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[Xmca-l] Alex Kozulin's notion of three planes of understanding
thanks for sending the article on the risks of being a public intellectual.
Anna Sfard also recently posted on who university scholars *address* in
I have been re-reading Alex Kozulin's book written 25 years ago [Vygotsky's
Psychology: A Biography of Ideas.]
Alex, in the epilogue to that book summed up by positing three trends in
Vygotsky scholarship which he called three *planes*.
The 1st plane corresponds to the understanding of Vygotsky's theory by his
contemporaries in the 1920's and 1930's.
The 2nd plane emerges with the discovery of Vygotsky's theory in the West
in the 1960's .
In 1990 Kozulin perceived the emergence of a 3rd plane of Vygotsky
scholarship which is re-evaluating the presuppositions of the 1920's. What
in the 1920's appeared to be a straight forward thesis of social mediation,
and in the 1960's as a necessary corrective to the individualistic
approaches of Western Psychology, in 1990 emerges as a radically new
question. The realization that within Vygotsky's theory social AND cultural
mediatory mechanisms do NOT coincide.
"The origins and context of Vygotsky's theories are now being seen in a new
light; in place of comparisons to Pavlov, the Gestaltists and Piaget comes
the context of philosophical hermeneutics and the theory of communicative
action. In an even broader sense, what looked like Vygotsky's contribution
TO psychology appears now as leading BEYOND psychology or at least BEYOND
traditional psychology and into the sphere of human studies BASED on the
humanistic, rather than the scientific model." [p. 278-279].
I am not sure how relevant Kozulin's epilogue seems to others 25 years
later, but I found the themes in this book very current and relevant. In
particular his analysis of Vygotsky's early humanistic writings explored
in chapter one on *The Psychology of Art* and chapter two on the theme of
Vygotsky's book on the tragedy of Hamlet. These works were written by a
young public scholar developing his identity through engaging in the deep
questions of life and existence.
How does this relate to Anna and Mike's postings?
The discussion of corporate *money* controlling who gets to be the audience
for researcher's articles [Anna Sfard's question] and the question of the
role of *public* intellectuals who are addressing humanistic questions and
Vygotsky's writings as a humanistic writer seem related to the concept of
Kozulin's 3rd plane of engagement BEYOND narrow academic disciplinary
Will the university as an institution remain a place for these humanistic
studies and the type of scholarship which Alex captures in his biography of
Vygotsky's ideas, based on the humanistic model?. How central to Vygotsky's
later psychological theories were his earlier reflections on art and