressed in the voice, and the voice gets doubled in writing.
It is this chain, which begins with an imprint of nature in the soul
that metaphysics is concerned, and I am afraid that all writing about
concepts and meaning are but further metaphysical efforts.

On 2009-10-28, at 4:20 AM, Steve Gabosch wrote:

You've packed a lot of ideas in a few sentences, Andy!  Saying that
concepts are words that are associated with systems of actions makes
sense to me in that it links word-meaning with human action.  But you
say next that a concept is "the basic unit of the life of some system of

practice."   Could you clarify a little?  Just trying to follow your
thinking here ...

- Steve

On Oct 27, 2009, at 6:15 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:


Ultimately, a concept is a word associated with some system of actions
and known to some individual(s). The word is a sign for the concept,
and a concept is the basic unit of the life of some system of practice.

A concept must be distinguished from the properties or attributes of a
thing. The list of something's attributes is not a concept of the
thing. A true concept is independent of the attributes of any thing
and indicates some innovation in a system of practice to overcome some
problem which arose in the development of the relevant social

But thinking in concepts requires both sensuous perception of the
attibutes of things and the (true) concepts of the things. Perception
of the attributes of things is called a "pseudoconcept" in the CHAT
tradition. Real, genuinely conscious human activity is the unity of a
true concept and a pseudoconcept.


ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:
Hello all:
Recent discussions have caused me to ponder the "concept of
concept".  It is not merely a property that something posseses; for
water certainly contains hydrogen and oxygen regardless of whether it
is labeled as such. However; if I am learning about water than I am
provided the opportunity to observe and experiment with the
properties water exhibits/contains.  At zero degrees celsius the
water freezes, at one hundred degrees celsius it boils.  Again these
are properties but as I am learning about them do they become
concepts?  That liquids freeze and boil.  Is answering these
questions on a science quiz enough to claim a student can
conceptualize boiling and freezing?  I believe LSV would answer no.
So then back to the blocks experiment and what precisely was LSV
proposing about the development of concepts?
xmca mailing list


Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov
$20 ea

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea

xmca mailing list