RE: RE: [xmca] Fwd: could you please post this for me on xmca?thanks. (also to Peter's concept of gambit)

From: Stetsenko, Anna (
Date: Mon Nov 14 2005 - 11:25:52 PST

As a small preface: I feel a bit uncomfortable about writing so extensively on xmca and ask you to note in this context that this is to re-act to feedback and comments by others, as best as I can. When my paper was about to be posted for discussion, as I learned from Mike - something which my agency was not involved in at all (as you know, the posting for a discussion is not up to the authors) - I knew I could expect a heated debate. As the discussion unfolded (which I joined and stayed in again at Mike's wise advice), many very general points were addressed and questioned (not always in dispassionate ways), and this is what forms the context for my answers and sometimes lengthy reflections.


I do not regret that I have joined in - there were many lessons to learn, really - although my biased view is that much time has been spent on clarifying positions rather than on moving ahead. This is from indeed my biased position where, for me, this paper is already in the past and I struggle with issues that come next - such as, for example, the critical question of what is it that Vygotsky saw or did not see in his context, in terms of its ominous political dynamic, and how this 'seeing or not seeing' got reflected in his theorizing. For me, this is what can be called the 'Vygotsky's puzzle'- something I do not have answers for but feel deeply interested in (and work on), as well as the whole complex of what this political dynamic and the whole project really was - the issue of concern similar to Victor's.


Which brings me to his last post and to acknowledging honesty, boldness, openness and generosity of the story, or hi-story, he shared with us - an account in which the same qualities of his subjectivity and life vividly transpire, for me at least. It is amazing how much history and context, and their vicissitudes, can be embodied in one person's life and its unique trajectory. Again, Mary (addressing you because I care very much about your view and want to avoid us misunderstanding each other, in case you read this), as subjectivity and psychology not in their mentalist incarnation - but as dimensions that are implicated in and also imply, reciprocally, the whole human being-in-history and the whole history-in-human being, highlighting their unity-in-contradiction (as well as the unity-in-contradiction of life and psychology, with the notion of mediation embedded in it). And all the implications of this and the related view that each human being matters, through her leading activity and contribution (as in the notion of 'the self').


What transpires for me in Victor's story is also the importance of a trajectory, of moving in and on - in space, thinking, positions, views. Something that is at the core of dialectics for me - the very notion of moving in and on versus stopping and freezing. So, now I feel like I do see how Victor's ideas come out of his life and certainly return to it, through his work in its many forms.


One more comment, about collaboration in science (I realize, this is almost a telegraphic style but I have to keep short). Science is indeed collaborative and I think much more than we realize, because collaboration often works itself out indirectly and tacitly. With other people contributing to our views (including when even contradicting us) and thus becoming our co-authors. I am very happy to be some sort of a co-author on your book, Victor (of course, metaphorically; though actually I did think about writing a book similar to yours ...if I had more than one life) - this should be an exciting book. I myself had toned down many critical points in my paper, for example on Bakhurst (I knew the paper was kind of provocative as it was, and the discussion here illustrated this) and am very excited that you are doing this kind of analysis and look forward to reading it. This does feel good to me - in the spirit of us being distributed and not limited to just 'our' lives and just 'our' works.


Which also means, to me, that even though we speak different languages and cultures, here on xmca and everywhere (including with the closest ones to us), we can still understand each other - through challenge and contradiction and collaboration. I like this quote from Mandelshtam, about poetry but I think it relates to all creative acts (Mandleshtam's life is incredibly interestingly linked to Vygotsky and Bakhtin, all three really being CO-AUTHORS): "In poetry the boundaries of the national are destroyed and the elements of one language exchange greetings with those of another over the heads of space and time."

And of course in Bakhtin's own words:

"Languages... like mirrors that face each other, each of which in its own way reflects a little piece, a tiny corner of the world, force us to guess at and grasp behind their inter-reflecting aspects for a world that is broader, more multi-levelled and multi-horizoned than would be available to one language, one mirror. (Voprosy literatury i estetiki pp.225-26).


