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[Xmca-l] Re: Dynamics of Developmental Change

I assume that when Mike says "contemporary" he is talking about Vygotsky's
contemporaries. It's always very hard for me to resist the temptation to do
"Wikipedia" footnotes about the founding fathers of infant psychology--they
are a very colorful bunch, and many of them heroic although quite wrong.
Rudolf Virchow, for example, discovered leukemia and invented the autopsy.
But he was also a bit of a crank: he didn't believe that diseases were
caused by germs at all, and he insisted that all disease was cause by
social inequality (this sounded a lot truer in the nineteenth century when
TB was a leading cause of death). He had himself elected to parliament and
made himself so unpopular with Bismarck that he was challenged to a duel.
Since he thought duelling was barbaric, he produced two raw pork sausages,
one of which was infected with trichinosis, and offered Bismarck a choice.
Bismarck declined.

Anyway, Virchow believed that infants are essentially "spinal"--all
functions are decided "reflex arcs" in the spinal cord and not in the brain
at all. Vygotsky thinks that only unimportant reflexes take place there,
but he also thinks that there is a gradual movement of the crucial
"gap"--the bridging point of the reflex arc--from the pallidum to the
striatum to the cortex, and that this pretty much explains how children are
able to sit up, and eventually walk.

There are two key figures in mapping the cortex. One of them is
Flechsig--the fellow who was accused of "bewitching" a judge with
homosexual impulses and who Freud defended. The other was Foerster, who was
Lenin's personal surgeon during his last illness. Foerster wasn't a
neurosurgeon at all: like Virchow he was more interested in the contagious
diseases of the poor, but during he war the main contagion was traumatic
bullet wounds, and, not being a surgeon, he had the brilliant idea of using
only local anaesthetics while he did brain surgery so that he could talk to
patients as he was stimulating various parts of the cortex. This allowed
him to produce a much more detailed map than Flechsig's, and that was
eventually got him a job in the Kremlin.

I think Vygotsky is reacting AGAINST a reaction. He actually starts with
Shakespeare and Schopenhauer. They have tended to approach the problem of
infancy as a matter of explaining why we weep when we enter the world and
laugh when we leave. The reaction to this is to treat the infant as
essentially brainless, and Vygotsky is very interested in re-establishing
the role of the brain, although I rather doubt the theory, apparently taken
over wholesale from Nazi psychologists like Kretschmer, that specific
structures like the pallidum, and the stratium, just hand their functions
up to the cortex. It's clear to me that grammaticization takes place in the
cortex (my mother is suffering from stroke related dementia, and it's had a
catastrophic effect on her grammar). Hence Halliday (but I'm afraid I don't
have any pdfs--just my hardbound collected works--and since I got fired
it's pretty hard for me to scan stuff without getting caught).

