Re: [xmca] New Valsiner SEmiots paper on MCA website at lchc

From: Kellogg (
Date: Thu Nov 23 2006 - 15:39:53 PST

Dear Michael and eric:

I guess I really don't understand the distinction Michael is making between experimentalism and realism. I don't think I'm conflating them; I think I really don't know the difference.

What I meant to say was that Peirce distinguishes between "firstness", "secondness" and "thirdness", where the first is characteristic of iconic, direct, "thing in itself" meaning, the second is characteristic of indexical, indicative, "thing for others" meaning, and the third is characteristic of symbolic, socialized, "thing for itself" meaning.

What is "first" about firstness? Well, to me it is first because it lies closest to materiality, viz. material reality. I don't think this is an outrageous intepretation; Peirce knew his German philosophy and must have been as familiar with Feuerbach as with Hegel. So if Michael thinks that Peirce does not believe in the independent existence of real things, I'd really like to know why.

I see why Valsiner doesn't! I'm still scratching my head over that passage in "The Social Mind" where he says that the zone of proximal development can NEVER be operationalized or experimentally verified, because there is no way to know whether the child's solution of the problem actually incorporates of external assistance or constitutes an independent discovery (p. 379). To me this ineluctably suggests dualism--UNLESS you take the step of denying the primacy of external reality, in which case the distinction between interpersonal knowledge building and intrapersonal construction really is uninteresting. But in that case, whence (and whither) development?

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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