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

Hi everybody concerned with "inside" and "outside",
I am having difficulty in participants' discomfort with this distinction. Why can't we have a socially situated and initiated process be both external to the organism and also "internal"? That is, when a person participates in an activity and engages with all that she/he is, and has at his/her disposal, that participation is simultaneously internal and external.. Clearly our hands change as we engage in labor, why can't we accept our brains changing while participating in learning and relying on memory? The fact that the brain is enclosed makes is less accessible to observation than the hand. But the principle of the appropriated consequences of activity which changes different parts of the participant refers to a process of interwoven changes not to a frozen dichotomy. To me, the very way Vygotsky handles this issue is the hallmark of his reliance on dialectics. Vera
Mike Cole wrote:
You are using XMCA just fine, Ulvi.

David-- As usual there is a lot to discuss in your comments. I want to pick
up on just one where you and I either disagree or talk past each other. I
would like exclude the latter possibility so we could hone in on what the
disgreement is and what its resolution might be.

You write:
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!).

What constantly confuses me in such statements is what "within the child"
means (and this is probably related to the use of perezhivanie as a unit of
analysis for the study of ontogenetic development, to echo a prior message).

The biological development of the pre-frontal cortex is clearly one of the
systemic changes that is taking place in the years of roughly 5-10 that are
a part of an important crisis in development a la Vygotsky. And,
conventionally, we can say that these changes are happening "within" the
child. But they are happening in a culturally organized social situation of
development. That SSD
is, as I understand it, both outside the child AND inside the child (as
previously appropriated, interiorized, and transformed, features of the
social interactions of which the child has been a part). The confrontation
of these changing contributions to developmental change give rise to a
neoformation which is..... inside the child (?), inside the child but
manifested externally where they have an influence on, contribute to the

How do you, David, and, according to you interpretation, LSAV, manage to
keep so clearly in mind what is inside and outside the child?

Thank you for reminding me to check the polls. We will close tomorrow and
make the article with the most votes availalbe as soon as possible.


On Sun, Feb 22, 2009 at 4:47 AM, ulvi icil <ulvi.icil@gmail.com> wrote:

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
(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
the more abstractly we approach the problems, the more the solutions will
applicable to everybody. We are a VERY diverse group, which is another
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
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
settle down and listen to a fairy story and will not accept that a
of a baby whale shows a "baby") a good example of a REVOLUTIONARY
restructuring of  the relationship between psychological functions and
precocious (adventurist) SEIZURE of POWER by the child's psychological
neoformations? In what sense does Halime's failure to attend camp
the emergence of a new form of mental life (a neoformation)? .

I certainly did NOT mean to imply that Vygotsky rejected Marxism. There
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
Like you, I believe that Vygotsky refusal to call his psychology
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
the methodology.

I think I understand this very well. In China, "Marxism" (which meant
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
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
mirrored in psychology, and in fact for any approach that saw the crises
being EXTERNALLY determined. For Vygotsky the sources of the crisis, like
the neoformation itself, lies within the child. (Whether Martin likes it
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
in a mechanical way to every realm of human understanding, the way a
with a hammer sees every problem as a nail. Marxism is a very specific
of historical understanding developed in response to a particular problem

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.
fact, I think that Marxism applied to phylogenetic evolution, ontogenetic
growth and even to microgenesis in the classroom is Marxism misapplied.
Vygotsky liked to say, it is a bullfrog puffed up until it is the size of
cow, a theory that has compromised its explanatory power through a
of intellectual inflation and disciplinary imperialism.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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Vera John-Steiner, Ph.D.
Regents' Professor of Education and Linguistics
vygotsky@unm.edu   (505) 277-4324

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