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[Xmca-l] Re: vygotsky's theory and symbolic interactionism
At the risk of correcting your egg-blowing technique, Gramps, here is a
quote which seems relevant to this problem to me:
A problem of the greatest importance is raised in the passage just quoted,
that of human consciousness. The crucial statement is: "It is not
consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary,
their social being that determines their consciousness." Marx gave a fuller
statement with regard to the problem of consciousness in German Ideology:
"The fact is, therefore, that definite individuals who are productively
active in a definite way enter into these definite social and political
relations. Empirical observations must in each separate instance bring out
empirically, and without any mystification and speculation, the connection
of the social and political structure with production. The social structure
and the State are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite
individuals, but of individuals, not as they may appear in their own or
other people's imagination, but as they really are; i.e., as they are
effective, produce materially, and are active under definite material
limits, presuppositions and conditions independent of their will.
"The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first
directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse
of men, the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the mental
intercourse of men, appear at this stage as the direct afflux from their
material behavior. The same applies to mental production as expressed in
the language of the politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics of a
people. Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc. -real,
active men, as they are conditioned by the definite development of their
productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its
furthest forms. Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious
existence, and the existence of men in their actual lifeprocess. If in all
ideology men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera
phenomenon arises just as much from their historical lifeprocess as the
inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process."
In the first place, it should be noted that Marx, like Spinoza and later
Freud, believed that most of what men consciously think is "false"
consciousness, is ideology and rationalization; that the true mainsprings
of man's actions are unconscious to him. According to Freud, they are
rooted in man's libidinal strivings; according to Marx, they are rooted in
the whole social organization of man which directs his consciousness in
certain directions. and blocks him from being aware of certain facts and
Its is important to recognize that this theory does not pretend that ideas
or ideals are not real or not potent. Marx speaks of awareness, not of
ideals. It is exactly the blindness of man's conscious thought which
prevents him from being aware of his true human needs, and of ideals which
are rooted in them. Only if false consciousness is transformed into true
consciousness, that is, only if we are aware of reality, rather than
distorting it by rationalizations and fictions, can we also become aware of
our real and true human needs.
It should also be noted that for Marx science itself and all powers
inherent in man are part of the productive forces which interact with the
forces of nature. Even as far as the influence of ideas on human evolution
is concerned, Marx was by no means as oblivious to their power as the
popular interpretation of his work makes it appear. His argument was not
against ideas, but against ideas which were not rooted in the human and
social reality, which were not, to use Hegel's term, "a real possibility."
Most of all, he never forgot that not only do circumstances make man; man
also makes circumstances. The following passage should make clear how
erroneous it is to interpret Marx as if he, like many philosophers of the
enlightenment and many sociologists of today, gave man a passive role in
the historical process, as if he saw him as the passive object of
"The materialistic doctrine [in contrast to Marx's view] concerning the
changing of circumstances and education forgets that circumstances are
changed by men and that the educator himself must be educated. This
doctrine has therefore to divide society into two parts, one of which is
superior to society [as a whole].
"The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or
self-changing can only be comprehended and rationally understood as
Surely, while I know that my daughter and my son were clearly very
different individuals when I saw them each (1970 and 19732) just several
minutes after birth, their 'being' is/was shaped by us, and the rest of the
totality of their society. At this moment, I reject the idea of an innate,
immanent 'individual consciousness' of each human, as an idealist chimera,
to be blunt. But this may be an attitude shaped by an over-reliance on
those very received wisdoms I am attempting to reject - argh!
On 1 April 2014 10:58, Dr. Paul C. Mocombe <email@example.com> wrote:
> At the heart of vygotsky's and mead's work is hegels master/slave
> dialectic as they apply it to the constitution of identity, I.e.
> Consciousness...As though there is no consciousness/identity prior to
> socialization via language and symbolic interaction. This is similar to
> the identitarian logic of frankfurt school logician theodor adorno. I have
> a problem with that as I view language and symbolic interaction as always
> an element of power and domination. In essence my research question is,
> "is there a sui generis consciousness that exist prior to
> socialization/domination by symbols and language. Haitian metaphysics says
> yes...it exists at the subatomic particle level and is just as real as the
> i and me of language and symbolic interaction. Zora Neale hurston in her
> ethnographic field work in haiti was attempting to theorize about this in
> her literature...it is the essence of who we are. I may have to go into
> the realm of physics to make sense of this metaphysical logic.
> Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
> <div>-------- Original message --------</div><div>From: Greg Thompson <
> firstname.lastname@example.org> </div><div>Date:03/31/2014 11:53 PM
> (GMT-05:00) </div><div>To: Mike Cole <email@example.com>,"eXtended
> Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org> </div><div>Subject:
> [Xmca-l] Re: vygotsky's theory and symbolic interactionism </div><div>
> And another piece you might be interested in:
> Winter, J. A. and Goldfield, E. C. (1991), Caregiver-Child Interaction in
> the Development of Self: The Contributions of Vygotsky, Bruner, and Kaye to
> Mead's Theory. Symbolic Interaction, 14: 433-447.
> doi: 10.1525/si.1922.214.171.1243
> I suspect a Hegelian/Marxian root is shared between Vygotsky and Mead. Mead
> said at one point that his social psychology was an attempt to do what
> Hegel did, with the hopes that it would be "less incorrigible." I have the
> exact quote somewhere if you're interested.
> The Vygotsky-Hegel connections have been much debated here on XMCA, but it
> seems that there is good reason to think that Vygotsky would have been
> influenced by Hegel, whether directly or indirectly (quick duck - I think
> they'll be some words flying soon in defense of one side or the other of
> this argument...).
> I'm interested in this intersection as well, more in terms of links and
> complementarities with Goffman and Vygotsky, but I'm happy to chat about
> the Mead/Vygotsky link.
> On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 5:53 PM, mike cole <email@example.com> wrote:
> > Anne Edwards has an article on this topic in *The Cambridge Companion to
> > Vygotsky".
> > I have inquired of Anne, and would of anyone interested, to understand
> > where the concept of culture appears in the Meadian framework.
> > mike
> > On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 1:09 PM, Dr. Paul C. Mocombe <
> > firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > > I am working on a paper comparing and contrasting george herbert mead's
> > > symbolic interactionism with
> > > vygotsky's theory....any suggestions anyone?
> > >
> > > Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> > > President
> > > The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
> > > www.mocombeian.com
> > > www.readingroomcurriculum.com
> > > www.paulcmocombe.info
> > >
> > > Race and Class Distinctions within Black Communities
> > > www.routledge.com/9780415714372
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602