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[xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 28

Eric wrote:
Respectfully I must point out you have misunderstood the question.  I was
not referring to the difference between reflexology and Mead's social
behaviorism.  That is a clear and concise distinction.  When I mentioned
behaviorism I was referring to Skinner's child.  Incorrectly or not I have
always lumped Skinner with Pavlov, Watson, Behterov, etc.  Do you see a
distinction there or not?  Just curious.  If you are not interested in
joining this fish fry that is a matter I can certainly understand.

Dear Eric
Sometimes we all misunderstand questions, and I never afraid to admit that I misunderstand something. But the original question, coming from Jussi's paper was whether Vygotsky (not you or me or anybody else) had a clear distinction between reflexology and behaviourism. My point is that he did distinguish them. As far as I understand from Vygotsky's texts reflexology (Pavlov, Behterev) was trying to explain consciousness as a system of reflexes (speech/word as reflex in second signal system (Pavlov), thought as reflex (Behterev). LSV before 1924-1925 was trying to unify reflexological "objective" method and subjective introspective psychology. Very soon (and this the point of the difference between the two papers of him) he reject this approach, and moved to behaviouristic model (not reflex, because it is very abstract concept, but behaviour should be in the focus). Behaviour cannot be decomposed into separate reflexes, but the point is that structure of behaviour depends on consciousness of a subject (internal state of a subject). His claim in the paper of 1925 was to include consciousness in the analysis of behaviour, which was in a way anti-behaviouristic. But not so much - at the end of the article he made a note about that (see note 41 here)http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1925/consciousness.htm

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Subject: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 28

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Today's Topics:

  1. Re: Vygotsky and Behaviourism (Steve Gabosch)
  2. Re: Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 24 (ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org)


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 03:45:22 -0800
From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky and Behaviourism
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Message-ID: <08F0D1B1-CB52-43A4-BF4F-E1A9A6843408@me.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes

Dear all,

I have changed my mind!

I read the first 6 chapters of Vygotsky's 1926 Educational Psychology
tonight (written probably around 1921-23 according to the editors),
including Davydov's introduction, plus I re-read LSV's Jan 1924 talk
(Methods of Reflexological and Psychological Investigation) and 1925
essay (Consciousness as a Problem) and Nikolai's posts and some other
materials I have of his (but NOT his book Undiscovered Vygotsky, which
I really wish I had) and re-reviewed Jussi's paper again.

I learned a lot!  I have been learning a great deal from the whole
thread around Jussi's paper.  Many thanks to everyone's posts,
thoughts, arguments, questions, all very helpful.  Lot's of eye-
opening stuff.  And special thanks to you for joining in, Nikolai.

I now think Jussi is correct, (along with VV Davydov, Nikolai, David,
etc.), that Vygotsky did undergo a major intellectual shift in 1927,
much more profound than I had realized, or had seriously looked into.
I had said Jussi was on "thin ice" but now I see he is on solid
ground.  I am the one who was all wet about that!  LOL

Davydov marks the shift after the 1926 Russian publication of
Educational Psychology (1997, CRC Press).  VVD writes in his

"The essential shift in Vygotsky's creative life occurred following
publication of the book.  This, the most celebrated period of his
scientific activity, began in 1927-8, when, working with a group of
colleagues that included A. Leont'ev, Alekandr Luria, A. Zaporozhets,
and L. Bozhovich, he undertook a large-scale series of experimental
investigations.  From the results of these investigations, he was
subsequently led to formulate the fundamental assertions of *cultural-
historical theory*, the theory of the development of those mental
functions which are not only specific to human beings, for example,
attention, memory, and thinking, but which also possess a social,
cultural, and life-history [prizhiznennyi] origin and are mediated by
a special medium, called *signs*, that arises in the course of human
*history*.  A "sign," from Vygotsky's standpoint, is, above all, a
social medium for man, a special kind of "psychological tool":  "a
sign is located outside the organism, as is a tool, it is separated
from the individual and is essentially a social organ or social
medium" (Collected Works., Vol. 3, page 146)." (pg xxvii)

The above LSV quote Davydov cites, btw, is referenced to the Russian

These ideas do not appear in Educational Psychology, or the 1924 talk,
or the 1925 essay we have been discussing.

I am now quite intrigued with Vygotsky's relationship to behavorism,
reflexology, and biological explanations in general in his pre-CH
Theory period.  And how these ideas changed/carried over to the new

I also spent a little time with The Psychology of Art (1971, MIT).
LSV defended this book as a dissertation in 1925, but as AN Leontiev's
explains in the introduction, chose to never publish the book during
his lifetime.  Leontiev explains that this book "presents the results"
of Vygotsky's work on the psychology of art "in the years 1915 to
1922." (pg vi).

