Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Thu Dec 18 2008 - 14:58:12 PST

Thanks, Mike. xmca is a textual wedding at Canaa, a party to which everybody is invited, the food for thought never runs out, and even the wine of discussion seems to get better instead of cheaper.
It's really worth comparing the passage Mike sent around with Chapter Nine of the Vygotsky Reader, available for free download HERE:

This is a correspondance course that Vygotsky was writing for Moscow University. It served teachers in far-flung areas of the USSR, and (as you can see) it includes discussion questions and further reading, exactly as Vygotsky had them.
The first five sections (up to section five, p. 200, do not appear in Thinking and Speech, but they frame them beautifully, by setting up the usual culprits for polemical attack. In this case, it's the view that nothing fundamental changes in adolescence, and that the difference between a three year old and a thirteen year old is simply quantitative, the accumulation of something called "associations".
There are a couple of reasons why I think this section is useful. First of all, the idea hasn't really gone away; there are still those who believe that, for example, language teaching is the gradual accumulation of vocabulary. Secondly, this is clearly all part of Vygotsky's all out assault on Thorndike (via Charlotte Buhler and others).
Thirdly, I think this really THOROUGHLY vindicates the view of "Three Vygotskies" put forward by Minick: a Vygotsky of the instrumental act, to which Leontiev is most clearly related, followed by a Vygotsky of the psychological system, where there is no clear explanatory principle, followed by the Vygotsky of the unit of analysis and functional differentiation, who I think of as the Vygotsky of the zoped.
(By the way, Mike has said that "zoped" is xmca coinage, but I notice that Kozulin uses it in his "Vygotsky's psychology", p. 170!)
The Vygotsky we have here is the Vygotsky who is breaking away from an analysis purely based on the instrumental act. That's why he's unhappy with the idea of reducing activity to task and task to goal. He's also the one who is looking at the idea of uniting disparate lines of development into a "psychological system", without any very clear idea of exactly how or why this comes about.
The version available in the Vygotsky Reader also clears up some mysteries of the Minick translation. For example:
a) In the second para of the passages Mike sent around, there's an interesting sentence missing "It is precisely this method (of defining concepts) which has been adopted in the majority of test based research." This was apparently censored from the 1956 edition of Thinking and Speech that Minick used.
b) The thing I queried last time, about whether Vygotsky thought that the Sakharov study supported the contention that ALL higher mental functions are mediated processes. The French and Italian translations agree with the Vygotsky Reader, not with Minick.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education 
I find this part very
--- On Thu, 12/18/08, Mike Cole <> wrote:

From: Mike Cole <>
Subject: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Date: Thursday, December 18, 2008, 1:21 PM

I have had a number of questions about Ch5 and David has been writing about
it. Probably
a lot of XMCA-ites do not have it to hand. So here it is attached if you
wish to join or follow
the discussion.
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Received on Thu Dec 18 14:59:40 2008

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