RE: Language and non verbal constructs
Tue, 04 Jun 1996 10:21:21 EST

John M Fisher writes:

>Whilst I would not wish to argue about the importance of language as a means of
>communication and the vital role it plays in defining our interactions I would
>like clarification on how the group perceives th interplay between language and
>non verbal constructs.

My slant on this is somewhat redundant with an earlier posting.
Although I think that Vygotsky priviledged sign activity to the expense of
imaginal activity, I do think his position of this issue is quite useful.
He differentiated between practical activity on the one hand, and cultural-
linguistic activity on the other. He said that in development, the
practical activity and the lingusitic/cultural line are at first
independent. This would be the case in infancy, where, for example, the child's
babbling is not terribly related to her sensorimotor action schemes (practical
activity). There comes a point where practical activity and linguistic
activity come together, and at that point language activity (signs)
interacts with "thought" (imaginal activity, practical activity). At this
point, signs can structure imaginal activity and vice-versa. We don't
lose the capacity to form images or to think outside of the context of
signs, but the two become so intertwined that the question of their
independence becomes less interesting.

I think that not all construing is mediated by language activity, but
that language and thinking (and emoting and everything else) are richly
interconnected. Consider the process of forgetting visual information.
When we forget as aspect of a visual representation (of an image), we
tend to forget a meaningful aspect of it. Meaning is what is central to
psychological activity. Signs are vehicles of meaning and can influence
the types of meaning structures we form; but sign activity is not the
only form of psychological functioning.

Mike Mascolo