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Re: [xmca] RE: CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past

Hi Eugene, Mike, Jorge and all,
I have often thought of Vygotsky as someone who was going through the tunnel of another approach to emerge at the end with a new synthesis and point of vie of his (his collaborators' own.). Behaviorism may have been the biggest of those tunnels. The journey was a historically important one because of the impact of the behaviorsists until the middle of the XXth century. Vygotsky was ahead of the discipline's future in turning toward other ways of approaching psychological issues. One central concept--beside dialectical unity of diverse processes, mediation, consciousness, development--which he relied upon at the end and past the behaviorist tunnel was of that of funstional systems (jointly developed with Luria.) Thay are particularly important as we learn more about plasticity in brain function (Luria, Damasio) and about the unification of psychological processes (intuition and logical deduction in mathematical reasoning.)
I think it is CHAT and SCT which are neighbours,
----- Original Message ----- From: "Eugene Matusov" <ematusov@udel.edu>
To: "'Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns'" <jlarream@uniandes.edu.co>
Cc: "'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2010 7:44 PM
Subject: RE: [xmca] RE: CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past

Dear Jorge and everybody-

Jorge, I really like your point about the behaviorist tradition of studying
patterns of behavior that were common in many approaches in the early XX
century, including, for example, German Gestalt psychologists, like Kohler
(his studies of apes' mentality). I think you put it rather well by saying,
"The two intellectual traditions seem to me, at some point, neighbors." I
think it was more than his tribute to fashion of the day or a political move
for Vygotsky to use behaviorist terminology in his writings.

What do you think?


-----Original Message-----
From: Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 6:49 PM
To: ematusov@UDel.Edu
Cc: 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'
Subject: Re: [xmca] RE: CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past

I once had a conversation with Andy Blunden about  concepts and
mentioned the fact that in the behaviorist tradition concepts are often
interpreted as patterns of behavior, a definition that has fascinated me
since I learned about it. Then, I realized that, within the behaviorist
such a foundational notion (I mean, concept) was defined not in
terms, but in terms that refer, I have to confess, ultimately, to the
actions, as opposed, say, to a set of mental representations of sorts (of
course, behaviorists have no conception of person). I'm fully aware of the
distinctions between the traditions (meaning, behaviorist and else), ,
of which are related to the very opposition, in terms of Giddens, between
action and movement. As you may recall, action in the behaviorist
was reduced to an externality, void of connections with history, goals,
context. But the point, is that no recourse was made i the behaviorist
tradition to a representational, cognitive, kind of entity. I know the
history in
the American psychology, the raise and fall of Watson, but I wonder,
historically, about the connections between the behaviorism in the Soviet
Union and the emergence of Vygotsky's ideas. The two intellectual
seem to me, at some point, neighbors. Good or bad, of course, is a matter
perspective. Any thoughts?


On Nov 25, 2010, at 6:21 PM, Eugene Matusov wrote:

