[xmca] Re: the Strange Situation

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at duq.edu>
Date: Thu Oct 23 2008 - 12:54:55 PDT


I don't think we can avoid evaluation here. The very terms 'development' and
'learning' are normative. But I fully agree that we need to be clear about
the criteria with which we judge one way of knowing better than another.

As I understand it (*if* I understand it - Andy, please help here), Hegel's
move, in response to Kant, was to say that conceptual thinking can become
adequate to the thing-in-itself. For Kant this was impossible, and so any
theory of development based on Kant (Piaget is the obvious example) can only
talk about ways of knowing becoming increasingly free from contradictions
and inconsistencies, i.e, the criterion is purely internal, logical, and

For Hegel we can come to know things as they really are, and this is when we
know them in terms of concepts. For this kind of epistemology to be able to
work, the concept has to be out of the head, socially distributed in
practical activities. I read Vygotsky this way (though as I've said here
before he wrote about concepts in two quite different ways, early and late).
Thinking in concepts enables us to grasp the rich, complex interconnections
among concrete things, in a way that penetrates beyond their surface
appearances. To me its important to remember that Vygotsky sees all the
higher psychological functions working together, so conceptual thinking goes
along with new kinds of directed attention and deliberate memory, and so on.
The conceptual thinker literally sees the world in a qualitatively different

What confuses me about the block task is that the categories are defined (by
the adult) in an arbitrary way. Grasping the way the blocks are named seems
a poor analog for penetrating to how things 'really are' in the material


Hi Andy,
I think that the discussion needs to extricate itself from the
judgmental. A child's or a working person's "concrete universal" is
different than that of a professor who has been thinking on some
topic for several decades. The judgment comes in when some, like GWFH
or academics, define their concrete universals as better or more
advanced than those of others. This is the whole crux with the
concept research, whether it reappears as "misconceptions" research
or whether it is the "pseu
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Received on Thu Oct 23 12:55:10 2008

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