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[Xmca-l] Re: In defense of Vygotsky ["Sense and meaning" really means consciousness, which really means intellectualism]


A couple of comments that i put in the text in red

On Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 8:26 AM, Lubomir Savov Popov <lspopov@bgsu.edu>

> Hi Annalisa,
> I was waiting a bit to see if someone else will chime in.
> If we refer to Soviet (now Russian) psychology:
> -- They prefer to talk about consciousness rather than mind.
> -- All psychological functions and states emerge in the process of human
> activity.
> --Consciousness is a major category in historical materialism and
> therefore has to be accepted as a major category by the social science
> disciplines. There are different interpretation of the concept of
> consciousness in different social science disciplines. However, they all
> had to refer to historical materialism. No one was bigger than historical
> materialism. Consciousness is also used in several ways in everyday life.
> But that is another story. The kinds of usage should not be mixed.
​At that time American psychologists could not talk about or think as
professionals about a category called consciousness.

I wrote a review of the Payne book about Rubenshtein a loooooooooooooong
time ago. I will try to find and reproduce as an artifact of one encounter
of the two ways of thinking. ​

> Also:
> --LSV was sidelined pretty early by Rubinstein. The interest in LSV
> resurfaced in the 1980s, but was not too strong. ANL and his students were
> reigning and that time.

​Here you want to be more careful. The period of ANL's ascendancy declined
after 1966 and it was Rubensteinians who gained power. Epitome of that
counter-development in the appointment of Lomov to head of Academy
Institute, to be followed by Brushlinskii. ​

> --ANL had quite of a power struggle with Rubinstein. ANL and his
> students/protégés ruled the psychology domain in the USSR at their life
> time.
> ​ An overstatement as above.​
> -- Almost all textbooks in psychology after 1970 were written by the ANL
> circle. After 1970 Rubinstein was not published much and maybe not at all.
> The last psychology textbook by Rubinstein that I have seen was from the
> 1960s (first edition 1940).
> -- Rubinstein was the first (if memory serves) to formulate the principle
> of the unity of consciousness and activity. However, many sources claim he
> heavily used works of LSV.

