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



Andy,

I find your comments very helpful. The Social Studies of Science people have, in my view, been very successful in showing that science, all science, seeks ways to make new phenomena visible - in other words, to expand 'what is given in experience' - in order to expand the range of explanation. Ironically, the positivists were also opposed to building scientific knowledge on anything other than experience, but they had a narrow view of what experience consists of, limiting it basically to atomic sensations. In the social sciences is not positivism but what has been called "Formal science" that has insisted on trying to explain what is visible in terms of structures or functions that are abstractions, putting the cart before the horse. It seems to me that LSV was wise in finding something of value in the phenomenology of his time (Husserl and Shpet), because since then phenomenologists - such as Merleau-Ponty and Garfinkel - have continued to insist the inquiry must be based on experience, and have demonstrated the power of this approach.

Martin


On Mar 18, 2014, at 8:12 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> My reading is this.
> "Romantic Science" I associate with Goethe, and the fragile thread of scientists which followed him.
> Goethe himself insisted that his ideas about science were no to be seen as exclusive or antagonistic to positivist approaches. He used the diversity of Christian sects active in the New York of his day as a metaphor for how he saw science as developing, as against the homeogeneity of a state religion.
> So far as I know, it was only Luria who self-identified with "romantic science", but I think it is fair to say that Vygotsky was also, but Vygotsky identified himself as a Marxist, not a Romantic.
> I do not see the Romantic/Positivist difference as descriptive/explanatory, though I can see the basis for that. Romantic science prefers to use what is given in experience as the foundation for explanation, rather than postulating metaphysical "forces" which are beyond sensation as explanations for what is given in experience, which is what positivism does. For Goethe, Newton was the archetype of this.
> I think the nomothetic/ideographic distinction is also another valid rendering of the Romantic/Positivist difference, but I think it is only partial. It is one possible way of implementing the conviction that we must resist, so far as possible, abstracting from experience. But for Goethe, it was always a question of resisting that for as long as possible, never a rejection of the necessity of abstracting altogether. That's why he called Romantic Science a "delicate empiricism."
> It is true that it is very fashionable nowadays (and for at least a generation) to claim holism and various similar ideas. The point with Romanticism is not so much the aim of holistic synthesis rather than positivist analysis, but Romanticism shows *how* it is possible to "begin from the whole." Positivist efforts at "holistic analysis" are usually, in my view, forms of words alone, beginning by gathering a whole bunch of abstractions together and calling them the whole, and then re-discovering the abstractions again.
> But as Hegel said, "there is nothing on Earth, in Heaven or anywhere else, that is not both mediated and immediate."
> 
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> 
> 
> mike cole wrote:
>> David, Martin. My apologies if I was reading idiocyncratically and too
>> literally.
>> 
>> I stumbled when I read I have always resisted the Lurian characterization
>> of Vygotsky as a romantic scientist, because I never heard ARL speak of LSV
>> in those terms, nor did I put his idea of romantic science together with
>> explanatory/descriptive.
>> 
>> 
>> Perhaps the problem is that I had not properly appreciated the line that
>> David points to:
>> 
>> "On p. 175 he says "One of the major factors that drew me to Vygotsky was
>> his emphasis on the necessity to resolve (sic) this crisis", meaning the
>> crisis brought about by the split between classical and romantic
>> tendencies."
>> 
>> My failure was that I have long thought of the split being confronted as
>> between explanatory and descriptive psychology. It had not occurred to me
>> to equate descriptive with romantic. I also have, and continue, to think of
>> Luria's particular approach to romantic science as a means of overcoming
>> the nomoethetic/idiographic dichotomy that is also at play here.
>> 
>> Your way of putting this together with German romanticism helps make sense
>> of the way that more contemporary cultural historical scholars have used
>> the term "non-classical" to refer to the Vygotskian tradition.
>> 
>> mike
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 7:30 AM, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co
>>  
>>> wrote:
>>>    
>> 
>>  
>>> Mike,
>>> 
>>> Like David, I too have read Luria as arguing for romantic science contra
>>> the classical alternative, and attributing this to LSV. Is your reading
>>> that Luria wants to combine the two, and this is what he saw LSV doing?
>>> 
>>> Martin
>>> 
>>> On Mar 18, 2014, at 7:59 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> 
>>>    
>>>> I thought you had an actual example, David.
>>>> 
>>>> So far as I know, LSV never used the term, and the terms " holism,
>>>> with anti-reductionism and Gestalt" were characteristic of many who did
>>>>      
>>> not
>>>    
>>>> claim romantic science as an organizing framework. The way you wrote it
>>>> made it sound like a direct attribution to a specific individual.
>>>> 
>>>> Hence my question.
>>>> mike
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 10:18 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com
>>>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>      
>>>>> Oh, I got it from a wonderful book by Luria edited by Michael and
>>>>> Sheila Cole, "The Making of Mind". The phrase "romantic scientist" is
>>>>> not really Luria's to begin with; he took it from Max Verwoern. But on
>>>>> p. 174 of "The Making of Mind", he associates "romantic" with holism,
>>>>> with anti-reductionism and Gestalt, using Vygotsky's favorite quotes.
>>>>> 
>>>>> "Classical scholars are those who look upon events in terms of their
>>>>> constituent parts. Step by step they single out important units and
>>>>> elements until they can formulate abstract general laws. These laws
>>>>> are then seen as the governing agents of the phenomena of the field
>>>>> under study. One outcoem of this approach is the reduction of living
>>>>> reality with all its richenss of detail to abstract schemas. The
>>>>> roperties ofhte iving whole are lost, which provoked Goethe to pen,
>>>>> 'Gray is eery theory, but ever green is the tree of life."
>>>>> 
>>>>> "Romantic scholars traits, attitudes and strategies are just the
>>>>> opposite. They do not follow the path of reductionism, which is the
>>>>> leading philosophy of the classical group. Romantics in science want
>>>>> neither to split living reality into its elementary components nor to
>>>>> represent the wealth of life's concrete events in abstract models that
>>>>> lose the properties of the phenomena themselves. It is of the utmost
>>>>> importance to romantics to preserve the wealth of living reality, and
>>>>> they aspire to a science that retains this richness."
>>>>> 
>>>>> Don't you think that sounds like a thumbnail of Vygotsky?
>>>>> 
>>>>> On p. 175 he says "One of the major factors that drew me to Vygotsky
>>>>> was his emphasis on the necessity to resolve (sic) this crisis",
>>>>> meaning the crisis brought about by the split between classical and
>>>>> romantic tendencies. He then describes the rise of wave after wave of
>>>>> reductionism in psychology in the twentieth century.
>>>>> 
>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>>>> 
>>>>> On 18 March 2014 12:14, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>        
>>>>>> David-- Where did luria say that Vygotsky was engaged in Romantic
>>>>>>          
>>>>> Science.
>>>>>        
>>>>>> I missed it!
>>>>>> mike
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 2:34 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
>>>>>>          
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>        
>>>>>>> Larry:
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> Hamlet.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> men.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>> board.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>              
>>>    
>> 
>> 
>>  
> 


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