RE: Motives and goals: Leont'ev and Axel

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Thu Feb 12 2004 - 09:02:27 PST


Of course, it is important to distinguish intellectual debates in psychology
from political debates in the context of the purges in Russia. Davydov
liked to tell about Luria calling him and everyone in his generation each
morning wtih their tasks for the day, so that when he died, they missed
him in a special way. He had principled critique of Vygotsky's notion of
scientific concepts which in their positive form underpinned work at
School 91 and elsewhere. I myself criticized Luria's cross cultural work.
Tulviste and Tommela criticized my work. etc.

The key "critique" in LSV's letter to Vygotsky was that mind is mediated
through activity. So? In the Russian translation of my book it was said that
my main idea is that action is mediated through context. So?

As I understand what makes the Vygotsky critique important in the context
was that he was being accusse of being an idealist, signocentricist who
denied importance of context/activity and he saw ANL as taking that route.
Perhaps so, at the time. But not in later writings, as we well know.

Recently, perhaps even in that streamed interaction saved here at UCSD,
Gita Lvovna said how Luria was a constant presence in their house. You
learned a story about how both ANL and ARL were alienated from Vygotsky.
van der Veer and Valsiner never met ANY of the principles in this dicussion.
Their evidence in part comes from a little girl whose memory for events when
she was a small child has been mediated through this same, gossipy process
which would be laughable if so many poeple's lives had not been extinguished
by it.

Pretty soon someone will be telling us that Vygotsky and Dewey spent
the evening discussing psychology and education together! Seems like
how to think about texting as a new form of literacy would be a better
use of our time.

Good luck coming down off your sabbatical. Its a tough transition.

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