Here is a very revealing look at Vygotsky's overall assessment of
behaviorism and the crisis of psychology in these early years:

"The great crisis in psychology today has split psychologists more or
less into two camps: One of these has gone further and deeper into
subjectivism than even Dilthey et al., obviously leaning toward pure
Bergsonism.  The other, ranging from America to Spain, is trying to
create an objective psychology.  American behaviorism, German Gestalt
psychology, reflexology, and Marxist psychology are examples of such
attempts."  (pg 19, in Chapter 1, The Psychological Problem of Art).

What a change Vygotsky's analysis about these different trends in
psychology would undergo just a few years later in 1926-1927 The
Historical Meaning of the Crisis monograph, (which was also only
published posthumously).

Thanks again, everyone, this has been (another) great spurt of
learning for me.

- Steve

On Feb 9, 2009, at 7:31 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:

Hello David:

I believe the answer to how it is not the same as Piaget is that
is very clear people develop in ever spiraling accounts.  One method
constructing meaning shall not be the cemented stage achieved; whereas
Piaget clearly states that once achieved people remain within that
of thought and do not regress.  I believe that Vygotsky's work with
retardates and the like provided Vygotsky the insight that human
consciousness is a continuum of lucidness and fog.  The difference in
concept between 5th and 6th chapter is indeed vivid but when one
the vastness of human consciousness and Vygotsky is summarizing his 10
years of research I believe it is very understandable.  thank you
for the
discussion it is very thought provoking,

                     David Kellogg
                     <vaughndogblack@         To:      "eXtended
Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
                     yahoo.com>               cc:
                     Sent by:                 Subject: Re: [xmca]
Vygotsky and Behaviourism

                     02/06/2009 08:41
                     Please respond
                     Please respond
                     to "eXtended
                     Mind, Culture,


Yes, that was my take on it too! Yaroshevsky is rather harsh,
though. On p.
124 of his biography "Lev Vygotsky", he's writing about LSV's
critique of
the "zoological" school of child development (citing Voltaire's famous
criticism of Rousseau, he remarks that the behaviorists have the child
standing on all fours).

"Vygotsky himself, if we are to judge from his Pedagogical
Psychology, was
at first close (despite various reservations) to the on-all-fours
insasmuch as he believed the conditioned reflex concept to be the
scientific basis of teaching."

I guess I have a rather different idea of what constitutes "clarity"
this question than Andy or Steve. I don't really find the lists of
questions that Andy sends around to catechize us to be particularly
clarifying, and that for two reasons.

First of all, yes-no questions tend to have an answer already hidden
in the
question. This is why priests, lawyers and cops are so fond of them.

Secondly, my automatic impulse (honed during years of talking to
and cops) is to say "no" rather than "yes". After all, "no" is an open
syllable (that is, consonant-vowel) while "yes" is a closed one
(consonant-vowel-consonant). No wonder Sasha tells us that development
takes place through negation.

But on reflection (er, let me rephrase that--on thinking it over) I
that I should have answered Andy's last question YES rather than no. I
don't think that simply naysaying is a valid position, not when you
teachers to teach and seven million homeless children to take care
of. I
think that when behaviorism is what's on offer, then that's what you

So here's MY idea of what a clarifying discussion on this question
consist of. We KNOW that there are some rather important places where
Vygotsky HIMSELF indicates there is a break. For example, try the
to Thinking and Speech, p. 40:

"This book is the product of nearly ten years work. Many of the
which emerged in the investigation were not apparent to us when we
We were frequently forced to reconsider our positions during the
investigation. Consequently, the results of a great deal of hard
work had
to be discarded. Much of the remainder had to be redone,
restructured, or

There are some rather more SPECIFIC breaking points that I am
interested in
right now that have to do with the gap that Wertsch notes between the
concept of "concept" in Chapter Five and the concept in Chapter Six.

I'm interested in two in particular. First of all, there is the
problem of
p. 142, where he writes this (I'm using the Prout translation found
in the
Vygotsky reader, but the Minick translation and also the French and
ones are substantially the same):

"Objections could be raised to the effect that our use of the
case speaks
rather against than in favour of this experiment. For, after all, in
reality a child is
not free during the process of development of meanings which he
adult speech. But we are able to counter this objection by pointing
that what
this experiment teaches us is not limited to that which might occur
if the
child were
free from the guiding influence of adult speech, and were to work
out his
generalizations independently and freely. The experiment reveals to
us the
continuing active discipline the child employs in the creation of
which is not easily apparent to a superficial observer and which
does not
bur only conceals itself and acquires a very complicated means of
expression due to the
guiding influence of the speech of people around him."

