Re: [xmca] Stetsenko- Material practice, human subjectivity, intersubjectivity

From: Martin Packer (
Date: Sun Nov 06 2005 - 07:07:46 PST


Could you say a little more about why you consider V. Zinchenko's work an
inappropriate divergence from Vygotsky and others? (I've copied the relevant
paragraph from your message below.) It was I who drew a parallel between
Anna's paper and Zinchenko's work. I wrote:

> I seea connection here (though Anna may not agree with me) with V.
> Zinchenko's chapter in Jim Wertsch's 1985 edited book in which he argues
> that if we are to avoid dualism we must conceive of "a different ontology of
> mental activity," in which we acknowledge that mental action can be both
> internal and external. We must avoid a dichotmy between mental (inside) and
> material (outside), and instead we need to see 'mental' phenomena in (*in*)
> activity. The subjective, Zinchenko argues, must be included in reality.
> Understood this way, tool-mediated action will be seen to have *intrinsic*
> cognitive, executive, and emotional-evaluative components. Subjectivity is
> a structure of living movement.

Given your evaluation of VPZ I am thinking that Anna must have disliked this

I'll put my cards on the table. One reason I appreciate Zinchenko's
proposals in his chapter is that I interpret them as moving towards an
ontology similar to that of Heidegger's 'being-in-the-world.' Like Marx,
Heidegger sees practical activity as prior to contemplation, and sees
'mental states' as derivative from tool-using activity in concrete settings.
Given Heidegger's deplorable politics I doubt whether his work has been well
received in Russia. But, as I'm sure you know, it was a resource for
existential Marxists in France and elsewhere in Europe (Lefebvre; the
Arguments group, etc) who were seeking an alternative to doctrinaire
readings of Marx, influenced in part by the 1844 Manuscripts, in part by new
scholarship on Hegel. I think Marx can be read as having, at least
implicitly, a non-dualistic ontology along these lines.

Now perhaps to take such a step is to step outside CHAT - I don't know CHAT
well enough to judge this. But would it be a step outside (to be, as you put
it, surely ironically, 'liberated from') Marxism? The effort to overcome
dualism was so central to Vygotsky's work ( he saw the crisis in psychology
as due to a dualism which certainly continues today) that it seems to me the
effort to develop a nondualistic ontology remains relevant. That effort I
see, perhaps incorrectly, in Anna's paper too.

I'd value your instruction on this.


On 11/6/05 3:03 AM, "Alexander Surmava" <> wrote:

> Under dialectical logic to understand something we have to move, to ascend
> from abstract to concrete, tracing the development of a single germ cell to
> the reach the variety of mature, developed forms. This way is rather
> difficult as it requires us to find in the very reality the notorious germ
> cell and then follow it in its fully contradictory path of development. The
> contradiction itself is something hardly endurable which demands from an
> investigator all his intellectual as well as moral resources. Much easier as
> well as nonproductive way is to multiply initial principles or germ cells.
> Here AS follows VPZ, who is trying to invent a substantially new CHAT
> liberated from Marxism, and by no means after LSV, ANL or EVI.

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