> Dear Jorge-
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Jorge Fernando Larreamendy Joerns
>> [mailto:jlarream@uniandes.edu.co]
>> Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 4:39 PM
>> To: ematusov@UDel.Edu; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] RE: CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past
>> Eugene,
>> Do you see any other similarities between Vygotskian approaches and
>> behaviorist ones besides being functionalists? I wonder.
> Good question. Currently, I'm kind of fixating a bit on functionalism
> and I see all "other" differences as related to functionalism, like:
> a) focus on observable "external" behavior, actions, movements,
> mediations, tools, constrains, schedules, and so on by people;
> b) distrust to "spiritualism" and "metaphysics" and "retrospections";
> c) focus on changing reality rather than just studying it;
> d) "formative experiment", "double stimulation";
> e) distrust to nativism and prioritization of nurture versus nature;
> f) interest in history of processes;
> g) what else? I probably missed a lot other important aspects...
> and, of course, distrust to structuralism....
> What do you think?
> Eugene
>> Jorge
>> Jorge Larreamendy-Joerns, Ph.D.
>> Profesor Asociado y Director
>> Departamento de Psicología
>> Universidad de los Andes
>> On Nov 25, 2010, at 2:38 PM, Eugene Matusov wrote:
>>> Dear Mike and everybody-
>>> Here is my two cents on this interesting topic besides minor
>>> correction that the Sociocultural conference in Madrid was I think
>>> in 1992, not in 1994 (I
>>> think):
>>> 1)      You seem suggest that the differences between CHAT and SCT as
> they
>>> have emerged in the "West" (i.e., outside of former Soviet Union)
>>> have been historically rooted in the Soviet debates. Am I right in
>>> understanding of your point? If so, I'm not sure that it is true or
>>> fully true. I want to hear more from you about your reasoning
>>> connecting
>> these two debates.
>>> 2)      I think in your original message, you were alluding that, at
> least,
>>> in part the disagreements among the Soviet scholars were caused by
>>> their political squabbles within the "Stalinist science" (the term
>>> that was coined by Krementsov, I think) or in the "post-Stalinist
>>> science". In any case, what makes you think that way? Also, do you
>>> think that there was any "substance" in these debates or not? For
>>> example, you wrote, "At the same time, they criticized Leont'ev for
>>> placing too much emphasis on activity as external conditions,
>>> likening him to a behaviorist (Abulkhanova-Slavskaya, 1980)." It can
>>> be a fluke, but I have noticed that some former behaviorists became
>> Vygotskians. Mike, can you, yourself, be an example of this pattern?
>>> If my observation is correct, it can suggest some interesting
>>> affinity between behaviorism and Vygotskian family of approaches
>>> (e.g., both are functional approaches).
>>> 3)      I have noticed, and I can be wrong, that you want to diminish
>>> differences in Vygotskian family of approaches rather than explore
>>> possible differences and differentiations among them. For me, even
>>> this posting goes along with this tendency. Am I right about that?
>>> If so, can you elaborate on that? Basically, I want to ask you if
>>> you PREFER that there are no differences rather than you do simply
>>> do not see any differences but would be EQUALLY HAPPY if the
>>> differences really
>> exist.
>>> What do you think?
>>> Eugene
>>> ---------------------
>>> Eugene Matusov, Ph.D.
>>> Professor of Education
>>> School of Education
>>> University of Delaware
>>> 16 W Main st.
>>> Newark, DE 19716, USA
>>> email: ematusov@udel.edu
>>> fax: 1-(302)-831-4110
>>> website: http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu
>>> <http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/>
>>> publications: http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/vita/publications.htm
>>> Dialogic Pedagogy Forum: http://diaped.soe.udel.edu
>>> <http://diaped.soe.udel.edu/>
>> 8
>>> 893>
>>> Description: Journey into dialogic pedagogy Matusov, E. (2009).
>>> Journey into dialogic pedagogy
>> 8893> .
>>> Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
>>> ---------------------
>>> From: mike cole [mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com]
>>> Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 2:37 PM
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
>>> Cc: Luis Moll; Eugene Matusov
>>> Subject: CHAT/SCT - A voice from the past
>>> I know some people who care a lot to distinguish CHAT and SCT. I
>>> wonder if there is any consensus on what the critical differences
>>> are between them. Here is what I wrote at the Sociocultural
>>> Conference in Madrid about 1994 where Jim Wertsch, who edited the
>>> 1981 book on Soviet activity theory,  as a major player and lead
>>> editor on the subsequent volume - socicultural theories of mind.
>>> More than 15 years have passed since this was written. I may have
>>> been dead wrong then and making the same argument now may seem
>>> really mistaken. You will see traces of this same discussion in
>>> various messages being posted around the P&L article.
>>> How should I proceed to find out?? Where are all the L2 people here
>>> to help us out here? Other than publishers in applied linguistics
>>> preferring SCT, what's in those names that makes people get
>>> irritated with each other? Who are the bad people? What are the
>>> special virtues of the good people?
>>> mike
>>> ------------------------------
>>> For the past several years I have been striving, with rather limited
>>> success, to understand the intellectual issues that divide the
>>> Vygotskian and activity theory approaches, as well as the division
>>> between activity
>>> theorists who follow Leont'ev and those who follow Rubinshtein. This
>>> task is complicated because, insofar as I can understand,
>>> contemporary followers of Leont'ev continue to adhere to the major
>>> principles articulated by Vygotsky, Luria, and Leont'ev in the 1920s
>>> and early 1930s, arguing in effect that Vygotsky was an activity
>>> theorist, although he focused less on issues of the object-oriented
>>> nature of activity than on processes of mediation in his own work
>>> (Engestrorn, 1987; Hyden, 1984). Followers ofRubinshtein, on the
>>> other hand, deny that Vygotsky was an activity theorist and tax him
>>> with "signocentricisrn," which in the overheated debates of the last
>>> decade of Soviet power seemed to
>>> be roughly equivalent to "idealist," a sin at that time
>>> (Brushlinsky,
> 1968).
>>> At the same time, they criticized Leont'ev for placing too much
>>> emphasis on activity as external conditions, likening him to a
>>> behaviorist (Abulkhanova-Slavskaya, 1980).
>>> I do not want to minimize the possible scientific benefits to be
>>> derived from attempting to understand these disagreements more
>>> thoroughly, although I am not certain how productive such attempts
>>> will
>>> be for non-Russian psychologists. From existing historiographical
>>> evidence, debates among Russian adherents of these various positions
>>> appear to have been tightly bound up with the wrenching political
>>> upheavals that racked the Soviet Union repeatedly between 1917 and
>>> 1991 (and which arc by no means over) (Van der Veer & Valsiner, 1991).
>>> What I am almost positive of, however, is that it would not be
>>> productive for adherents of the various positions to carry those
>>> battles into the international sphere except insofar as they have
>>> international intellectual merit.
>>> What most concerns me is that for whatever combination of reasons,
>>> there has not yet been close cooperation on an international scale
>>> among psychologists who work under the banner of activity theory and
>>> those who use some version of the concept of sociocultural
>>> psychology as
>>> their conceptual icon. At the first Activity Theory Congress in
>>> Berlin in 1986, there was only one major address that took the work
>>> of Vygotsky and Luria to be coequally relevant to the proceedings
>>> with that
>>> of Leont'ev, and individual talks that proceeded from a more or less
>>> Vygotskian perspective were relatively rare. At the second Activity
>>> Theory Congress in 1990, there was a far richer mix of viewpoints,
>>> but many of the people prominent in organizing the current meeting
>>> in Madrid were preoccupied with preparatory work for the current
>>> meeting and did not contribute.
>>> It would be most unfortunate if adherents of the various streams of
>>> psychological thinking whose history I have sketched were to
>>> continue their work in isolation from each other. The common
>>> intellectual issues facing different streams of cultural-historical,
>>> sociocultural, activity based conceptions of human nature are too
>>> difficult to yield to
>> piecemeal efforts.
>>> It is time for those who have come to questions about the
>>> socio-cultural-historical constitution of human nature to join in a
>>> cooperative search for their common past and to initiate cooperative
>>> efforts to address the difficult intellectual issues and staggering
>>> national and international problems facing humanity in the post-Cold
>>> War
>> era.
>>> __________________________________________
>>> _____
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca

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