Now, my question is, why isn't this ALSO a valid defense of Piaget's
that the clinical method can be used to PARE AWAY the adult's
of the child's thinking, an idea which Vygotsky attacks on pp.
This is not a yes-no question.

My second problem is not a yes-no question either, but perhaps there
is an
answer implicit in the question anyway. Actually, it's about whether
answers that Vygotsky reaches in Chapter Five were implicit in HIS

(I apologize for the use of caps below; I am very bad at philosophy
and it
somehow seems to help if I capitalize the items I need to offset and

On p. 229 LSV takes Chapter Five to task for ignoring the fact that
child's functional equivalents for concepts (heaps, complexes) are
related to EACH OTHER by a process of generalization. It's not the
that after each attempt the child simply starts over from scratch.

On p. 231, he complains that Sakharov's experiment treats each error
by the
child as a new stage and doesn't take enough account of the fact
that each
generalization is a generalization of PREVIOUS stages. "This would, of
course, be a truly Sisyphean labor!"

We can see, if we read very carefully, that this criticism is
accurate. The
relationship between the different functional equivalents of the
concept in
child thinking (heaps, complexes) is NOT one of generalization. It's
more complex: the different conceptual equivalents are related by a
process of NEGATION and SUBLATION.

For example, the spatial heap is a NEGATION of a random heap,
because the
randomness of the "anything goes" principle is set aside in favor of
spatial criteria.

But the two-stage heap is a  a SUBLATION (a "setting aside", both
a negation and a synthesis) of the previous two stages. The two
stage heap
represents a NEGATION of the random heap and the spatial heap
because they
are physically disassembled by the child. But the two step heap
also represents a SYNTHESIS of the random heap and the spatial heap
they are reassembled as something new.

Now, if we read carefully, we can find the same kind of processes in
complexes. For example, the complex-collection represents a NEGATION
of the
associative complex, because the principle of SIMILARITY or
which is the basis of the associative complex is negated, and instead
blocks are grouped according to  DISSIMILARITYand functional
within some kind of general functional similarity (e.g. fork, knife,
and plate are functionally complementary, that is, individually
but all generally similar with respect to a more general purpose,

The chain complex represents a SUBLATION. On the one hand, functional
complementarity and general similarity, the basis of the
collection-complex, are both negated; each new block is chosen
because of a
specific trait rather than a general resemblance and all other
traits are
negated. On the other hand, the principle of similarity is preserved
that trait.

If we look at the chain complex from the point of view of the
complex we see the same sublation (negation and preservation). On
the one
hand, the use of a specific model (the construction of a set as a
kind of
expanded version of the model at its core) is negated because each old
model is flung aside as soon as there is a new member of the chain.
On the
other hand, the PRINCIPLE of using a model is preserved.

The principle of sublation is clearest of all in the diffuse
complex. On
the one hand, we've got a clear negation of the "last item is the
model" chaining principle: each new element of the complex is linked
to the last element but to a common trait. On the other, that trait is
treated as an unbounded chain; it is allowed to vary almost without

We can see that the emphasis in Chapter Five is on NEGATION, perhaps
exclusively so. Of course, it's important to realize that there is
and sublation as well as imitation and generalization. But we can't
sight of imitiation and generalization either.

In at least two senses each new functional equivalent of the concept
IS a result of imitation: on the one hand, the child imitates
adults, and
on the other, the child imitates the strategy used in a previous
equivalent but raises it to a higher level.

My father says that an aspect of Soviet physics he noted in the early
sixties was that they tended to be "very economical" with
experiments and
rather lavish with paper and pencil or chalk and talk, and the
result was
that a lot of what they did was really the empirical working out of a
theory rather than the kind of thing we would call research.

So my question is whether the categories of functional equivalence to
concepts that we see in Chapter Five are to be taken as emergent
from the
data or simply taken more or less as is from Hegel's Logic and then
"confirmed" by the data. The method seems VERY Hegelian to me.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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Message: 2
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 08:40:13 -0600
From: ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 24
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=koi8-r


Respectfully I must point out you have misunderstood the question.  I was
not referring to the difference between reflexology and Mead's social
behaviorism.  That is a clear and concise distinction.  When I mentioned
behaviorism I was referring to Skinner's child.  Incorrectly or not I have
always lumped Skinner with Pavlov, Watson, Behterov, etc.  Do you see a
distinction there or not?  Just curious.  If you are not interested in
joining this fish fry that is a matter I can certainly understand.


