RE: Motives and goals: Leont'ev and Axel

From: Carol Macdonald (
Date: Sat Feb 07 2004 - 05:10:45 PST

Hi N
Certainly one should conceive of Vygotskian periods-this is very important.
Thank you for the point about the two falling out of favour at the same
time. What was the reason for Leont'evs fall?

I am particularly interested in the origins of Vygotsky's concepts (cf
Gillen 2000 on the ZPD). Serious notice should be taken of Jim Wertsch's
notion that we don't construct context free new concepts. If anybody else
could give me a pointer to the origins of other concepts (e.g. more
on"mediation") I would be most grateful.


-----Original Message-----
From: N*** [mailto:vygotsky who-is-at]
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2004 4:22 PM
Subject: Re: Motives and goals: Leont'ev and Axel

Carol Macdonald wrote:
> Hi Ricardo
> I come from Michael Cole's stable (as well as work with local colleagues);
> when Vygotsky's work fell into political disrepute (because some people
> more equal than others), then the activity theorists "took over", and
> largely displaced the focus on cultural tools (mediational means) as
> semiotic (specifically language) as creating consciousness, and focused on
> the cultural artifact (tools) as creating consciousness, and thus AT was
> developed.

This does not seem accurate to me. It seems to be joining various
"activity schools" of which Leontev was just one. Leontev's Activity
fell out of favor along with Vygotsky's emphasis on signs.

I think the real issue is how american theorists like to pick and choose
  ideas that are most favorable to their particular viewpoint. Often a
Vygotsky - Leont'ev dichotomy is not good enough, and one needs to split
Vygotsky's work into periods. Vygotsky's work on scientific concepts and
his other work concepts.

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