RE: [xmca] question

From: Alexander Surmava (
Date: Wed Dec 20 2006 - 18:47:51 PST

Hi Martin,


I think that the interpretation of Marxist philosophy (dialectic) has to be
based on some definite cultural = scientific = philosophical tradition or
school of thought. Thus my approach is entirely based on Il’enkov’s school
of dialectic. This approache I share with all of his disciples among which I
have to mention Felix Mikhailov, Lev Naumenko, Vasiliy Davidov, Alexey
Novokhatko, Alexander Simakin, Sergey Mareev and some other philosophers and

According to this approach the basics of Marxist philosophy was elaborated
by Karl Marx and Fred Engels in the course of investigation of political
economy of capitalist society in “Das Kapital” and in a few preliminary
works like “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”, “The German
Ideology” and “Theses on Feuerbach”. Engels only aired his and Marx’
collective opinion in his latest works like “Anti-Dühring”. We (I mean all
mentioned above alive or dead persons) have never heard that it was Engels
who “extracted the rational kernel' from Hegel to invent it and DM” because
from one side the work of extraction of rational, materialist Kernel from
Hegel was done by both founders of materialist dialectic in 1844 and
developed in “Das Kapital” and from the other side because the separate DM
is entirely false positivist misinterpretation of Marxist philosophy and
that Engels quite innocent in it.

Even less we can accuse Lenin of inventing or elaborating of abstract DM
because it was Lenin who was the utmost enemy of all forms of positivism.

On the contrary the Stalinist ideology was in fact the queer mixture of
primitive positivist “DM” and irrational ideological “HM”.

I want to repeat that this point of view is not my own peculiarity but
something banal for all Russian Marxists. (There is only one Marxist
philosophical school in Russia founded by Il’enkov, so when I mention
“Russian Marxists” I mean Il’enkov’s disciples.)

Surely all this can be argued in detail but first of all we have to fix the
difference in our approaches, if such differences really exist.

As for question of Joao about LSV’s approach to this problem it is difficult
(and frankly to say rather senseless) to try to give some definite answer to
it because the “problem” of establishing a “difference between dialectic
materialism and historical materialism” is not a substantial theoretic but
entirely ideological question (in old Marxist meaning of the term “ideology”
as a false form of consciousness). I can only repeat that basing on
developed Marxist dialectical approach so called DM and HM are one and the
same thing.

Surely Vygotsky consider himself as a Marxist, he wanted to be a Marxist and
pretty much he was a Marxist. Moreover if we want develop Vygotsky’s ideas
and if we appreciate his conscious position we can do it only basing on
Marxist approach.

But we have sober estimate that the real logic of his investigations not
always remain Marxist. Thus for example Vygotsky’s understanding of language
is considerably positivist. (This assertion can be easily demonstrated.) So
the prevailing attitude towards LSV as to ideal example of Marxist
dialectical logic is to put it mildly inadequate. Vygotsky wanted to build a
Marxist psychology and he did much more than anybody else to realize his
wish, but he had too little time to do it. Moreover he meets the other big
obstacle – not enunciating of Marxist dialectic. The dialectical method of
Marx was realized by him in his main work “Das Kapital”, but neither Marx,
nor Engels has left us “Logic” from capital letter. So Vygotsky had in the
same time investigate the nature of human consciousness and extract
dialectical methodology from “Das Kapital”. In fact the task was too titanic
for one even genius man. In this situation it is little wonder that he
failed in realizing both tasks (elaborating dialectical methodology and
developing a dialectical psychology) but it deserves admiration that in
spite of all difficulties LSV left us a great number of brilliant insights.

The real perspective of developing of dialectical psychology was opened only
in the middle of the last century by works of a group of researchers like
Evald Il’enkov, Alexander Mescheriakov, Alexey Leont’ev and Nikolay

So the sooner we will left the uncritical apologetical attitude regarding
Vygotsky, the better chance we acquire to continue his lifework.



-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Martin Packer
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2006 7:59 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] question




Your project sounds interesting. I think you're pointing to something of a

contradiction that I feel is in the Crisis, and perhaps elsewhere. On the

one hand V does speak of the problem of using either historical materialism

or dialectical materialism for his "general psychology," a truly Marxist

psychology. The former was appropriate for Marx's sociology, a study of

society, but he's doing something different. The latter is too abstract. On

the other hand, the history that he tells of the discipline of psychology is

one in which there is an objective logic, operating behind the backs of

individual psychologists ("like a coiled string"), the laws of this logic

can be grasped through "scientific analysis," there are underlying inherent

contradictions, a revolutionary moment (the "crisis") has arrived as a

result of the pressure of practical concerns, and a future can be envisioned

where, in the form of the new general psychology, qualitatively different

from what has come before, time has ended. In short, this history has a form

that sounds (to the best of my limited knowledge) very much like that

dialectical materialism.


What do you think? (Sorry not to be able to write in Portugese)




On 12/19/06 11:07 AM, "Joao Martins" <> wrote:


> Martins and others... the title of my project is " The psychology of

> Vygotsky: mapping concepts, tracing courses ". He has as objective maps

> concepts, the units of analysis used by Vygotsky to consolidate your

> proposals for the psychology.

> I will be analyzing your books: Psychology of the Art and Pedagogic

> Psychology and the texts that appeared in your Chosen Works.

> In a first moment we can notice that Vyg. uses of the dialetic materialism

> to make the analyses about the superior psychological functions, or even

> analyze the psychology of your time - in the text Crisis of the Psychology

> that is clear.

> But he speaks that the problem is to use the historical materialism to

> such analyses. I think that he sees in the historical materialism a form

> approaching the psychological phenomena, approaching of a certain

> of the human relationships...


> Do you understand?


> Joao Martins

> ____________________

> Joáo Batista Martins

> R. Pref. Hugo Cabral, 1062 - apto. 142

> Londrina - PR - CEP 86020-111


> Home page http//

> ----- Original Message -----

> From: "Martin Packer" <>

> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>

> Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2006 12:21 PM

> Subject: Re: [xmca] question



> Joao,


> Would you like to tell us more about your project?


> Martin



> On 12/18/06 11:38 AM, "Joao Martins" <> wrote:


>> Dear friends, I am making a project on vygotsky and I would like to know

> if

>> Vygotsky establish a difference between dialetic materialism and

> historical

>> materialism?


>> Joao Martins

>> ____________________

>> Joáo Batista Martins

>> R. Pref. Hugo Cabral, 1062 - apto. 142

>> Londrina - PR - CEP 86020-111


>> _______________________________________________

>> xmca mailing list





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