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[Xmca-l] Re: Alex Kozulin's notion of three planes of understanding
Yes, but the comment that Vygotsky could only have been written within
a particular historical epoch always seems trite, banal, and therefore
basically wrong to me. It is, of course, objectively true that every
historical moment is different from every other historical moment, if
only by virtue of the fact that the other historical moments precede
it and each historical moment therefore includes their trace. It is
also true that if you try to write like Vygotsky in our own day people
will laugh (Martin once accused me of trying, and in my defense I had
to plead, naively, that I thought that's what a translator did).
Professor Glick says, in his preface to the History of the Development
of the Higher Mental Functions in Volume Four of the Collected Works,
that Vygotsky really has TWO salient characteristics which rather
contradict each other. One is that he is intensely engaged in
virtually all of the major psychological and even philosophical
disputes of his time--very frustrating for the translator because it
mires you in footnotes, but of really an essential part of Vygotsky
the public intellectual. The other, which I think is really more
important, is that he always manages to seem like his writing about
YOUR time as well as his own.
Marx remarks that the thing we need to explain about the ancient
Greeks is not what they meant to themselves; they didn't even know
that they were ANCIENT Greeks. What we really need to explain is why
they still mean anything to us today at all. But that's my wife's
job--she's teaching World Lit these days, and they have to spend weeks
and weeks getting Odysseus home to Ithaca.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
On 18 March 2014 12:58, Larry Purss <email@example.com> wrote:
> I often feel *in over my head* in these conversations
> without enough background to comment.
> However, I will comment on what I found intriquing in Kozulin's commentary
> on Vygotsky's exploration of art and Hamlet and the *mythological*
> trans-disciplinary theme of tragedy
> Kozulin's *reading* of Vygotsky's early work on esthetics and tragedy shows
> Vygotsky engaged with similar themes which were emerging in Marburg with
> Heidegger and Gadamer at this same time. [the 1920's &30's].
> Chapter one and two of Kozulin's book bring to awareness that Vygotsky was
> deeply immersed in exploring this *mythological realm* questioning the
> supra-psychological aspect BEYOND the merely subjective.
> Kozulin shows that the book Doctor Zhivago was also a genre of writing
> exploring the way we are *called* and that there are *forces* calling
> BEYOND the personal which however are historical. Kozulin for example says
> neither Doctor Zhivago or Vygotsky's writings [which Kozulin reads as
> sharing a family resemblance] could have been written in any other
> epoch except within this historical epoch. THIS is because of the shared
> questions which they were attempting to answer
> THIS *3rd plane* which Kozulin is *illuminating* [his book is developing
> this theme] is pointing to this trans-disciplinary supra-psychological [but
> effected within history] reality.
> David, I hope Alex Kozulin will respond and share his current reflections
> on your question. I was amazed how deeply Vygotsky as a young man could
> engage with these themes and I came away with a new appreciation for the
> vitality and depth of engagement Vygotsky *incarnated* in his writings at
> this *liminal* time in his own development within this historical epoch.
> As I say, I am in over my head, but through these *canonical* texts the
> notion of the *romantic* AND the *supra-psychological* in DIALOGUE seems to
> me the way to play with these themes.
> Everybody except Hamlet AS *ghosts* brings in the awareness of a
> realm BEYOND the personal which is expressed THROUGH the personal.
> David, I don't have answers but I find these questions have a vitality
> which I sense Kozulin was expressing in his book.
> On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 2:34 PM, David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> 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 <email@example.com> wrote:
>> > Mike,
>> > thanks for sending the article on the risks of being a public
>> > 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
>> > 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
>> > 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.
>> > in the 1920's appeared to be a straight forward thesis of social
>> > 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
>> > mediatory mechanisms do NOT coincide.
>> > Alex writes:
>> > "The origins and context of Vygotsky's theories are now being seen in a
>> > light; in place of comparisons to Pavlov, the Gestaltists and Piaget
>> > the context of philosophical hermeneutics and the theory of communicative
>> > action. In an even broader sense, what looked like Vygotsky's
>> > 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
>> > 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
>> > for researcher's articles [Anna Sfard's question] and the question of the
>> > role of *public* intellectuals who are addressing humanistic questions
>> > 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
>> > Vygotsky's ideas, based on the humanistic model?. How central to
>> > later psychological theories were his earlier reflections on art and
>> > tragedy?
>> > Larry