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[Xmca-l] Re: Volkelt's diagram (LSV's HMF Vol 4)



Huw:

I'm using meaning potential in a somewhat technical, Hallidayan, sense. For
Halliday every utterance has both structure and system. Structure we know
about: it's syntagmatic, in the sense that it is laid out one step at a
time (in time with speech and in space with writing). It's non-Markovian,
in the sense that each step has some influence on the next steps and not
simply on the next step (e.g.if you start a sentence with "the" you are
going to need noun pretty soon, but not necessarily right away).

For example, if I find myself saying

"The artist David Bowie was not a chameleon; he just hired a lot of
different poorly paid adjuncts to write his songs"

My argument is laid out one step at a time: "The" and then "artist" and
then "David" and then "Bowie" and then "was" (not "is", because of his
death), etc.

System is a little different. First of all, it's paradigmatic, in the sense
that it can be thought of as  kind of drop-down menu. It's a free choice,
in the sense that although context will favor certain "canonical" choices
over others, I can create contexts (and that is what writers of verbal art
do). Each choice overlaps with a finite (often only two or three) number of
choices not chosen. In this way "system" combines free will with
cultural-historical determination.

For example, if I find myself saying "The artist David Bowie" when I get to
the noun "artist" I could say "singer" or even "celebrity" but the choice
is not infinite, particularly if I look at probability and not just
possibility. Even with proper nouns, in place of "Bowie" I could say
"Kellogg" or even "Cameron" but the number of choices is distinctly
limited. I could have said "is", but Bowie's death makes "was" more
canonical; by choosing "not", I am choosing from only two choices (because
an indicative clause can be either positive or negative in polarity but not
both and not anything else) and yet by choosing the negative I am probably
saying something that goes against 99% of what will be said about Bowie in
the days to come.

This set of many small choices (some of which, like polarity, are highly
skewed in probability) is not only true at the level of words, it is also
true at the level of wording: I can choose to make a major or minor clause;
if major, I can choose to make an imperative or an indicative; if
indicative, I can go declarative or interrogative, etc. Each utterance
represents a kind of a path through an indefinite number of systems, each
of which is a kind of menu providing a finite number of choices, and this
is what makes language both infinitely complex and in practice easy to use.

There are three important consequences of this somewhat technical use of
"meaning potential". First of all, the problem of grammar can be seen as a
problem of volitional choice, and what needs to be explained in language
development is the same thing that needs to be explained in other branches
of Vygotskyan psychology, namely the emergence of free will. Secondly, the
choices that the speaker makes are made significant (made meaningful) not
simply by pointing to context (this is really only true of infant language)
but instead by all the choices that the speaker did NOT make but COULD HAVE
made (this "could have" prevents the theory from dualism--the ideal is
simply the potentially real). And thirdly, finally, meaning potential is
always linked to but distinct from meaning proper precisely in the sense of
NON-participation: meaning potential is simply the road not taken.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 11:05 PM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
wrote:

> >From what I have been reading and thinking, the biggest difference between
> the conceptual system presented by Vygotsky and the of Leontiev (most of
> which is well known) is the difference of the conceptualisation of activity
> or the symbolic level (which is mostly absent for Vygotsky).
>
> Without necessarily refuting David's points, but indicating an alternative
> interpretation, I would say:
>
> 1. Learning how to apply or use something is still a constructive act.  One
> does not have to understand the full technical make up of a component in
> order to make use of it.  Indeed this is would entail an infinite regress.
>
> 2. I'm not fully clear what the assertion is with respect to active
> participation in meaning potential, but it is perfectly reasonable to
> revisit the problem space that an old artefact is drawn from only to
> rediscover what this product achieves in terms of design.  This is actually
> an excellent source of edification.
>
> 3. Contemplation can be understood to be in response to an active problem.
> There is nothing to say that activity must be glued to a specific site.
> When I am programming, I am forever walking away from the computer to solve
> or express a particular problem.
>
> Best,
> Huw
>
>
> On 13 January 2016 at 10:02, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Dear Haydi:
> >
> > In the very beginning of the text that Huw is reading, the HIstory of the
> > Development of the Higher Psychic Functions, Vygotsky writes of the basic
> > division psychology, between those who would treat the mind as something
> > made by "Deus Sive Natura" ("God, i.e. Nature"), like the eye or the hand
> > or any other physical phenomenon, and those who would treat the mind as
> (to
> > quote Mike's epigraph) an object which itself creates history. In one
> case,
> > we have an object which really can be usefully described synoptically,
> like
> > a sculpture that we can walk all the way around. But in the other we
> have a
> > process which can only be described dynamically, like a piece of theatre
> > that walks around us while we sit and observe.
> >
> > Of course, we CAN argue, the way that Vico would argue, that to produce
> the
> > process is to fully understand it: we cannot fully understand the eye or
> > the hand, because although these things are part of us, they were made by
> > God. We can understand a telescope or a hammer, because although these
> > things are not part of us, they were made by ourselves. And we can even
> > argue that the process of making it is essentially the process of
> > understanding it: once you have made a telescope or a hammer and used it,
> > you have understood everything there is to know about it. That is, I
> > understand it, the position you attribute to dialectical logic, to CHAT,
> > and to Davydov, and I think you attribute it correctly. The problem is
> that
> > I am not sure that the position itself is correct.
> >
> > The reason is this: we may be able to actively participate in the process
> > of producing and using a telescope or a hammer. We may even (although
> this
> > is much more problematic) actively participate in the process of
> producing
> > and using a mind or a personality. But our observational standpoint is
> > nevertheless fixed by our position in time: we can never "actively
> > participate" in constructing the counterfactual potential, the  meaning
> > potential, of a telescope or a hammer, much less a mind or a personality.
> > Our active participation is always fixed in the actual, and meaning
> > potential is accessible only through contemplation. It may be
> contemplation
> > with activity firmly in mind, but it is only potentially active and not
> > actually so.
> >
> > I think this is a fundamental difference between Vygotsky and Leontiev,
> and
> > the activity theory that followed him: For Vygotsky, the autistic
> function
> > (that is, the irrealist function, the contemplative function which turns
> > away from immediate activity) may come late (as Vygotsky points out, it
> > receives major impetus from the acquisition of words and then concepts,
> > both of which come well after the beginning of social life), but this
> > "autistic" contemplative function is then never out of date: concepts are
> > not formed purely through activity, but also through the turning away
> from
> > reality oriented activity. And in that, he has the complete support of
> > Lenin, who knew a thing or two about how concepts are joined to action.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> >
> > On Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 12:06 AM, <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > Thanks , David , for the two-parag. epigraph as always !
> > >
> > > --First of all, Kant says we cannot know / cognize a material object in
> > > itself because a priori we don't have an image of it so  we are unable
> to
> > > have an overlap between the two ; hence agnosticism let alone 'inner
> > > connections' of a whole as 'moments' . Dialectical Logic (close
> relative
> > to
> > > CHAT) says as man relies on object-related activity while an ideal
> > > adaptable to the future coming object ever runs through the activity to
> > the