If this sounds like a farewell from me in this discussion, then probably this is indeed it.


Thank you to all of you again (and I profoundly regret I could not engage with and do justice to all the great questions that emerged in the discussion and those who did great creative collaborative expansion on my paper - like Steve Gabosch, Mary, Vera, And, Bill, Kevin, and many others),

Anna Stetsenko.

PS. I would certainly read all and any response/feedback - this is what I am interested in, this has been my object-ive throughout the discussion. And, like Mike said, you might hear from me again - as a sign of my weakness/interest perhaps.


From: on behalf of Victor
Sent: Sat 11/12/2005 1:01 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: RE: [xmca] Fwd: could you please post this for me on xmca?thanks. (also to Peter's concept of gambit)



     Sorry about my assumptions of your views on Holzkamp's work. We much
more common ground than I thought. The link between the inanimate, the
animate and within the animate domain, the conscious, is a necessity for a
practically significant CHAT.

     Regarding the "chicken and egg" issue (which came first, subjectivity
or objectivity) I reread your discussion in the article and see that this
was a product of the discussion rather than the original formulation. So
here too we have a common ground. This is also true for the bit about being
a "Hegelian man" who must realize spirit in the object.

    I see we also agree on the issue of the refusal of the authors of CHAT
to consider the implications of cognition for the play of subjectivity in
the formation of knowledge.

  While reviewing the route whereby I "discovered" the "gambit" a previous
discoverer came to light. (Also relevant to Peter M's question on whether
all CHAT theoreticians ignored the importance of subjectivity as the "motor"
for social change)


Section Three: Idea. Chapter I Life

The question of Life does not belong to "logic as it is commonly imagined".
If, however, the subject-matter of logic is truth, and "truth as such
essentially is in cognition", then cognition has to be dealt with - in
connection with cognition it is already necessary to speak of life.

Sometimes so-called "pure logic" is followed by "applied" logic, but then
«.» every science is applied logic


The idea of including Life in logic is comprehensible - and brilliant - from
the standpoint of the process of the reflection of the objective world in
the (at first individual) consciousness of man and of the testing of this
consciousness (reflection) through practice - see:


«.» Life = individual subject separates itself from the objective



Shorter Logic:§ 216: Only in their connection are the individual limbs of
the body what they are. A hand, separated from the body, is a hand only in
name (Aristotle).


Shorter Logic:§ 219:
Invert it = pure materialism. Excellent, profound, correct!! And also NB:
shows how extremely correct and apt are the terms "in-itself" and


If one considers the relation of subject to object in logic, one must take
into account also the general premises of Being of the concrete subject (=
life of man) in the objective surroundings.




Section Three: Idea. Chapter II The Idea of Cognition

1) Life, as "the living individual" - § A.
2) "The Life-process"
3) "The Process of Kind", reproduction of man, transition to cognition.


(1) "subjective totality" and "indifferent" "objectivity".
(2) The unity of subject and object


... "This objectivity of the Living Entity is Organism; the objectivity is
the means and instrument of the End ..."
Hegel and the play with "organic Notions"


Further, the "subsumption" under logical categories of "sensibility",
"irritability" - this is said to be the particular in contrast to the
universal!! - and "reproduction" is an idle game. Forgotten is the nodal
line, the transition into a different plane of natural phenomena.
And so on. Pain is "actual existence" of contradiction" in the living
individual. !!

This is from Lenin's Conspectus of Hegel, the first part of his notes on the
idea of Cognition. It's somewhat strange that EVI didn't incorporate these
observations of Lenin in his own system. Apparently, by the 1960's and 70's
some of Lenin's more important ideas were regarded as counter-revolutionary
(which is another way of saying, too revolutionary) by the Soviet

I must thank you for presenting your article and the subsequent discussion.
The collaboration they instigated helped to clarify for me a number of
important issues. I started quite a while ago to write up an article to
clear up the much confusion concerning EVI's concepts of the real and ideal
produced by Bakhurst's representation of EVI's work and by extension of
Lenin's ideas. After several rewritings the article has burgeoned into a
book! I'm currently doing the last draft. Your article and the discussion
first suggested that I'd have to change a chapter or two, and now that a
whole section must be revised. Nothing could be better than that!

