Re: Leont'ev-Vygotsky controversy

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Tue Feb 17 2004 - 13:36:12 PST

At 12:03 PM 2/17/04 -0800, you wrote:
>all super questions, Steve. Seems like we need to re-play the course from
>a year ago. Where did Mohamed's article appear?

"To Create Psychology's Own Capital," by Mohamed Elhammoumi, Journal for
the Theory of Social Behavior 32:1, 2002.

Here is the concluding section from Mohamed's article:


"Vygotsky never found the time to present his theory in an extended or
systematic fashion, as did Piaget who lived to be 84. His writings on the
topics of psychology, education, defectology, literature, and literary
criticism, though confined to the brief years of his professional life,
were prolific. These works remain a testimony to his scholarly
achievements. In a series of papers and monographs, Vygotsky began the
process of making explicit Marx's method to later be called dialectical
materialist psychology. He laid the foundation for developing a Marxist
psychology into a comprehensive world-view.

"Marx and Engels outlined the sociological factors that could bring about a
change in consciousness among human individuals. But they provided no real
clues as to the material nature of the transformation that can take place
within individual mental functions. It would have been difficult for them
to do so. Although Marx and Engels shared a great interest in human
development, psychology as a scientific discipline came into existence only
toward the end of the nineteenth century.

"The aim of this paper was to demonstrate that the beginning of a
scientific psychology or Marxist psychology is on of the legacies of the
period of intense intellectual creativity which took place after the
Russian Revolution. Marxism provided the key to a scientific psychology
because it had correctly taken a historically-socially-culturally created
humanity as its starting point. Vygotsky then sought to create a
psychology which would be "subject to all the premises of historicial
materialism . . . on this level the development of behavior will be
governed essentially by the general laws of the historical development of
human society" (Vygotsky, 1986, p95) [Thought and Language]. He went on to
explain that the essence of Marx's method in Das Kapital was to define a
"unit of analysis," in this case the labor theory of value, which provides
a window through which the system as a whole could be
understood. Ultimately, he concluded that the key to a scientific
psychology is to define such a unit of analysis; in other words, to create
one's own Capital. Attempting to comprehend Vygotsky's work in all its
richness will result in a fatal error if we fail to incorporate the social
relations of production as the cell unit of Vygotsky's psychology."


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