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Re: [xmca] The Frail Chain

I have found, in the course of advocating for the idea that CHAT is part of the tradition of Romantic Science, that antipathy to this view comes mainly from those who value Kant most highly, and/or want to retain Hegel in combination with Kant. Romantic Science was a reaction against the Enlightenment, and for these people, it remains a reactionary current of thought. As I see it, Romantic Science was a reaction against the elements of Kant which were anti-humanist. In particular, universalism in his conception of the human being, and his readiness to break the individual up into distinct faculties. But to Kantians, the negation of Kantian universalism is an attack on universal human rights in favour of particularism, and leads to nationalism, racism, etc., etc. In this respect, I found that in trying to get my article on Goethe and Hegel published in German translation, I had to cut out the section on Herder because the mere mention of Herder produced such a negative reaction from Marxists in Germany! This has a similar basis: people see Herder's interest in the roots of human life in particularity as a step along the road to Hitler. In addition to this, people who have a positivist and mainstream conception of scientific practice take "Romantic Science" to be utterly non-serious. Goethe himself suffered this verdict in his own day.

Hope that helps.


mike cole wrote:
Hi Larry-

People have different ways of trying to combine insights associated with
Vygotsky et al that we call CHAT.
So I guess I don't really want to discuss is CHAT a Romantic science. Andy
has done a ton of work tracing
back lineages of Romantic science. A pretty long and diverse lineage.

I specifically do not want to grant David's comment that "an even more
important reason to reject the epithet of romantic science is that it
assumes a very ahistorical and non-dialectical opposition between
romanticism and enlightenment.

I do not interpret Luria this way, so entering the discussion on that basis
just doesn't attract me. Who among us would start out with that premise?
Not David, not me. So, for me the discussion is to explore the varieties
and choices and what we, ourselves, are seeking to do in our work/lives.

Luria and Vygotsky spoke of will.self control as learning to control
oneself from the outside. They sided with many who declare that "in the
beginning is the deed."  When you put those ideas together, how are they
contradicted by

I was serious when I said that the quotation from Marx seemed apropriate.
Luria was a clinician AND an experimentalist, often with the same
individuals. In at least two famous cases, he interacted with individuals
over decades. His version of Romantic Science was decidedly BOTH/AND not
either/or and the crucible of
practice was where the two, historically intertwined work views reveal

I think David engages in this form of science, too. You see it in his
ability to bring his academic knowledge of
language, thought, and development to the practice of teaching as a second
language. In another way he
does it in his finest examples for great works of art and their analysis
through Vygotskian thought.

I am simply intellectually incapable of now adding more voices into the
discussion without reaching some
understanding of our presumed common starting points, to the extent to
which such exist! (Which is one of
the issues we struggle with always on xmca!).

I beg you pardon for asking you to pause before moving on. I feel on too
unsure  a footing to follow at the moment.


On Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 7:24 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

Good morning Mike and David

THIS topic:  Is CHAT a Romantic science?

 seems central to explorations of the yearning and desire to transform the
world.  David , your sharing Hazlitt's insight that volition and will are
not retrospective, or focused on the present, but rather oriented to
anticipating how to act in the future seems to be a wonderful temporal
dimension to explore.

Another way IN to this topic is your comment,

 It seems to me that an even more important reason to reject the epithet
of romantic science is that it assumes a very ahistorical and
non-dialectical opposition between romanticism and enlightenment.

So, I would like to propose that "seeing through" THIS tension [or way of
reading] the historical movement BETWEEN romanticism and enlightenment IS
the narrative to explore.

An analogy to Freud and Jung's ongoing conversation about dreams and where
they come from and their function may be relevant to this topic as a way to
show a dialectic within psychology as an _expression_ of psyche.
Freud saw dreams as retrospective, memory traces, expressing the infantile
wishfulfillment at the heart of the unconscious. Jung saw dreams as having
a teleological function calling us into the future.
Now both Freud and Jung constructed autobiographical myths where they
positioned themselves as the protaganosists who were DISCOVERING this new
realm of the unconscious.  In fact, this conversation had been
EXPLICITLY developing for at least a century as a RESPONSE within German
Romanticism to the enlightenment yearnings for certainty. For example
dreams as PROSPECTIVE and prophetic was a key notion of German
Romanticism. These ideas were being developed and extended by authors such
as Flourney as a deepening conversation between the enlightenment and
German Romanticism.  However, in the egocentric yearning for recognition of
"I"  as the author of a discovery, the HISTORICAL conversation BETWEEN
Romanticism and enlightenment impulses [as the location of the development
of the narrative] becomes lost.
I wonder if this same tendency may be at play in the ongoing conversation
in CHAT exploring the creative imagination and instrumental orientations?

