[xmca] Re: LCA: LSV: Thought and language

From: Phil Chappell (philchappell@mac.com)
Date: Wed Jun 29 2005 - 05:14:53 PDT

Dear All,

I'm just recovering from a Bangkok lurgy that has laid me low for a few
days, and now catching up on the discussion. While there are several
things going on, Michael has called us to arms to extend the discussion
beyond the first generation of AT, amongst other areas, and Ruqaiya has
reminded us of the material/ideal issue. And Gordon and Lars have
discussed the transforming of a tool ( a genre) for immediate
communicative purposes. Ruqaiya wrote: "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".

In a paper by Wertsch and Cole
http://www.massey.ac.nz/~alock/virtual/colevyg.htm the authors wrote
that culturally mediated higher mental functions involve indirect
actions on the world that incorporate a "slice" of previously used
material matter into the current aspect of action. The cultural
artifact shaped by human practice that mediates the development of
higher mental functions offers the "benefits from the mental work that
produced the particular form of matter". Is this a history of
interaction in tools that Ruqaiya points to?

Further, in his introduction to this strand of the discussion, Gordon
referred to the work of Tomasello. I too find Tomasello's ideas of
interest, which are supported by a wealth of research. He and his
colleagues contend that "intentional instruction" is a human universal,
mediated mainly through language during intersubjective interactions
with others. As Gordon mentioned, humans have a biologically-based
predisposition to compare others with themselves, which in itself leads
to more sophisticated modes of cultural learning as learners discover
that people have different perspectives on social activity.

Just a couple of post-fever thoughts that may indeed carry the remnants
of my recent physical/mental state ;-)

Loads to discuss (as Michael pointed out) before Ruqaiya's paper (next


On 29/06/2005, at 8:40 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

> Hi all,
> in all of the discussion about Vygotsky and language here on this
> list, I have been lurking and wondering about the following points:
> 1. Why does nobody talk about those who took Vygotsky's work
> further--I mean in the sense that Yrjö called the work first
> generation AT, and the Leoton'evs (A.N & A.A.) second generation, and
> the current efforts third generation. Why don't we discuss on this
> list the subsequent developments, why do we think we have to go back
> to LSV?
> 2. In all of the discussions, I have not seen a single time the word
> "dialectics". And yet LSV uses it in his Chapter 1 of Thought and
> Language, and he articulates a number of dialectical relations in the
> chapter. Why is there no discussion about this?
> 3. Felix Mikhailov provides an interesting discussion of language,
> self, reality, etc. that builds on the work of all the giants
> preceding him, including LSV and ANL and AAL. Why do we not discuss
> his writings, which are dialectical and which take us away from the
> primacy of the word, this singular focus on something that Derrida
> called phallogocentrism (logos=word).
> 4. Why do we not discuss the relationship of meaning and word meaning
> and the thing subsequent authors call activity, the unit. . . I guess
> we could talk about the unit and its relevance to do the kind of work
> we do?
> Just some questions. . .
> Michael
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