[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Отв: Re: Ilyenkov, Marx, & Spinoza
- To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Отв: Re: Ilyenkov, Marx, & Spinoza
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2017 20:25:14 +1000
- In-reply-to: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- List-archive: <https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/private/xmca-l>
- List-help: <mailto:email@example.com?subject=help>
- List-id: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l.mailman.ucsd.edu>
- List-post: <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
- List-subscribe: <https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca-l>, <mailto:email@example.com?subject=subscribe>
- List-unsubscribe: <https://mailman.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca-l>, <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=unsubscribe>
- References: <CAHCnM0C59Amkg7sjb-qhvWFM2KseoBiX8ox3HnW1GXMAPUVd+Q@mail.gmail.com> <34B9071B-F6EB-4519-9BD1-8F4F08734536@llaisdy.com> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <CAGaCnpzoVqJ4AYkntqMXTvECDudTPf1XpKWOw8h58gW3S8fcLw@mail.gmail.com> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <CACwG6DupFPYnf8aQPWO+QkEby+LLBpQjAPp9G9MKdmmzdjDYDA@mail.gmail.com> <email@example.com> <CACwG6Dsd6x+ASwd2A79NZUqb8ZERkSOce71ybE=HLDaRkV2TGA@mail.gmail.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Reply-to: <email@example.com>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Sender: <email@example.com>
- User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/45.0
I love your intervention, Ivan, especially being a blackbird
lover in South-eastern Australia. But I won't spoil it by
interrupting, but look forward to David's riposte!
On 4/08/2017 7:58 PM, Ivan Uemlianin wrote:
Please could you explain a bit more your (and/or
Vygotsky's) argument against conventionality, and what you
mean by "natural" in this context? I don't understand how
the blackbird example fits.
I have three problems with the blackbird example:
1. Russian has no word for blackbird.
Russian uses the phrase чёрный дрозд, literally, "black
thrush", so it seems strange for Vygotsky to use the word
"blackbird" as an example. If you were reading in English
translation, perhaps the translator was taking liberties?
2. black + bird does not imply blackbird.
Not all black birds are blackbirds; not all blackbirds are
black birds. In British English, blackbird refers
specifically to the Turdus merula; in American English,
blackbird refers to any of a number of small birds --- the
so-called New World blackbirds --- none of which is the
Turdus merula (and not all of which are black birds, e.g.
the yellow-shouldered blackbird). Other black birds ---
e.g. crows, rooks and ravens --- are not blackbirds at all.
3. As you put it, "other languages do it differently".
Your argument about "black" + "bird" only applies to
English. The French for blackbird is not "noiroiseau" or
even "oiseaunoir", but "merle" (from the Latin merula,
which isn't black+bird either).
The half-enculturated German child might see a blackbird
and use the phrase "schwarz Vogel", but a
slightly-more-enculturated German child would use the
German word for blackbird, which is "Amsel".
Putting #1 aside, the limitations and variations in #2 and
#3 can be explained by looking at the history of the
communities using the term. But surely convention is an
artefact of history, so a historical explanation would be
closer to "conventionality" than "nature". The only
non-conventional aspect I can see is the geographical
distribution of Turdus merula (basically Europe, New
Zealand and a bit of Eastern Australia).
On 02/08/17 22:47, David Kellogg wrote:
Thanks for the reply. I took the time to read the English
version of your
paper with great interest and large areas of agreement.
But the areas of
disagreement, which I'll talk about in another post on
"free will as
infinite selection", were actually the zones of greatest
I think Vygotsky doesn't accept conventionality as a
pervasive principle in
language, and neither do I. Take, for example, Vygotsky's
"blackbird". We can say that the phonemes/graphemes (the
sequence of vowels and consonants) is conventional; we
know this because
other languages do it differently. But once we take the
"salto mortale" of
accepting that "black" means the (original) color of ink
and "bird" means a
winged animal descended from the dinosaurs, the pairing
of "black" and
"bird" to describe the blackbird is natural and not
conventional: it obeys
laws that are clear even to the half-enculturated child.
I think that is why Vygotsky can give many examples of
language ("mazoline", etc.) that are non-conventional and
why he can link
these Mondegreens to actual etymological processes and
("sidewalk"). Saussure's principle applies to language in
only one place,
and it happens to be the only place in which Saussure was
competent as a linguist: sounding. Saussure's principle
does not apply to
either wording or meaning: these are not purely
conventional but natural.
I think Vygotsky did not accept Pavlov as a human
psychologist, but only as
an animal behaviorist. Of course, he was deferential,
just as you or I
would defer to Mike (who was once an animal behaviorist
himself), and just
as Mike himself would defer to a Luria or a Bernstein.
Mere bad manners
doesn't make you an original thinker. I will agree to
call this deference
discretion: Vygotsky didn't like to pick fights and lose
I think that's why Vygotsky concentrates his fire on
Watson, and Thorndike
and not Pavlov, why he points to Pavlov the animal
remarks about the sign to shame his psychologist
colleagues (this is
similar to what he does in shaming Piaget and Freud with
Bleuler), and why he uses Pavlov's metaphor of a
for his own purposes
I didn't just include the Chuck Berry song in memory of a
great musician; I
think that the lyrics show us the very point you are
making about the sign.
You are certainly right that by itself, treated as just
the sign doesn't have the power to confer free will on
the human marionette
that Watson, Thorndike--and Pavlov--imagine. If a human
is a puppet on a
string, it doesn't help to put another puppet in control
of the string and
then put the human in control of the other puppet.
But that's not what signs do. That's only what casting
lots, tying knots,
and counting on your fingers APPEAR to do. When humans
have do these
things, they try to go beyond the appearance. They
imagine that casting
lots conveys messages from God, that knots tie themselves
(as the Russian
formalists said), and that counting on fingers taps into
some World Three
of eternal discoveries (Popper).
And when they have been giving these unlikely
explanations for thousands of
years, some humans begin to notice that the voice of the
gods sounds very
familiar, that the knot tying of one child is unlike that
of another, and
that some cultures count toes and elbows. Dorothy looks
under the curtain
and realizes that the Wizard of Oz is only a wizened old
man, and it turns
out you don't need his help after all. Soon people are
making decisions in
their own heads, remembering with imaginary knots, and
Of course, you and I get the joke. This is no more
happening "inside the
head", with an "individual" memory, than it is happening
in a lot, a knot,
or on your fingers. It's happening in a whole
culture--many thousands of
years of thinking. But the thinking isn't "passed on"
is recreated and re-elaborated with every generation. The
switchboard, like the conventional phoneme/grapheme, is
useful at one point
and one point only: helping the caller get in touch with
Marie. But the
actual communication between father and daughter is not
automatic at all. It's natural; i.e. it's hard work.