Re: [xmca] Vygotsky “ s historicism

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Sun Apr 06 2008 - 11:29:16 PDT

Martin and Sasha-

I am having trouble following all the differernt threads and have this idea
it would be a good idea
to summarize where we think each of them stands in terms of points agreed
upon, appoints clearly
disagreed about, and points of confusion (on the assumption we can
distinguish)!! A brief comment on
a move made here by Martin that strikes me as a misdirection: I Bold in red
the part I want to focus on below.

On Sun, Apr 6, 2008 at 10:50 AM, Martin Packer <> wrote:

> Hi Sasha,
> I would like to respond to just two of the points in your message, though
> I
> think they are central. The first is something I've begun to think about
> but
> have not taken very far.* It has been troubling me that Vygotsky adopts a
> notion of "psychological functions" which seems from the start to divide
> consciousness into separate components which then have to be stitched back
> together again.* I've been Goggling without much success to try to
> discover
> the history of this 'functionalism,' and some of it seems to be medieval,
> some of it even Greek (though perhaps the translations can be
> questioned?).
> I'd welcome eduction on this from any/everybody out there!

Where does this idea come from? We don'[t need lsv to know that at birth,
and before
birth for normal term infants, that the different "psychological functions"
are no "separate
components". From early embryology onward (at least!!) we are dealing with a
morphologically and functionally differentiated organism|environment (even
layers of
envrionment), the CONFIGURATIONS of which change over development. We are
not talking
about stitching together Frankenstein here, we are talking about organic
evolution. Both
organism, "its" enviroment, and their inter-relationships are all and always
changing vis a vis
each other.

That is how I understand the starting point of our analysis. Is this not
something we can agree upon?
And if not, what is a formulation we might be able to start with??

> It seems that one would indeed, as you sugest, want to both start and end
> with monism: the neonate doesn't have distinct fuctions such as memory,
> attention, emotion. The adult has a smoothly integrated system of such
> functions. It's certainly the case that Vygotsky avoided trying to analyse
> these functions separately, and indeed insisted in Thought and Language
> that
> what was new in his appoach was that it was the study of their
> *relations*.
> For example, although Thought & Language seems to be a study of two
> distinct
> functions and their interrelation, Vygotsky began the book by insisting
> that
> consciousness has to be understood as a unity of functions and that any
> analysis of these two has to be conducted against a background of all the
> others.
> But why talk of "functions" at all?
> On 4/2/08 3:54 PM, "Alexander Surmava" <> wrote:
> > To correspond this
> > statement with dialectical logic we have to turn it upside down and
> state
> > something like this: perception is an abstract form of conceptual
> thinking
> > while ³multiple psychological functions² do not ³work together² because
> they
> > do not exist anywhere beyond multiple psychological theories. (By the
> way,
> > A.Leont¹ev in his late years realized the necessity of formulation
> basically
> > new, monistic, not knocked together from different ³psychological
> functions²
> > psychological theory but let this task to us ­ his successors.)
> Your second point is that we need to pay attention not just to the ape but
> also to the man. Here too I fully agree with you. When I read Vygotsky it
> is
> with later thinkers in view, though for me it is not Leont'ev but thinkers
> (and actors) such as Bourdieu and Foucault. I'm not suggesting this choice
> of thinkers is better than yours, only that it's easier for me because
> these
> later thinkers are located within work I am more familiar with, such as
> critical theory and phenomenology.
> Martin
> > When the fact of development take place, when after Kant do
> > appear firstly Hegel and lately Marx we have only one chance to
> understand
> > both later thinker and his predecessor starting from the later, more
> > developed theory. It sounds as paradox, but that is objective
> dialectical
> > paradox of the process of cognition.
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Received on Sun Apr 6 11:31 PDT 2008

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