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Re: [xmca] Vladislav Lektorsky's notion of the subject
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Vladislav Lektorsky's notion of the subject
- From: mike cole <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2012 19:53:49 -0800
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There is all sorts of stuff about writing origins of the self and it all
strikes me as problematic. But its interesting, that is for sure.
Bruno Snell wikipedia entry is one place to look:
His book, *The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought*(
*Die Entdeckung des Geistes*, Hamburg, 1946, trans. T.G. Rosenmeyer, 1953)
argues that the development of Greek literature from
Aristophanes <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristophanes> and
Plato<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato>shows a gradual discovery of
the inner mental life, a developing
understanding that humans have a unique and individual inner world of
Note the similarities to Luria's conclusions about the self-understanding
of non-literate Uzbeki peasants.
On Wed, Jan 4, 2012 at 5:58 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
> In the History of the Development of the Higher Pschological Functions,
> Vygotsky begins by saying that the cultural development of the child, the
> development of the higher psychological functions, and the formation of the
> child's will are one and the same thing. He asks us to simply take these
> things as being externally connected and simultaneous for the moment and
> then, in the course of a number of special studies, he shows how they are
> internally connected.
> Some of the special studies are not obviously connected with the formation
> of a self in the sense of an inner world. For example, David Kirshner and I
> have been reading his study on the development of counting, which Vygotsky
> sees has happening through the DIVISION of visual-graphic displays rather
> than through the addition of descrete objects (because Vygotsky is really
> interested in the child's ability to control his own mind rather than
> simply manipulate objects).
> But some of the special studies clearly ARE about the formation of the
> self in the sense that Andy is using it (e.g. Chapter 12, Self Control, and
> Chapter 15, Development of Personality and World View). This isn't exactly
> an "inner world" (actually, I'm not sure I have one of those myself). But
> it's clearly one of the many things we mean when we say "self".
> Aren't CHILDREN the logical place to look for the formation of a self, and
> also for what life looks like when you don't yet have one? I suppose you
> COULD use Aristotle if you really wanted to, but I think Larry is right to
> go back further.
> Jaynes, who knew a lot about selves because as a schizophrenic he had a
> couple of them, wrote that the Iliad and the Odyssey could not be by the
> same person, because in the Iliad, people don't really have selves; when
> they want to have ideas, Gods appear and talk inside their heads, but in
> the Odyssey, Odysseus is keeping secrets from everybody, even the Gods. I
> by the time of Aristotle, Greeks knew what the sentence "Ajax killed
> himself out of pique" meant. But they probably did not know what "I need to
> take a year off and find myself" means.
> The difference seems significant to me. Death, the end of self, is a
> biomechanical event, as well as a sociocultural artefact (funerals are
> sociocultural artefacts, burial or cremation is a biochemical
> transformation). It makes sense to me that Aristotle would grasp a sense of
> self that is closer to man's biomechanical origins but not one that is part
> of our sociocultural present.
> I know that Mike rightly resists any parallelism between the youth of our
> own culture and the youth of our youth. But I still think that children are
> the place to look if we want to study how selves are formed and how they
> can be dissolved.
> I am not sure, but I think that children do not yet grasp either "kill
> myself" or "find myself". The existence of invisible friends, the obsession
> with being popular, and the incredulity of the teenager before the bedroom
> mirror all seem to be part of that process. That is why the recent news of
> child suicides, both here and in the USA, are so distressing to me: a
> gesture that is meaningful for others, but meaningless to the self.
> I remember that when Bill Clinton was running for president, he signed the
> death warrant of a mentally disabled man who was, we were told, legally an
> eight year old child. He was offered a last meal, but he was full and
> couldn't finish his ice cream, so he set it aside and told the warden that
> he would come back and finish it when the execution was over.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> --- On Wed, 1/4/12, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Vladislav Lektorsky's notion of the subject
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 3:56 PM
> While I can see that the self can be a form of inner world which only
> arises as a cultural and historical accomplishment, I would not go so
> far as to refer to it as an artefact. I think the human body is an
> artefact, i.e., a natural, material product of human social activity,
> formed by the purposes of human activity and communication, I would need
> to be persuaded that the self is such a material entity, albeit also
> ideal. However, I do think that the self is a phenomenon, in just the
> sense that Vygotsky talked of the consciousness apprehended by
> introspection as phenomenon.
> Larry Purss wrote:
> > Andy
> > I agree that the "inner world" is cultural historical. This "inner
> world" as a "concept" did not exist in Aristotole's time [and not in
> Homer's texts]
> > The term "construct" may suggest that this "inner world" is an
> epiphenomenon OF the real cultural-historical world and could therefore be
> collaped back into the cultural historical. In other words the "inner
> world" could be deconstructed.
> > My reading of this possibility is that once arisen as an ACTUALITY the
> "inner world" cannot be deconstructed except if the entire collective
> activity of which it is a "part" also is deconstructed. In other words
> "sovereign selfs" and "sovergeign states" and "sovereign rights" exist
> together within a family resemblance with a shared notion of "identity" as
> possessive constructions.
