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Re: RES: [xmca] Vygotskii-Lewin as gestaltists and the critics of gestaltism in '30s

Which, for me, raises the question of the relationship of historiography to human science. Bad history and bad science are bad without any help from each other, while good science and good history ought to support one another. But to me, what Vygotsky wrote, let alone said or thought 90 years ago is secondary to what makes sense for me now, despite the fact that I rate Vygotsky among the handful of geniuses whose words I take notice of. I have no access to the resources of a University laboratory to do research, but history and my own experience provides me with an adeequate empirical basis for my science. But having no knowledge of the Russian language or access to 90 yearold manuscripts, I have absolutely no way of having an opinion on the accuracy of old manuscripts or their translation. I simply cannot disagree with any opinion expressed on those matters. So I have to abstain. Does that disqualify me from having an opnion about Cultural Psychology and Activity Theory? I think not. Also, everyone else has the same access to the same data I have, so we can always talk out any differences, provided we discuss Cultural Psychology and Activity Theory rather than the thoughts of someone who died 75 years ago (as interested as they would be). Of course, if I am told that everything in English that I read about Vygotsky's view is fraudulent, then that is unsettling, even depressing. But I guess I don't care, at the end of the day, whether it is some fake Vygotsky , fabricated by a succession of Stalinist hacks, whose ideas have been such an inspiration to me, and if the original Lev Vygotsky was in fact some kind of fool who stumbled from one mistake to the next. Odd, but actually, it would not change my mind about anything of importance.
mike cole wrote:
notorious and shameful!! Wow.

On Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 6:35 PM, Anton Yasnitsky <the_yasya@yahoo.com>wrote:

"The text" -- which one?

If this is "The problem of consciousness", then its first appearance is in
a volume "Psikhologiia grammatiki"
(The psychology of grammar). Moscow: Izdatel'stvo MGU, 1968 (edited by
A.A. Leontiev and T.V. Riabova).

The second edition in the notiorous and shameful Collected Works of
Vygotskii in 6 volumes,
the one later translated into English (6 vols.) and Spanish (5 vols.).

If you are asking about some other text, Joao, please, clarify which  one
of those mentioned along the thread.


 From: Joao Martins <jbmartin@sercomtel.com.br>
To: 'Anton Yasnitsky' <the_yasya@yahoo.com>; "'eXtended Mind, Culture,
Activity'" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:14:20 PM
Subject: RES: [xmca] Vygotskii-Lewin as gestaltists and the critics of
gestaltism       in '30s

Where the text was published?


-----Mensagem original-----
De: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] Em
de Anton Yasnitsky
Enviada em: quarta-feira, 24 de abril de 2013 21:23
Para: Martin Packer; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Assunto: [xmca] Vygotskii-Lewin as gestaltists and the critics of
in '30s

Oh, this one is pretty easy. Two points:

Point 1. The source is fairly idiosyncratic and should be almost totally
distrusted. Firstly, Vygotsky never wrote this text:

Leontiev (A.N.) and Zaporozhets did. This text was generated on the basis
the notes the two guys were taking

during Vygotskii's several hours long presentation, and only God knows what
exactly the whole talk was about.

Naturally, the title was invented by the publishers of these notes
--Leontiev A.A. and Ryabova (Akhutina)--who

released it for the first time in 1968. Then, the textological hybrid was
republished in the Collected Works, with grave mistakes in chronology, but,
quite  possibly, there are also other involuntary mistakes and deliberate
censorship in the style of Yaroshevskii's usual brutal editing of
Vygotskii's texts.

Luckily, some notes that Vygotskii prepared BEFORE the talk have preserved

hurray, hurray!--were published fairly recently by Zavershneva.
I guess, furthermore, we also published the stuff in English some time ago.
Quite a bonus, I would say.
So, it might be pretty interesting to compare the two sources, whatever
brief and fragmentary both are.

Anyway, all this needs to be kept in mind as long as this publication is

Point 2. To the matter: "cultural-historical gestalt psychology" as a
synthesis of Soviet Luria-Vygotskian and, on the other hand,
gestalt psychology. Regardless of what Vygotskii--or, rather Leontiev,
Zaporozhets and Yaroshevskii--say in this paper "The problem of
consciousness", there is overwhelming evidence of most intensive

and productive contacts between the two groups of scholars and, if not
mutual convergence, then most enthusiastic attempts to integrate
German-American gestaltist scholarship in the Soviet Union. I could
try to relate this story here, but for the time being would refer to the
work that has already been done.

It took me several [already published] papers to provide arguments in
support of this claim.
Some of these are in Russian, but the just of one of these is available in
English (and some other languages), too.
All these are available here, right after Keiler's seminal work that shows
that Vygotsky never spoke of "cultural-historical psychology" or, for that
matter, "higher psychic functions" (vysshie psikhicheskie funktsii):


FYI, Russian paper provides numerous footnotes not in Russian that might
give some idea of the contents of the paper.

Also, there are a couple of nice original documents published as
Illustrations within this Russian paper.

Still, the paper does not deal directly with the issue of theoretical
synthesis. Well, in fact, such paper is not written yet.

In a couple of words, though, the idea is as follows, I guess: profoundly
influenced by gestaltist holism from late 1929

onwards, Vygotskii, however, moves closer to Kurt Lewin, who, in turn,
started expressing his criticism of gestaltist

preoccupation with holism in favour of more balanced view that would take
into consideration the wholeness and,

on the other hand, the life of organs and the processes in the sub-parts of
the whole, including the processes of

separation and fragmentation. This development looked too revisionist for
the hardcore gestaltist, and fairly renegade.
It is pretty much in this sense Vygotskii was--along with Lewin--a most
devoted gestaltist and, at the same time,
its staunch critic. This is how I would interpret  Lewin's and Vygotskii's
both holism-gestaltism and its critic to the extent

of the danger of excommunication from the ranks of faithful gestaltists.
This is true of the decade of 1930s, but not earlier.


From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
To: Anton Yasnitsky <the_yasya@yahoo.com>; "eXtended Mind, Culture,
Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 6:20:34 PM
Subject: Re: [xmca] "semiotic/semantic [semicheskyj] analysis" (timeo
Vygotskii et dona ferentem)

Hi Anton,

In "The problem of consciousness" (Collected Works, vol. 3), LSV writes
gestalt psychology makes the mistake of assuming that the psychological
functions form a specific kind of unified structure. He says that he wants
to treat this assumption as the problem: to explore the connections among
the psychological functions, and how these connections change dynamically.

Certainly one can read this as an influence of gestalt psychology on his
work. But it doesn't seem much of a movement towards a synthesis, or to
encourage such a synthesis. What's your take on this?


On Apr 23, 2013, at 7:54 PM, Anton Yasnitsky <the_yasya@yahoo.com> wrote:

As I mentioned this on several occasions, a synthesis of Vygotskian ideas
with the solid system of gestaltist thought--
the "cultural-historical gestalt psychology", if I may--looks like a very
interesting and most promising option
for the development of Vygotskiana in psychology today.
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Hegel and CHAT Symposium <http://xlchc.ucsd.edu/symposia/>

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