Register to reply

Vygotsky vs reality

by Lievo
Tags: reality, vygotsky
Share this thread:
apeiron
#91
Feb28-11, 04:01 AM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Nothing! In this very behavioralistic view, why are human behaviors any different from an animal's ability to respond appropriately to ambiguous stimuli?
Coyote's don't go to church, cover their private bits from modesty, celebrate their birthdays. Or any of the unlimited other things that make humans distinctive. So what exactly are you arguing here? It is unclear.

Animals and humans share a lot. And then there are the differences. Mind science has to account for both the similarity and the difference. So what's your theory? (Vygotsky at least had one, and gathered evidence for it).
ConradDJ
#92
Feb28-11, 07:14 AM
PF Gold
P: 302
Quote Quote by ConradDJ View Post
What humans have that animals lack is a highly detailed and structured mental picture of the world beyond the present moment, that we learn to construct in language, when we're very young...

The other basic function being to create the bridge of "mutual imagining" between people, by which this language-software reproduces itself from one human brain to another.
Quote Quote by Lievo View Post
Ok interesting. But I don't see why you say these particular claims could not be evidence-based or contradict by evidence. All you need for first claim is evidence that animal can't think about their past experience, and for second claim that language is not spontaneous.

... there are three possibilities in my view: a claim is based on evidences, it is not but could in theory if not in practice now, or neither.

I get your point of view, but I don’t agree with it. Even in the sciences, I think it’s short-sighted to reduce thinking to “claims” that one argues pro or contra based on “evidence”. Because the claims first of all have to be imagined and put into clear language, and also because what’s “evident” to some folks is not so to others. So behind the argumentation are imagined constructions of the world in each of our heads, that we for the most part take for granted.

Once there’s a claim on the table, we may find we don’t know the right answer, but at least we’re aware there’s a question there. But when we take something for granted, it’s not yet accessible for questioning. There’s no direct way to investigate it. What you can do, which is what I was trying to do in the posts above, is to describe something we’re all familiar with in a somewhat unfamiliar way... to try to bring into focus something that hasn’t before been clearly seen or put into words.

I can well understand that a hard-headed, non-nonsense sort of person would have no patience for this kind of intuitive process. You want translate my description into something like “animals can’t think about their past experience” so you can classify it as right or wrong. Or “language is not spontaneous.” I can easily imagine arguing either side of ambiguous “claims” like these – but I can’t imagine that it would lead to any new insight.

My personal sense of the matter is that our clear-minded intellectual mode of consciousness is by nature peculiarly blind to its own emotional and linguistic foundations. It wants clear-cut issues and demonstrations... and there are of course many fields of study where the basics are well-established and this kind of thinking can make important progress. The study of human consciousness and its precursors is not one of those fields, at the present time. It’s a field where “claims” tend to be poorly defined or articulated, where very basic factors like the function of language have not been thought through. Take for instance Derek Bickerton's Language and Species, which argues that the function of language is almost exclusively representational, and that its use for communication is entirely secondary. Here we have a completely unnecessary "either/or" argued with chapters full of evidence. This hardly seems like progress to me, but I certainly recognize there are those who disagree.

It’s not that empirical evidence is irrelevant or uninteresting, in this context. But in my personal opinion, we’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re ready to prove something one way or the other about the difference between animal and human awareness. IMHO, we don’t yet have the conceptual language we need to articulate clearly what’s at issue here – i.e. what the distinctiveness of human evolution has been about. And that’s where the work needs to be done, in this field. Please note, this is stated as a well-considered personal opinion, not as fact.
Pythagorean
#93
Mar1-11, 12:43 AM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,262
Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
... don't go to church, cover their private bits from modesty, celebrate their birthdays...
...all of which are examples of responding ambiguously to appropriate stimuli.

So what's your theory?
What would having my own theory make a difference? I'm still learning what the observations are and what theories have already been developed (and whether or not they were successful). I feel no itch to jump on any particular viewpoint yet, because then I'll only see the observations in a skewed way.

I have been exposed to several of the perspectives (behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, biological). Behavioralism is the safest (just write down what you see) but it's also the least satisfactory for questions bout consciousness. So we have to invoke one of the other perspectives to interpret behavior and we've already opened the floodgate of our own subjective contamination.