David Kellogg

On Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 9:06 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> We aim to please, David. Being concrete in this way helps me a lot.
> A few commentaries in italics in between your paragraphs.
> On Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 2:37 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > It's astonishing to me how much of this is in Vygotsky's chapter on
> infancy
> > and also in his work on The Crisis at One.
> >
> > a) Vygotsky vigorously denies that the newborn is a purely instinctive
> > being; he argues precisely the opposite, that the evidence is that the
> > newborn's instincts are extremely weak, and even those that exist (to do
> > with feeding and positioning) are not "spinal", "medullar", or even
> purely
> > "midbrain" in their mediation but instead linked to an undeveloped
> cortex.
> >
> ​*I am actually not certain what you are referring to here. The
> contemporary literature as I read it allows for a very clear set of
> reflexes present at birth that are sufficiently widespread in the species
> to be used as tests for serious organic damage. It has long been known that
> smiling and sucking are observed in hydrocyphalic infants with no cortex.*
> *The key issue it seems is how to understand the reorganization of the
> infant's life world and biological consiitution which has, until recent
> research of the sort in the social smiling case, has used qualitatve change
> in the physiological nature of, and social consequences of, the beginning
> of what Vygotsky seems to be referring to by "receptive interest in the
> world." Differentiation of mother's faces near birth in populations I know
> about has been pretty clearly established, so receptive interest" seems to
> be there from the beginning. What is primary intersubjectivity, in LSV's
> terms? When does human perception become active (is it ever just
> receptive?), or is it a form of action from the beginning?*​
> >
> > b) Vygotsky says that most writers on infancy consider that social
> smiling
> > is the THE key milestone which marks off the newborn period from infancy.
> > Vygotsky says it isn't. Infancy begins with "receptive interest in the
> > world", and it is only reciprocated in later periods of infancy (what
> > Halliday calls proto-conversation).
> >
> ​*Perhaps Manfred or an xmca-er familiar with the Nso/German and other
> cases​*
> *​when reciprocity begins, Their kids show other features of behavior that
> are part of the ensemble that includes smiling, activity, and in the
> European cases what might be considered protoconversations. I do not recall
> data on the study of the local language uses in infant-caretaker
> interaction for the Nso, but it sure is something we would want to know.*
> >
> > c) In HDHMF, Vygotsky tries to work out a typology of the different forms
> > of higher cultural behavior. He does this through the method Andy calls
> > immanent critique: he takes Thorndike's two level scheme and finds it
> > doesn't explain intellect at all; he then adopts Buhler's three level
> > scheme and finds that, 1) Buhler over-extends it to cover both humans and
> > animals and both children and adults, and 2) it doesn't explain volition
> at
> > all, since intellect too is a form of adaptation. In the infancy chapter,
> > Vygotsky argues that the roots of ALL of the forms of behavior (instinct,
> > habit, intellect and volition) are right there in infancy--in the form of
> > affect.
> >
> ​*Perhaps here is where the concept of primary intersubjectivity could be
> helpful because it is all about affect.*​
> >
> > Halliday too argues against the "blank slate": he points out that each of
> > the different grammatical forms associated with what appears in Vygotsky
> as
> > ​
> > crises and stable age periods has a "proto-" period ( which in my scheme
> > ​
> > corresponds to the crisis) and a "proper" period (which
> > ​c​
> > orresponds to the
> > ​
> > stable period).
> >
> >                               CRISIS                  STABLE PERIOD
> >
> > newborn                 protoconversation
> >
> > infancy                                                 conversation
> proper
> >
> > one                        protolanguage
> >
> > early childhood                                      language proper
> >
> > crisis at three         protonarrative/dialog
> >
> > preschool                                              narrative and
> > dialogue proper
> >
> > crisis at seven       protodiscourse
> >                             (academic wording)
> >
> > school age                                            discourse proper
> >
> > crisis at 13             prototurn taking
> >                            (grammatical metaphor,
> >                              variation, register,
> >                              social dialect)
> > puberty                                                   turn-taking
> > proper
> >
> >
> ​----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *This is Halliday, David? And you wish to use it and line it up with LSV?*
> *If so,*
> *1.  a suggestion concerning the case of the change from newborn to infancy
> that is the topic of the shift I recently sent around. You might want to
> put newborn as a stage before, or within, infancy. Protoconversations in
> Hallidays sense start after The "3 month shift", right? (If their culture
> is so organized that reciprocal smiling is a valued from of joint mediated,
> activity- to use my heavy jargon). *
> *2. What happens when we move outside of schooled environments? I assume
> they acquire discourse proper in some other fashion? I am uncertain about
> what it means to acquire turn-taking proper. *
> 3. *It has always struck me that the stages posited by Piaget and Vygotsky
> corresponded so closely. I think one of the great benefits of all you have
> been writing about is that it gets us to focus on the process of change.
> Piaget had a name for this process, but, disequilbrium. But he does not
> single out the period of (relatively) rapid transition for special notice.
> LSV does. And in a manner that seems to be au courant, even if it is in a
> different dialect.*
> ​
> ​Do you by chance have a pdf of the Halliday article?
> mike​
> Halliday, M.A.K. (1978) Meaning and the Construction of Reality. In Modes
> > of Perceiving and Processing Information (H.L. Pick and E. Saltzman Eds),
> > Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 67-96, Also in the Collected Works of
> > M.A.K. Halliday, Voll 4, pp. 113-143).
> >
> > David Kellogg
> >
> > On Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 1:07 AM, Peg Griffin <Peg.Griffin@att.net> wrote:
> >
> > > Thank you, Mike -- and Martin and Sheila!
> > > Good material to think with and a nudge to look again at Barbara Means'
> > > baby reports.
> > > Tangentially, you know those strollers for babies that are reversible
> --
> > > the reclining baby can be looking toward the person pushing the
> stroller
> > or
> > > with a switch the baby can be looking at the same world the pusher
> sees?
> > >  Maybe different affordances for proto-conversations within one wider
> > > culture (don't know of any studies) and possible mini-impacts on
> > > developments like smiling?
> > > Peg
> > >
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> > > xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of mike
> > > cole
> > > Sent: Monday, September 07, 2015 3:20 PM
> > > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Dynamics of Developmental Change
> > >
> > > I have been trying to think of a way to more concretely engage David's
> > > developmental domainsxstages table. One of David's stage margins is at
> 3
> > > months and there is ample reason for arguing for the existence a stage
> > > shift in development at this time. (My wife and I wrote about it in
> just
> > > this way in our textbook).
> > > However, there is also a lot of interesting, newer, evidence showing
> the
> > > cultural-historical contingency of the changes that underpinned the
> > > developmental literature for several decades.
> > >
> > > I thought that perhaps this example, since it is pretty well worked
> out,
> > > might help us get at the issues David raised. I believe this work could
> > > usefully be related to notions of zopeds, but am not sure.
> > >
> > > This rather long fragment is taken from a recent article that Martin
> and
> > I
> > > wrote.
> > >
> > > mike
> > >
> > > (For this one, not only Boesch but Waddington are apt: The latter
> having
> > > written that every new level of development implies a new, relevant,
> > > context.)
> > >
> > > It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
> > > object that creates history. Ernst Boesch
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
> --
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch