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[Xmca-l] Re: Word and Act
- To: Haydi Zulfei <email@example.com>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Word and Act
- From: mike cole <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2014 11:04:31 -0800
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Haydi and Larry--
I am experiencing a lot of difficulty interpreting this thread.
I think one issue is how to interpret and deal with the extent of
difference between Vygotksy (LSV) and Leontiev (ANL) and which parts of
that difference retain their importance. From participation in current
Russian discussions of these issues, I know that they remain alive there to
the present day. From the Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology we
know that a strong division has been instantiated by the editors who follow
the Vygotsky/Luria line and omit that part involving ANL.
I gather from Haydi's remarks that he is unhappy about the fact that
Americans can criticize Leontiev for his complicity in Stalinist policies,
but not ourselves for our complicity in contemporary American foreign
policy and the ways in which notions of discourse and semiotics may be
mobilized to deflect attention from the changes (distortions?) in LSV's
ideas that have been taking place since he became a prominent intellectual
figure in the west in the 1980's. There is certainly enough truth in that
observation to make everyone stop and think.
If it is relevant, I would appreciate a succinct statement of what you
believe to be major points that we need to focus on, and if possible,
specific texts that can be shared online. Perhaps this is going to be
counter- productive. I appeared to have caused problems by focusing on the
two articles on perezhivanie. I did this because it was identified in
discussions among contemporary Russian psychologists about a critical point
where LSV and ANL parted company. From the ensuing discussion, it seems
clear that this pair of articles certainly evokes the divisions.
However, the very great number of similarities in points of view across the
divide that opened up in the 1930's remain and remain important.
At the risk of causing further dissension, I wonder if it would be possible
to focus on the text that Hayki pointed us to in volume 6 (whose volume 6
in which language) on "word and act."
LSV's volume 6 in English is devoted to "Sign and Tool" and "Teaching about
What text are you referring to Haydi? do you think that join reading of
that text would promote understanding of fundamental differences of
opinion? Do you have a better suggestion?
These are difficult discussions being held at difficult times. I us good
On Sat, Nov 1, 2014 at 4:47 AM, Haydi Zulfei <email@example.com>
> Dear Larry
> Morally I was bound to answer . I wonder if dear folk have more nerves to
> consume ! I got happy you announced this to be , for the time being , the
> last exchange ! Thank you and everybody else !
> I fear losing the post again . Therefore , deepest apologies for the
> attachment !
> From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: Haydi Zulfei <email@example.com>; "eXtended Mind,
> Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Friday, 31 October 2014, 23:59:33
> Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Word and Act
> Once again thank you for your thoughtful [and informative] reply.
> It is an amazingly complex undertaking to explore the relations of word
> and activity and how the relations between these aspects as a *unity*
> should forever be engaged. As you mention, Leontiev calls our attention and
> focus to the centrality of the *objects* [the material] as fundamental to
> any understanding of human *nature*
> I seem to be drawn to not forgetting the subjective aspects of the *unity*.
> Wertsch uses the notion of *mediated action* as his attempt to find a term
> that bridges dialectical methods and dialogical methods within activity as
> a unity.
> Haydi, I have to admit when I read Andy, Martin, and David Kellogg I find
> myself seeing the *reasonableness* of each position as if there is a unity
> which embraces their subject matter, and each of these scholars is
> exploring a different aspect of our human *nature*.
> I continue to be nourished by the contrasts and I let myself move between
> their positions and realize they are operating from different *traditions*
> Vygotsky's book "Thought and Language* seems to be the book that each of
> them returns to but each enters the SAME book from different backgrounds.
> This leaves me personally fascinated with the recognition of the
> transformative power of the activity of *reading*.
> I am trying to follow each of their understandings and I realize to do
> this I must enter into the *traditions* that each author brings to Vygotsky.
> Their arguments are very subtle and nuanced and I am often confused by
> their differences.
> I do accept that the particular time and place that the
> cultural-historical and activity models were being developed was a
> transformative time and their love for their country illuminated all their
> I also understand that I come to this historically formed work from out of
> a *humanistic psychology* background [counselling psychology] and this
> particular tradition makes it difficult to enter a radically alternative
> worldview that radically puts into question the foundations of humanistic
> When confused I do return to Vygotsky's book *thought and language* to get
> re-grounded on the central thesis of interfunctional relations that are
> developmentally transformed as speech transforms from a focus on
> communication to an additional focus on self-mastery.
