Re: sign/tools in interacting levls and forms of operation

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Thu Jun 16 2005 - 18:30:54 PDT

Steve and others,
another very insightful analysis of language was provided by Felix
Mikhailov in The Riddle of Self, section 3.4. Outside real sensual
practical activity, language and sign is nothing, so are tools. Rather
than talking about the two abstractly, we should, with Mikhailov,
analyze real, sensual practical activity and see what the heuristic
potential of the two concepts is.

On 16-Jun-05, at 5:48 PM, Steven Thorne wrote:

> two issues Michael --
> the first is to confirm your comment that gesture and David McNeill's
> work is very important -- we use his research extensively as a way to
> get at shifts (or lack of shifts as is more often the case) in
> conceptual mediation by learners of languages beyond the first.
> second, i find wartofsky's primary, secondary, and tertiary model
> useful, and also activity, action, operation levels as analytic
> categories. no problem here. however, what do you mean by "It
> therefore no longer mediates consciousness in the way we use the
> term." and who is the "we" in the second clause?
> mediation rarely involves conscious awareness. and when meta-cognitive
> levels are achieved, they are partial. the less conscious we are of
> mediational means (linguistic or otherwise), the more powerful their
> effects.
> but perhaps i don't understand what you mean (or maybe we disagree?).
> habituation to an artifact, whether as an extension of the body
> (Bateson's cane for example) or otherwise, mediates consciousness
> whether it is at the level of operation in a smoothly functioning
> process-ontology or migrates up to an action should a challenge
> present itself.
> the same holds for language of course. this is why, in many (though
> not all) ways, "native" or expert users, struggling with a complex
> social-emotional, information, or cognitive situation  exhibit
> behaviors on a continuum with those of a second or foreign language
> learner. in an effort to regain self-regulation, the expert speaker
> regresses to earlier stages of development.
> steve
>> one more comment--if a tool such a cane or hammer is transparent in
>> use, then it is similar to my tongue or my arm or my leg, it is part
>> of me and the world begins on the other end. (On this point, see, for
>> example, the discussion by Devereux, 1967, and the partition of the
>> observer|world dialectic.) It therefore no longer mediates
>> consciousness in the way we use the term. This is why we need to
>> distinguish whether language is used in operation or about operation,
>> in action (primary artifact) or for action (secondary artifact) or
>> about action (tertiary artifact).Is there anybody out there who
>> consciously selects words when talking to family, friends? Who knows
>> the exact sequence of words of an utterance prior to having finished
>> uttering a sentence in everyday conversation? For people interested
>> in these topics, it is worthwhile to read David McNeill's
>> contribution in Culture, Communication, and Cognition, as well as his
>> subsequent work where he writes about growth points, catchments, the
>> dialectic of speech/gesture, stop orders (which allow us to stop when
>> we have the sense that an utterance is [grammatically] complete. He,
>> too, grounds his work in Vygotsky, but consequently pushes the
>> dialectic nature of communication; he also draws on the
>> non-representationalist ideas of Merleau-Ponty (at least in his later
>> work).
> --
> Steven L. Thorne
> Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
> Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
>    and
> Communication Arts and Sciences
> Associate Director, Center for Language Acquisition
> Associate Director, Center for Advanced Language Proficiency
> Education and Research
> The Pennsylvania State University
> Interact > 814.863.7036 | |
> | IM: avkrook

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