Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Tue Dec 30 2008 - 09:14:31 PST

Second the motion! I think that one of the reasons why LSV is SO impatient with Stern (and also Werner) is that he really can't understand thinkers who never change their minds. LSV had only ten years to work (and thought he had less). Yet he was constantly throwing everything away and starting over from the beginning. That's courage.
But of course that means that almost everything we read of Vygotsky's has to be read dendrochronologically, the way we look at tree rings. This is particularly true of Thinking and Speech, parts of which data from 1929 (Chapter Four) and parts from 1931 (Chapter Five) and parts from his deathbed (Chapter Six and Seven).
LSV is always going on about geological strata (Kretschmer). But perhaps the best metaphor for reading somebody who scribbles over everything he's ever done every three or four years would be archaeological, or better yet, textological: a palimpsest.
So far the most useful guide to the Vygotskyan palimpsest I've read on this to date is Minick's intro to Thinking and Speech, now reprinted as the very first chapter in Daniels' mistitled "Introduction (sic) to Vygotsky", 2005, Routledge.
Minick's palimpsestization (?) corresponds very well to most other periodizations, including Veresov (though Veresov adds a pre-Marxist Vygotsky from before 1924 which for rather tendentious reasons he finds very important). It will be VERY interesting to see if the work Jonna mentions confirms it.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Tue, 12/30/08, Mike Cole <> wrote:

From: Mike Cole <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Cc: "Jussi Silvonen" <>
Date: Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 8:58 AM

We would welcome Jussi's input, thanks Jonna. We almost have a "history
psych" group here on
xmca at presentl. Perhaps a strength we should find a way to use better.

> a
> Mike Cole kirjoitti 29.12.2008 kello 2.55:
> 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
>> al
>> Cambridge companion to vygotsky.
>> I forwarded the message to him.
>> mike
>> On Sun, Dec 28, 2008 at 4:52 PM, Mike Cole <>
>> Thanks for these observations and inferences, David.
>>> The task of reconstructing the chronology of LSV's thinking is
>>> 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 <
>>>> 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,
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> artefact!
>>>> The second is that Vygotsky suspects that when the relations
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>> That
>>>> does not happen until 1932, when he formulates the zone of
>>>> development, and he does not write about it until Chapter Six.
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Seoul National University of Education
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