> It remain an open question to myself the particular relations between
> self-mastery and social communication. Mike Cole's description of his
> thought processes while driving in the car.
> Haydi, I am also trying to understand the place of the *figural* and
> perception within activity and language and this complicates things
> further. I do want to explore the connections between perception,
> concepts, and activity and you may notice my responses recently tending
> towards the figural and the notion of *schemas* that are possibly
> pre-linguistic. When I am looking closely at the *figural* I am inevitably
> loosing focus [at that moment] on activity or the word as central. However
> it is the *unity* of all three aspects I am attempting to hold together
> over time.
> Haydi, I appreciate your reminding me not to loose focus on activity as I
> try to follow David Kellogg or Martin. Andy attempting to expand activity
> as a psychological methodology to the social sciences I also am trying to
> At some point I also want to understand Marx [the philosopher] and his
> theory of *labour* AS ONTOLOGICAL [as *being*] Is there a unity within the
> concept of *labour* that Marx shares with Heidegger and Vygotsky? These
> are vague, fuzzy questions.
> Haydi, the central theme of *sign* as *indicating* is where I will leave
> our conversation. Your being a referee calls be back to the truth of
> activity, action, and operations. You are *signalling* and I am listening.
> THIS movement is what I find magical leaving me with more to *figure* out.
> On Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 4:53 AM, Haydi Zulfei <email@example.com>
> Dear Larry
> >Please find my responses in the body of the message :
> >Apologies ! I lost my responses ; had to use an attachment .
> > From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >To: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>; "eXtended Mind, Culture,
> Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >Sent: Thursday, 30 October 2014, 6:36:53
> >Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Word and Act
> >Haydi and Andy
> >Thanks for this rejoinder to the complexity of receiving Vygotsky's work
> >the West.
> >I do wonder if it is possible to maintain the *purity* of the *whole
> >generation* that was engaged in exploring the *developing relation*
> >the function of word and act.
> >[[Deal all are referees to my talk not addressees . It's not a matter of
> 'maintaining purity of a generation' .
> >I was left wondering at the meaning of the very last sentence of this 4
> >page PDF.
> >At *the end* the *functional transformation* of the relation between word
> >and act and the possibility of future *disintegration* [and return to
> >earlier forms of functioning] between the word and act.
> >Haydi, *in the end* THIS Vygotsky has traveled to the West and is now
> >transforming western notions
> > of psychology as [genetically psycho-social
> >The question you raise is if in this traveling what is ESSENTIAL is lost
> >I am left wondering about the notion of *horizons* of UNDERstanding.
> >When I read that Anna Stetsenko, [who in the beginning formed her ideas
> >within the horizon of THIS Vygotsky], indicates that the relation of
> >*subjectivity* AND *objectivity* continues to BE an *open* question I
> >wonder if THIS Vygotsky will inevitably remain Para-Doxical and be open to
> >multiple other interpretations?.
> >Haydi, your passion to return to Vygotsky's ACTUAL words [and this 4 page
> >PDF is an excellent example of this return] does stop us in our tracks and
> >gives us pause. I myself am left to puzzle the various [multiple]
> >Vygotsky's [yes multiple versions or genres] OF Vygotsky's works AS
> >Reading the rejoinders between Martin, Andy, and the multitude of other
> >participants on this site I find in ITSELF a dialectical AND dialogical
> >PROCESS that highlights in FACT the developing subject matter of the
> >functional relations between word act, AND *image*.
> >I do NOT know who is *right* but I trust in THIS process that opens a
> >[place] to bring us together.
> >IN THE END *is* the beginning. This seems to be a *truth* that puts the
> >emphasis on a different aspect of this 4 page PDF.
> >On Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 3:02 AM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
> >> Attached is a PDF of the article Haydi was talking about, "Word and
> >> Andy
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> *Andy Blunden*
> >> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >> Haydi Zulfei wrote:
> >>> Dear all,
> >>> The biased pretension is that Vygotsky was absolutely alienated in
> >>> to the concept of 'activity' . First , because Vygotsky died at an
> >>> time and did have too much upon his shoulders to resolve , not being
> >>> to read more of the 'beautiful sayings of Engels' like the one in
> which he
> >>> stated that 'work created man' , he left a space for motley
> >>> and inserting all kinds of ideas from the West into his own original
> >>> and concepts which were nothing but local and native . Today , the
> >>> has become so deep not to be bridged by even a divine hand . Who
> >>> so heavily on the rift ? His sacrificial industrious unfatiguable
> >>> ?? World politics , World decaying Capitalism , the number one
> >>> criminal (Please have a look at Kobane , Syria , and at the whole
> >>> East areas and elsewhere in the World) for decades and decades tried to
> >>> justify every act of onslaught , murder , plunder ,
> > terror , filth and dirt
> >>> , under the banner of fear and threat of 'communism' and 'Stalinism' .
