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."
mike cole wrote:
David, Martin. My apologies if I was reading idiocyncratically and too
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
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
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.
On Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 7:30 AM, Martin John Packer <email@example.com
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?
On Mar 18, 2014, at 7:59 AM, mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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
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.
On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 10:18 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com
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.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
On 18 March 2014 12:14, mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
David-- Where did luria say that Vygotsky was engaged in Romantic
I missed it!
On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 2:34 PM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>
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
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
On 17 March 2014 06:17, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
thanks for sending the article on the risks of being a public
Anna Sfard also recently posted on who university scholars *address*
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
Vygotsky scholarship which he called three *planes*.
The 1st plane corresponds to the understanding of Vygotsky's theory
contemporaries in the 1920's and 1930's.
The 2nd plane emerges with the discovery of Vygotsky's theory in the
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.
"The origins and context of Vygotsky's theories are now being seen in
light; in place of comparisons to Pavlov, the Gestaltists and Piaget
the context of philosophical hermeneutics and the theory of
action. In an even broader sense, what looked like Vygotsky's
TO psychology appears now as leading BEYOND psychology or at least
traditional psychology and into the sphere of human studies BASED on
humanistic, rather than the scientific model." [p. 278-279].
I am not sure how relevant Kozulin's epilogue seems to others 25
later, but I found the themes in this book very current and relevant.