Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Sun Dec 28 2008 - 16:55:35 PST

Ooops, forgot to cc boris on my reply to david. He is author of, among other
interesting articles, the article on "LSV's terminology" in the Daniels et
Cambridge companion to vygotsky.

I forwarded the message to him.

On Sun, Dec 28, 2008 at 4:52 PM, Mike Cole <> wrote:

> 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.
> mike
> 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 16:57:23 2008

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