> >>> tried to make people forget the
> >>> crimes of Hitlerism , Francoism , Tszarism and now while they try to
> >>> incessantly ring in our own ears the terrifying crashing sound of the
> >>> Bang of the Soviet Collapse , still they don't cease to adulterate the
> >>> scientific findings and concepts with the dirt of Stalinism ; they
> >>> have ears to hear Luria's invitation to pay tribute to the just one
> >>> GENERATION of giving and inspiring people who worked for their land ;
> >>> don't have ears to hear Davydov saying 'I'm a convinced Marxist' just
> >>> or three months before his homeland went to ruin and conspiracy
> > and
> >>> selfishness of three traitors as Presidents . They don't have ears to
> >>> 'if all science then was Stalin-made , then yours is also Bush-made'
> and we
> >>> laugh if you talk of the open society in which you live because ... If
> >>> Academics prefer to be away from politics , then please away from all
> >>> politics !! Your administration uses 'double standards' . you please
> >>> !! Please don't
> >>> create such an atmosphere in which one cannot say as his opinion that
> >>> 'Stalin was not the same as Hitler' --this once happened in the past
> >>> attacks and insults -- or 'Bush is no less than Stalin' . Your
> >>> for freedom and liberty should be great as Heavens !!
> >>> Second , Vygotsky
> > believes in 'activity proper' ; please don't burden him
> >>> with your own tendencies . He didn't like Americans to confiscate his
> >>> ideas ; he , first of all , credited his true disciples with his great
> >>> heritage ! He just out of momentary negligence uses the word 'activity'
> >>> with all kinds of names : speech activity , attention activity , sign
> >>> activity , etc. and for 'activity proper' also he uses 'behaviour' ,
> >>> 'operation' , 'external and internal activity' , 'action , act' , etc.
> >>> he uses feeling , passion , emotion , etc without any precise
> >>> when he begins the discussion but ultimately he comes true with every
> >>> aspect of his concepts . One cannot deny his 'redundancies' and
> >>> . Third ,
> > please , if possible , read volume six , conclusion , word and
> >>> act , and see where he is different from ANL .
> >>> He almost argues the way L does , except when and where he reaches the
> >>> 'word' by which he means 'now the word becomes the act' . But is this
> >>> just a metaphor ? Could Vygotsky have believed that 'word' ,
> 'discourse' ,
> >>> 'genre' , 'dialogue' , 'talk' coming out of 'activity' according to his
> >>> strong undeniable irrefutable belief , had given 'word' prevalence and
> >>> precedence over 'material activity' , had driven this latter out of
> >>> domain , had announced itself not needy and quite free of 'material
> >>> activity' ?? Always Primary ?? Yes , is this the case ??
> >>> Yes , I know all about its impact :
> > organizing , communicating ,
> >>> cognizing , conceptualizing , sublimating , novel-forming , etc. etc.
> >>> let's remind ourselves of his ... IN THE BEGINNING ... IN THE END ...
> >>> things forgotten by his readers !! It seems that an allergy is to be
> >>> here that logically and unpolitically should be wiped out ; otherwise ,
> >>> there would not be so much room for its being libertarian and
> scientific !!
> >>> Best
> >>> Haydi
> >>> ________________________________
> >>> From: mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
> >>> Sent: Wednesday, 29 October 2014, 17:52:54
> >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: In defense of Vygotsky ["Sense and meaning"
> >>> means consciousness, which really means intellectualism]
> >>> Lubomir--
> >>> A couple of comments that i put in the text in red
> >>> On Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 8:26 AM, Lubomir Savov Popov <firstname.lastname@example.org
> >>> wrote:
> >>>> 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
> >>>> 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
> >>>> materialism. Consciousness is also used in several ways in everyday
> >>>> 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
> >>> 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
> >>> 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
> >>>> time.
> >>>> An overstatement as above.
> >>>> -- Almost all textbooks in psychology after 1970 were written by the
> >>>> 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
> >>>> 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
> >>>> he
> >>>> heavily used works of LSV.
> >>> This is really news to me. Who claimed that and did anyone believe
> >>>> 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)
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.