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[Xmca-l] Re: Alex Kozulin's notion of three planes of understanding


I'm not sure if this is on topic, but I'd like to pick up a strand of
our thread that nobody else has touched. It's the idea that part of
the trans-disciplinary, supra-psychological element of Vygotskyan
theory lies in his early work on esthetics, and specifically on

I have always resisted the Lurian characterization of Vygotsky as a
romantic scientist, because I think he was, as Nadezhda Mandelstam
said and as Bakhurst confirmed (in his piece on "Vygotsky's Demons" in
the Cambridge Companion), a defender of Enlightenment ideas AGAINST
the Romantic counter-revolution of the nineteenth century. When I read
Vygotsky on Hamlet, I can see that he has completely rejected the
nineteenth century idea of Hamlet as romantic hero--that is, an
inspired individual hero among lesser breeds without the law. Hamlet's
depressed, not inspired. He's divided, not individual. And the others
in the play actually perceive Hamlet more accurately than he perceives
himself; Hamlet simply cannot feel the weight of his own body, nor is
he sufficiently aware of his own awareness to be able to distinguish
it from the way things are.

But I recently read a lot about Gordon Craig and Konstantin
Stanislavski's 1912 Moscow production of Hamlet. Whether he saw it or
not (and there is some debate on this point), it had a huge influence
on the way that Vygotsky read Hamlet (we know that Vygotsky saw the
revival of the 1912 production and that he disapproved of it).
Perversely true to the play text, Craig's and Stanislavski's version
was a completely divided production that almost fell apart before
opening night: Craig saw the play as monodrama (that is, everybody in
the play except Hamlet himself is a "ghost" in the mind of Hamlet).
Stanislavski, of course, insisted on a historical drama of real people
whose motivations were all too human; Hamlet was simply a man amongst

You can see that all of Kozulin's planes are present and accounted
for. Stanislavski, the social realist, accounts for the way in which
Vygotsky made sense to his contemporaries. Craig is much closer to the
way we interpret Vygotsky today: a way of making sense of individual
psychology, alongside the work of Freud, Piaget, and others. And the
third, trans-disciplinary, supra-psychological plane? Well, I think
that is yet another plane that has gone missing. But when we find, I
am sure that we will see that Vygotsky himself is safe and sound on

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 17 March 2014 06:17, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> Mike,
> thanks for sending the article on the risks of being a public intellectual.
> Anna Sfard also recently posted on who university scholars *address* in
> their publications.
> 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.
> Alex writes:
> "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
> discourse.
> 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
> tragedy?
> Larry
Status: O