I am aware of your background. What I know of the history of the
Vygotsky School is largely gleaned from your posts on xmca in the
past. Apart form the respect I owe to you, I also know that there are
many others on this list 100 times more qualified than I to speak on
these topics, and it was with no irony at all that I designated myself
as an outsider here. I will indeed re-read your paper but perhaps it
would also help if you could succinctly clarify a couple of key points
from your paper?
In footnote 3 you say:
"... a literal translation ("psyche," "psychic reflection")
appears quite clumsy, and consistent with the goals of this
article, the term human subjectivity is used as an
So where you use the word "subjectivity" later in the article I should
read "psyche". Is that right?
So when, in the abstract, you say:
"reformulating the premises of cultural-historical activity
theory to include the notion that material production,
intersubjective exchanges, and human subjectivity form a
unified three-fold dialectical system"
what do you mean by "intersubjective exchanges" and how is this
consistent with unequivocally taking activity as the starting point?
Perhaps your answers to these questions would help me see where I have
misunderstood you, Anna.
At 05:06 PM 1/11/2005 -0500, you wrote:
Anna Stetsenko still cannot post directly to the XMCA listserve, so
I ma forwarding her comments to the group.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: could you please post for me on xmca?
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 16:25:20 -0500
From: Stetsenko, Anna <AStetsenko@gc.cuny.edu>
To: Ana Marjanovic-Shane <firstname.lastname@example.org>
References: <4367B514.email@example.com&g= t;
I am very glad that my paper has lead to some interesting
discussions and will offer my comments on
it in the next few days (I am not directly subscribed on xmca at
the moment but have participated on
and off since the early 1990s).
For now, just a brief note with a suggestion to Andy. Why not read
my paper again, because I do not see you referring to my arguments
in any relevant way. Instead, you had caricatured my arguments and
then went on to trample this caricature that you yourself invented
(not an unknown tactic but it needs to be pointed out). In fact,
all concrete comments and objections that you made have nothing to
do with my paper. Specifically, you started by suggesting that I
infer some kind of a sixth sense and then went on to present my
view as stating that ONLY in AT (and Russia) the subject had been
lost. In later posts, still apparently referring to my paper, you
went on to say that it is wrong to take individuals as the starting
point, to imply 'the individual on one side, and society on the
other', wrong to imply subjectivity as a mental theater and 'start
with Robinson Crusoes who then meet their Fridays' and so on. None
of these indeed faulty ideas has anything to do with my arguments.
What you suggest as an alternative is to take activity system as
the starting point, without noticing that this is exactly what my
paper suggests in an unequivocal way, again and again, throughout
That there are profound problems with subjectivity in
poststructuralist approaches is NOT denied in my paper, as Andy
erroneously implied. On the contrary, this is referred to in
footnote: "However, this does not mean that the views of these
scholars [Vygotsky, Leotiev] somehow lose in comparison to
alternative approaches that putatively attribute more agency to
individuals, because these latter approaches... only address
ephemeral agency as rooted in individualist and essentialist
premises." I can refer to my other papers with extended discussion
on the pitfalls of such views (MCA, 1997, with Arievitch), Theory
and Psychology (2004), Critical Psychology (2004).
I do not know what makes Andy so impenetrable to my arguments and
do not want to speculate on this now. But it is deeply puzzling
that instead of asking for clarification of my position, looking up
my other works or something like this (especially as Andy himself
stated his 'outsider status' in AT), he chose to caricature my work
in such a bizarre way.
On a lighter note, I find the following quote very amuzing (can
already see it partly applicable to Andy's postings). Note
especially the last stage:
"Theories have four stages of acceptance:
i) this is worthless nonsense;
ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
iii) this is true but quite unimportant.
iv) I always said so."
&nbs= p; - J.B.S. Haldane, 1963
Will be back soon,
PS. Just one hypothesis - I guess me being an 'unknown entity' is
part of Andy's perception. To briefly introduce myself (perhaps
helpful for others on xmca too), let me mention that my scholarship
spans some 30 years of first studying and then working and
publishing in Activity Theory, including in what was its hotbed at
Moscow University from 1975 till early 1990s, and then
internationally. I studied with ANLeontiev and other followers of
Vygotsky, worked with AALeontiev and Davydov (e.g., publishing in
several books that he edited). Perhaps adding this context would
invite Andy to read more carefully my paper. Which would then
perhaps form a basis for a meaningful discussion.
Professor and Program Head
PhD Program in Developmental Psychology
The Graduate Center, The City University of New York
365 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10016
151 W. Tulpehocken St.
Philadelphia, PA 19144
Home office: (215) 843-2909
Mobile: (267) 334-2905
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Alexander Surmava's Tour - September/October 2006
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