One further aside. Dreams and play were also being explored at this
time for the common functions expressed in rehearsing the NEXT steps in the
developmental process within dreams and play as analogus impulses.

While I'm here, I want to add an insight from Zygmunt Bauman's notions of
solid and liquid modernity in his discussion of Freud's book *Freiheit and
Sicherheit* [translated as Freedom and Security].

Bauman calls our attention to an error in translation of this title as
"sicherheit" is a much more complex term than "security" and expresses the
UNITY of three English terms that are seen as autonomous concepts.
Sicherheit as a notion expresses the UNITY of the terms security &
certainty & safety which are viewed as autonomous concepts in English.

Bauman suggests as we read Freud's writing we see he was exploring the
themes of freedom [romantic notion] and sicherheit [security, certainty,
and safety as enlightenment orientations].

Bauman's key idea is that historically we are in transition from a time of
solid modernity to what he terms liquid modernity.  Freud was writing at a
time of solid modernity when the quest for sicherheit as ORDER and
NORMS made the yearning for freedom vulnerable. Today, in times of liquid
modernity, the trade off is now reversed. Individual freedom is in the
ascendence but the prime consequence is the fragility of sicherheit AS
Bauman writes,

"In liquid modernity the dearth of risk-free CHOICES and the growing
unclarity of the game-rules which render most of the moves and above all
the outcomes of the moves - which rebound as perceptions of threat to
SAFETY - first the safety of the body and then the safety of property -
that space-body extension. The withdrawal into the SAFE haven of
territoriality is an intense, desiring temptation - and so the DEFENSE of
the SAFE home becomes the passkey to all doors which one feels must be
locked up and sealed off to stave off the TRIPLE threat to SPIRITUAL and
MATERIAL sicherheit" [Bauman, "social Issues of Law and Order" in The
British Journal of Criminology, 2000, v.40, p205-221]

Bauman's exploring the yearning for law and order as SAFETY would explain
the tea party movement, etc. which he suggests is a GENERAL  response to
liquid modernity and its deep bias towards individual freedom. For Bauman,
this pursuit of a romantic ideal has consequences of increased
vulnerability to sicherheit.  [which is displaced into the pursuit of
SAFETY because security and certainty are existential human  yearnings
but governments can respond to safety concerns

Mike, David, I hope the invitation to explore the hermeneutical historical
conversation BETWEEN romantic and enlightenment will generate further
responses. Opening this theme as a generative conversation within our
Western history may make explicit the tension between freedom [romantic
ideal] and sicherheit [enlightenment ideal] that is in play in our searches
and researches


On Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 6:30 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

Well it turns out that my prior message is relevant to this one from
David - Kind of you to remind us that rust we must and thanks very much
the Hazlitt.

I really do not like the notion of Romantic Science  as you characterize
it. Theme for a longer discussion.
And thanks for that too!!

On Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 5:26 PM, kellogg <kellogg59@hanmail.net> wrote:

  First of all, many congratulations to Mike on becoming a robust and
even somewhat rusty link in the delicate chain of development. May
there be
many more.

I think Virginia Woolf once said that the First World War was, on a
microgenetic level, kept going by millions of minuscule failures of
imagination, for otherwise it were impossible, knowing what another
person's life must mean to him, to take it away. I have been thinking of
this in the context of a wonderful essay by William Hazlitt which I have
always loved (yes, that is the exactly the right word).


Hazlitt wants to construct a theory of human action to disprove the
Smith/Hume odel based on rational self-interest. He does this rather
deftly, by demonstrating that neither the past nor the present can be
object of human will (since human will can alter neither) and therefore
volition can only be future directed.

But the future of the "self", whatever that may turn out to be, is no
real to rational self-interest than the future of some other person,
and in
fact is considerably less so, because other persons are a very tangible
presence in the present. All volition, whether directed to the self or
the fellow man, is based on imagination, and a strictly rational
imagination is hardly anything more than perception, which he has
demonstrated can be no basis for human action (since the objects
to perception are in the present).

I have always resisted identifying Vygotsky with "romantic science"
(although I know that was Luria's phrase), and not just for the obvious
reason that Vygotsky had a holy horror for the cult of the individual,
for sentimentality, and for the gothic, and in many ways was a true
of Spinoza and he enlightenment. It seems to me that an even more
reason to reject the epithet of romantic science is that it assumes a
ahistorical and non-dialectical opposition between romanticism and

But if there is a frail, romantic link in our clanking chain, here it
Andy points out that activity theory has suffered a lot from an
(that is an instrumental, object oriented) bent, ever since the days
Leontiev declared that motivation is little more than backwash from an
object. Here's the antidote!

David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

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*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
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