Veresov" To: <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
                     <nikolai.veresso         cc:
v@oulu.fi> Subject: [xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 24
                     Sent by:

                     02/10/2009 05:31
                     Please respond
                     to "eXtended
                     Mind, Culture,

Eric wrote
Now that you have set
this record straight I am interested in your view of the difference.  I
look forward to your reply.

I think there is no reply needed? Eric. The topic of difference between
Russian Pavlov's and Behterev's reflexology and social behaviourism is
already discussed in many places.

----- Original Message -----
From: <xmca-request@weber.ucsd.edu>
To: <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 7:13 PM
Subject: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 24

Send xmca mailing list submissions to

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Today's Topics:

  1. Re: Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 13 (Mike Cole)


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 09:13:02 -0800
From: Mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 13
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=KOI8-R

Nice to have your chronological clarifications, Nikolai.
I believe the initial word you were looking for in your greeting was
discussant, althought at times
it may seem difficult to tell the difference!

I hope you will join us in voting for an article to discussion from MCA
joint the discussion.

On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 7:53 AM, <ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org> wrote:


Very concise and thoughtful summary.  I count myself as among the
who have always equated reflexology and behaviorism.  Now that you have
this record straight I am interested in your view of the difference.  I
look forward to your reply.


                     Veresov"                 To:      <
                     <nikolai.veresso         cc:
                     v@oulu.fi>               Subject: [xmca] Re: xmca
Digest, Vol 45, Issue 13
                     Sent by:

                     02/09/2009 01:14
                     Please respond
                     to "eXtended
                     Mind, Culture,

Good day to all highly respected disputants

As you know I am not actively involved in this discussion list, but I
it carefully. I made my mind to interrupt highly respected participants
because of two reasons. First, it seems to me that before doing

the researcher should investigate the topic as deep as possible. Second,


name was mentioned in Andy's message, which gives me right to reply, not


defence, but in respect to make things clear.

As A. Pushkin wrote: Mislead me please, since I am glad to be misled.

Andy wrote:

> Then when I turned to read "Consciousness is a problem for
> behaviourism"
> found the style of presentation a bit confusing at times, and then I
> read
> the translator's (Veresov's) claim that this was in fact *not* the
> speech
> which caused such a shock in January 1924, which was yet another
> So I think to myself "I have been wrong all along!" So I tracked down
> the
> speech and transcribed it.
> Of course it is almost word-for-word the same as the "Consciousness is

> a
> problem ..." one.
> So Mike was not misleading me. The difference between the two
> an academic nicety (from where I'm coming from.)

The papers of Vygotsky (1) "The methods of..." based on his presentation
made at 1924 Congress in Petrograd and (2) "Consciousness as a problem"
reflect different periods of his scientific evolution. I mean the
from reflexological model to behaviouristic one. What can mislead the
of this paper is only the radical lack of academic knowledge of what is

difference between reflexology and behaviourism. It is true, that the
are connected. But what is also true, that there is a deep difference in
approaches in these two papers. I made the comparison of them in my
need to repeat it here, but let us just take two places from each. In
first paper, criticising the dualism of psychology, he argued the

to combine "subjective psychology" and reflexology on the basis of "an
objective" method of study of the human consciousness. In the second one


rejected the idea of any reflexological explanation of consciousness:
should beware of any direct transportation of reflexological laws into
psychology" (Vygotsky 1982, p. 83). There is a number other places in
both papers, which show the differences between them - what is needed to
them, is just to open your eyes.

There is one more point here, which cannot be missed. These two papers
belong to two periods and it means that they must be analysed together

the other papers made during the same period. I mean, particularly, that
"Methods of..." is the result of Vygotsky's work in Gomel (definitely
1924). It means, that Vygotsky was working in the psychology not in 1924
long ago (he himself wrote that he started his studies in psychology in
1917). "Pedagogical psychology" was written also in Gomel, and this book


reflexological, at least it is NOT behaviouristic (social
Even more, it could be a surprise to Andy, that at Petrograd Vygotsky
not one presentation, but three (the Program of the Congress is
the Internet and in the book of Gita Vygodskaya). If we take all these
papers together we will see very clear, that there is absolutely nothing
about social behaviourism in them, including "The methods...". On the
contrary,  Vygotsky called himself than a bigger reflexologist than
(Vygotsky, 1982c, p. 58; Vygotsky, 1994, p. 40). Of course, his

was not Pavlovian, it was in search for the objective method of study of
subjective phenomena. This important period of Vygotsky's work is missed


