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Re: [xmca] The Interpersonal Is Not the Sociocultural

I am thinking about what Vygotsky says, about the intertwining of thought and language, I prefer to say, thinking and speaking. And if this is the case, then Heidegger, Hegel, Vygotsky, Leont'ev are, strictly speaking, untranslatable. This is the point that Ricœur and Derrida make. But equally, because there is translation from English into another such English every time you are asked "what do you mean," and you give it a second try, there is an inner contradiction or continual dialogue that makes every language non-identical with itself. THis is precisely the engine for the change of language Bakhtin writes about, the point that makes a language to live, and a language no longer spoken is a dead language precisely because it is dead, nobody speaks it, and so it is fixed. 

So grammarians, many linguists, are dealing with corpses, well, they say they deal with corpuses, perhaps corpuses are corpses. . . . telling us little about the life of language, which is the language of life . . .


On 2010-04-02, at 6:51 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:

Why not use it? Absolutely, and German has so many absolutely beautiful and untranslatble words! (Russian is a closed book to me unfortunately) ... Gestalt, Bildung, Schwerpunkt, Anschauung, and others who semantic netowrk is so extensive and rich, Begriff, Wesen, and so on, .. ... the list goes on forever. Since Kant taught philosophy to speak German, I think any English speaker has struggled to keep up. You can imagine that studying Hegel without fluency in German has always been a struggle. There is an excellent Hegel Dictionary by Michael Inwood, which helps a great deal in navigating through these multilingual mazes.


Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
> Andy, in a footnote of an article I am working on with Luis Radford, where we do a Leont'ev reading of mathematical activity, I wrote this:
> We ground our reading in the German version, which is in many ways more just to the original than the English translation. For example, the Russian and German versions distinguish between two very different nouns, Tätigkeit (deyatel’nost’ [деятельность]) and Aktivität (activnost’ [активность]), both of which are rendered in English as activity. The Russian and German versions distinguish phenomena that are societal (gesellschaftlich, obshchestvennoĭ [общественной]) from those that are social (sozial, sozial’n [социальн]), but the English version renders both as “social.” In English, we find the word “meaning” that translates znachenie (значение)/ Bedeutung even though the Russian / German equivalents refer to an objective phenomenon at the cultural-historical level rather than the personal sense (Sinn, smisl [смысл]) students make (“construct”) as part of lessons. Our specific word choices have b
een made such as to promote the specific, the very different reading of Leont’ev’s work that the German version allows.
> As you can see, other languages do make the difference. We do have the means to make the distinction when it comes to the adjective social/societal, so why not employ it? Cheers,
> Michael
> On 2010-04-02, at 6:26 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
> Michael, I only heard the word "societal" for the first time in 2005. It is a technical word not found in the ordinary language or even in Marxism, SFAIK, ... well that's my excuse for going 60 years without learning it.  :) It was only when I came into contact with academic psychology and sociology that I discovered that "social" had an interpersonal meaning actually! :) Otherwise what I now call societal was what I used to call social.
> It was Weber who said that the task of sociology is to reduce concepts about society to "understandable action, that is, without exception, to the actions of participating
> individual [persons]."
> But I think most people don't even think of societal phenomena as relevant to psychology. Societal phenomena are just objects of perception. Conversely, Weber was saying this because people generally believed the converse, that, like the weather, societal phenomena exist independently of the actions of individual people.
> Andy
> Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>> Jay,
>> one of the sources of this problem is that in many cases, where another language (Russian, German) uses the adjective "societal" the English translations use social. The former has all the political and cultural dimensions you want to see, whereas the "social" becomes unpolitical and uncultural.
>> Michael
>> On 2010-04-01, at 10:25 PM, Jay Lemke wrote:
>> In the course, and on the exams, I found it necessary to push students very hard to understand that "social" did not simply mean interpersonal, but also cultural. Whether talking about ZPD or scaffolding or any sort of social theory of learning, students, even good, bright, phd students, unless previously trained in anthropology (rare) and even if with some training in sociology or political science, simply saw the social as always the interaction among individuals. (Non-American students seemed to have less of this problem.)
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Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:

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