[xmca] Meaning and Demeaning

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Thu Dec 13 2007 - 15:59:18 PST

Well, I think the tendency to fetishize terms is ever present, particularly in a medium like e-mail which offers none of the other paralinguistic cues of human interaction (we have the same problem analyzing classroom data using transcripts). We all keep forgetting that meanings are not in the words, but in the things we do to other people with them.
  About a year ago, someone in a press conference addressed the current sitting president of the USA as "Sir" and the president barked "Who're ya talkin' to?" by way of demanding the ritual formula "Mr. President". I suppose he thought he was striking a blow for American "classlessness" (as the very first president thought he was doing when he first came up with the term).
  But then he continued the press conference referring to reporters by their first (that is, given) names, and nobody even bothered to point out the transparent, deliberate asymmetry and the rank hypocrisy . It would have been easy enough--all a reporter needed to do was to stand up and say "Hey, George?" Perhaps it would have been pointless; by now even the White House press corps must understand that the president's purpose in using first names is not to extend equality but rather to extirpate it.
  Not to change the subject, but I have the following questions about Andy's article:
  p. 254: "CHAT self-evidently theorizes the individual psyche, and not social formations, ideologies and institutions."
  This appears to directly contradict what Paul and I were just saying. Paul opines that you cannot theorize the individual psyche without some theory of social formation, and I agree, although I don't find Bourdieu and Bernstein and Weber as useful in doing this as I found Marx, Engels, and Lenin.
  p. 255: "It is particularly important to guard against understanding human activity as a relationship that exists between man and an opposing society."
  This is attributed to Leontiev--it's very clear evidence of Kozulin's and Fichtner's argument about the REVISIONIST nature of Leontiev, the tendency to tone down the emphasis on crises and revolutionary upheavel that we see in his change of Vygotsky's original theory of development into a stage theory of periods. I think this is what Professor Hakkairenen was getting at both in his discussion of Leonti'ev's differences with Vygotsky and in his attempt to theorize a "transitory activity system" to replace the crises that Leont'iev and Elkonin had removed from Vygotsky's theory of development.
  p. 256: " Psychology is concerned with the individual psyche, natural science and the arts with culture (???), and the social sciences with society."
  I don't understand this. In what sense is natural science concerned with culture? I'm also not very clear and how Andy distinguishes between culture and society.
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Thu Dec 13 16:01 PST 2007

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