> > > finish , is able to penetrate the depths . When you put the mental
> model
> > > into a material model , in reifying or objectifying that model into a
> > > finished product and all through the durational time , you can see what
> > is
> > > necessary , essential and what is not . In higher momentums of
> > conception ,
> > > you reach concepts and this is the time you've got a theoretical
> rational
> > > cognitive copy of the inner mechanisms and transformations of the
> related
> > > object or objects . When we say 'ideal' is a moment of an activity , we
> > > mean it's ever running through uninterruptedly because the whole entity
> > > falls down , collapses otherwise . Or if you aim to take it wholly
> apart
> > ,
> > > again nothing is left for objectfication . Davydov says we cannot stop
> at
> > > phenomenology ; it's not to our will or taste ; we should ever
> reproduce
> > > our ever changing needs and products and that needs true science and
> true
> > > science needs true concepts . Yes , we want the object to move
> > (dynamicity)
> > > according to its inner transformations (moments) which has come to us
> as
> > > fixated knowledge in speech and skills historically . We don't want to
> be
> > > stuck in our position observing it to move . If you take moments as
> > moments
> > > of your positioning while observing , you've not been able to convert
> > those
> > > phenomenal aspects (empiricism) into innermost movements hence
> > agnosticism
> > > prevails . Yes ,  We could somehow treat these moments as always
> > inhering ,
> > > how ? Are neoformations parts and parcels of some detachable
> independent
> > > separate phnomenon ? Are they not fused , interwoven , intertwined
> > moments
> > > of inner mechanisms of whole development (internalization ,
> > appropriation ,
> > > instruction , development , upbringing involved) ? Does development or
> > even
> > > periods of development contain , include some parts and parcels or do
> > they
> > > subsume some moments of developmental transformations , those moments
> > still
> > > sublated within the whole process reversible if development defects ?
> > >
> > > --Secondly , we agreed that moment is different from the instance as we
> > > took it as tokens , samples , etc. Everything began with the very fact
> .
> > >
> > > --Thirdly , with what I said , I suppose you've been responded to . Our
> > > focus is on moment as some (aspect as you say ; I first refrained from
> > > using 'aspectual' because aspect , too , does not convey the intention
> > > precisely) variable of a successive uninterrupted incessant moving
> > movable
> > > whole in contrast to parts and parcels even components of some
> > > static internally immovable pseudo-stagnant whole which , if
> potentially
> > > realizable , will damage genuine cognition .
> > >
> > > Best
> > > Haydi
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > ------------------------------
> > > *From:* David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> > > *To:* Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com>
> > > *Sent:* Tuesday, 12 January 2016, 9:08:03
> > > *Subject:* Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Volkelt's diagram (LSV's HMF Vol 4)
> > >
> > > Thanks, Haydi--I have always wondered what the word "molar" means (in
> the
> > > wk of Leontiev) and what the relationship to chemistry and dentistry
> is.
> > > Your explanation cleared this up, as well as clearing up the relation
> > > between "moment" and music.
> > >
> > > I'm not so sure that Andy's contribution--the idea that what is meant
> is
> > a
> > > moment in calculus--is so irrelevant. You see, for me there are three
> > > problems that we have to work out in annotating Vygotsky's use of
> > "moment"
> > > (and actually I think that the task of annotating Vygotsky's work is
> the
> > > real next step in Vygotsky studies, not mindless "mythbusting").
> > >
> > > First of all, "moment" is used in Kant, in Hegel, and in phenomenology
> in
> > > a way I would characterize as SYNOPTIC--that is, to describe something
> > like
> > > a sculpture which does not move, which we may circumambulate and
> describe
> > > from various sides. But in Vygotsky the "object" being described is
> > almost
> > > always no object at all, but rather an unfolding process. Where the
> > > synoptic object does not move and can be circumambulated, the dynamic
> > > object moves, and we are usually stuck in one position, observing it.
> > This
> > > means that the "moments" are only aspects of the whole in retrospect:
> as
> > we
> > > observe they tend to appear as neoformations which were not even
> present,
> > > much less typical, of the phenomenon previously. We could somehow treat
> > > these moments as always inhering, the way that puberty is implicit in a
> > > newborn infant) but treating real psychic phenomena like speech or
> > > musicality that way seems absurdly teleological and seems to deny the
> > > irreducible unpredictability of development. I think that the idea of
> > > "moment" as being a moment of an integral gets us around this (because
> > even
> > > nonlinear functions can be integrated). Certainly if I were explaining
> > > "moment" to a high school teacher of science, I would use the example
