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Re: [xmca] Taking the HAT out of CHAT

To met, at least, you ARE splitting hairs, Andy. I would be really helped by
understanding the relationship of Dewey and CHAT (at least for Dewey!). What
is Dewey's great failing from a Marxist perspective? What did he get wrong?

They share a lot, it seems to me. So what have I got wrong?


On Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 1:54 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> *Response to Poehner and Lantolf.*
> Not being an L2 teacher or any other kind of teacher, I will limit my
> comments to Poehner and Lantolf’s attack on philosophy. That they can quote
> Vygotsky in support of their cause is neither here nor there, as Vygotsky’s
> entire lifetime is testimony to the place he gave to philosophy in his
> critique of psychology, and /vice versa/, and the great admirer of Spinoza
> could be quoted in the opposite spirit just as well.
>   “... Practice sets the tasks and serves as the supreme judge of
>   theory, as its truth criterion. It dictates how to construct the
>   concepts and how to formulate the laws.” (Vygotsky, 2004, p. 304)
>   Vygotsky concludes that the highest test of a theory is practice and
>   that the distinction that had been made between general and applied
>   psychology (e.g., industrial, educational psychology) was not only
>   invalid but in fact, as he convincingly argued in “The Crisis,”
>   applied psychology /is /psychology. This was, for Vygotsky, the full
>   implication of Marx’s Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach for the science
>   of psychology: “Marx has said that it was enough for philosophers to
>   have interpreted the world, now it’s time to change it” (Vygotsky,
>   1997b, pp. 9–10).
> The claim that “practice is the truth criterion” for theory is the position
> of pragmatism, not Marxism. This may seem like splitting hairs, after all
> Marx does say in Thesis 2: “The question whether objective truth can be
> attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a
> *practical* question. Man must prove the truth ... in practice. The dispute
> over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice
> is a purely scholastic question.”
> But the passage of 150 years has clarified matters. “Applied psychology /is
> /psychology,” and the interpretation of Thesis 11, “... it was enough for
> philosophers to have interpreted the world, now it’s time to change it”
> makes things clear. Thesis 11 is saying that the point of philosophy is to
> change the world. In the absence of the socialist utopia, then, philosophy
> is not done for. The revolution Vygotsky wrought in /philosophy/ is
> testimony enough to that. The cry that the time for philosophy is past is a
> call to abandon philosophy.
> In this context, L2 theory may be fraught with dualisms, but it seems to me
> that there is a fashion nowadays to point to dualisms everywhere without
> justification, so I am not impressed with the claim of 20 dualisms which
> might just as well be 20 valid distinctions. My suspicions are confirmed
> when the authors themselves posit a false dichotomy: “mediation through
> cultural concepts” versus “mediation through social interaction.” This is a
> new dualism to me; probably it is what lies behind the neologism of “SCT”
> which the authors use to supplant CHAT. But more of that later.
> What on earth is a “/cultural/ concept”? What are “/non/-cultural
> concepts”? And how is an action to be mediated by a (cultural) concept
> /other than/ as part of a social interaction.” And what kind of interactions
> are /not/ social? And what is it that is being mediated other than the
> (social) use of a (cultural) artefact? Is there any other way of using an
> artefact other than in the course of a /socially/ meaningful action? How is
> a “cultural artefact” used without “social interaction”? How is a “social
> interaction” effected without the use of “cultural artefacts” or some other
> type of non-cultural artefact?
> So this is a false dichotomy. But what end does it serve? Well, it
> justifies the use of SCT = Socio-Cultural Theory, by (1) inserting “socio-”
> usually by contrast with “societal,” (2) dropping the “Historical” dimension
> of development, and more importantly (3) dropping Activity. So we have come
> full circle. The meaning of the use of Theses on Feuerbach against itself is
> to reduce Activity to being the test or manifestation of Theory. But the
> opposite is just as valid: Theory is the manifestation of Activity, a.k.a.
> Practice.
> Andy
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
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