RE: [xmca] Vygotsky's "objective" psychology

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at>
Date: Tue May 22 2007 - 14:03:29 PDT

Thanks for the responses to my question about V's objective psychology. I'm
still working on integrating these ideas into my prior knowledge of V and my
prior understanding of objectivity, both of which perhaps require some
tweaking. Much reading ahead....


Peter Smagorinsky
The University of Georgia
Department of Language and Literacy Education
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602-7123 /fax:706-542-4509/phone:706-542-4507/

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Volker.hippie
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2007 7:21 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky's "objective" psychology

Last november, at the International Vygotsky Memorial Conference in Moscow,
many speakers, e.g. Elena Kravtsova, used the term "non-classical"

For me "Objective" is on one level the opposite of "subjective", - but on a
higher, non-classical psychology level, it seems to me, that objective means
to study human psyche as it develops, that is to include in a dialectical
way both natural history ("objective"), socio-and-cultural history
("inter-subjective") and the story of the individual ("Subjective").

So, to say objective in a non-classical way includes not eliminates the "old
way" of understanding objectice.

Therefore, Leontjevs statement: "to build a new, objective psychology."
fits fine for me. The NEW objective psychology tries for me to build bridges
between the old views of subjective and objective methods in classical
psychology (Wundt - Watson, though Wundt already thought about the bridge).

It is "art and "hard core" science" which makes the new "non-classical"
psychology - that was, at least for me, the voice of (Vygotsky at) the
conference in Moscow.

And, in a postmodern view, that what we experience as objective is seen as
part of the language game, where we have som agreements about what we mean
by that, e.g. pragmatic objective results, or philosophical objective
arguments, ... or, even seen with objective eyes, excellent performances
("Can we decide that a concert was good in an objective sense though we do
not like the music?) .

As Emily says: /Ultimately, an objective psychology is dialogic and
dialectical...Am I on the right track? /


Emily Duvall skrev:
> In the 1925 "Consciousness as a problem in the psychology of behavior"
> (available online by the way), Vygotsky says excluding consciousness
> from the domain of scientific psychology preserves the dualism and
> spiritualism of subjective psychology. In discussing the subjective,
> he notes the following:.
> "In this view a subject's report is in no sense an act of
> self-observation that interferes like getting a spoon of tar into the
> barrel of honey of objective scientific investigation. No
> self-observation at all. The subject is not at all in the situation of
> an observer; he does not help an experimenter observe reflexes hidden
> from his view. To the very end, and during the actual giving of an
> account, a subject fully remains the object of an experiment; but
> certain changes or transformations are introduced into the experiment
> itself, through subsequent questioning; a new irritant is introduced
> (a new questioning), and a new reflex enables us to assess the
> undetected portions of the preceding one. The entire experiment passes
> through a "double lens".
> It is necessary to include such a passing of an experience through
> the secondary reactions of consciousness in the methods of
> psychological investigation. An individual's behavior and the
> establishment of new conditional reactions are governed not only by
> disclosed, complete, and fully detected reactions, but also by
> reactions, undisclosed in their external part, invisible to the naked
> eye."
> Later he states "the mechanism of social behavior and the mechanism
> of consciousness are the same. Speech, on the one hand, is a system of
> "reflexes for social contact", and, on the other, a system, most
> eminently, of reflexes of consciousness, a system for reflecting other
> systems.... The mechanism for knowing oneself (self-awareness) is the
> same as the mechanism for knowing others....The individual aspect of
> consciousness is constructed as derived and secondary, based on the
> social and exactly according to its model."
> My understanding, then, of objective psychology is that it is not
> based on a distinction of 'what I the scientist observe' about the
> person/process as being more scientific than 'what you observe about
> yourself', but that objective psychology includes as scientific 'what
> I the scientist observe' and 'what you are aware of and can tell me '.
> From Problems of Method:
> "We regard our method as important because it helps to objectify inner
> psychological processes; stimulus-response methods are objective, [p.
> 75] but they are limited to the study of external responses that are
> usually in the subject's repertoire to begin with. We believe that our
> approach to objectifying inner psychological processes is much more
> adequate, where the goals of psychological research are concerned,
> than the method of studying preexisting, objective responses. Only the
> objectification of the inner process guarantees access to specific
> forms of higher behavior as opposed to subordinate forms."
> Ultimately, an objective psychology is dialogic and dialectical...Am I
> on the right track?
> ~ Em
> Andy Blunden wrote:
>> In Chapter 1 of "Crisis in Psychology" Vygotsky talks a lot about
>> "subjective psychology", which might shed more light on exactly what
>> he meant by "objective psychology".
>> I think he is talking about the methodology for collecting and
>> analysing data. "Subjective Psychology" regards data accessible by
>> introspection as the only truly valid data for psychology. As opposed
>> to psychoanalysis, behaviourism, reflexology and his own methods of
>> experimentation, which in different ways demand that material data
>> determined by observation by another person must form the basis for
>> scientific study.
>> Andy
>> At 03:40 PM 18/05/2007 -0500, you wrote:
>>> This summer I'm trying to catch up on some long-overdue reading.
>>> I've begun
>>> with Vol. 3 of the Plenum series, the Collected Works of L. S.
>>> Vygotsky:
>>> Problems with the History and Theory of Psychology.
>>> First, Rene van der Veer's Foreword and introductory chapter are
>>> well worth reading, particularly in informing our periodic
>>> discussions of problems with translation from one language to
>>> another; and especially of translating Vygotsky, who "never rewrote
>>> a text for the sake of improving its style and readability" (van der
>>> Veer, p. v).
>>> Vol. 3 of the English-language version is actually Vol. 1 of the
>>> Russian collection, and it includes Leont'ev's introduction to the
>>> Russian series (Leont'ev's intro is titled "On Vygotsky's Creative
>>> Development"). I'm puzzled by some of the phrasing, and wonder if
>>> I'm coming up against a translation issue (which happened when I
>>> first read of Vygotsky's "genetic"
>>> method, which is developmental and not biological, as I'd originally
>>> assumed). Leont'ev says that Vygotsky sought "to build a new,
>>> objective psychology." I'm having trouble with the term "objective"
>>> here. My sense of Vygotsky's project was that it involved what we
>>> now think of as constructivism, which is typically positioned
>>> against objectivism.
>>> At the
>>> same time, I know that some use the term "object" to refer to the
>>> goal-oriented nature of activity. Can anyone help me with my trouble
>>> in understanding the use of the term "objective" in this context?
>>> One final thing: I'm aware that there's some disagreement over the
>>> extent to which Vygotsky's work is Marxist. Leont'ev unambiguously
>>> describes Vygotsky's work as inherently Marxist (e.g., "[Vygotsky's]
>>> new psychology which dealt with the most complex phenomena of the
>>> mental life of man, including consciousness, could only evolve on
>>> the basis of Marxism"
>>> (Leont'ev, p. 15). I'm not sure why others would think
>>> differently--perhaps someone who finds Vygotsky insuffiently Marxist
>>> could clarify.
>>> In any case, I hope that your own summer work is off to a good start.
>>> Peter
>>> Peter Smagorinsky
>>> The University of Georgia
>>> Department of Language and Literacy Education
>>> 125 Aderhold Hall
>>> Athens, GA 30602-7123
>>> /fax:706-542-4509/phone:706-542-4507/
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> Andy Blunden. The Subject -
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
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