> of
> > > angular momentum.
> > >
> > > Secondly, Vygotsky (and also Hegel) sometimes uses "moment" and
> sometimes
> > > uses "instance". Are these different? It seems to me that they are. The
> > > cline of instantiation, in Hallidayan linguistics, is quite different
> > from
> > > the description of development. A text is an instance of a language,
> but
> > > it's not a 'moment'. A context of situation is an instance of a context
> > of
> > > culture, but it's not a moment of it. We cannot say that "weather" is a
> > > "moment" in the development of a climate: it's an instance. Viewed
> > > synoptically, weather and climate are simply to different chronological
> > > sections of one and the same phenomenon (akin to using "phylogenesis",
> > > "ontogenesis", "microgenesis"). But that brings me to a third problem,
> > > where it seems to me that Haydi's musical analogy is indispensible.
> > >
> > > I think that it is only when we treat the phenomenon to be described
> > > synoptically, and not when we treat it dynamically, that we can
> seriously
> > > say that, for example, weather and climate are descriptions of the same
> > > phenomenon which differ in granularity. In fact, weather is chiefly
> > > influenced by wind; the angle of the sun (or the relationship between
> > solar
> > > radiation absorbed and solar radiation reflected out into space) is
> > > present, but it is much less immediately causal. With climate, it's the
> > > other way around. When we say that word meaning develops, we see much
> the
> > > same qualitative shifts: sense is a constitutive moment of infant
> speech
> > > while signiication is quite peripheral, whereas with dialogue on xmca
> we
> > > have the reverse relationship. This shift in the organic make up of the
> > > phenomenon also occurs with other dynamic phenomena, and an obvious way
> > to
> > > grasp this is Haydi's example of music: recitative in opera, for
> example,
> > > is dominated by melody (derived from speech), but arias are much more
> > > regular and rhythmical (and for this reason stand somewhat closer to
> > > emotion and to logical thought, even when looked at as text).
> > >
> > > David Kellogg
> > > Macquarie University
> > >
> > > On Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 6:04 PM, <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > Dear all ,
> > >
> > > Look at this please !
> > >
> > > [[V. S. Bibler has singled out the following basic features of a
> thought
> > > experiment: 1) The
> > > object of cognition is mentally transferred to conditions where its
> > > essence can be revealed
> > > particularly clearly; 2) this object then undergoes further mental
> > > transformations; 3) this same
> > > experiment leads to the formation of a system of mental links in which
> > the
> > > object is
> > > “embedded.” If the construction of this object can still be represented
> > as
> > > a process of
> > > abstraction of the real object’s properties, then this third moment
> > > essentially becomes a
> > > productive contribution to the mentally represented object. It is only
> > > within this special
> > > system of links that the object’s content gets revealed.]]
> > >
> > > This is the same with "activity" as "molar" , that is , activity ,
> action
> > > , operation are not parts or stages of a whole , discrete and separate
> > even
> > > componential . As I can think of it , it is a point in a circular
> > > succession of a whole which could naturally be manifest in temporal
> > > instants . By definition , in a round of activity , neither itself ,
> nor
> > > action , nor operation could keep to their constancy or stability or
> > > independence or invariability. At each point of succession or
> > motionality ,
> > > because of opposites , alterations in drives , motives
> > > , emotional incentives or stimuation , each of the three could be
> > converted
> > > in the other as we all have seen .
> > >
> > > And there's an affinity in music domain . A whole melody is played with
> > > all nuances , pitch , other contours in their entire composition .
> It's a
> > > whole to be absorbed in its entirety so that the invited pleasurable
> > > feeling is obtained . Usually some individual wouldn't refer to a
> > > particular part or stage orietating on which this or that kind of
> affect
> > or
> > > ecstacy runs through the soul . The individual might even stop to think
> > of
> > > how to express it and he might  finally resort to imitation . Then ,
> the
> > > philosopher , might refer to that particular point or that single note
> in
> > > whole composition or in playing as moment or as a temporal instant on
> > which
> > > such and such a manifestation , event , episode , feature , state
> occurs
> > .
> > > Taking that single note apart from the whole might be uncognizable or
> > > immanipulative in itself and the whole without it or with a substitute
> > > might lose the favor . Another example might be the "ideal" which is
> said
> > > to be immersed in material activity . Davydov's works are good sources
> > for
> > > such qurries but I can't give a locus now .
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Best
> > >
> > > Haydi
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
>