Re: LCA: Getting started with tools, signs and activity

From: Armando Perez Yera (
Date: Thu Jun 16 2005 - 17:18:56 PDT

Re: LCA: Getting started with tools, signs and activityIs very interresting. But, as I thought, sign and tools are two side of the same coin. In each tool there is implicity and explicity a content charges as sign, meenings, senses (as when we ask the question for what which means values). And also, in each sign there is a conection to tools. (as wrote in some place Bourdieu there is a dialectical unity between a way of acting, a way of thinking and a way of feeling, the way of using langauge). But Vygotsky, in some writers, was much more interested in establish the idea of mediate actión and experimentally demonstrate it. But always Vygotsky thought in the human action as totallity, whole, which means, dialectically, concrete. As always, is the social (interpersonal intrapersonal) relation with social world in which action take place that have any sense for us.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Gordon Wells
  Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2005 2:00 PM
  Subject: Re: LCA: Getting started with tools, signs and activity

  I have recently been reading Anna Stetsenko's introduction to the section in The Essential Vygotsky (Kluwer, 2004) entitled 'Scientific Legacy: Tool and Sign in the Development of the Child.' I found it a very helpful situating of the tool/sign issue in the larger Vygotsky project. Anna has agreed to have the article reproduced for our discussion and I intended to scan it and then post i.t. Unfortunately the software that comes with my scanner won't launch. But I'll keep on trying.

  Following on from previous discussion, I feel there is another distinction to be drawn between tool and sign (while acknowledging their similarity in mediating action). Tools (of a material kind) are usually already to hand and are 'used' in order to benefit from their affordances for the achievement of the intended action. Signs (of a linguistic kind) seem to me to be different. They don't preexist the signing/languaging operation that mediates an action which is often not fully envisaged in advance. Furthermore, signing occurs in a dialogic interaction with one or more other signers who contribute their own interpretation of the sign. Signs (or 'utterances' as Bakhtin would say) look in both directions - both to preceding utterances and to the anticipated response. To a degree, this still holds when the dialogue takes place in inner speech as such inner dialogue is ultimately part of a social activity involving other people and the tools that are also involved.


Gordon Wells
  Dept of Education,
  UC Santa Cruz.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jul 01 2005 - 01:00:07 PDT