This is not an easy task to take one view or the other. Not for me, anyway. I'm still not sure anybody really knows what they're talking about when it comes to "consciousness". Once you start narrowing the subject down to specific cognitive traits/behaviors then it becomes more tangible.
Lievo
#94
Mar1-11, 09:33 PM
P: 268
Quote Quote by ConradDJ View Post
I get your point of view, but I don’t agree with it.
I'm not sure to get yours. Are you saying as a matter of principle that a philosophy of mind can be interesting even if it will never lead to any experimental predictions, or are you saying that Vytgotsky's theory is not ready yet to make predictions but could in some distant future?

If it's the former, yeah let's agree to disagree. But if it's the latter, I have no problem of principle with that -that just means I should wait for the philosophers to figure out what can be.

Remember that I started this thread on behalf of some claims that there were already evidences supporting some claims. Of course I've now came to conclude that's bull, but will certainly not put that on Vytgostky himself... he of course didn't choose himself how he will be promoted 85 years later

Quote Quote by ConradDJ View Post
The study of human consciousness and its precursors is not one of those fields, at the present time
I would disagree, but that's maybe for another time/thread.

Quote Quote by ConradDJ View Post
IMHO, we don’t yet have the conceptual language we need to articulate clearly what’s at issue here
I could say that for the hard problem of consciousness. Maybe I'm wrong too.
apeiron
#95
Mar2-11, 05:02 AM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by Lievo View Post
Remember that I started this thread on behalf of some claims that there were already evidences supporting some claims. Of course I've now came to conclude that's bull, but will certainly not put that on Vytgostky himself... he of course didn't choose himself how he will be promoted 85 years later
What I remember is that you started the thread with a demonstration that you did not even understand the theory. Because you put forward an example about apes that was not a challenge. So until you are competent with regards to the nature of the hypothesis, worrying about the evidence seems a triffle redundant. But you have been directed towards both theory and evidence anyway.
Pythagorean
#96
May2-11, 02:12 PM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,262
Another point to Vygotsky:

Quote Quote by sciencedaily
The finding contradicts the common understanding that word-order develops in accordance with a set of universal rules, applicable to all languages. Researchers have concluded that languages do not primarily follow innate rules of language processing in the brain. Rather, sentence structure is determined by the historical context in which a language develops.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0414065107.htm
apeiron
#97
May2-11, 04:29 PM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
To be fair, Vygotsky would not require grammatical structure to be a cultural habit rather than genetically hardwired. His position only requires that the habits of thought which create the higher human functions are encoded by language and evolved socioculturally.

The real problem with a hard Chomskian position is that because it requires genetic hardwiring, this does not fit with either the available paleo or neuro evidence. Language arose too fast in human history, and there is too little evidence of a syntax template in the brain's architecture, and so a more soft-wired position seems necessary.

What is actually universal in languages is not word order but an idea - the idea of a sentence that involves the three components of a subject/verb/object, a linear causal tale of who did what to whom. This is what ties every language together. Subject, verb and object can come in any order, but these three components act as a mental template that breaks reality into crisp causal statements.

Yet it is in turn still unknown how the brain could be hard-wired, or even just "language-ready", to see the world in terms of subject/verb/object relationships. Again, it makes no real difference to the Vygotskean story whether this universal structure is hard, soft or un-wired (and completely learnt and handed down as a cultural habit). But it is an important research question in its own right.

As an aside, given all the Heidegger talk, it is worth noting that the inauthentic view seems in fact fundamental to humans in this regard. Language clearly objectifies the subject, the doer, along with the doings and the done-to (the verbs and the objects). It already lifts us out of any local particular notion of the subject, the active agent, the effective cause, and forces us into a generic or objective stance where we are just an example of such a locus of agency, the cause that produces the effects.

The open question is whether animals also have some kind of proto-objectification and cause and effect thinking wired in. I would expect this to be so as the neural architecture of apes is so similar.

This is then why you need an explanatory mechanism such as Pattee's epistemic cut to explain how brains that are basically the same can with just a little tweaking start to operate at a whole new level.

