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Re: [xmca] "Inner Form" of Word, Symmetry, Ivanov Bateson?

Thank you for the wonderful Tchaikovsky, I never heard this opera.
And about the soundlessness of inner speech, I remember being asked frequently "what language do you think in?" A question that many of you bilinguals and multilinguals have encountered, I am sure. I make the distinction between subvocal speech, like in rehearsals in advance of a difficult encounter, or when planning a lecture during a long drive, and inner speech. The former is identifiably in a particular language,and it is what people are likely to refer to in their question quoted above. It is dependent on context, intended interlocutor, etc. the latter, inner speech is likely to be a mixture of condensed soundless meanings drawn from several languages as well as images to be expanded and transformed into a particular language in its communicative, spoken and written forms
I appreciate your Vygotskian habit of helping us think
through complex ideas with the helping hand of  literature and music.


Original Message ----- From: "David Kellogg" <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>
To: "Culture ActivityeXtended Mind" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Friday, June 03, 2011 9:24 PM
Subject: Re: [xmca] "Inner Form" of Word, Symmetry, Ivanov Bateson?

Martin, Christine:

Well, as Christine points out, my last message was a bit of a garden--I might add that it was, like most of my attempts at gardening, more than a little unkempt and not quite as fruitful as I had hoped.

Let me try a little bit of tending and weeding. First of all, I think Martin's right. Vygotsky's use of terminology is not consistent. I even think in places it is deliberately inconsistent. Vygotsky doesn't believe that there is exactly one meaning for one term; were that so, then word meaning could not develop, and Vygotsky intends word meaning to develop in many different directions.

"Inner form" is certainly one such perversely polysemous place. But he similarly revoices many terms from other writers ("egocentric speech", "pseudoconcept", "syncretism", "complex", "spontaneous concept" in Chapters Five and Six, and "dialogue", "monologue", "sense", "signification" in Chapters one and Seven). He's a cuckoo; he is always stealing an outer form and placing, within it, his own eggs (his own inner form and as a result his own content).

For example, if we look at the example Martin cites (on p. 31 of Psychology of Art) we see that Vygotsky is not, actually, himself saying that "inner form" is a woman with a sword and scales and as a result "justic" is content. He's quoting Potebnia (and for once he even has quotation marks, and they are actually correctly placed).

It's true Vygotsky DOES say that "(p)sychologists have found the same three elements that make up a word are also found in a work of art." But what strikes him here (as the next para makes clear) is exactly what these psychologists and of course Potebnia himself didn't notice: that works of art develop, sociogenetically, ontogenetically, and yea, microgenetically as well (as Anna points out, this development is really inextricably part of the whole idea of internalization).

Therefore inner form must be highly mutable and not fixed. It's not the Russian Orthodox Logos, and it's not a Greek statue either. Vygotsky says that inner form is much more like scientific meaning, actually, because it too develops and because the changes are systematic, or at least systematizable. A child's work of art is consistently different from that of an adult.

A child says that a crystal ball is a watermelon. But Shakespeare says that Othello is a metonym for jealousy. The psychological process is not entirely new (Shakespeare was once a child). But the outer form, the inner form, and the consequently the content are very different.

To myself, the tangles in my garden begin with my analysis of "inner speech" into sounding, wording and meaning layers, and my attempt to distinguish inner and outer planes within each layer.

It seems to me that there are three big problems with this, but that they are problems that inhere in any attempt to impute actual words to inner speech (which stems from Potebnia's discovery that not only does language itself as a system have "inner form" but that there is such a thing as "inner form" to a word).

a) It's not really clear to me that inner speech has a sounding layer at all. Yet the "hmmm" and "haaa" of "ummm" of outer speech do seem to be connected to something, don't they?

b) In the meaning layer, my analysis says that academic concepts are more labile and less stable than everyday concepts! That can't be right, can it? Or can't it?

c) The outer layer is always the more "dialogic" layer, in the sense that it is more syntagmatic, more connected with the other, etc. Or is it? The inner layer is the more changeable.

And in fact Vygotsky says that inner speech has ALL the structural qualities of the most intense, intimate dialogue, and yet he describes it as "monologic". (Is this an example of Vygotsky's own inconsistent use of terminology, or is he simply revoicing the term "monologue" from somebody else whose views are basically inconsistent with his own?)

In closing, I should just say that I think "inner form" has a very different taste in the mouth of Vygotsky and Vygotsky's readers than it does to us: it's a word with (at least) five decades of history, and it's a constant topic of discussion among the symbolists, the futurists, and Vygotsky's friends, the acmeists.

For us, the term is now three times that old, but despite all that and indeed because of all that, it has LESS weight, not more.

Why? We are in the position of the blind princess Iolanta, in Tchaikovsky's opera. Her father, the king, has immured her in a secret garden, and forbidden anyone to speak to her of anything visible, lest she discover her disability. One day, a Burgundian knight, Count Vaudemont,strays into the garden and falls in love with her.

Vaudemont: Do not you feel the desire to see lights and the glory of space?

Iolanta: What does “see” mean?

Vaudemont: To see is to know the beauty of light.

Iolanta: And what is light?

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

(Here's a WONDERFULLY sung version of this encounter to listen to while we are puzzling this over...)


--- On Fri, 6/3/11, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:

From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
Subject: Re: [xmca] "Inner Form" of Word, Symmetry, Ivanov Bateson?
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Friday, June 3, 2011, 7:29 AM

On Jun 2, 2011, at 7:16 PM, David Kellogg wrote:

"It appears that Vygotskii did not so much supplement Shpet's ideas about the inner form of the word as he replaced them with the notion of the 'inner form of speech'." (p. 48) Zinchenko, V.P. and J.V. Wertsch (2009) Gustav Shpet's Influence on Psychology. In G. Tihanov (ed.) Gustav Shpet's Contribution to Philosophy and Cultural Theory. West Lafayette: Purdue 45-55.


The obvious reply to a suggestion that LSV "replaced" the notion of inner form with that of inner speech is to point out that in T&S he employed them both. His terminology is rarely completely consistent: yes, he has "inner form," "inner side," "inner aspect." But he also has "inner speech," "self-directed speech,' and even "egocentric speech."

If the suggestion is that in T&S "inner speech" and "inner form of the word" are somehow equivalents, the question would be whether there are occasions in the text where replacing one of these formulations with the other would not be incoherent. I would suspect not.

I'm not sure what to make of your statement:

I guess I agree that Vygotsky does NOT mean what Potebnia means: he does NOT think that the "inner form" of a statue of Themis has the "inner form" of justice and the "outer form" of a woman with a big knife and a pair of balances.

You know as well as I do that this is precisely what LSV wrote about inner form in The Psychology of Art.


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