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Re: [xmca] A.A. Leontiev on his father: very sad and lamentable :))

Very sad and lamentable indeed. 

In contrast to this ungrounded piece of hagiography and propaganda produced the late Alexei Leontiev, fils

see two recent works that provide nice evidence against this mythological account of how 'zee bloody KGB'

[virtually fully] destroyed Vygotsky and his legacy.

1. Contra the legend of continuity:
See the most recent paper that has just come out in the Interamerican Journal of Psychology -- 

Da relação Vigotski e Leontiev – Alguns apontamentos a respeito da história da psicologia soviética 
 by Joao Batista Martins (full text available online)


This one is in Portuguese, but quite incidentally, a somewhat similar publication is going to come out soon

in English, Portuguese and Russian in the most well-known all over the globe Russian psychological journal
PsyAnima, Dubna Psychological Journal [ http://www.psyanima.ru/ ], fully available online.

If interested, don't miss the revolutionary and revisionist special issues of this edition.

2. Contra the legend of the Stalinist suppresion of Vygotsky :

See the forthcoming refutation of the piles of the age-old lies about the "Vygotsky ban" in the groundbreaking study 

conducted most recently by young -- but very promising -- scholar Jenn Fraser  (remember this name!):

Jenn Fraser

Vygotsky’s Victimization Narrative: 
Re-Examination of the Stalinist “Suppression” of Vygotskian Theory 

Other than that, A.A. Leontiev's piece is a fairly entertaining and somewhat amazing read, indeed :)



 From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu> 
Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 1:39:51 PM
Subject: [xmca] A.A. Leontiev on his father

I've had an opportunity to read the attached historical account that Haydi sent a week or so ago (re-attached here). It's quite fascinating, too long to reduce easily to a listserv post, but I'll try.

The essay helps to complicate some issues that I have oversimplified in the past. One of the main points of the account is to challenge the belief that Leontiev and LSV had a severe break when Leontiev left for Kharkov. The narrative I've always accepted is that Leontiev shifted away from the ideal and toward activity, and in so doing shifted away from LSV both professionally (and geographically) and personally. AA Leontiev's account of his father's relationship with Vygotsky sees their departure as lacking the hostility generally attributed to it, and also sees Vygotsky's work involving the seeds of activity as a unit of analysis, thus challenging the idea of a complete professional break. I think that Michael Roth tried to persuade me that their differences were not so great, and this essay would support that view. It's worth reading if you have interest in the disposition of their relationship shortly before Vygotsky's death.

The second area I found interesting (and tragic) is the idea that Vygotsky's depression over the impending pedology decree (which rendered his own work anti-Marxist and incorrect) led him to bring on his own death. Mike Cole mentioned to me a few years ago that he thought Vygotsky allowed himself to die rather than face the inevitable destruction of his life and career in the Stalinist crackdown of the 1930s. This account fully supports that perspective, with evidence of LSV's careless health habits toward the end in spite of his delicate bodily functions (he began smoking, stopped shielding himself from the Russian winters, lived in unhealthy environments without concern for health effects). Very sad and lamentable.

The essay concludes with the post-Vygotskian repression of his followers and their shattered careers in the face of accusations of anti-Marxism and accompanying arrests, dismissals, and deaths. 

Thanks for sharing. I'm the richer for having read it, even as my brief summary here does the essay insufficient justice. p 

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Haydi Zulfei
Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 6:05 AM
To: "ablunden@mira.net"; "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
Subject: Fw: Fw: Re: [xmca] Double Stimulation?

Excuse me . I forgot to attach a son's defense of his father . Haydi
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com>
To: "ablunden@mira.net" <ablunden@mira.net>; "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu> 
Sent: Tuesday, 18 June 2013, 14:23:38
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: [xmca] Double Stimulation?

Dear Michael Cole 
If I may , and if I might be able to have a very little talk to your supreme greatness , and if I'm not to be reproached to have decided to write in a foreign language , then to your benevolent permission will I dare to tell you : I do know I'm not the one who can discuss such matters with you but as everybody has reasons for their claims , I'm willing to relate : USSR was gone and you were relieved of many monstrous maladies there , not just of Stalinism , the destruction of which and whom is the unique slogan of the whole world , but also of Leninism , Marxism (to which Vygotsky credited his time and energy) , ... , and especially of the dark terrible atmosphere in which you , of your own decision and care and desire , with wife and children or child , could gaspingly and suffocatedly breathe , live , learn , get skilled and ... become the Global Figure (Yasnitsky in LiveJournal) mostly because of the knowledge and wit and wisdom (professionally) you
got there of the [Marxian] [Materialistic] [Vygotskian] [School] and the much-appreciated works you did later in THIS respect . You were not with the common people ; you were with the [Great Scholars] of that time WITHIN THE SOVIET UNION , no need to mention the Names , as for one of them the Poor Bratus you denounced shortly recently .
The knowledge accumulated within the body or psyche of , or , as you like to say , the 'spirit' or the soul of these renown scholars came ONLY from their MOTHERS and from the Uteros thereof ? or from the Tsar ? After all , you always refer to the one experiment according to which 'culture' accumulates and then exits through the Uterus . Just one question remains : why tolerate so much toiling and troubles going there ? The Land of Ghosts and Man-Eater Dragons ? Are not great figures products of their time and environment (Revolution meant) ? Mourning is still on for the Huge Losses but this is just one side of the coin ! 
Now , very shortly , you are Ok with all your assertions and beliefs . Why so much focusing on the Dead and not on the Living ?? What is your PRESCRIPTION for the unprecedented huge numerous incalculable inhumanitarian soul-exterminatig vicious maladies , vices , and beast-natured acts of the American Adminstration and their profiteering Mother-and-Daughter CORPORATIONS all over the world (apologies to great American people) , MONOPOLIES , COHORTS , BEN-LADIN BEARING OCTOPUSES , ETC. ETC. ETC. 
It's the same with people of Egypt , Jordon , Libya , Turkey , Iraq , Afghanistan , etc. From the American Administration perspective , what might partially ? be a Spring Time is within the Arabian Peninsula . There , too , heads go off the air with a sword so that extra cheap oil can overflow within the storage huge bankers of the U.S.  Better handle nearby Problems !!

