RE: [xmca] Unbelievable - & Spanish

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Sat Oct 21 2006 - 10:26:40 PDT

I have some questions for Wolff-Michael Roth on
his post about Derrida and Vygotsky.

Michael: here is how I parse your thesis. You say you have discovered:
"a dialectical account that LSV never could achieve
**because** [my emphasis]
he was not fully thinking dialectically
---according to a number of texts I recently came across-"

Do you really mean what these words say? That,
at least about linguism, Derrida thought 'fully
dialectically' but Vygotsky 'never' did? That is
an interesting pair of claims - that while
Derrida did, Vygotsky "never" achieved a
"dialectical account" of linguism. Leaving aside
the difficulty of demonstrating the "never" part
of the claim about LSV, counterposing the
linguistic ideas of Derrida to Vygotsky sounds
like an provocative theme to consider. If you
really do lean toward this view, please share with us your reasoning.

More importantly, your statement of your thesis
seems to imply a certain kind of approach to
scientific and ideological discussion in general
that I feel the need to ask you about. The
description of "dialectical thinking" that you
employ seems to specifically abstract "thinking"
from human activity and its cultural-historical
context and development. You speak of
"dialectical thinking" in and of itself, with no
material or social context. You speak of the
lack of "fully thinking dialectically" as a
"cause." The apparent implication is that it is
not necessary to describe changes in society or
the language sciences or any social context
between the times and of Vygotsky and Derrida to
get to the heart of the matter - it is only
necessary to compare their words on a scale of
how "full" their dialectical thinking is,
comparing whose ideas are "more" dialectical -
and we have a valid analytical process
underway. Do you really mean to support this kind of approach?

- Steve

At 12:02 PM 10/21/2006 -0400, Ana Stetsenko wrote:
>Michael, I could not agree more...Not that long
>ago I have argued for the same approach - being
>critical of the premises of CHAT in way of
>critically transforming them in view of new
>realities and challenges and also suggested that
>this is in line with the spirit of this very
>theory with its transformative (rather than
>contemplative) gist. Yes, this should not be viewed as heretical or dangerous.
>To bb: no absolute, universal, pre-existing,
>a-historical template against which to judge and
>define 'heights' was meant to be suggested.
>'Heights' can only be relative to the goals one
>sets to pursue, i.e. they are historically and
>culturally determined, from within activities
>with their agents, participants, adressees, that
>is, relative to questions like 'what for,' 'for
>whom', 'againts whom,' 'in whose interests' etc.
>(somewhat similar to standpoint and critical
>theory). That is, 'heights' (and all associated
>ideas of progress) as socially constructed yet
>tangible, useful, and above all, necassary -- if
>one wants to act rather than merely contemplate
>how things are. A whole different philosophy and epistemology, I would say.
>From: on behalf of Wolff-Michael Roth
>Sent: Sat 10/21/2006 8:26 AM
>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>Subject: Re: [xmca] Unbelievable - & Spanish
>I meant fully not as finite and complete, but as infinite and
>incomplete. I also meant to say that we ought to be allowed to say
>things LSV hasn't yet said because it was unfinished in his thinking
>WITHOUT being called heretic.
>There is a nice essay by Husserl in his Crisis texts, it is called
>something like the "Origin of Geometry" where he writes about the
>reproduction and production of ideas, a process by means of which
>geometry becomes ideal... and his use of the word ideal appeared to
>me not unlike the one by dialectical philosophers such as Il'enkov.
>On 20-Oct-06, at 5:05 PM, Stetsenko, Anna wrote:
>Michael, there is a curious contradiction in what you are saying --
>because "fully thinking dialectically" (your expressions) is
>impossible by the very nature of what dialectics takes thinking to be
>-- positing it as a process that can never be complete, full,
>terminal in any sense. Instead, dialectical thinking presupposes that
>there is always a next step, and a new height, however 'full' one's
>thinking is. Vygotsky at least was fully aware of this, by the way,
>as is clear from many of his works, including the 'Crisis' (where he
>is extremely self-critical and self-reflective as to inclompleteness
>of his own thinking and where he predicts that his own ideas will
>have to be challenged in the future; see last passage of this work).
>And how about this, from Vygotsky:
>1. one can certainly think without words
>2. the ability to think without words is only given by the words.
>pretty dialectical, I'm thinking (though not fully dialectically).
>From: on behalf of Wolff-Michael Roth
>Sent: Fri 10/20/2006 3:46 PM
>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>Subject: Re: [xmca] Unbelievable - & Spanish
>In all your deliberations about (mono, bi-, multi-) lingualism,
>consider the following incompossible, contradictory propositions that
>are truly dialectical in their tenure and are sublated in actual
>human praxis:
>1. We only ever speak one language.
>2. We never speak only one language.
>(Derrida, 1998, p. 7)
>Derrida, J. (1998). Monolingualism of the Other; or, The prosthesis
>of origin. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
>To anyone interested in a dialectical account that LSV never could
>achieve because he was not fully thinking dialectically---according
>to a number of texts I recently came across---I recommend this little
>booklet very highly.
>I think we are allowed, and this is fully compatible with a
>dialectical theory of science (see Il'enkov) to go beyond the giants
>(i.e., LSV) on whose shoulders we stand.
>On 20-Oct-06, at 10:08 AM, wrote:
>Ok guys,
>let's go with bilingualism
>vamos con el bilinguismo
>As a first time, I´m going to try with both languages at the same time.
>Como es la primera vez, voy a intentar usar las dos lenguas.
>My comment today is that it is very important to realize that a real
>bilingualism should include scientific knowledge -whatever you want to
>understand by this.
>Mi primer comentario es que considero muy importante darse cuenta de
>que un
>bilinguismo total debe incluir el conocimiento científico.
>Last week, Olga Vazquez visited my University and made a presentation
>on "La
>clase mágica". One of the most relevant comments from the audience -
>all of us
>spanish researchers and undergradute students- was about the
>bilingualism that we still perceived within that so interesting
>implemented by Olga and her collaborators.
>La semana pasada Olga Vazquez estuvo en mi Universidad presentando su
>investigación en "La clase Mágica". El comentario más repetido por
>parte de la
>audiencia fue sobre nuestra percepción de que el bilinguismo
>implícito en la
>experiencia es todavía asimétrico.
>We expressed this idea in terms of a defense of Spanish as a scientic
>language. But we also realized that it would be applied to other
>languages and
>we made a parallelism between the Mexican at the USA and the arabian
>at Spain.
>Expresamos esa idea como la necesidad de defender el español como
>científico. Pero también éramos conscientes de que eso afecta al
>resto de las
>lenguas. Reflexionamos sobre la situación de los inmigrantes de
>origen árabe
>en ESpaña y establecíamos un cierto paralelismo con la situación de los
>inmigrantes de origen Mexicano (hispanos en general) implicados en la
>So I think is time to tackle the issue in XMCA, but I wonder if
>Thought &
>Language is to long as a first attempt. We can go twofold. Just some
>from T&L. Or just some chapters from M in S. I'll delighted any way.
>Así que creo que ha llegado el momento de abordar este asunto dentro
>de XMCA
>pero creo que Pensamiento y Lenguaje puede resultad demasiado largo
>para un
>primer intento. Podemos empezar por algún capítulo aunque también
>hacer lo mismo con "Mind in Society". Estaré encantado con cualquiera
>de las
>dos opciones.
>Mensaje enviado mediante una herramienta Webmail integrada en *El
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