Thursday, April 19, 2012

The depth of the exteriors

Related to my last post here are some excerpts from Mark Edwards' “The depth of the exteriors, part 2”:

“Piaget's view of development is that of the internal maturation of individually located organising structures [mental schema].”

“Vygotsky recognised the developmental depth of the exteriors in a way that Piaget did not.”

“Vygotsky gained from Baldwin...the emergence of self out of the social dynamics, and the sociogenic origin of cognitive processes.”

“For Vygotsky, 'the social dimension of consciousness is primary in time and in fact. The individual dimension of consciousness is derivative and secondary' (Vygotsky, 1979, p.30).”

“Instead of beginning with the assumption that mental functioning occurs within the individual it begins with the concept that mental processes occur primarily between people in their verbal and communicative behaviour and that these processes are only secondarily appropriated by individuals. As Cole puts it, Vygotsky assumes that mind is 'distributed' throughout a collective rather within separated individuals.”

“While the central fact of the Wilberian version of Integral Psychology is the human experience for Vygotsky it is the communicative mediational event. As Vygotsky says, 'The central fact of our psychology is the fact of mediation,' (Vygotsky 1982 p. 166). Wilber looks at a stone axe and sees the material result of interior human consciousness. A Vygotskian looks at a stone axe and sees something that can change human cultural identity.”

“Both the Piagetian and the Vedantic schools share an assumption that development occurs individually and within the interior before it appears anywhere else. Vygotsky has shown us that this is simply not a full explanation of the facts.”

“Vygotsky via Hegel and Marx asserts that there is an intimate connection between the human habitats and the defining qualities of human psychological processes. Social environments are suffused with the achievements of prior generations in powerful forms. Vygotsky brought together the cultural means with the idea that people mediate their actions and those of all following generations through artefacts.”

“Mediation is a active process.... When a new cultural tool, or artefact, is introduced into this active process all aspects of the system are inevitable transformed. In this view mediational means such as language and technical tools do not simply facilitate forms of action that would otherwise occur. They are transformers of holistic activity including the actor and their consciousness.”

“Vygotsky viewed cognitive developments as a result of a dialectical process. Learning occurs through shared problem solving experiences with significant others. There is a mentoring or apprenticeship interaction whereby doing/knowing is transferred from on to the other in an intensely social communicative process. It is the internalisation of this dialogical process that creates interior structures.”


  1. Here are some related excerpts from Bryant's article "On the reality and construction of hyperobjects with reference to class":*

    “Class, as an entity in its own right, comes to function as a statistical sorting a gravitational or attractive field for those persons or human bodies that find themselves within its orbit.... The output these machines produce are the manner in which human beings are formed at the affective, cognitive, and even the physiological level” (88-9).

    “In Understanding Media Marshall McLuhan famously argues that the essence of media consists in being an extension of man.... Crucial to these extensions is that they also transform modes of affectivity, cognition, and social relations.... Along these lines, Latour will argue that nonhuman objects should be treated as full-blown actors in associations or assemblages” (94 – 6).


  2. I found the following Vygotsky quote on Bogost's blog dated 9/16/10,* from Mind in Society:

    "A special feature of human perception—which arises at a very young age—is the perception of real objects. This is something for which there is no analogy in animal perception. By this term I mean that I do not see the world simply in color and shape but also as a world with sense and meaning. I do not merely see something round and black with two hands; I see a clock and I can distinguish one hand from the other. Some brain-injured patients say, when they see a clock, that they are seeing something round and white with two thin steel strips, but they do not know that it is a clock; such people have lost their real relationship with objects. These observations suggest that all human perception consists of categorized rather than isolated perceptions."


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Also recall the following form Philosophy in the Flesh:

    “Living systems must categorize. Since we are neural beings our categories are formed through our embodiment. What that means is the categories we form are part of our experience. They are the structures that differentiate aspects of our experience into discernible kinds. Categorization is thus not a purely intellectual matter, occurring after the fact of experience. Rather the formation and use of categories is the stuff of experience…. We cannot, as some meditative traditions suggest, get ‘beyond’ our categories and have a purely uncategorized and unconceptualized experience. Neural beings cannot do that” (19).

    According to this even animal perception is so categorized. Vygotsky though differentiates human perception, since the animal doesn't further categorize perception as humans do via symbolic enculturation, which begins very early on and changes our biologically inherent perceptual categories.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.