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Re: [xmca] The Jerkiness Of Development: Underproduction or Underconsumption?
Sorry to take so long to reply to your interesting message. I've interspersed my responses below - to be honest, I had some difficulty parsing the asterixes, but I hope I've understood correctly!
On Jun 16, 2010, at 3:47 PM, Paula M Towsey wrote:
> **I cannot agree with preconceptual representations being regarded as
> systems, distinct or otherwise. It seems to me, rather, that they are
> approaches to representations; approaches to dealing with making generalized
> and/or abstracted connections between things. Indeed, their very lack of
> systematicity, of a guiding principle based on a consistent, hierarchical
> method of abstraction and generalization, is what characterizes the
> non-systematic approach of preconceptual, complexitive representations.
If I remember correctly, in chapter 5 LSV writes that only concepts are systematic, while in chapter 6 he seems to find a system in each structure, each stage. I was following the latter usage, which I suppose I find a bit more convincing, or at least more congenial. The metaphor/image of the globe is presumably chosen to represent a unity, a complex totality in which each representation is an aspect of the whole - that is to say, is part of a system. Each stage can be represented as a globe. But surely one doesn't want to lose sight of the differences among the stages. Perhaps the difference between ch5 and ch 6 is due to the fact that in the latter LSV was concerned not only with the formation of a single representation but with the relations among representations at a given stage.
> **(Coffee is essential to any of these processes – a most acute
> observation!) Would you say, though, that you are able to move between
> these various perspectives and to analyse them because you are aware that
> there is a system involved in one, and that functional connections made in
> the other? Also, the difference between your functional connections, I
> would say, and the ones a young child makes, is that you are able to move
> from one to the other, and the child doesn’t have the same repertoire – yet
> even if the child does try on for size his older brother’s approach, or his
> unseen teacher’s, sooner or later his concrete, factual, rather than
> abstract, logical, approach to the connections between things is likely to
> come to the fore.**
I suppose I would say that I can *analyze* my movements because I have conscious awareness, and hence control, of the structure of generalization that I am using. But I can *move* among them in an unconscious fashion. The younger child lacks awareness but can still make the movements of thought, albeit without deliberate control. This the sense I get from ch 6, at least.
> **The measures of generality, as you say here, are the relations between
> things in terms of object-relatedness at the north pole, and abstractedness
> at the south: the structures of generality are the complexitive or syncretic
> or true conceptual approaches/modes/forms of thinking that are brought into
> operation by the individual navigating their way around the conceptual
> world. But – these movements are, in development, jerky – inconsistently
> applied; preconceptual movements are jerky and inconsistent.**
Well, I still prefer to put abstract at the north and concrete at the south! As I read the rather tricky language of ch 6, a structure of generality is the whole globe. N/S is the measure (or perhaps 'degree' or 'extent' are better translations) of abstract/concrete in an act of thinking, while E/W is the aspect of reality picked out by thought.
> **This new way of thinking is not possible, says LSV, without the signifying
> function of language – because of the systematicity that the signifying
> function of language brings to the adolescent/child engaged in an activity
> with a more capable peer: adolescents engaging with Vygotsky’s Blocks talk
> about colour and shape and classical and Euclidean shapes (they use
> words/concepts to refer to other words/concepts/objects), and
> eight-year-olds talk about yellow blocks and blue blocks and squares and
> circles (they use words to refer to concrete characteristics), and for many
> a five-year-old, “big” means broad and also means tall, whereas “small”
> means small in planar dimension only, and the words “flat” or “short” are a
> lot harder to produce…
Isn't it the case that *each* of the new ways of thinking, plural, is only possible because of language?
> "My question, and I have no answer, is when concepts are forming [latitude
> and longitude coordinates] and with higher mental functions include an
> "expanding metaphorical globe" [horizon of understanding] how is the
> person-in-the-world doing the co-ordinating?"
> **In the main, by using the modes/forms/structures of generality such as
> syncretic representations, complexes – and truly conceptual representations
I took Larry's question to be, with all this talk of structures of generalization, what has happened to the *person*? It's a good question; after all, Piaget reduced the person to an 'epistemic subject' who didn't amount to very much. At first reading, LSV seems to be doing something similar in ch 6. What I suggested, though, was that we should think of the structure of generalization not as the whole of the structure of consciousness at a given age, but as just one part, a tool that is used within the totality of the psychological functions. LSV's subject is not epistemic; knowing is just *one* way the child has of relating to the world.
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