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Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)

Ha, ha! I;m not concentrating. First I sent this to Anna only, in error, but then, I notice, I made a big error. I meant to say I think our disagreement hinges mainly around how we understand what Vygotsky meant by "*unit of analysis*."

multiple apologies
Andy Blunden wrote:
There are a few minor things, but I think our disagreement hinges mainly around how we understand what Vygotsky meant by "word meaning."

anna sfard wrote:
Good, Andy, I like disagreement, except that am always surprised (not to say in awe) when it comes so quickly :-)

* Wittgenstein is nice, but I am interested in Vygotsky not LW. I think LSV is far deeper. Though of course others are more than welcome to use LW's concepts if they so desire.

Wouldn't use "nice" as the best description of Wittgenstein, but whatever the epithet, being interested in LSV is, for me, not a good enough reason to be not interested in LW. I think both are deep thinkers and both have lots to offer, often in a complementary manner.

* I'd be interested in the source for your claim that "concept" was his unit of analysis for development.

He created a whole theory of concept development, from the syncretic stage, through complexes, to pseudoconcepts, to concepts. Since he saw word meaning as the unity of thought and speech, this was his way to investigate the development of human thinking.

* The quotes you give seem to confirm for me that as a unit of an activity, "act" is exactly the right term for his use of "word meaning."

Act is a one-time thing. Word meaning is supposed to generalize.

* I'd be interested in your source for "word unit" being replaced by "word concept" as his "official" unit in his study of intellectual development and when "word unit" or "word concept" were the unit of anything.

There is no such thing as "word unit". There is unit of analysis. Vygotsky first said that word meaning is his unit of analysis (see my first quote in the previous letter) and then used the concept in this role. * I think most terms and concepts we use connote things rather than processes, activities or relations. Human beings are born realists. If we abandon the process- meaning of words we give up our whole method.

You are right, we are incorrigible objectifiers (at least in our Western culture), but the fact that we are doing this does not mean it is a good thing to do, especially when you try to understand things better. Reifications/objectification, which we perform all the time whether we want them or not, are often our worst enemy, because we render thing permanent and human-independent. Deconstruction can help. But maybe we agree at this point? If we do, why did you put it as one of the "points of disagreement"?

* I think "discourse" cannot be a unit of analysis for anything because it is not a single, ie., unit but also history and development do not take place within discourse.

This is a good example of the reified use of history and development. These two are not things that happen in some medium. Things develop - historically or otogenically. Discourses, such as mathematical, literary, scientific, political, etc., may be great units of analysis, provided we are able to put up with the blurriness of their boundaries and with the fact that they are like the Heraclitean steam into which you never really step twice.
* What do you think Anna. Have I understood your meaning correctly?

Well Andy, what do you think? Have I understood YOU correctly?


*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
MIA: http://www.marxists.org

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