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[Xmca-l] Re: RES: Re: Child Development: Understanding a Cultural Perpsective

My interest, David, was (1) that you had inverted the claim with which I am familiar, and (2) I have always been curious as to the basis for the confidence Vygotsky has for his claim. Of course the point you make about the concept arising as part of the perception of the problem (Marx says "Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present *or at least in the course of formation*.") is correct. But my point is that Vygotsky is making a point about the place of the *word* in concept-formation in this excerpt, not the social/technical context or the problem/solution issues.

Ad (1). "The word is almost always ready when the concept is" (neglecting the important "almost always") means word first, then concept. "The word is only ready when the concept is," (with the important "only") means concept first then word. So you've completely inverted Vygotsky's claim. Ad (2) - you may be right David, I know you read the Russian as well, or Master Lev may be mixed up. I don't think it's cut and dry like this. But the inversion was my point of interest. It would get to long-winded to go into the question itself, as I see it.


Andy Blunden
On 21/05/2017 7:41 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
Yes, Vygotsky cites that passage in Tolstoy three times in Thinking and Speech (and he also cites it elsewhere, e.g. in "Thinking in School Age" in the Lectures on Pedology). But I don't want to be the fundamentalist on the list; I think it's more important to grasp the context in which he's citing this. It's always an emphasis on something Andy himself has often noted: Marx's remark that human beings set themselves only the tasks that they can solve (which is, after all, the whole basis for the zone of proximal development and the functional method of dual stimulation).

It's not just that we don't perceive problems as problems until we perceive them as potentially soluble; it's also because objectively the solutions to problems evolve alongside the problems themselves. So that for example, as Ruqaiya Hasan remarks, the reason why language is able to fulfil so many of our needs is that many of those needs are created by language use.

I think Vygotsky is saying the same thing about concepts; they only arise when the problems they solve have arisen in development. They do not arise simply because we teach the labels that they have, and they don't fail to arise just because we are not using the right label. In any case the idea that the word is only ready when the concept is (which I think is what Andy is objecting to, although it's hard to tell) is certainly implicit in the way Vygotsky names his own concepts: they only emerge when the content has become clear and the place in a system of concepts that have also emerged is established.

Here's what Vygotsky says his report to the section on psychotechnics of the Communist Academy in November 1930:

"I don't think that the adult never develops, but I think that he develops obeying other rules, and for this development the lines which characterize his development are different from those of that of the child, and it is the qualitative particularity of child development is the direct object of the pedologist. For me, to speak of a pedology of the adult is not only false from the point of view of the very name of pedology but above all from the point of view of isolating in a single unique line the process of child development and the process of adult transformation. I repeat: the same laws cannot embrace at one and the same time the internal changes in child development and the changes of later ages. It is not excluded for science, and for psychology in particular, to study those changes which are produced at ripe age or in old age, but I do not associate these two problematics and I don't think that this object belongs to the category of phenomena that pedology deals with. "

(I'm taking this from a PhD thesis by Irina Leopoldoff-Martin of the University of Geneva, No 561, p. 287).

On Sat, May 20, 2017 at 10:03 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    "The word is almost always ready when the concept is" Yes?


    Andy Blunden
    http://home.mira.net/~andy <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>

    On 20/05/2017 9:07 AM, David Kellogg wrote:


        Just two quick points, and then I shall get back
        to Vygotsky--we are having
        our weekly on-line seminar today here and in
        Seoul, and it's all about the
        Pedology of the Adolescent and "The Negative Phase
        of the Transitional Age".

        First--I don't think pre-life or any of the terms
        I offered are "adequate
        labels" for the neoformations. In fact,
        "neoformation" is not an adequate
        label either (Vygotsky takes it from geology!) In
        Vygotsky, the label is
        just a place holder, it's a kind of mnemonic, a
        way of remembering
        something that hasn't actually even been really
        said yet. "The word is only
        ready when the concept is," remember?


David Kellogg
Macquarie University

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