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Re: [xmca] On Marxist and non-Marxist aspects of the cultural-historical psychology of L.S. Vygotsky by Nikolai Veresov

I am not sure how many folks on xmca have read the article, Ulvi, but it is
available on the web, so those who care to certainly can.

Your comments are a nice summary of a long standing discussion that has
back and forth, in different directions, in different times, and different
places: the role
of Marxism in LSV's thought.

David has some very pertinent things to say in his note. I would add just a
of comments:

1. I personally like the both/and answer to this question, not the either
or. Sure he was very much influenced by Marx,  no he did not think he
fulfilled the idea of creating a Marxist psychology, and he drew upon many
thinkers, some themselves Marxists and the others faux Marxists or
non-Marxists or even anti-Marxist. This fact has been hashed, re-hashed, and
pulverized. A science studies article on the very phenomenon
would earn a PhD.

2. What people say about any of this depends enormously on time and
political and personal position. Zinchenko 1983/84. Remember 1984? If not,
check out
what it meant to be a Soviet writing at that time. Or an American. Or a
Spaniard, or a........ Or a Russian living partly abroad, partly at home in
2007 or whatever date
Nikolai was writing in..... for an audience of Outlines. Who themselves, in
1968 or
1978, or 19844 or 1991.... were positioned in various relevant ways.

3. The  kind of serious readings and chronologies we have seen on XMCA are
important, but I do not expect a definitive right answer because, like word
I think LSV's thinking was polysemic and ever changing..... a process turned
a product and marketed so well you can buy it with a credit card or "borrow"
from the web.

After The Word is said, it enters a socio-cultural-historical process over
which the speaker has virtually no control. The thought is completed in the
word, to be sure,
but the word itself is always developing, on several time scales at the same
Catch it if you can!!

On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 1:42 PM, ulvi icil <ulvi.icil@gmail.com> wrote:

> I would like to share some thoughts about this article by Nikolai Veresov.
> When I finished reading the article, I could not be sure about its exact
> aim.
> I think of two possibilities. One is, as stated in the abstract, to present
> some non- Marxist factors which influenced Vygotsky's ideas and to point
> out
> to the fact that (as a useful warning to those who think that Vygotsky was
> only influenced by Marxism) not only Marxism but other ideas also
> influenced
> Vygotsky.
> As regards this point, I should say that it was useful for me to learn
> other
> dynamics - than Marxism- which were in operation for Vygotsky's theory
> (e.g.
> to learn possible influences of  some artists and intellectuals within the
> Silver Age of Russian culture)
> Second possibility I thought is that the article seems aiming at
> emphasizing
> that Marxism did not influence Vygotsky so much as it is usually thought.
> In this respect, the first one can be qualified as an enriching input while
> the second can be said rather as an important intervention. Because this
> latter would mean almost questioning the ties of Vygotsky's theory with
> Marxism, even to locate Vygotsky and Marxism in remoter places. It can even
> be said that there may be unintentionally some risks created of isolating
> Vygotsky's theory from Marxism, which I believe will equal to a pause in
> the
> further development of Vygotsky's theory.
> (Meanwhile, I apologize for my English. I am not a native speaker and also
> I
> am out of the academic area).
> It is absolutely a real need to prevent any narrow outlook as regards
> Vygotsky. Instead, we really need to understand other effects, roots which
> influenced Vygotsky's ideas in order to enrich our outlook.
> But this article created for me an impression that in fact Marxism was not
> so much an important determining factor for Vygotsky, for which I need to
> raise an objection.
> After having read the article, you do not end with an understanding that
> "in
> addition to Marxism, ..." but  "instead of Marxism, ..." or "rather than
> Marxism, ..." , "Vygotsky was influenced by this and that...". I think that
> anyone who reads the article will think that the article puts an
> interrogation sign about the effect of Marxism on Vygotksy's theory.
> I hope I do not commit any injustice. And if so, my apologizes and please
> ignore the rest.
> I would like to enlist the following:
> - The sole fact that Vygotsky was not in agreement with the Marxist
> understanding of the period in some respects, points - and in my opinion
> this is one of the most important points- to the fact that , Vygotsky's
> ties
> with Marxism were much more powerful with respect to others (who easily
> qualified their approaches as "Marxist"). This was at the same time what
> made Vygotksy's theory so creative, influential, attractive and also
> assertive. In other words, the fact that he did not obey to a mediocr
> understanding of Marxism, is the most important point which links him to
> Marxism.
> - The importance he attached to the methodology is another sign for such a
> stronger tie and structure. I firmly believe that as regards methodology
> too, Vygotsky owes a lot to Marxism and that this latter does not have any
> rival in this respect in Vygotsky's theory. A fact which is emphasized by
> Vygotsky himself.
> - It is  already pointed to another important one in the article: Vygotsky
> does not see development of a "Marxist psychology" in the application of
> dialectical and historical materialism in the field of psychology. He is
> above any such understanding as regards the questions of theory.
> - There may be many diverse aspects in any theoretical system. Even in
> Marxism itself, many people may see , rather than any genuine theoretical
> revolution ,  a continuation of Hegelian thought etc. Therefore, I think
> that, we can't get into the core of any system putting side by side all the
> diverse aspects which influenced this theory. Also, there will be surely
> ideas which are stated earlier by other scientists and which are taken by
> the following ones. Veresov points to earlier understandings which
> emphasize
> social origins of mind. I think that there is nothing strange in
> incorporating earlier functional, scientific inventions into another new,
> theoretical system. Marxism itself is full of these examples : Surplus
> value. This should not make Vygotsky's theory non - Marxist or social
> origins of mind a non-Marxist aspect.
> - At least from what he wrote in "Historical Crisis", I suggest that it
> should be obvious for anyone who reads Vygotsky that Marxism is not primus
> inter pares for Vygotsky. But a method which operates through the specific
> dynamics of the field of psychology. Therefore, it should be obvious that
> the interaction between Vygotsky's ideas and Marxism is not so much direct,
> apparently visible.
> - I would say that rather than "questioning" the ties with Marxism, putting
> Vygotsky's theory in much closer relationship with Marxism, would be
> beneficial not only for Vygotsky's theory but also for Marxism. It is
> obvious that Vygotsky's theoretical effort has a revolutionizing effect on
> Marxism.
> - Finally, some elements which do not seem to be located in the core of the
> theory but in fact, when it is a Marxist theoretican and Marxist theory
> they
> are not less important such as the following:
> "In future society, psychology will indeed be the science of the new man.
> Without this the perspective of Marxism and the history of
> science would not be complete. But this science of the new man will still
> remain psychology". (Historical Crisis at the very end)
> I strongly believe that a theoretician who writes these lines can not aim
> any other thing than developing a truly Marxist theory of psychology.
> And I think that it is clear by itself that such a theoretical effort
> should
> place Marxism in the core of the theory.
> I hope I did not commit any injustice.
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