Re: LCA Gordon Wells on Halliday

From: ruqaiya hasan (
Date: Mon Jun 27 2005 - 07:29:16 PDT

well Gordon thanks for clarification. Maybe I (mis)read too quickly. But
good that we are together on this impotrtant point.

One thing that really interests me Gordon about mediation by the
material/concrete tools is the fact that at the actual point of mediation it
'appears' that there is no necessary 'interaction' so it is independent of
semiosis. I haven't managed to read much on this but I feel that culture is
sedimented into the design and performance of concrete tools and that the
use of tools (may be not as elementary as tying the knot to remember but
others such as even using a spade or shovel) might itself have a history of
interaction at its supportive base. I have a feeling that Vygotsky used the
concrete tool by way of analogy; do you know any detailed comparison by LSV
or his contemporaries?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Gordon Wells" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 1:52 AM
Subject: Re: LCA Gordon Wells on Halliday

> Thanks for restarting the discussion, Ruqaiya.
> Just a point of clarification. You comment:
> >Gordon comments (perhaps emphasizing nature's gift to humanity) that we
> >could carry out many fundctions 'unaided' by any kind of mediation. I
> >some reservations on this. Of course readers' orientations so their
> >interpretations and focus will vary: for me, one of the most important
> >comments made by Vygotsky in regard to mediation is that it changes 'the
> >nature of the human activity' and along with that the working of human
> >by altering the existing structures of both the known and the ways of
> >knowing. Further let us not forget Vygotsky's claim that the higher
> >functions (sociogenetic therefore semiotically mediated) are the
> >human functions.
> >
> I thought I had made it clear that I think we can NOT carry out many
> functions unaided. On the contrary, as you say, according to the
> evidence available, one of the two the features that distinguished
> the earliest humans from other primates was the mediation of action
> by artifacts; the other was the social, other-orientation that
> enabled them to cooperate in group living. Both of these occurred in
> the pre-speech millennia. So, from the very earliest times,
> ontogenesis took place within a semioticized world. So I largely
> agree with your final paragraph. The point I wanted to emphasize was
> that, at every point of cultural-historical development, activity was
> and is mediated by all the artifact-mediated modes of knowing and
> communicating. Language is certainly the most powerful, but not the
> only modality.
> >
> >Re Gordon's penultimate para: it occurs to me that none of us knows a
> >that has not already been semioticised. Which also means that we do not
> >what mediation by other modalities - whether semiotic or material, and
> >semiotic, whether linguistic or non-linguistic - would look like, and
> >any such mediation would achieve outside of a semioticised world: for the
> >most part, we separate to analyse, while the secret of the living of life
> >to combine. The very fact that neonates have to be cared for by adults
> >that adults are always already acculturated beings is highly important.
> >Bourdieu called embodiment and habitus begin to get formed very early,
> >always through interpersonal relation, which is where Vygotsky is so
> >which is where we must remember that being acculturated is a varied
> >condition: we are all acculturated , but not necessarily the same way.
> >
> Gordon
> --
> Gordon Wells
> Dept of Education,
> UC Santa Cruz.

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