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[Xmca-l] Re: [Xcma-l] In Defense of Vygotsky [Perezhivanie cannot determine the personality]
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- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: [Xcma-l] In Defense of Vygotsky [Perezhivanie cannot determine the personality]
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:39:00 +1100
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I don't know exactly when the ANL document was written or where/if it
was published originally, but it was certainly after LSV's death and
before ANL's death (i.e. some time 1935-1975), most likely during
Stalin's time. "Political expediency" somewhat understates the issue. A
convincing denunciation of a colleague's theory was very often a matter
of life and death. Which is not to say that the honourable choice may
not have been to speak the truth and take the consequences, rather than
lie and enjoy promotion. In that sense, this document, being dishonest,
is not the ideal medium for understanding the real differences between
these two former comrades. Nonetheless, I think the real differences
On the question of units. The idea is that a person's character develops
through a series of experiences. Each experiences adds a new
sensibility, a new aversion, a new preference, a new insight, etc., so
from that point of view a person's character can be understand as the
product or sum of a series of such experiences, as for example, when
someone writes their autobiography, especially if they follow in the
Goethean tradition of Bildungsromanen.
Annalisa Aguilar wrote:
I must explain: Since I hadn't read the entire paper, I was searching
for the 8 points in the first half of the paper, which is The
Prosecution half. This is to say the "8 charges" you had indicated in
your post, are actually listed in the second half, the Defense half.
So I suppose the structure threw me. (Sorry to create any confusion, all!)
But I'd like to continue my exercise openly, as it appears there are
watchers who are benefiting. So here goes (I will go more slowly and
not flood the list).
#1) The charge by Leontiev (Ad. 4): Perezhivanie, as a manifestation
of the whole personality, cannot be the determinant of personality.
One nagging question: Vygotsky, while living (as I understand), had a
large social group in which they openly discussed all of these
theories. If Leontiev was privy to this community, how could he not
have understood the points concerning perezhivanie? It is not that I
accuse Leontiev as being obstinate or thick (that would be an easy
thing to do), but that I want to understand how could he have missed
this if there were other parties available to discuss the nature of
Vygotsky's perezhivanie? The community must have discussed these
concepts without Vygotsky present, among each other. Am I wrong in
I don't think Vygotsky was like Jesus with confused disciples. It
seemed that he treated his students as equals and that he himself
benefited from their input to the theories.
If I may, I position this question with the imagination as-if Vygotsky
and Leontiev were here on this list discussing various theories, as we
are here. There was a lot of discussion going on, sharing and the like.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't these lectures on perezhivanie
happen earlier in the decade of time Vygotsky graced us? Or am I mistaken?
I suppose I am attempting to answer the question, How did Leontiev not
understand perezhivanie as a determinant? And perhaps in gaining an
answer to this question, we might learn something about *teaching* the
concept of perezhivanie?
Of course it is possible that this was entirely caused by political
expediency. But if that is the case, how can we know this?
But to the content of the charge: "Perezhivanie, as a manifestation of
the whole personality, cannot be the determinant of personality."
I am having a hard time discussing perezhivanie as a "fragment of the
whole." If only because fragment means "a part of", and I don't think
"unit" is necessarily a material thing, but also an abstraction like
the whole is an abstraction.
For example: The water molecule metaphor. (I hope we do not reduce the
molecule to hydrogen and oxygen and begin flames on the list). In our
perception, we *imagine* the molecule. We know that molecules exist,
just like we know that the ocean exists. But when we perceive the
ocean, it's also not a perception in its entirety, but completed in
our imagination like the molecule is, and this is why I feel the unit,
seen as a fragment, seems problematic.
If we want to study the nature of oceans we want to study the nature
of water, since water is the material of the ocean. Also, the water
molecule is the unit we must use to understand the behavior of the
water. And so the molecule becomes the unit of analysis.
If the metaphor works, the ocean is the ideal, and final form. Can we
say that the water molecule determines the nature of the ocean? It
seems so, since the behavior of water (as indicated by the nature of
its molecule) will reveal significantly the nature of the ocean,
moreso than dividing the ocean into fragments, and I'm not sure how
one would divide the ocean into fragments, anyway!
BTW, I am proposing this metaphor because we know that LSV used the
metaphor of the water molecule himself, though I don't think he spoke
of oceans, just water. Still, I wonder if it works?