And a word to Mike: I complete concur with AB's evaluation of CHAT as the
most serious and useful forum on its kind in the web. By the way, I
perused with great interest Eva Ekeblad's article, "The emergence and decay
of multilogue on a scholarly mailing list". Could be a most
practical tool for regular review of the activities in the forum and for
helping all of the participants to collaborate in shaping forum practice.


  I'm not sure what would help and how much, so forgive me if my description
is unsatisfactory.

Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, is said to have remarked
'Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man'. My own
experience appears to confirm this. I was what they call in the US a "red
diaper baby", the offspring of communist activists. My mother managed the
Refugee Aid to Spain during the Civil War and the CPUSA office in
Schenectady and my father was UE council member at the GE Schenectady Plant
before McCarthy's HUAC broke up the Union and the factory was
 "deconstructed" and distributed throughout the American South. Grew up in
an environment replete with heroes of the Spanish Civil War, Black activist
of the Civil-rights movement in the 1950's, and labour activists of all
sorts. A family of working-class intellectuals, we had a complete library
of Marx and Lenin among others and the books were read! I think I first read
Marx's 14 of Brumaire at the age of 10 as casual reading! Dinner table
discussion (and, naturally , frequent arguments) were concerned mostly with
labour politics and Marxist-Leninist theory.

     From High School through College and University I was more or less
continuously engaged in various political campaigns; separation of Church
and State, Civil Rights, Student Rights, and of course Vietnam. Never
joined an organization (experiencing the trauma of the Khrushchev exposures
of Stalinism at the age of 12 permanently cured me becoming the "soldier" of
any and all movements). In general my activist role was, naturally, one of
independent theoretician and tactician and occasionally as prosecutor of
operations. Meanwhile got 1st degrees in Anthropology and Sociology, and
then a 2nd degree in Anthropology specialising in Theory, Economics, and
General Systems.

    In 1970 I emigrated from the US to Canada where I finished my thesis and
helped the Montreal office of the organization for settling American
refugees from the Vietnam War in their operations. From there I went in
1971 to "visit" Israel, and in the course of the visit became a member of a
kibbutz. Acquired there plenty of experience of orchard growing, orchard
management and of the decline and fall of the kibbutz system, the latter
occurring only a trifle slower than similar developments in the People's
Democracies of Central and Eastern Europe. Similar developments indeed, it
is striking how the progressive deterioration of kibbutz society resembles
in microcosm; the much broader processes at work in the Social Democracies.

     With the decline of Kibbutz agriculture, among other things, I found
myself with a good deal of time on my hands and no way to fill it
satisfactorily through the jobs available to me. A perusal of the massive
amounts of research on the kibbutz and its history as well as considerable
discussion with Russian émigrés here I came to the conclusion that there is
no really adequate scientific theory on the socialist experiment of the last
century (most of it is the work of neo-liberal apologists - particularly
here in Israel). With 30 years of active experience in one such experiment
and access to all the necessary data, I decided to carry out my own
analysis. It was in the course of planning out the research program that I
came to the conclusion that my knowledge of theory was inadequate for the
task and the precondition for any such research necessitated a review and
modification of the relevant material. And here we are!

    I hope that will do.

Highest regards,

Victor Friedlander-Rakocz
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stetsenko, Anna" <>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 0:11
Subject: Spam: RE: [xmca] Fwd: could you please post this for me on xmca?

Victor, I particularly like your formulation:

>>EVI's theory of the ideal in particular brings us to the brink of
>>understanding of the essentially revolutionary implications of
>>subjectivity, and then bypasses it going straight to the
>>post-revolutionary state in which subjectivity is reintegrated with
>>objective sociality and the world is once again at peace with itself.>>

I goes well with my argument and is a better expression of it. As I said
before to you, in a different context, in my view you have a great grasp of
dialectics. Could you reveal your background a little bit, if you don't
mind - simply as a context for understanding. And also because ideas really
come out of life, I believe and can be understood in the context oflife, you
do agree, right? If not, this is also fine.

