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Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)

Martin, if I understand you, you are saying that according to Vygotsky, word meaning, in its psychological sense, is not a concept, and is not a generalization.

This isn't corresponding to my reading of T&S. You seem to be making a distinction I am not seeing. Could you elaborate?

Btw, your reading of the quote from Vol 1 7.1 p 247 about Ach might need revisiting. I think Vygotsky meant that if one believes, as Ach did, that word meaning is fixed, then one cannot recognize change and development in concept formation.

I don't believe Vygotsky was trying to say that it is a mistake to identify word meaning ... in the sense of **Vygotsky's** understanding of it, as changing and developing ... with the concept. I think he was trying to say that it is a mistake to identify word meaning ... in the sense of **Ach's** understanding of it, as fixed and unchanging ... with the concept. See what you think.

Here are a couple more quotes from T&S that might be interesting to consider.

"At any stage of its development, the concept is an **act of generalization**. The most important finding of all research in this field is that the concept -- represented psychologically as word meaning -- develops." T&S, Vol 1, Ch 6.1, p 169-170 [emphasis original -sg]

"Psychologically, the development of concepts and the development of word meaning are one and the same process." Vol 1, T&S, Ch 6.1, p 180

- Steve

On Apr 20, 2011, at 1:47 PM, Martin Packer wrote:


I don't know, I think LSV makes it pretty clear that word-meaning is not the concept. He criticizes Ach, who:

"identifies concept and word meaning, and thus precludes any possibility of change and development in concepts" (T&S chapter 6, para 16).


On Apr 21, 2011, at 9:31 AM, Martin Packer wrote:

On Apr 21, 2011, at 10:39 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:

Good ol' Lev is never that unambiguous is he, though? Consider this:

 “This justifies the view that word meaning is an act of speech. In
 psychological terms, however, word meaning is nothing other than a
 generalization, that is, a /concept/. In essence, generalization and
 word meaning are synonyms. Any generalization – any formation of a
concept – is unquestionably a specific and true act of thought. Thus word meaning is also a phenomenon of thinking” (Vygotsky Volume 1: 244).


Andy, Let me offer this cleaner version of what you have found (basically it's David K's 'triangulated' translation). From the start of chapter 7. You highlight the word "concept." But notice that the meaning of a word is a generalization *from the psychological side.* Words are used, in acts of speech and in acts of thought. When a word is used in an act of thought, it is to generalize. But that doesn't mean that word meaning in itself is an act of thought, or that word meaning itself is a concept.

"We found this unit, showing in simplest form a unity of thought and speech, within the meaning of the word [значении слова]. The meaning of the word, as we attempted to clarify above, represents a further indecomposable unity of the two processes, beyond which we can not say that it represents the phenomenon of speech or the phenomenon of thinking. A word devoid of meaning is not a word, it is an empty sound, hence meaning is a required, constitutive feature of the word. It is the word itself, viewed from the inside. Thus, we seem sufficiently entitled to study it as a phenomenon of speech. But the meaning of the word from the psychological side, as we have been repeatedly convinced in this entire study, is nothing but a generalization, or concept. Generalization [Обобщение] and meaning of the word are synonymous. Any generalization, any formation of a concept [образование понятия], is the most specific, authentic, most obvious act of thought. Therefore, we have the right to think of the meaning of the word as a phenomenon of thinking.

"The meaning of the word is both a spoken and an intellectual phenomenon, and this does not mean a purely external participation in two different mental lives. The meaning of the word is a phenomenon of thought only in so far as the thought relates to the word and is embodied in the word, and vice versa: it is a phenomenon of speech only insofar as it relates to thought and is illuminated by its light. It is a phenomenon of verbal thought, or of meaningful words; it is the unity of speech and thought."

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