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[Xmca-l] Re: Did Vygotsky Ever Finish Anything?


Obviously, Vygotsky would not accept formulations like "Psychological
Tools" (Kozulin) or "Tools of the Mind" (Bodrova and Leong) as
anything other than misleading slogans. But I thiink the main point
he's making here has to do with function, not genesis. Yes, a tool is
a kind of organ substitute, and a sign is, or can be, an
action-substitute, and both of them allow humans to transcend what
Vygotsky calls the "Jennings Principle" (that is, the principle that
any organism is restricted in its activity to functions of its
organs). But tools are functional oriented to objects, and signs are
functionally oriented to other subjects. This functional difference
makes possible a key genetic difference--one can be oriented to the
self, and in so doing can transform the very structure of the self. If
it were that easy to perform surgery on yourself, tattoo artists and
plastic surgeons would be out of a job, and maybe we'd all have wings.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 22 November 2014 at 09:14, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> David, when he is putting down "Instrumental Psychology" is he referring to
> the amalgamation of sign and tool as simply two types of mediating elements,
> rather than tracing the interrelation between sign-mediated activity and
> tool-mediated activity, and their distinct origins and genesis? Is that what
> he means, do you think?
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> David Kellogg wrote:
>> Mike:
>> Take a look at p. 25-27 of JREEP 45 (2), the letters to students and
>> colleagues. It's a very interesting letter to Leontiev which LSV wrote
>> from a dacha (perhaps the Izmailovo Zoo, where he sometimes stayed
>> when convalescing). He says he's working on "a history of cultural
>> development" (p. 27) there. But he begins by suggesting the
>> "IP"--apparently instrumental psychology--has wound up "in the
>> category of unprofitable pursuits", which is consistent with his
>> desire to establish the difference between signs and tools
>> structurally, genetically, and above all functionally. Then he calls
>> Luria's chapter of "Ape, Primitive, Child":
>> "written *wholly* according to the Freudianists (and not even
>> according to Freud but according to V.F. Schmidt (her materials, M.
>> Klein and other second magnitude stars; then the impenetrable Piaget
>> is turned into an absolute beyond all measure, instrument and sign are
>> mixed together even more...." (p. 26).
>> He's apparently referring to the Third Chapter in the published
>> version, though here he calls it the first chapter of the second part.
>> Then he says the debacle is not ARL's personal fault but the result of
>> the muddled thinking of the instrumental period in general.
>> David Kellogg
>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>> On 22 November 2014 08:21, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
>>> Hi David--- I do not think the priority makes much of a difference with
>>> respect to what we have to learn about the complexities of the issues.
>>> The
>>> problems are the same whenever the criticism arose.
>>> I can find only two references to Luria in the index of my copy of Vol 4
>>> of
>>> Hist Psych Functions. Neither is on this topic. I have not been following
>>> all the letter writing you refer to and that plays such an important role
>>> in Anton's historical revolutionizing. Could you point to where he calls
>>> out Luria for writing incorrect ideas in their joint book and doing, or
>>> planning to do, objectionable research in Central Asia?
>>> I sort of like the idea of this "book" as a kind of Notebooks of the
>>> Mind.
>>> Seems to characterize a lot of the way LSV worked.
>>> mike
>>> On Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 2:13 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Mike:
>>>> Anton Yasnitsky argues that Chapter Two of HDHMF must have been
>>>> written "not later than 1930", contrary to the usual chronology, which
>>>> is 1931-1932.
>>>>  http://www.psyanima.ru/journal/2011/4/2011n4a1/2011n4a1.1.pdf
>>>> If Anton is right then the manuscript was written before Luria left
>>>> for Uzbekistan; if the traditional dating is correct then it was
>>>> written more or less during the expedition itself and represents the
>>>> kind of private misgivings about the work of his collaborators that he
>>>> often expresses.
>>>> If we accept Anton's chronology then there are a few problems.
>>>> a)  Vygotsky's enthusiasm for the expedition (expressed in the
>>>> letters) is hard to explain; Vygotsky wasn't an opportunist and he had
>>>> absolutely no compunction about expressing his strong disapproval of
>>>> Luria's contribution to "Ape, Primitive, and Child". Why would he turn
>>>> around and suddenly decide that the method of using laboratory
>>>> experiments in the field was okay?
>>>> b) Anton says that the two parts of HDHMF are unrelated--they were
>>>> pasted together by the Soviet editor. But the beginning of the book
>>>> clearly prefigures the ending (see Ch. 1, p. 7 in the English Volume
>>>> Four, second para) and the end of the book also refers to the
>>>> beginning (see Ch. 15, p. 241, first three paras).
>>>> c) Vygotsky says that the second half of the book was done first (see
>>>> above paragraphs, and also p. 3, para 5). Anton has it the other way
>>>> aroud.
>>>> It seems to me that the biggest problem with Anton's analysis is not
>>>> the chronology, though. It's that Anton does not recognize that HDHMF
>>>> is a major work; he doesn't even recognize it as authorial, because
>>>> Vygotsky doesn't include it in any of the lists of his published and
>>>> unpublished work.
>>>> Anton's certainly right that Vygotsky did not include the work in his
>>>> CV. But I think that the explanation is this: it was a private
>>>> manuscript, like the notebooks that Da Vinci and Wittgenstein kept.
>>>> Vygotsky used it to try to work out his own ideas for his own benefit.
>>>> That's why Chapter Four contains all this mind-changing, where
>>>> Vygotsky says that maybe Titchener is right and there are two stages
>>>> of behavior, but maybe Buhler is right, and there are three, but there
>>>> are really four, but the fourth one is sui generis, so maybe Buhler is
>>>> right after all. And that's why the manuscript contains his misgivings
>>>> about what Luria was up to.
>>>> Although I think it is a private manuscript (and that's why it has no
>>>> title--the title is one that the Soviet editors made up out of the
>>>> first five words of Chapter One) I also think it was, quite unlike
>>>> Thinking and Speech, an almost finished book. Of course, Vygotsky
>>>> never really finished anything: his mind is a discourse and not a
>>>> text. But that's true of minds quite generally, in  a sense finishing
>>>> his books and leaving new books unfinished is what we are all here
>>>> for.
>>>> For example--a thought occurs to me. The lifespan of early man appears
>>>> to have been somewhere in the low thirties, rather like other
>>>> primates. At age fifteen, early man would be middle aged. Did they
>>>> even have children back then?
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>> --
>>> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
>>> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.