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Re: [xmca] Spanning Traditions: ingold and vygotsky

I am concerned with this problem, too, Mike, in fact, a subset of this problem is my life project. Put it this way: as people who know about Vygotsky and have taken his ideas into our lives, we are all passionately concerned with the growing inequality, the destruction of education and culture, and all these things that make up the dark side of contemporary life, and among that the dominance of atomism in thinking and individualism ethics, and the treatment of persons as programable brains, etc., etc., ... We are confident that Vygotsky and his freinds' ideas are a key part of an approach to tackling these problems. The main blocks to the widespread adoption of these ideas are (1) the inaccessibility of Vygotsky's ideas and their increasing novelty in a world dominated by corporate-speak and theoretical atomism, and (2) the erection of cheap substitutes which persuade people that they already know Vygotsky.

I think the approach has to be for each of us, individually, to enter into other more-or-less sympathetic intellectual projects and argue for and work out how Vygotsky contributes to that project. My "Indisciplinary Theory of Activity" was intendeed (however clumsily) to contribute to the project of Critical Theory (mainly but not exclusively) and show Critical Theorists why they should go and learn more about LSV. Alas, that aspect of the book was probably one of its weaker aspects. Currently, I am writing a book on Concepts, which is meant to make inroads into analytical science. I think David Bakhurst's work and, from Jan Derry's recent comments reported here, I think her work as well, is intended to make the ideas of Soviet Psychology relevant to analytical philosophy, by entering into the standards and problems defined by analytical philosophy and trying to tackle these problems, on this ground with the ideas of Soviet Psychology.

Each of these synergies is hard work, but I think each project has to be tackled in its own way. If we take Vygotsky as our ground and the centre of our work, I think we are lost. We have to adopt other projects and participate in them as a precondition to Vygotsky's ideas being taken seriously. At the same time, Vygotsky needs to be continuously renewed within the ranks of our own current.


mike cole wrote:
I want to take up the problem of spanning seemingly appropriate theoretical
orientations with a quotation
from Ingold. As I was creeping my way across his landscape, admiring
discussions of Gibson and Bateson and
Merleau-Ponty,  I came upon the following quotation that gave me a start. It
perhaps was presaged by the
comment on symbolic mediation that appeared in our discussion earlier.

Here it is:
On the other side are those, influenced more by Piaget’s Russian
contemporary, Lev Vygotsky,
who compare every child to a novice apprentice. Setting out with open minds,
are said to acquire their knowledge piecemeal, in loosely connected
fragments, through
participation in a social and cultural environment scaffolded by
knowledgeable adults such
as teachers, but also by artefacts such as the ubiquitous globes of school
classrooms. Since,
according to this latter approach, there is no initial conceptual barrier to
be overcome, and
given adequate scaffolding, children have little difficulty in acquiring a
‘scientific’ picture of
the earth.

Its VERY difficult for me to take this kind of characterization of
Vygotsky's ideas seriously, although
I can find good candidates for the those pushing loosely connected fragments
and scaffolding among those
who consider them LSV followers. It reads to me more like a drive by
reference taken second hand.

What interests me most here is that if someone as smart and well educated as
Ingold engages in such talk, what are we to do? Making serious bridges
across this kind of intellectual divide appears beyond us, collectively. If
some ONE has done it, they should speak up again. But barring that unforseen
contingency, what sort of collective activity using this medium
could be of use?

Maybe none. In any event, it all has to filter though those of us who wander

(Separately, I really like Engold's notion of organism-environment relation
as entanglement. Works just fine for
the james-inspired threads of rope metaphor i also find useful)

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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857

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