Peter, Bill, Ana, and Gene;
Read the Gredler and Shields's article with considerable interest. While I don't agree completely with their focus on Vygotsky's theoretical and research interest in psychological tools, it is a good corrective to the excessive emphasis on material action in the Action Theory concept of labour. My impression of Vygotsky's work is that his basic theoretical approach was quite consistent with Marx and Engels paradigm of the fundamental and universal determinism of the productive (and reproductive) process as a whole; labour, instruments of production, and subjects of production. Anyway, Marx's theory on elementary forms of production is about as abstract as I can go in consideration of the universal determinants for human creativity.
Science, all science, represents among other things, a normal state of contradiction from historically accumulated knowledge (authority) and the creative efforts of new thinking so there is nothing fundamentally wrong in recurrent attempts to interpret and present for argument the theories and research of prior workers. Equally so is the fact that no interpretation of authority should be regarded as a simple replication of past contributions. Here too there emerges a normal dialectical relation between historical science and science in the process of acquiring or new knowledge about the state of the world. Any argument from authority (preferably based on more than just thinking games) really should be regarded as a new contribution to the continual dialogue on the issues.
I agree whole-heartedly with Gene's political sensitivities concerning the relation of Vygotsky's and Luria's works to the Stalinist program's to transform the Russian people into a new species of human; homo Soveticus.
Finally, considering the long history of polemical debate in the Social sciences in general, and in Historical Materialist writings in particular (LSV, L and EVI not excepted) a hypersensitivity to "tough talk" by articulate intellectuals is not a particularly useful critique of other's works. I recall several comments of Marx and Lenin that expressly ridicule and reject the gentle exchange of graceful arguments that characterise debate in some intellectual cultures. All that can be said is that if you don't like polemics then don't do them and ignore the superfluous slings of verbal fisticuffs of those that do so indulge.
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