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[Xmca-l] Re: Soviet Psychology Overview Article
I found this paper extremely interesting.
It's rather confronting opening, saying that Soviet
Psychology had "failed," is really crediting the
world-conquering ambition of Vygotsky's vision expressed in
the "Crisis of Psychology" text, towards forming not a
"Marxist psychology" (i.e. yet another school) but "general
psychology" - that is, he aimed to reorganise psychology
internationally. I think we take for granted now, that
psychology is fragmented into myriad schools, but in those
times, the interwar years, this fragmentation of psychology
was emblematic of the world crisis manifested in the rise of
fascism and stalinism and the evident termination of
progress in Europe. It was a central problem for all theory!
At that time, it was still expected that Psychology would
develop like the natural sciences. So I accept the author's
characterisation, together with the claim that Vygotsky's
vision is gradually being fulfilled and his school has made
a crucial contribution to the eventual achievement of an
international psychology. The paper is very optimistic in
I like the perspective for International psychology - the
merging of universal, cultural and indigenous currents of
research. Very interesting. Also the view that Psychology
will develop along too distinct paths - the reductive
neurophysiological and the humanistic - with Luria in a
founding role in both! This seems a valid description, and
emphasises the importance of promoting understanding of
I have made a very modest effort to trace how Hegel's
efforts in philosophy to create what could be conceived of
as a cultural psychology took about 80 years before
manifesting in Vygotsky's ideas. And it seems there is a
second phase of that journey being described in this paper.
A grand vision cannot directly translate into a global
research program. It has to arise bit by bit.
The characterisation of the internationalisation process as
spread of mainstream Psychology + interest in cultural
variation. I don't know about this one.
I did find a couple of criticisms of Vygotsky odd, mainly
that Vygotsky did not give a prominent place to
*collaboration* in his psychology (while Piaget did) because
he "took collaboration for granted" - I think this is an
error. "Collaboration" is one of the ways Vygotsky's ideas
connected up with people in the West.
The author's ideas about how research is transmitted, or
taken up, are interesting too. That theories are
appropriated piecemeal and put to work in the research
project which is doing the appropriation.
The three reasons why Vygotsky's school "failed" to win over
to an international psychology: (1) stalinist repression (2)
lack of attention to experimental research and the careful
documenting of their protocol - seem reasonable, though I
think the ideological gap and the uniqueness in time and
place of the conditions of the revolutionary ferment which
gave birth the CHAT ought to be mentioned too. The author
instead refers to "overemphasis on theory".
Wonderfully comprehensive review of the development of
Thanks for that Mike (and for your contributions as document
in the chapter!)
On 8/12/2015 4:45 AM, mike cole wrote:
Yes, Huw. I found that odd too. Perhaps it is the date? I also posted it
on a Russian site. It will be interesting to see what they have to say.
Yes, Larry, that is an amazing archive. I did not have time to peruse it.
On Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 8:10 AM, Lplarry <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
The entire edited volume seems a treasure trove of tracing the formation
and dissemination of knowledge(s) moving through time. A profound work of
From: "Huw Lloyd" <email@example.com>
Sent: 2015-12-07 7:40 AM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Soviet Psychology Overview Article
It seems completely nuts to describe the soviet research program as a
failure. They demonstrated far more success than any other endeavour in
scientific psychology that I have studied. Most psychology projects can't
even establish a coherent theory, let alone apply it. They are forever
wading around in hypotheses and impressions, or focusing upon incoherent
slices of phenomena without regard to its origins.
"Psychology today is undergoing a transformation. It is becoming an
international science, which aspires to uncover universal laws of human
behavior and cognition as well as to account for their cultural variation.
How can we understand the transformation of concepts, ideas, and approaches
involved in this process? In this chapter, I examine a historical precedent
for the globalization of psychology. In the 1920s–1930s, a group of Soviet
researchers led by L.S. Vygotsky proposed a new kind of scientific
psychology that would be international in scope. It was revolutionary in
its assumption that the study of mind and behavior, in phylo- and
had to be grounded in the study of the cultural and material conditions in
which people live. Although this research program as such largely failed,
the Soviet psychologists contributed much of value, and their ideas were
taken up—and transformed—by Western psychologists. These ideas form the
basis of the genuinely international psychology that is only just emerging
today, and to which the “cultural-historical” psychology of the Soviets was
On 6 December 2015 at 19:45, mike cole <email@example.com> wrote:
This morning I stumbled over the attached historical overview of Soviet
Psychology in relation to international psychology that I thought would
of interest to MCA-o-philes.
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch