Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Sun Dec 28 2008 - 16:52:45 PST

Thanks for these observations and inferences, David.
The task of reconstructing the chronology of LSV's thinking is a formidable
one. I wonder if anyone anywhere has published such a chronology. I will
cc boris meshcheryakov who will know, if anybody does.

On Thu, Dec 25, 2008 at 10:42 PM, David Kellogg <>wrote:

> 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 Sun Dec 28 16:53:34 2008

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