RE: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD

From: Michael Glassman (
Date: Sat Dec 02 2006 - 12:17:54 PST

I don't know, I just can't see Spinoza in such a secular light, or with such an advanced conception of the human mind. But that's always the tension isn't it - how much can we attribute what came after Spinoza to Spinoza, or anybody else for that matter.


From: on behalf of Fernanda Liberali
Sent: Sat 12/2/2006 2:41 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD

No, Micheal, I do not think Spinoza was thinking in a sacred / profane way,
on the contrary, he connects ideas of substance to thoseof tatality and in
this sense the attribute , of which human being are one, are part of this
totality in the same way as he discusses Adequate (belonging to the
Substance) and Inadequate ideas (belong to humans). In my point of view ,
this can be related to the ideas of sense and meaning and that is exactly
what I am trying to understand right now: the relationship between adequate
ideas and what Vygotksy and Bakhtin called meaning and inadequate ideas and
Vygotsky idea of sense and Bakhtin idea of theme. I do think they are
related in a very important way.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Glassman" <>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Sent: Saturday, December 02, 2006 5:26 PM
Subject: RE: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD

But Fernanda, in a quote like this don't we have to separate sense from
meaning - and really question Substance and Nature as an ongoing symbol
stretching from Spinoza to Vygotsky. For by Nature doesn't Spinoza mean the
sacred, while by substance doesn't he mean to a certain extent the profane,
and in the end how we are all assimilated in to God (no development, just
transcendence). It is a beautiful idea I think, and there are early hints
of what Vygotsky and many others were trying to get to, and the first time
you read Spinoza you go "Wow", but still....



From: on behalf of Fernanda Liberali
Sent: Sat 12/2/2006 2:01 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD

I suggest reading Spinoza's descripton of the Substance/ Nature and
attributes. This quote from Vygotsky is almost exactly what Spinoza says in
the Ethics.
A quote form a discussion of Spinoza:
"...the idea of a single Substance which is absolute, universal and
infinite. It is an active and self-generating force, the cause of itself, in
itself and by itself; hence, everything propagated by this force was
generated since eternity. Therefore, this Substance cannot be constituted
by distinct and separable parts, as dualist monotheists, based on binary
logics, used to envisage. This single Substance consists of indefinite
endless attributes. These attributes are conceived as modifications on the
substance /Nature/ God, of which human beings can only distinguish two:
extension and thought, inextricable and intricate, as they have to do with
one and only indivisible Substance. From extension derives materiality,
which means the bodies as infinite ways of extension; and, from thought,
derive ideas and souls, its finite modes. Everything that takes place in the
attribute of extension also happens in the attribute of thought, as things
and ideas have the same origin and they follow the same laws and principles,
though in a qualitatively distinct manner. These attributes are not
deductible or dependent, but parallel, i.e., there is no kind of domination
or submission of one over the other. In short, if the body is affected, so
is the soul. Consequently, the long Cartesian hierarchic tradition, which
defines the soul as superior to the body, is broken." (Liberali And Fuga,

----- Original Message -----
From: "Martin Packer" <>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Sent: Saturday, December 02, 2006 4:41 PM
Subject: Re: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD

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:
> "Ведь -- after all-- к>аеугольным камнем мате>иализма -- a corneestone of
> materialism -- является положение о том, -- is a proposition about, ---
> что
> сознание и мозг есть п>одукт --- (that) consciousness and the brain are,
> both, a product (of nature),--- часть п>и>оды, ---(and) a part of
> nature, --
> от>ажа?ща?цая остальну? п>и>оду -- (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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