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

"Psychological tool" is Vygotsky's formulation, David (unless we are victims of translators/editors):

I think you are correct that the distinction between what Vygotsky calls "psychological tools" and "technical tools" is superficially a functional one (and not according to properties) and fundamentally a genetic one. The distinction between "sign-mediated actions" and "tool-mediated" actions is also superficially functional and fundamentally genetic. But this distinction includes the mutual imbrication of both in each others' genesis. Just as thinking and speaking are inextricably linked in their genesis as described in Thinking and Speech. We would not equate thinking and speaking, and a category which includes both thinking and speaking (? discourse, theorising) would have that danger inherent in it, and ideas like "thinking is speaking to oneself" have a genetic and not a categorical meaning ... I mention all these points only to say that the issue around the sign/tool and word/action distinctions are not unique. It is all about the genetic relation between categories. I think there is hardly a distinction in this body of theory which does not raise these issues.

I certainly intend to go on using the terms "mediation" and "artefact" but with sensivitity to the issues contained in these words.


*Andy Blunden*

David Kellogg wrote:

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 Blunden*

David Kellogg wrote:

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.
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
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
Seems to characterize a lot of the way LSV worked.


On Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 2:13 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>


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.


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

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 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.