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Valentin Voloshinov

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Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 26 Apr 2010, 21:57
Has anybody read Marxism and the Philosophy of Language? Mind-blowing stuff, not just for summarizing the current (and future!) currents so well, but also for moving onwards beyond them by assimilating them to a coherent Marxist worldview.

I wonder if Wittgenstein read him? He should have.

Here's a longish article presenting Voloshinov and his theory, on language and consciousness, and on his importance (to my mind) to Marxism today.
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"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
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Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 28 Apr 2010, 01:40
Pretty good, yeah.

Quote:
The other important insight provided by Vygotsky's work came from his of study how children begin to think conceptually. Vygotsky showed that conceptual understanding is not something that comes immediately to the child. Instead, children go through a series of stages in their conceptual development. Vygotsky's studies showed that this is an active process on the child's part, whereby the child seeks out the words and concepts that make sense of its everyday practical and social experience.


Can somebody sum up Vygotsky's thoughts on this? I'm not sure whether reading Thought and Language is worth the trouble.

Quote:
In addition, however, and of immediate relevance to the present discussion, Beaken argues that a much more direct link exists between social structure and the way we speak. One of his main claims is that property relationships are related to the use of the verb to have. Beaken tells us that pre-political languages do not have the equivalent of the verb to have, whereas in modern English the verb has become so central that it can play not just a direct role, as in, 'Have you any money?' but also an auxiliary one, as in, ' Have you finished?'95 Beaken argues that because ownership has become so central to social consciousness, to have has become embedded in our grammar to the point where we don't notice anything odd about it.


I came over this. It reminds me of how I once considered constructing a language for communism; I decided to omit "to have". lol.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 28 Apr 2010, 22:14
Mabool wrote:

Can somebody sum up Vygotsky's thoughts on this? I'm not sure whether reading Thought and Language is worth the trouble.


I haven't delved into Vygotsky yet, because he's hard to find in Spanish. I am curious about this as well. Wittgenstein refuted the notion that we teach children language by pointing things out to them on similar grounds. The immediate consequence was the emphasis on that children (or people in general) are not passive, empty vessels ready to be "filled" with a static language, as if it were an object; this idea resonates very strongly with Paulo Freire and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It also has broader implications in terms of the nature of language and the construction of reality.

Quote:
I came over this. It reminds me of how I once considered constructing a language for communism; I decided to omit "to have". lol.


That's hilarious. What's more hilarious is that you were correct in a sense. Interesting...
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"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
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Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 29 Apr 2010, 11:35
Quote:
I haven't delved into Vygotsky yet, because he's hard to find in Spanish. I am curious about this as well. Wittgenstein refuted the notion that we teach children language by pointing things out to them on similar grounds. The immediate consequence was the emphasis on that children (or people in general) are not passive, empty vessels ready to be "filled" with a static language, as if it were an object


...but that they learn to speak through social praxis? Sounds like pretty much standard DiaMat epistemology.

Quote:
That's hilarious. What's more hilarious is that you were correct in a sense. Interesting...


Well, why would communism need that verb? Also I was wanking over Sapir-Whorf back then, and it seemed logical to me. It still does.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Soviet cogitations: 231
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
Pioneer
Post 29 Jul 2012, 14:31
Sorry, I have only just seen this, Praxi. I hope it's Ok if I respond to what you say?

There are certainly superficial resemblances bewteen Voloshinov and Wittgenstein, and one very clear echo of the former's work in the latter's:

Quote:
"These words, it seems to me, give a particular picture of the essence of human language. It is this: the individual words in a language name objects -- sentences are combinations of such names. -- In this picture of language we find the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands....

"It is important to note that the word 'meaning' is being used illicitly if it is used to signify the thing that 'corresponds' to the word. That is to confound the meaning of a name with the bearer of the name. When Mr. N. N. dies one says that the bearer of the name dies, not that the meaning dies." [Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations, second edition, §1, p.2e, and §40, p.20e.


Compare that with the following:

Quote:
"Meaning is a function of the sign and is therefore inconceivable...outside the sign as some particular, independently existing thing. It would be just as absurd to maintain such a notion as to take the meaning of the word 'horse' to be this particular, live animal I am pointing to. Why if that were so, then I could claim, for instance, that having eaten an apple, I have consumed not an apple but the meaning of the word 'apple'." [Voloshinov Marxism And The Philosophy Of Language, p.28.]


I suspect Wittgenstein got some of these ideas from Piero Sraffa (whom I mentioned in a post in the Idealism thread) -- or possibly from Bakhtin (with whom he was friends) -- or even from his many other Marxist friends. In fact, the vast majority of his friends (in the 1930/40s) were Communists or Trotskyists.

Having said that, Voloshinov's ideas are far too confused to form any part of a Marxist account of language. I have covered this in extensive detail here:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page_13_03.htm

[Sections (3)-(5).]

I will try to summarise that argument later on this year.

[By the way, I subject that ISJ article to which you referred to extensive criticism at the above link.]
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
Soviet cogitations: 231
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
Pioneer
Post 26 Nov 2013, 14:05
Comrades might like to know that I have now traced several parallels between Wittgenstein's work and Voloshinov's (parallels no one has noticed before), which strongly suggest that the former was influenced directly or indirectly by the latter (here, but in more detail here -- use the 'Quick Links' at the top to jump to Section (2f)).

However, if you are using Internet Explorer 10 you will need to engage 'Compatibility Mode' (in the Tools Menu), or these links might not work properly.
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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