​This is really news to me. Who claimed that and did anyone believe them?​

> Of course, all historical materialists hold to the principle that
> consciousness emerges in the process of activity; it is a product of
> activity and everyday life environment of the subject.
> ​It is so-znanie, with-knowledge, knowledge-with-an other. In my view,
> the residue of joint mediated actions-in-activity. All full of holes and
> gaps, but recountable.​
> Researchers from Russia can provide more precise account.
> ​that would be great. ​
> Best wishes,
> ​Mike (too)​
> Lubomir
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces+lspopov=bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> xmca-l-bounces+lspopov=bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa
> Aguilar
> Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 6:54 PM
> To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: In defense of Vygotsky ["Sense and meaning" really
> means consciousness, which really means intellectualism]
> OK! I'm getting somewhere! Thank you for clarifying this term in the
> context of the controversy.
> So are you saying that ANL is saying that LSV is saying (sorry to be so
> convoluted) that there is an "already established intellect" in the infant
> and ANL is saying this assertion can only be preposterous?
> I'm sorry if I still haven't nailed it, and I hope you will forgive my
> persistence to understand this, but it seems pretty important.
> If I am understanding properly, this is why I believe (intuitively at this
> juncture), that "consciousness" has an imprecise definition between the
> parties and its word-meaning is constitutionally different between ANL and
> LSV, and I would want to better understand what LSV was referencing when he
> used the word.
> I think I can understand why ANL would have issue if he sees consciousness
> possible only if it is derived from activity.  If this is the case, then is
> it possible that this is a philosophical difference as to whether one
> believes mind to be present before consciousness, or one believes
> consciousness to be present before mind.
> Is that fair to say?
> In a largely materialistic rendering, mind would be first, I am guessing.
> Regards,
> Annalisa
> ________________________________________
> From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 4:19 PM
> To: Annalisa Aguilar
> Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: In defense of Vygotsky ["Sense and meaning"
> really means consciousness, which really means intellectualism]
> In this context, "intellectualism" does not mean "void of affect" or have
> anything to do with lack of affect.
> "Intellectualism" refers to a theorist who ascribes a capacity for
> intellectual activity to (for example) an infant, who would in fact not
> have developed the capacity for an intellectual relation to the world.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> Annalisa Aguilar wrote:
> > Hi Andy!
> >
> > OK. I'm needing to fill in some blanks here.
> >
> > What is meant exactly by "intellectualism"? Or rather, what did ANL mean?
> >
> > When you say:
> >
> > [And no-one is saying that sign- and word-use, because it is
> intellectual, is therefore somehow lacking in affect.
> > No-one is saying that. The person is first a whole, and from that
> > whole, by reflection and analysis, we can abstract functions like
> > "intellect" and "affect".]
> >
> > Perhaps I am responding to the word "intellectual" in the way it
> reflects back to me in my culture: that something or someone "intellectual"
> is void of affect (relatively speaking) and that is why those who spurn
> intellectuals do so. As such, "intellectuals" will sometimes speak/function
> at a level "above" most others, and this usually upsets people who do not
> speak/function on the same level.
> >
> > "Intelligence" is handled differently, though. It seems to me as a
> concept "intelligence" is more of whole cloth.
> >
> > "Intellect" (to me) is thinking without affect. It is rational and seeks
> to remove affect, with the "myth" that the products of thought are somehow
> "better, more pure" with this affect removed.
> >
> > I agree of course that the person is whole first, and that we abstract
> concepts to describe properties. But there has been a backlash from
> abstracting out. Isn't this why Descartes has been so problematic? Isn't
> this why Spinoza sought to understand where the emotions "come from" and
> what their value is?
> >
> > So given this, I ask the question again and circling back to the
> original charge in your paper, what does it mean for ANL to levy a charge
> of "intellectualism" upon LSV?
> >
> > TIA,
> >
> > Annalisa
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________
> > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Andy Blunden
> > <ablunden@mira.net>
> > Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 3:10 PM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: In defense of Vygotsky ["Sense and meaning"
> > really means consciousness, which really means intellectualism]
> >
> > Annalisa, it is Leontyev who is pinning the charge of "intellectualism"
> > on Vygotsky because he ascribes "meaning" and "significance" to
> > children, and therefore sign-use. I am not saying that sign-use is not
> > intellectual though. And no-one is saying that sign- and word-use,
> > because it is intellectual, is therefore somehow lacking in affect.
> > No-one is saying that. The person is first a whole, and from that
> > whole, by reflection and analysis, we can abstract functions like
> "intellect"
> > and "affect".
> >
> > Andy
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> > --
> > *Andy Blunden*
> > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >
> >
> > Annalisa Aguilar wrote:
> >
> >> Hi Andy,
> >>
> >> Again thanks for more!
> >>
> >> Here's the thing: I may be getting lost in understanding argument
> positions.
> >>
> >> Are you saying it is Leontiev, et al's position that thinking with
> signs and words are intellectual?
> >>
> >> Because, for me personally, thinking with signs and words involve both
> affect and intellect and I don't think they can be separated out. For me, a
> person's intelligence is the mediated unification of affect and intellect,
> what I believe you are calling consciousness.
> >>
> >> I feel supported by my position with Vygotsky's discussion of
> word-meaning (znachenie slova), if I am understanding word-meaning properly.
> >>
> >> Again, the words "meaning" and "significance" can have affective
> >> meaning and significance! :)  (is this the adjective? I want to say
> >> "affectual," to match "intellectual" but that isn't a word)
> >>
> >> Now if for *you* these particular words have "intellectual
> connotations," perhaps this difference between you and I supports LSV's
> (and my earlier) point that affect and intellect are mediated and will
> therefore allow each person have a different and nuanced mix of meaning and
> significance for the same set of words and signs, even if we generally
> agree on a social meaning and significance, such as the meaning of a flag.
> >>
> >> This reminds me of the cultural differences regarding the meanings of
> color. One can't intellectualize red just by its perception. One can't have
> an affect of red either by perception alone (if one were to see red for the
> first time), its meaning and significance are socially, historically and
> culturally generated.
> >>
> >> Furthermore, I agree with you that our "Western language" to describe
> the interior mind, if I am allowed to say that, is sparse. We know Freud
> reached into Greek mythology to give these concepts a handle. This is one
> reason I look to Eastern thought so I might learn how these dynamics are
> discussed. They do possess words for which we have none. I might also
> suggest there are relevant themes in these traditions that apply to
> Vygotsky's work.
> >>
> >> In fact, it might amaze us in the West to truly understand the immense
> literature and legacies on these topics of mind and self. It certainly
> amazes me. Of course that would be a huge project to be mediated between
> cultural elders and not a cultural tourist like myself. I only point out
> that there is something there and we are not the pioneers to wrangle with
> these problems of mind.
> >>
> >> I admit that to access these words, one must understand how metaphors
> are utilized. In rational-logical traditions, metaphors seem to be
> disagreeable. Also there is discussion of the spiritual, since the problems
> these traditions hoped to solve were spiritual problems, which may just be
> their historically-anchored approach to psychological realities. So, these
> barriers may explain the impasse.
> >>
> >> But if words are tools, I'm sure we might borrow some and they wouldn't
> mind.
> >>
> >> Ha! a pun! "wouldn't mind" get it? :)
> >>
> >> Best,
> >>
> >> Annalisa
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> ________________________________________
> >> Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 12:02 AM
> >>
> >> I would have said that this criticism is a deliberate
> >> misrepresentation, except that Lydia Bozhovich makes the same charge of
> "intellectualism."
> >> The charge hinges on phrases like "the significance  for the child"
> >> and "the meaning for the child," etc., which etymologically suggest
> >> the use of signs and words. Thinking with signs and words is
> >> intellect. But the thing is that it is almost impossible for us to
> >> describe the relationship of a person to their environment
> >> psychologically without using words which evoke sign-relations. The
> >> relation is a psychological one, not a conditioned-reflex, and the
> >> words we have for relations which are mediated through consciousness
> >> tend to be words like "meaning" and "significance" which have
> >> intellectual connotations. The preintellectual stages of
> >> psychological development which Vygotsky himself theorised are not
> built into the common language.
> >>
> >> Andy
> >> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> ---
> >> *Andy Blunden*
> >> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>
> >>
> >> Annalisa Aguilar wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >>> This continues and extends from my original post concerning Andy's
> breakdown of ANL vs. LSV.
> >>>
> >>> There are about 8 points total... [copypasta is a starch of art]
> >>> ---------------------------------------------------
> >>> 4. ["Sense and meaning" really means consciousness, which really
> >>> means intellectualism] (see original post below)
> >>> ---------------------------------------------------
> >>>
> >>> Again a pothole. You say:
> >>> "The child's relation to the environment is whatever is appropriate
> >>> at their level of development, not necessarily if at all, an
> >>> intellectual relationship, that's all that Vygotsky claims."
> >>>
> >>> I think know this, but what is ANL's critique against this? Is it
> >>> that it is too "intellectual," which is possibly code for elitism or
> class?
> >>> Sorry if I wasn't clear.
> >>>
> >>> --end

It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.