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[xmca] Chickens, gurnts and gestures, parts and wholes

David et al-- Here, thanks to Marxist.org is a segment on the issue of
elements of mediational in relation to structure. The entire chapter can be
found at http://www.marxists.org.

Let us now compare the natural and cultural mnemonics of a child. The
relation between the two forms can be graphically expressed by means of a
triangle: in case of natural memorization a direct associative or
conditional reflexive connection is set up between two points, A and B. In
case of mnemotechnical memorization, utilizing some sign, instead of one
associative connection AB, the others are set up AX and BX, which bring us
to the same result, but in a roundabout way. Each of these connections AX
and BX is the same kind of conditional-reflexive process of connection as

The mnemotechnical memorizing can thus be divided without remainder into the
same conditional reflexes as natural memorizing. The only new features are
the substitution of two connections for one, the construction or combination
of nervous connections, and the direction given to the process of connection
by means of a sign. Thus new features consist not in the elements but in the
structure of the cultural methods of mnemonics.
The structure

The second task of scientific investigation is to elucidate *the structure *of
that method. Although each method of cultural behaviour consists, as it is
shown by the analysis, of natural psychological processes, yet that method
unites them not in a mechanical, but in a structural way. In other words,
all processes forming part of that method form a complicated functional and
structural unity. This unity is effected, first, by the task which must be
solved by the given method, and secondly, by the means by which that method
can be followed.

The same problem, if solved by different means, will have a different
structure. If a child in the above mentioned situation turns to the aid of
external memorizing means, the whole structure of his processes will be
determined by the character of the means which he has selected. Memorizing
on different systems of signs will be different in its structure. A sign or
an auxiliary means of a cultural method thus forms a structural and
functional centre, which determines the whole composition of the operation
and the relative importance of each separate process.

The inclusion in any process of a sign remodels the whole structure of
psychological operations, just as the inclusion of a tool remodels the whole
structure of a labour operation. The structures thus formed have their
specific laws. You find in them that some psychological operations are
replaced by others which cause the same results, but by quite different
methods. Thus, for example, in memorizing mnemotechnically, the various
psychological functions, such as comparison, the renewal of old connections,
logical operations, reasoning, etc., all become aids to memorizing. It is
precisely the structure which combines all the separate processes, which are
the component parts of the cultural habit of behaviour, which transforms
this habit into a psychological function, and which fulfils its task with
respect to the behaviour as a whole.
The genesis

However, that structure does not remain unchanged. That is the most
important point of all we know concerning the cultural development of the
child. This structure is not an outward, ready-made creation. It originates
in conformance with definite laws at a certain stage of the natural
development of the child. It cannot be forced on the child from outside, it
always originates inwardly, although it is modelled by the deciding
influence of external problems with which the child is faced and the
external signs with which it operates. After the structure comes into being,
it does not remain unchanged, but is subject to a lengthy internal change
which shows all the signs of development.

A new method of behaviour does not simply remain fixed as a certain external
habit. It has its internal history. It is included in the general process of
the development of a child’s behaviour, and we therefore have a right to
talk of a genetic relation between certain structures of cultural reasoning
and behaviour, and of the development of the methods of behaviour. This
development is certainly of a special kind, is radically different from the
organic development and has its own definite laws. It is extremely difficult
to grasp and express precisely the peculiarity of that type of development.
In basing our position on critical explanations and on a series of schemes
suggested by experimental investigations, we shall try to take certain steps
toward the correct understanding of this development.

Binet, who in his investigations was faced by these two types of
development, tried to solve the problem in the simplest fashion. He
investigated the memory of eminent calculators, and in this connection had
occasion to compare the memory of a man endowed with a truly remarkable
memory with the memory of a man endowed with an average memory; the latter,
however, was not inferior to the former in memorizing a huge number of
figures. Mneme and mnemotechnics were thus for the first time contrasted in
experimental investigation, and for the first time an attempt was made to
find an objective difference between these two essentially different forms
of memory.
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