In animals, syntax and semantics would all be jumbled together in unstructured fashion. In humans, they have become crisply divided into "a universal language generator" (even if the template is more cultural than neurological) and a vocabulary (syllables coding for ideas and impressions).
fuzzyfelt
#98
May6-11, 07:02 AM
PF Gold
fuzzyfelt's Avatar
P: 742
More about communication in today’s news-
http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth...00/9475408.stm
http://www.springerlink.com/content/m1842175233027j1/
“Such highly intentional use of a species-typical repertoire raises intriguing questions for the evolution of advanced communication.”
apeiron
#99
May7-11, 07:51 PM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by fuzzyfelt View Post
More about communication in today’s news-
http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth...00/9475408.stm
http://www.springerlink.com/content/m1842175233027j1/
“Such highly intentional use of a species-typical repertoire raises intriguing questions for the evolution of advanced communication.”
In linguistics, it is useful to follow Peirce's distinction between the three levels of icon, index and symbol. Animals can have sophisticated indexical communication, but only humans have symbolic level communication. Or at least this dividing line seems defensible. And this latest work does not challenge that so far as I can see.

When a chimp is seen using gestures to communicate ideas about a third party to a second party, that's when things would get interesting.

See - http://www.cs.indiana.edu/~port/teac...gn.symbol.html - for the basic distinction as used in linguistics.
fuzzyfelt
#100
May8-11, 09:59 AM
PF Gold
fuzzyfelt's Avatar
P: 742
Yes, it is helpful to mention linguistic distinctions, but I found the species-typicality and family-typicality most interesting.
Pythagorean
#101
May14-11, 03:18 AM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,262
The opposing view: Interesting study, but I'm not sure why they did it on adults. How did they control for learning? They talk about the children, but they haven't actually raised a child on the "Verblog" language then ran the experiment on the adult result. That would have been a more appropriate control.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0513112256.htm

@apeiron:

Is Vygotsky's position no different than the weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?

Are you saying that language is entirely a preadaptation (or equivalently to this conversation, exaptation?)
apeiron
#102
May14-11, 03:47 AM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
The opposing view: Interesting study, but I'm not sure why they did it on adults. How did they control for learning? They talk about the children, but they haven't actually raised a child on the "Verblog" language then ran the experiment on the adult result. That would have been a more appropriate control.
Not sure what this opposes. Is it surprising that an irregular grammatical structure with contradictory rules is harder to learn than a regular grammar with a single rule to learn and remember?

Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Is Vygotsky's position no different than the weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?

Are you saying that language is entirely a preadaptation (or equivalently to this conversation, exaptation?)
Vygotsky goes beyond the simple-minded antimonies of the blank slate and hardwired camps. So I wouldn't call it a weak version of Sapir-Whorf. Just as I wouldn't call it a weak version of Chomskianism.
Pythagorean
#103
May14-11, 03:52 AM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,262
I took the article to be a hard Chomskian view.
apeiron
#104
May14-11, 04:14 AM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
I took the article to be a hard Chomskian view.
That's a risk you take citing university publicity departments rather than research papers . They have an interest in making papers seem ground-breaking when they aren't.
apeiron
#105
May14-11, 04:34 AM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Is Vygotsky's position no different than the weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?
I should add that Vygotksy goes beyond because Whorf was not claiming that language and socio-cultural evolution were the basis of higher human mental abilities. He didn't say they led to self-awareness, recollective memory, introspection, voluntary imagery, etc. So Vygotsky's is the broader theory.
fuzzyfelt
#106
May14-11, 07:46 AM
PF Gold
fuzzyfelt's Avatar
P: 742
How is Vygotsky broader in this instance? The ideas here seem more narrow.
apeiron
#107
May14-11, 03:27 PM
PF Gold
apeiron's Avatar
P: 2,432
Quote Quote by fuzzyfelt View Post
How is Vygotsky broader in this instance? The ideas here seem more narrow.
Broader in the sense in that he suggests a single (so yes, narrower) mechanism that explains all the higher faculties.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Boundary between deterministic reality and probabilistic reality Quantum Physics 20
Quantum myth 4: The only reality is the measured reality Quantum Physics 69
Dream reality and waking reality, no difference? General Discussion 6
Is our personal reality separate from the Mass Reality General Discussion 10