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RE: RE: [xmca] The Frail Chain

First of all, I want to thank everybody who has contributed to this thread, not only for their remarkable contributions (from which I too have learnt rather more than these poor lines will reflect) but above all for NOT changing the subject line. I know my subject lines are not particularly informative and they have annoyed more than one reader. But in this case there is a very good reason.


I think that development is UNLIKE a chain in at least two senses. First of all, the links may be of very different sizes (e.g. the "link" of the child's heaps is almost dimensionless and in a very different way so are the older child's concepts of the universal, while complexive ways of thinking must change with every degree of latitude on the measure of generality). Secondly, they are made of very different stuff: of holding, of grasping, of pointing, of naming, and of signifying. So in that sense development is always a fragile link--like the "and" between "Romanticism" and "Enlightenment". 


Marshall Brown, in his wonderful essay on romanticism and enlightenment, begins with the rather obvious remark that there was not one enlightenment, nor was there any essential romanticism, and if we want to understand either, we can really only focus on the "and" that stands between them, and treat it as a vector without any actual location or velocity (rather like the "and" in Thinking and Speech", or the "and" in Tool and Sign).  I think Andy implicitly recognizes this when he reduces the enlightenment to Kant alone, and romanticism to Herder.


But in the end of his essay, Brown (in true Romantic fashion!) relates both romanticism and enlightenment to a larger whole, of which we are certainly a part. Romanticism, he argues, is a revolutionary reflection upon enlightenment--romantic man is the enlightenment becoming self-conscious, or, if you like, Herder extending the heterogeneity that Kant had found within the mind to "the race".


Now, in Brown, this "revolutionary" reflection means revolution in the eighteenth century sense--a turning inward, an ingrowing, or what Vygotsky would later call "intro-volution", vraschevaniye. But I think it can also be understood as a disenchantment with the political and social revolution. And I find that it is in that sense that it most applicable to Vygotsky, and it's really in that sense that Vygotsky himself is an anti-romantic.


Larry--I think that Freud and Jung BOTH were "revolutionary" in the sense of turning back to prescientific ideas about dreams. Both had a fully "primitive" idea that these were "royal roads"--not to the future, but rather to the past. I also think that Vygotsky despised Freud and for good reason--he recognized that all of the most important ideas in Freud (transference, the subconscious mind, displacement) were stolen from poor old Janet, spiced up with pansexualism, and then marketed to the neurotic rich (whereas Janet had placed himself at the service of public medicine).


What was good in Freud was not Freud, as far as Vygotsky was concerned, and what was Freud was not good. In particular, I think that Vygotsky resented the fact that where Janet really did believe that neurosis was caused, as it is in the novel Frankenstein by the great enlightenment-romantic Mary Shelley, by the social mistreatment of the individual, Freud positied that it was all the individual mistreating himself. For Janet--and for Vygotsky--that was blaming the victim.


Mike--there is really no question in my mind that you are right; Vygotsky did use the term "primitive", and he also believed that at some level the disabled person, the uneducated peasant (he actually uses Jews rather than Muslims in his examples), and the child do have some things in common. But what they have in common with each other they also have in common with us: a need for development, and a real sense that development is always and everywhere a very fragile "and".


David Kellogg

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies


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