Re: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD

From: Martin Packer (
Date: Sat Dec 02 2006 - 10:41:24 PST

Natalia, thanks very much. The cyrillic didn't come through, but I can piece
together the English:

"after all a cornerstone of materialism is a proposition about (that)
consciousness and the brain are, both, a product (of nature), (and) a part
of nature, (the one) that reflects the rest of nature"

Might you be able to take a look at the other two excerpts in the original

Let me think about this 'out loud' a little. This is the point in Crisis
where Vygotsky is specifying what a truly Marxist psychology, a 'general'
psychology, must study. A science, he insists, studies not appearances but
what really exists. Optics, for example, studies mirror surfaces and light
rays, not the images we see in the mirror, for the latter are phantoms. A
scientific psychology must study the real processes that can give rise to
such appearances, not (just) the appearances. [It's not clear to me how far
to go with this seeming analogy between the way a mirror reflects and the
way the brain/Cs 'reflects the rest of nature'.] So any descriptive,
intuitionist phenomenology must be rejected. What really exists? A
materialist maintains that the brain exists, and consciousness too. V cites
Lenin to the effect that what is matter, what is objective, is what exists
independently of human consciousness. And, seemingly paradoxically,
consciousness can exist outside our consciousness: for we can be conscious
without being self-conscious. I can see without knowing that I see. So a
general psychology must study consciousness, but to know the mind we can't
rely on introspection, in part because in introspection mind splits into
subject and object: a dualism arises in the act of self-reflection. We can't
establish a psychological science only on the basis of what we experience
directly (as Husserl tried to do); it must be based on knowledge, which is
the result of analysis, not merely of experience. And what is analysis?
Complicated answer put briefly: analysis lies at the intersection of
methodology and practice: it is the exhaustive study of a single case in all
its connections, taken as a social microcosm. It involves what Marx
(following Hegel) called abstraction.

I'll confess I'm still not clear what V is proposing as the solutions to the
epistemological and ontological problems that he has distinguished. It looks
to me as though he is saying that the epistemological problem - that
concerning the relation between subject and object - arises only when one
accepts uncritically the dualism that arises in introspection (or 'blind
empiricism'?). So once one rejects introspection this problem dissolves. The
implication is that if one begins not with introspection but with practice,
one avoids any subject-object dualism. The ontological problem - concerning
the relation between mind and matter - is what he's trying to study, no? How
is a brain-in-a-body-in-a-social-world the basis for consciousness, then
self-consciousness, then self-mastery and knowledge?



> Hi Martin,
> I found it --- in Russian, vol.1 of "Sobranie Sochinenii", on page 416.
> It reads in Russian as very similar to the English quote your posted above:
> "Âåäü -- after all-- ê›àåóãîëüíûì êàìíåì ìàòå›èàëèçìà -- a corneestone of
> materialism -- ÿâëÿåòñÿ ïîëîæåíèå î òîì, -- is a proposition about, --- ÷òî
> ñîçíàíèå è ìîçã åñòü ï›îäóêò --- (that) consciousness and the brain are,
> both, a product (of nature),--- ÷àñòü ï›è›îäû, ---(and) a part of nature, --
> îò›àæàflùàflöàÿ îñòàëüíófl ï›è›îäó -- (the one) that reflects the rest of
> nature"
> Or something like this.
> Hope this is helpful, and not making things more confusing.
> Cheers,
> Natalia.

On 11/30/06 2:47 PM, "Natalia Gajdamaschko" <> wrote:

> On Thu, 30 Nov 2006 08:55:29 -0500 wrote:
>> A few pages later:
>> "“After all, a cornerstone of materialism is the proposition that
>> consciousness and the brain are a product, a part of nature, which reflect
>> the rest of nature” (327).
>> The last sentence is not grammatical English, so something has clearly
> gone
>> wrong with the translation.
>> If anyone has access to the original Russian and could comment,that
>> would be
>> great. (Page numbers are from the version in The Essential Vygotsky.)
>> Martin

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