Re: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT Theory

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Wed Nov 21 2007 - 15:22:05 PST

  I think what I said was that "apfel" and "carrus" DID have a traceable etymology (Germanic and Latin). But words like "this" and "that" and "the" and "there" and "then" and "these" and "those" are clearly related, but do not have any traceable etymology that I know of. Instead, they are all linked to the pointing gesture (and in fact some linguists speculate that they evolved from pointing with the tongue, but this is of course an imaginary tradition).
  To tell you the truth, I think all language is imaginary tradition. We have an incredibly powerful system of abstract symbolism, but it is based on a slightly reworked, exapted system of animal communication, gesture and grunting. We intellectuals imagine that the central part of this communication system is abstract symbolification and the gestures and grunts are peripheral, but if you listen, really listen, to the way that MOST meaning-makinglanguage goes on in the real world, you will see that it is highly local and there isn't really such a thing as "a language". I think that's WHY people find the San Diego-Helsinki videos so satisfying (and also why they find them hard to discuss on the e-mail).
  Your suggestion for a dynamic testing klatsch (clash?) in San Diego is highly tempting, but I'm afraid I'm way over my travel budget for the next five years or so. We'll have to stick to e-mail and video!
  I don't understand why the idea that development is non-observeable is behaviorist. For the behaviorists, if it's non-observeable it simply doesn't exist.
  I was re-reading the chapter on the The Problem of Age in Volume Five on the subway last night, and I realized that I have always completely misunderstood this chapter. I assumed that Vygotsky used "development" in two different ways; one was to describe evolutionary development within periods, and the other to describe revolutionary reconstruction that happens during the crises.
  Of course this is entirely wrong. They are linked but distinct processes. I use the formula "linked but distinct" as longhand for "dialectic", a word that has not only Marxist but also Confucian and even Daoist etymology over me, the word "although" expresses causality even better than the word "because". They are linked because each cannot exist without the other. They are distinct because in a very important sense, they are opposed to each other and each is the mirror image of the other, like the two halves of the central motif of the Korean flag.
  Of course you are right (and so is eric), what we really need is observeable data on this stuff instead of more handwaving. My idea is to present FOUR studies from three different crisis periods. Each one by itself cannot really describe development (because we cannot really be sure that learning is going on, much less development). But together they may give us some idea of the shape of the beast.
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Wed Nov 21 15:24 PST 2007

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