> > Andy, cultura-historical formational artifacts such as "selfs" and
> "texts" are not conceptualepiphenomena that can be deconstructed [as merely
> "epiphenomenal concepts"] unless the entire collective activity from which
> the "inner world" and "texts" arises also is deconstructed [annililated]
> > If the "inner world" ACTUALLY ARISES FROM the cultural historical as a
> particular KIND or TYPE of "psychological world" then once arisen
> [developmentally/evolutionary] it IS an actual "existence" that is NOT
> MERELY IDEAL [as epiphenomenal] but rather exists as a particular KIND of
> artifact every bit as real as cathedrals and states and rights.
> > The particular kind of subject that we are familiar with seems
> intimately linked to "texs" and "states" and "rights" and from my
> perspective is a particular possessive kind of inner world.
> > Andy, going back to Charles Taylor's notion of "theories" as necessary
> to SIMPLIFY and REDUCE dynamic complexity, [life always exceeds our
> theories] points to the need for collective activity but a central kind of
> activity for the "inner world" to arise I believe is hermeneutical and
> dialogical con-verse-ations.
> > Gadamer's notion that these conversations CONTINUE to occur across the
> centuries [not as a backward glance but in real time]. "I" read an author
> such as Aristotle today and this reading [con-verse-ation] points to
> "texts" and "inner worlds" both arising as artifacts which occupy the same
> phenomenological [not epiphenomenal] actuality.
> > Therefore, we need to be cautious when saying we are constructing &
> deconstructing "texts" and "inner worlds" AS IF they are epiphenomenal.
> They ARE phenomenal and can annililated as actualities if the cultural
> historical world is annililated but I don't think we can deconstruct the
> texts and "inner worlds" and leave this particular cultural historical
> world intact.
> > That is the reason I was attempting to make a distinction between the
> terms "construct" and "understood" [as a dialogical intersubjective notion
> as used by Gadamer]
> > Andy, I "hold" [possess] these perspectives tentatively, but it is
> where my curiosity alights.
> > Larry
> > On Wed, Jan 4, 2012 at 2:33 AM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com <mailto:
> firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:
> > OK, Larry has selected Lektorsky's chapter in the 2009 book to read.
> > Larry, instead of running on to consider 15 different concepts of
> > the inner world, shouldn't we wait on a second and think about
> > Lekotrsky's claim? What do you think of the claim that the very
> > idea of an "inner world" or "self" is a cultural-historical
> > construct, i.e., that in say Aristotle's times, such a concept did
> > not exist and therefore that it would simply not be sensible to
> > talk of people having such a "self"?
> > Andy
> > Larry Purss wrote:
> > I went on Google Scholar and typed in "Vladislav Lektorsky"
> > The book "Learning and Expanding with Activity" came up free
> > to download.
> > I'm sending an attachment if others are interested.
> > Chapter 5 "Mediation as a Means of Collective Activity" by V.
> > Lektorsky is
> > on pages 75 to 87.
> > Page 80 explores Lektorsky's perspective of the notion of the
> > subject. I'll
> > quote what he says.
> > "The idea of the "inner world" is very important in cultural
> > and social
> > contexts. The subject as the unity of consciousness, the unity
> > of an
> > individual biography, and the center of making decisions can
> > exist only as
> > the center of "the inner world". *But the appearance of the
> > "inner world" is
> > possible only when the IDEA of "the inner" arises in culture*,
> > in other
> > words, when it is realized in forms of collective activity.
> > This means that
> > there may exist cultures and forms of activity including forms of
> > communication where the subjects have no feelings of the ego
> > and "the inner
> > world".
> > The ego of an individual subject may be UNDERSTOOD to be a
> > complicated, changing, and somewhat problematic formation. It
> > different layers, which sometimes are INTERPRETED as different
> > egos,
> > engaged in communication WITH EACH OTHER and formed in
> > different kinds of
> > activity and n different relations with other people. Ego
> > identity can be
> > confused and fragmented. Thus, an individual subject can be
> > UNDERSTOOD to
> > be a collective subject. A specific feature of such a
> > collective subject is
> > that it is embodied in a single physical body and has a unity of
> > consciousness and a central ego, REGULATING activities of
> > different
> > subegos. In cases of multiple personalities a central ego is
> > absent so
> > several egos coexist in the same body."
> > I am not endorsing this particular perspective, but offer
> > Lektorsky's
> > version of the "self" formed within activity theory as an
> > example that
> > "self" "agency" "subjectivity" "individuality" "ego" "person"
> > "agent"
> > "agency" "free will" "self-determination" "self-regulation"
> > "personality"
> > "personhood" and the RELATION between these various terms are
> > being
> > fully explored and expressed within activity theory as ARISING
> > phenomena.
> > I would like to propose that dialogical hermeneutical notions
> > of "situated
> > agency" have a place/space within this constellation of terms.
> > Larry
> > -
> > *Andy Blunden*
> > Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
> > Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <
> > Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
> > <http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857>
> > __________________________________________
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> -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
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