Request : no naming of nationales , thanks !  

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
To: lchcmike@gmail.com; "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu> 
Sent: Tuesday, 18 June 2013, 9:59:46
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: [xmca] Double Stimulation?

Just on the question of Luria, Mike. I am not all that familiar with Luria's distinct contribution, for which I have only myself plus having only one lifetime to blame. But if he is famous for the use of the *idiographic* methodology, then as I see it that is indeed something which dates from Goethe, and I have never particularly highlighted that in my own work. The Urphaenomen is another aspect of Romantic Science. So these are different things, closely related and having the same roots. Maybe it is time for me to use the great Luria On-line Library you have created to educate myself about Luria.


mike cole wrote:

> I fear this does not help me a whole lot, Andy.

> Sorry I cannot grasp the method of Goethe properly. I guess Luria probably failed

> as well. Or maybe he succeeded and I have misunderstood him? Entirely possible.


> I did not ask what what is  at odds. I asked for what the empirical consequences of the the distinctions you are making are. I cannot follow the path to reforming all of the educational system of the USSR or Russia, which, so far as I know, neither

> Vygotsky nor anyone else associated with Activity Theory every accomplished. Nore have I ever seen claims that they have. (The Finns appear to have done well recently using an approach, the relationship to activity theory I have no knowledge of, but perhaps our Finnish colleagues do).


> Here is what would help me, and I suspect others on XMCA. Take an already published piece of work that uses the expanded triangle Yrjo proposes in Learning by Expanding. Say, the work on cleaners in the early work. Tell us about the mistaken conclusions that arise because of misunderstandings that confusion of the triangle for "activity" (no modifiers) causes. Suggest how we might improve our

> understanding. Or tell us why that example works, but some other example (teachers in schools, nurses and doctors in a hospital, etc.) does not.


> Or suggest an entirely different way of looking at matters so that when we go into

> classrooms, housing projects, work places, we can more effectively understand what is going on and be of more help to those with whom we work that publishing another article in MCA.


> I guess I am asking that you rise to the concrete here, keeping the object of analysis constant.


> My apologies if this seems unreasonable. Perhaps it is approaching senility, but

> I am failing to track you.


> mike



> Lost in the words here.

> mike


> On Sun, Jun 16, 2013 at 6:57 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:


>     Yes, in Yjro's (1986) words, it is a "root model". (The derivation

>     of it is a beautiful piece of work, too, close to Hegel's early

>     "System of Ethical Life". Deserves to remain in print).


>     But modelling a complex process is not the same as the method of

>     Goethe, Hegel, Marx and Vygotsky. As you know, Mike, in order to

>     understand this approach, which Luria called Romantic Science, I

>     had to go back to its origins c. 1787 when Goethe was doing his

>     Journey in Italy, studying all the plant life, and its variation

>     by altitude, latittude, nearness to the sea, etc., and in

>     conversation with J G Herder, arrived a his conception of

>     Urphaenomen. The Urphaenomen is not a model.


>     It is an abstraction, true. And yes, the understanding of a

>     complex process by the "romantic" method is indeed, the rising to

>     the concrete, the logical-historical reconstruction of the whole

>     process from this abstract germ.


>     As I remarked (somewhere) I find Yrjo's work over the past couple

>     of years, which focuses more on the germ cell than the triangle,

>     closer to what I am trying to do. The germ cell is not a model either.


>     What is at odds here is whether a real, complex situation (such as

>     reforming the education system in a nation in Africa, rather than

>     in the USSR or Finland) can be based on a conception which

>     isolates a "system of activity", whilst dozens of different

>      ethnic groups, NGOs, government(s), trade unions and so on, are

>     all contesting the aims and benefits of "education." Every person

>     in such a situation is committed to more than one project, and

>     deploys concepts (institutionalised projects) frequently at odds

>     with one another. What is needed is a process whose basic units

>     are (1) units and not systems, and (2) processes of development,

>     processes in which people are struggling to realise ideas,

>     processes of formation. And we need the algebra through which such

>     units interact with one another, rather than declaring any single

>     such interaction to be an entire new "unit" - i.e. coupled systems.


>     Andy

>     mike cole wrote:


>         Isn't the trangle a "model, " Andy? A model of the root

>         metaphor. Still an abstraction... waiting to see if it can

>         rise to the concrete? Perhaps?


>         Empirically speaking, what is at odds here? For whom?


>         mike




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