Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Thu Dec 25 2008 - 22:42:41 PST

On p. 131 of Chapter Five, LSV already has the concept of the psychological system, that is, the linkage of disparate functions into a single Gestalt, e.g. attention, association, judgement, representation, and motivation in activity.
But he denies that this linkage of disparate functions has any effect on the functions themselves. The relations between functions change. But the functions themselves do not change.
Now, what causes the relationships between these functions to change? That is not clear. One possible answer is “activity”, and that is the answer that activity theorists give. But we can see that LSV is not entirely satisfied with this answer.
There are two problems. The first is that as Mike pointed out LSV is using "activity" in a non-technical sense, it is really just the task plus the contraints. (Note that Prout actually translates "task" as "problem"). In other words, an “activity” is just a subject, an object, and a tool. That brings us back to the old stimulus-response unit with mediating artefact!
The second is that Vygotsky suspects that when the relations between functions change, the functions DO change internally as well. We know, for example, that when role play is reconstrued as rule based games, the “roles” of rule based games are quite different, more abstract. So is the goal, which is not to make an imaginary situation but to win a real prize.
So why does Vygotsky stress in this passage that the basic processes of attention, association, judgment, representation, and mindset do not actually change? I think there are two reasons.
First of all, he is trying to critically appropriate the work of people like Buhler who deny that there is anything fundamentally new in the transitional age. His way of doing this is to say that they are correct, but they are ignoring the way in which the familiar old functions are united in a new Gestalt.
Secondly, this is old work, first carried out in 1929 and written up some time in 1931. LSV has not yet conceptualized the actual mechanism by which  differentiation takes place WITHIN functions and not just BETWEEN them. That does not happen until 1932, when he formulates the zone of proximal development, and he does not write about it until Chapter Six.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education 


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Received on Thu Dec 25 22:44:13 2008

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