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[Xmca-l] Re: [Xcma-l] In Defense of Vygotsky [Perezhivanie cannot determine the personality]



Annalisa,
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 show through.

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.

Andy
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*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


Annalisa Aguilar wrote:

Hi Andy,


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 this thinking?

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?

Kind regards,

Annalisa