Jussi's paper, which is very sad since it completely destroys his

On the other hand, "Consciousness as a problem..." also was not a lonely
paper made from nothing. It reflects the period when LSV was working in
Moscow in a field of defectology (1924-19245), particularly with deaf
dumb children. In his experimental studies he went to the conclusion
the concept of reflex is not valid to explain the point and it is needed


search for another concept. Here again to understand the point we have
to separate the "Consciousness as a problem..." from the other works of
period. I doubt whether Andy knows LSV papers made during that period
(1924-1925), whereas they ALL reflect the movement of Vygotsky from
reflexology to behaviourism. Behaviouristic model was not satisfactory
LSV had to reject it very soon, but this is another story I have no time


discuss. I just want to say, that before comparing papers and made
conclusions that the "only difference is their academic nicety" one have


investigate all the matters, which are behind and which are clear for

who have academic background. Otherwise the analysis will remain
superficial. A golden ring and a wooden wheel also look similar, and so


From: <xmca-request@weber.ucsd.edu>

To: <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 6:32 AM
Subject: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 13

> Send xmca mailing list submissions to
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
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> You can reach the person managing the list at
> xmca-owner@weber.ucsd.edu
> When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
> than "Re: Contents of xmca digest..."
> Today's Topics:
>   1. Re: Vygotsky and Behaviourism (Andy Blunden)
>   2. Re: Vygotsky and Behaviourism (Mike Cole)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Thu, 05 Feb 2009 15:29:57 +1100
> From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky and Behaviourism
> Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Message-ID: <498A6B45.2050109@mira.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed
> Apologies all. :( In typical fashion, after declaring
> ignorance of this topic, I try to "correct" others, then
> have to "correct myself", then withdraw my correction, and
> now want to correct myself again. :( "Shoot first, answer
> questions later!"
> I have always based my understanding of Vygotsky's entrance
> into the world of psycholgy on Mike's Introduction to "The
> Making of Mind" referring to the speech at the 2nd Congress
> of blah blah blah in January 1924. That was why I objected
> to the claim that Vygotsky started out as a "social
> behaviourist" or *any kind* of behaviourist.
> Then when I turned to read "Consciousness is a problem for
> behaviourism" I found the style of presentation a bit
> confusing at times, and then I read the translator's
> (Veresov's) claim that this was in fact *not* the speech
> which caused such a shock in January 1924, which was yet
> another document. So I think to myself "I have been wrong
> all along!" So I tracked down the speech and transcribed it:
> http://marx.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1925/reflexology.htm
> Of course it is almost word-for-word the same as the
> "Consciousness is a problem ..." one.
> So Mike was not misleading me. The difference between the
> two documents is an academic nicety (from where I'm coming
> from.)
> So I just want to ask teh advocates of Vygotsky I, II and
> III a couple of questions to help me understand:
> (1) By "social behaviourist" do you mean a follower of GH
> Mead? Or do you mean someone thinking along the lines to
> which GH Mead would come? Can you define the central idea?
> (2) The idea of construction of self (I) via Other (me) is
> not sufficient basis for calling someone "social
> behaviourist" is it? Whether you track this idea to Hegel
> (1807), Mead (1932), Kojeve (1937), or elsewhere?.
> (3) Do you agree that Vygotsky's January 1924 speech is a
> full-on attack on Behaviourism, which was at that time the
> dominant creed at the Congress? He also attack the otehr
> speakers at the Congress.
> (4) Do you think it makes sense to call someone engaged in a
> critique of all existing views, who knows they do not yet
> have an adequate theory and are just at the beginning of
> their critique, any "ism" ?
> Serious questions. I'm trying to understand where you guys
> are coming from.
> Andy
> Andy Blunden wrote:
>> Mmmm. After re-reading this material myself, I have to now put myself
>> into a "Don't Know" basket. Interesting material, but I withdraw my
>> attempts to make any claims about it.
>> Andy
>> Andy Blunden wrote:
>>> On the question of Vygotsky as a "social Behaviourist before 1929",
>>> have scanned two pages From the Introduction to Б─°Mind in
>>> Society,Б─²
>>> by
>>> Mike Cole and Sylvia Scribner, pp 4-6
>>> In the early decades of the twentieth century psychology in Russia,
>>> as
>>> in Europe, was torn between contending schools, each of which
>>> partial explanations of a limited range of phenomena. In 1923 at the
>>> first all-Russian psychoneurological congress K. N. Kornilov
>>> initiated
>>> the first major organizational and intellectual shift in psychology
>>> following the revolution. At that time the prestigious Institute of
>>> Psychology in Moscow was headed by G. I. Chelpanov, an adherent of
>>> Wundt's introspective psychology and a foe of behaviorism. (He had
>>> published the sixth edition of his book, The Mind of Man, a critique
>>> of materialist theories of the mind, in 1917, just before the
>>> revolution.) Chelpanov assigned a restricted role to Marxism in
>>> psychology, asserting it could help explain the social organization
>>> of
>>> consciousness but not the properties of individual consciousness. In

