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

Thank you David for your valuable remarks and apologizes from all but
especially from  Nikolai Veresov also if I used xmca in a wrong way.


On 22/02/2009, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Dear Ulvi:
> Thanks for your long and very considered reply. I think that the
> relationship between Vygotsky's psychology and larger philosophical issues
> (including Marxism) is a topic that will not go away, whether you and I
> continue it or not.
> Very often, I think, we make the mistake of choosing articles for
> discussion that emphasize these philosophical issues; the reasoning is that
> the more abstractly we approach the problems, the more the solutions will be
> applicable to everybody. We are a VERY diverse group, which is another way
> of saying we are a highly inclusive one!
> It seems to me, however, that the way to solve these questions is really
> through PRAXIS, and through discussing articles where the larger
> philosophical issues (e.g. Marxism) have immediate relevance for data and
> for the conclusions we draw from data.
> So for example in Mariane Hedegaard's article (which I hope will soon be
> chosen and made freely available for discussion) I think an absolutely KEY
> question is whether or not her formulation of "the crisis" is compatible
> with Vygotsky's Is the "crisis" of Jens in kindergarten (where he refuses to
> settle down and listen to a fairy story and will not accept that a picture
> of a baby whale shows a "baby") a good example of a REVOLUTIONARY
> restructuring of  the relationship between psychological functions and the
> precocious (adventurist) SEIZURE of POWER by the child's psychological
> neoformations? In what sense does Halime's failure to attend camp represent
> the emergence of a new form of mental life (a neoformation)? .
> I certainly did NOT mean to imply that Vygotsky rejected Marxism. There is
> no evidence that this is the case. All the evidence in mature Vygotsky
> suggests that his methodology was getting more and more Marxist (e.g. his
> emphasis on word meaning as a unit of analysis comparable to the commodity).
> Like you, I believe that Vygotsky refusal to call his psychology "Marxist"
> was partly a matter of hygiene. Yes, Vygotsky felt some disdain for the
> noisy "Marxists" who were clearly using the word to get ahead and discarding
> the methodology.
> I think I understand this very well. In China, "Marxism" (which meant that
> you supported a very gruesome set of 19th Century Marketist "reforms") was a
> meal ticket. I never called myself a Marxist there. In Syria, a country very
> close to your own, "Marxism" was a ticket to prison; the Marxists I met
> there were of considerably better quality.
> I think that Vygotsky probably despised "Marxist" psychologists like
> Zalkind, who tried to show how social circumstances were rather mechanically
> mirrored in psychology, and in fact for any approach that saw the crises as
> being EXTERNALLY determined. For Vygotsky the sources of the crisis, like
> the neoformation itself, lies within the child. (Whether Martin likes it or
> not, that is what he says!)
> To be a Marxist, as opposed to noisily calling yourself one, means to
> understand that Marxism is a science, and a science simply cannot be applied
> in a mechanical way to every realm of human understanding, the way a child
> with a hammer sees every problem as a nail. Marxism is a very specific form
> of historical understanding developed in response to a particular problem
> set.
> I don't think these problems include sex and death, or spelling in
> kindergarten and learning that the word "baby" is also applied to whales. In
> fact, I think that Marxism applied to phylogenetic evolution, ontogenetic
> growth and even to microgenesis in the classroom is Marxism misapplied. As
> Vygotsky liked to say, it is a bullfrog puffed up until it is the size of a
> cow, a theory that has compromised its explanatory power through a process
> of intellectual inflation and disciplinary imperialism.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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