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Re: [xmca] Re: Word Meaning and Action: What' Plausible branch?
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- Date: Sat, 18 Jun 2011 02:48:07 +1000
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Martin Packer wrote:
No! I believe that the meaning you create by listening to the word is
related to the physical form only insofar as the given physical form has
been encountered previously or immediately in contexts in which activity
mediated by the word vested meaning in the word. The account of how
listening to a given word evokes thoughts and feelings in you the
listener, though, is not given by Activity Theory. That would be a huge
misunderstanding. It is found by psychological research.
On Jun 17, 2011, at 10:45 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
Listening to the word in context evokes certain feelings and ideas in you.
This is the account of word meaning that Joseph Gilbert was proposing, no?
The difference between word and a spade is that, as it happens, people
do not pass each other shovels by way of chit-chat over coffee in the
morning, or wave a shovel in the air to explain a point of philosophy.
But, for example, deaf people use hand and finger gestures and
deaf-blind people kind of scratch on your palm. Significance is vested
in an artefact by the activity they mediate. Maybe there is a place
somwhere where people communicate with spades.
Communication by means of a word generally means that both parties have participated in situations and projects where the word has been used in the way it is used in the immediate situation. This vests the word with meaning, "constitutes" it /as a word/. There is really nothing in the physical properties of the word that does anything more than smooth the path of meaning-making. There is no chemical formula for meaning. :)
There is no essential difference between a word and a spade, then. You and I use a spade together to dig the garden, plant some tomatoes. The spade takes on a special significance for us.
OK, so let's relax a little over which thread is which. Surely, one has
to believe that Activity Theory makes sense before you're going to be
able to see it in Vygotsky's text.
I don't buy it! But then, apparently I'm in the wrong thread. I thought that your statement about word-meaning was intended to be an interpretation of T&S. I can't even herd myself, apparently, let alone you other cats.
So, you don't buy it. Do you accept that my reading of Vygotsky in terms
of artefact-mediated activity is a legitimate reading? For that purpose
we could consult other writers who hold the same position as I do, even
if it is a mistaken one.
OR, you could elaborate for us the theory under which speech is not an
activity, perhaps, just a way of transmitting ideas to a receiver who
may or may not receive the message... or whatever your reading of
Vygotsky is. I challenge you to present an reading of Vygotsky which
escapes from what GH Mead called the "prisoner in a cell" metaphor of
speech and thinking, by some other means.
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