>>> a
>>> talk entitled "Contemporary Psychology and Marxism" Kornilov
>>> criticized Chelpanov both for the idealistic basis of his
>>> psychological theory and for the restricted role he assigned to
>>> Marxism in psychology. Kornilov, who called his own approach
>>> reactology, sought to subsume all branches of psychology within a
>>> Marxist framework that used behavioral reactions as the basic data.
>>> Kornilov's critique of Chelpanov in 1923 won the day. Chelpanov was
>>> removed as director of the Institute of Psychology and was replaced
>>> by
>>> Kornilov, who immediately brought together a corps of young
>>> scientists
>>> dedicated to formulating and promoting a *behavioral, Marxist theory
>>> of psychology*.
>>> Vygotsky must have produced quite a sensation one year later at the
>>> second psychoneurological meeting when he gave a talk entitled
>>> "Consciousness as an Object of the Psychology of Behavior." Whatever
>>> else one extracted from Kornilov's reactological approach, it quite
>>> clearly did not feature the role of consciousness in human activity,
>>> nor did it accord the concept of consciousness a role in
>>> psychological
>>> science.
>>> Vygotsky was *dissenting* from newly established authority. He was
>>> not, however, promoting a return to the position advocated by
>>> Chelpanov. In his initial speech and a series of subsequent
>>> publications, he made it clear that in his view none of the existing
>>> schools of psychology provided a firm foundation for establishing a
>>> unified theory of human psychological processes. Borrowing a phrase
>>> from his German contemporaries, he often referred to the "crisis in
>>> psychology" and set himself the task of achieving a synthesis of
>>> contending views on a completely new theoretical basis.
>>> For Vygotsky's Gestalt contemporaries, a crisis existed because
>>> established theories (primarily Wundt's and Watsonian behaviorism)
>>> could not, in their view, explain complex perceptual and
>>> problemsolving behaviors. For Vygotsky, the crisis went much deeper.
>>> He shared the Gestalt psychologists' dissatisfaction with
>>> psychological analysis that began by reducing all phenomena to a set
>>> of psychological "atoms." But he felt that the Gestalt psychologists
>>> failed to move beyond the description of complex phenomena to the
>>> explanation of them. Even if one were to accept the Gestalt
>>> criticisms
>>> of previous approaches, a crisis would still exist because
>>> would remain split into two irreconcilable halves: a "natural
>>> science"
>>> branch that could explain elementary sensory and reflex processes,
>>> and
>>> a "mental science" half that could describe emergent properties of
>>> higher psychological processes. What Vygotsky sought was a
>>> comprehensive approach that would make possible description and
>>> explanation of higher psychological functions in terms acceptable to
>>> natural science. To Vygotsky, explanation meant a great deal. It
>>> included identification of the brain mechanisms underlying a
>>> particular function; it included a detailed explication of their
>>> developmental history to establish the relation between simple and
>>> complex forms of what appeared to be the same behavior; and,
>>> importantly, it included specification of the societal context in
>>> which the behavior developed. Vygotsky's goals were extremely
>>> ambitious, perhaps unreasonably so. He did not achieve these goals
>>> (as
>>> he was well aware). But he did succeed in providing us with an
>>> and prescient analysis of modern psychology.
>>> A major reason for the continued relevance of Vygotsky's work is
>>> in 1924 and the following decade he constructed a penetrating
>>> critique
>>> of the notion that an understanding of the higher psychological
>>> functions in humans can be found by a multiplication and
>>> of principles derived from animal psychology, in particular those
>>> principles that represent the mechanical combination of
>>> stimulus-response laws. At the same time he provided a devastating
>>> critique of theories which claim that the properties of adult
>>> intellectual functions arise from maturation alone, or are in any
>>> preformed in the child and simply waiting for an opportunity to
>>> manifest themselves.
>>> In stressing the social origins of language and thinking, Vygotsky
>>> was
>>> following the lead of influential French sociologists, but to our
>>> knowledge he was the first modern psychologist to suggest the
>>> mechanisms by which culture becomes a part of each person's nature.
>>> Insisting that psychological functions are a product of the brain's
>>> activity, he became an early advocate of combining experimental
>>> cognitive psychology with neurology and physiology. Finally, by
>>> claiming that all of these should be understood in terms of a
>>> theory of the history of human society, he laid the foundation for a
>>> unified behavioral science.
>>> --------------------------
>>> The text referred to above and  described on this list as I
>>> understand
>>> it, as evidence of Vygotsky's adherence to a variety of
>>> is at:
>>> Nicolai Veresov's commentary on it claims errors in Mike Cole's
>>> narrative; but whether Vygotsky's article belongs to 1924, 1925 or
>>> 1926, it is all within what has been spoken of as his "social
>>> behaviourist" phase:

