Re: Leont'ev-Vygotsky controversy

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Mon Feb 16 2004 - 21:02:39 PST

Dear Mike,
On one hand I am fascinated with the historical aspect of the Vygotsky -
Leont'ev relationship and their political situation, and on the other, I
am trying to understand their conceptual differences on a purely
abstract level. It may be just interesting to see how the concept of
activity as a unit of psychological analysis emerged and what did it
mean or could mean to Leont'ev. If it is true what Steve said, that
Leont'ev used it in a more general way to describe psychological
development of both humans and of other species, then it would be
interesting to understand the specific nature of the relationship
between the concept of activity and the concept of mediation. At least
it would be interesting to me.
On the other hand, when you say that Russian term for activity is taken
from German "tätigkeit" (activity; action, operation; occupation,
profession; business; from: die Tat -- an act or, better, a deed) --
that means that most probably there is a more direct connection to
Marx/Hegel theories, more direct than a theory based on word meaning. Of
course, we can never completely understand what it all meant at that
time and place, but it is inspiring in its own way.
What would be more useful in 2003 or 2004? It depends. Why do you think
that this discussion is not useful in 2003?

Mike Cole wrote:

>Ana-- The Russian term is taken from German, (which I can neither speak
>nor spell) but it is roughly, teitesgeit.
>The whole either/or feeling to the discussion of vygotsky and leontiev
>runs entirely counter to my sense of what is useful in 2003. Who knows
>what I would have thought had I been a Russian citizen living in Ukraine
>in 1933?

Ana Marjanovic-Shane
267-334-2905 (cell)
215-843-2909 (home)

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