>>> For my part, I read this material as documenting that behaviourism
>>> was
>>> declared to be the Marxist Psychology in 1923 (coincident with the
>>> death of Lenin and the rise of Stalin to leadership of the USSR) and
>>> in the eyes of the vast majority of "Marxists", within and outside
>>> the
>>> USSR, remains so to this day.
>>> As I see it, the counter claim begins from Vygotsky's speech in 1924
>>> (or 1925 or 1926).
>>> Andy
>>> Jussi Silvonen wrote:
>>>> Hi everybody!
>>>> First, I'd like to thank Jonna for introducing my paper and
>>>> the discussion.  I'm sorry about the delay of my comments -
>>>> sometimes
>>>> there is life also outside the academy (luckily not too often, as
>>>> you
>>>> know), which keeps us out of the office for few days.
>>>> There are already too many issues in this ongoing and extremely
>>>> interesting discussion to comment in one e-mail. So I will simply
>>>> start by listing some of the issues mentioned so far. After that I
>>>> try to a little bit clarify my motivations and point of view, to
>>>> focus the discussion.
>>>> Before that, anyhow,  I have to make confession. I don't know
>>>> Russian
>>>> and read Vygotsky only in English and in German. I compiled a
>>>> bibliography of English translations of LSV's works I know so far
>>>> (=102), which shows the textual base of my paper. You can find it
>>>> my site:
>>>> http://joyx.joensuu.fi/~jsilvone/papers/Vygo_bibliography.pdf
>>>> (I added original dates of LSV's papers in the references and
>>>> cross-referenced overlapping versions of  translations, hope this
>>>> could help those not having the Collected Works in their library).
>>>> Comments on the bibliography are welcomed, too. Those reading LSV
>>>> Russia can probably tell, if something (or what) essential sources,
>>>> related to my arguments, are missing.
>>>> 1.
>>>> Reading very fast the comments so far, at least following topics or
>>>> arguments were represented:
>>>> - The question of periods in Vygotsky's work. According to David
>>>> there would be almost a consensus about three Vygotskies ( LSV I,
>>>> II,
>>>> III), but this point was questioned. My special contribution to
>>>> debate, however, is not the statement of three periods as such, but
>>>> the opinion that Vygotsky was committed to behaviorism in one
>>>> of his thinking. This point obviously requires more discussion, as
>>>> Steve and others remarked.
>>>> - The question of the tools by which we should conceptualize the
>>>> (possible) periods in LSV. My suggestion was that we could
>>>> some ideas / concepts from Althusser and Foucault to our attempt to
>>>> understand critically and self-reflective way the development (or
>>>> non-development) of our tradition. Some agreed to some degree, but
>>>> the idea was strongly criticized, too (at least Andy).
>>>> - The problem of semiotics or semiotic mediation in LSV is one of
>>>> the
>>>> key issues in my argumentation, connected to the hypotheses about
>>>> epistemological break between LSV II and III. Somebody read my
>>>> thesis
>>>> as a statement about the priority on supremacy of semiosis / sign
>>>> mediation. What I actually said, was that Vygotsky always related
>>>> different forms of mediation to each other, and that inside this
>>>> methodological frame his point of view moved from instrumental
>>>> approach to a semiotic one. I agree with most of David's remarks on
>>>> this question, but this point requires some clarifications, too.
>>>> - In some comments were seen missing contexts in my analysis. No
>>>> discussion about Leibnitz, Spinoza, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Kant,
>>>> Hegel, Goethe and other key figures in Western philosophy (Andy). I
>>>> agree, absolutely. The focus of my paper is in the conceptual
>>>> development in Vygotsky's work, not in the history of philosophy.
>>>> And
>>>> the distinction between traditional and non-traditional, or
>>>> Cartesian
>>>> and post-Cartesian comes not from Althusser but is a common
>>>> statement
>>>> in Vygotskyan traditon (classical and non-classical in Asmolov,
>>>> Elkonin etc). What I try to do is make sense of this distinction ,
>>>> to
>>>> conceptualize it someway. Can we do this without a reference to the
>>>> long perspective of philosophy, is a good question, anyway.
>>>> - One other missing context seen in my paper is Vygotsky's relation
>>>> to Marxism and dialectical materialism. It is not possible to
>>>> understand Vygotsky outside the Marxian frame, is claimed. This
>>>> problem is in brackets, just like the philosophy question, but it
>>>> worth to debate. Some people (f.e. Elhammoumi) really see Vygotsky
>>>> as
>>>> a Marxist per excellence, but I think this is a too limited
>>>> to Vygotsky. He was not a Marxist at all, if we take Marxism in the
>>>> form as it exist in Vygotsky's life time. In my interpretation
>>>> Vygotsky took a Marxian position, which was incompatible with the
>>>> Marxist-Leninist state-ideology of the USSR  This argument requires

>>>> a
>>>> discussion about the concept of dialectical materialism as a
>>>> methodology, about Marx and Marxism, even about "the Stalinist
>>>> machine" and Marxist philosophy. I'm not sure how many would be
>>>> interested in this, but I'm ready to go on this, too.
>>>> - The concept of CHAT was also touched.  Should we talk about CHAT,
>>>> or about CH/AT, or even about CHP vs AT? Or maybe CH?AT would
>>>> express
>>>> best way the state of art ?
>>>> - The was also the question of the actual history of cultural
>>>> historical school in Russia, the developments after Vygotsky's dead
>>>> and so on. My paper is focused on texts only, but can read Vygotsky
>>>> without understanding of the context of his work? In brackets, I
>>>> - And I could add here for example the inconsistent way I used
>>>> Foucault, which nobody, for some strange reasons, mentioned.
>>>> I picked up topics above fast without any deep reflection.  I guess
>>>> any of these topics would be worth of  discussion. Before to going
>>>> on
>>>> my own comments, I clarify a little the background and the
>>>> motivation
>>>> of my paper.
>>>> 2.
>>>> It seems to me that some of the comments are based on too fast
>>>> reading of my paper, resulting in misunderstanding of what I am
>>>> trying to do. My paper is not meant to be an exhaustive description
>>>> of all aspects and contexts in LSV's thinking. Many things are
>>>> consciously put in brackets to make the problematic I am interested
>>>> in, more focused and clear. I am interested in Vygotsky semiotics.
>>>> But how I became interested in this topic, then?
>>>> One motivation to start a journey through the Collected Works was
>>>> dissatisfaction about the way we express our tradition. Some people
>>>> are talking about Socio-cultural research, some others
>>>> Cultural-historical psychology. In nowadays Russia they have
>>>> cultural
>>>> psychology debating with activity theory. Other labels can be,
>>>> possibly, found out. And then we have the Mike's way to talk about
>>>> Cultural-historical-activity theory. I agree with David's
>>>> "that Mike and other founders of CHAT founded it as a loose
>>>> federation between two rather incompatible Vygotskies, the Vygotsky
>>>> of mediated action and the Vygotsky of word meaning, with the
>>>> assumption that a common tradition and a set of common practices
>>>> would hold it together." I understand, somehow, the motivation
>>>> behind
>>>> the label CHAT. It can be understood as an umbrella like
>>>> construction, as a space for discussion and for practices. What's
>>>> the
>>>> problem, then?
>>>> If you take a look at the footnotes of my paper, you can realize
>>>> writing in Finnish context. At least in Finland the CHAT tradition
>>>> is
>>>> very strong in empirical investigations, but theoretical
>>>> contributions are rare. Especially works on the history of "CHAT"
>>>> are
>>>> missing, and the possible contradictions between the founders of
>>>> tradition are almost taboos.   Consequently CHAT is presented as a
>>>> coherent theory, in a way which makes discussion about some
>>>> methodological problems - semiotic mediation for example -
>>>> or even impossible.
>>>> When involving in ISCRAT I realized the fragmented state of the
>>>> tradition. In Finland we have one coherent conception (CHAT), on
>>>> international plane there are plenty of school and interpretations.
>>>> The strange thing was, that everybody seemed to claim to be the
>>>> Vygotskians. After that impression, it was easy to ask the most
>>>> simple question: is there something in the founding what could - at
>>>> least to some extent - explain the situation. And now I have my
>>>> hypothesis: there are not one, but three Vygotskies, giving
>>>> possibilities to different theoretical discourses.
>>>> If now go back to the CHAT concept, we can see what it problematic
>>>> in
>>>> it. On one hand it is meant to be an umbrella type concept bringing
>>>> together different parts of the common tradition. But on the other
>>>> hand it is presented as a research theory, as a tool for empirical
>>>> research (at least in Finland). We have a common tradition which


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