Your other detailed and also quite important comments (and especially in
that you focus much more on contradictions) would take much more time to
deal with (and I will have to see if I can do that).

Perhaps just few remarks:
1. you wrote

>>While you argue that subjectivity, i.e. reasonable
activity, as the source for human conditions and life activity, I see
subjectivity as emergent out of and in contradiction to objectivity.>>

I argued about the source specifically in this response to you - to
highlight one aspect, while answering to you point, rather than reiterating
all of my position. This inevitably somewhat skewed the meaning - given the
addressivity in the dialogue. My position transpires more in the paper,
where I think it is more nuanced (in terms of source and outcome, and using
the point of emergence of subjectivity out of material practice, although I
never said 'in contradiction' to it - which is your important point, I
agree). I believe that the issue of timing and sequence versus simultaneity
is the most difficult one, at least for me.

2. you wrote: <<Along with the rest of Hegel's mankind I've considerable
difficulty in
conceiving of spirit, i.e. rational activity (or subjectivity), in the
absence of the object>>

I agree and just do not think that I argued against this in the paper
(perhaps in my response to you? when responses start piling up, there is a
huge transformation inevitably inherent in this very process). Certainly
something I share.

3. you say <<refused by the founders of CHAT, but that is integral to the
current CHAT model>>.

I mostly argued vis-a-vis the founders, as I know you noticed. And also
mentioned much of implicitness, I believe.

This is all I can do and I reiterate that I see much agreement on many
points -- plus, your points have been helpful to me (don't know about mine).
Look, I can criticize my paper now myself (I really mean it, without any
irony, it has been about 3 years since I wrote it and we all move on, don't
we?), e.g., it is too short, many things are skipped over and not addressed
at all, or even skewed etc. I do find it important that we agree on ANL and
EVI though - as in your message of today, really good to see that, this was
an important argument for me to work out. And you had mentioned some
positive things before which I apprecaited. Thanks,



From: on behalf of Victor
Sent: Thu 11/10/2005 8:41 AM
To:; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Fwd: could you please post this for me on xmca? thanks.


     Sorry about the lateness of my reply, but I wasn't exactly sure how to
respond to your message. The waiting was productive since the subsequent
discussion brought up the importance of the ideals of Holzkamp for your
formulation, and a discussion of his approach is critical here.

    We do indeed agree on many points, including on the refusal, and I do
believe it was a refusal based on political considerations, by ANL, EVI and
other AT theorists to come to the logical deduction that cognition, i.e. the
concept, is a gambit that is in fact a subjective challenge to objective
social practice (the idea is Hegelian though Hegel as an idealist had a much
more restricted concept of the negating effect of the concept than that
implicit in Marxian dialectics). EVI's theory of the ideal in particular
brings us to the brink of understanding of the essentially revolutionary
implications of subjectivity, and then bypasses it going straight to the
post-revolutionary state in which subjectivity is reintegrated with
objective sociality and the world is once again at peace with itself.

     I cite your view as you presented it in your message of Nov 5, 2005:

Proposition 1 "However, my central claim was that the concomitant idea -- of
subjectivity, ideal, intersubjectivity being not ONLY THE OUTCOME but also
the SOURCE for human condition and life - was either downplayed or neglected
by ANL, EVI and other AT theorists. Or, in other words, that they did not
consistently pursue the flexible and dialectical relations within this
system taken in its totality".

Proposition 2 "Therefore, I argued, the manifold relationship among material
production, subjectivity (psychological processes) and intersubjectivity
(culture, politics, ideality etc.) needs to be emphasized, re-instated (if
not introduced anew) into AT and CHAT for us to move ahead".

 Proposition 3 "Thus reinstating both the materialist ontology of human
subjectivity and the humanist ontology of material practice - together, at
once, and not one instead of the other."

Note: I've segregated and numbered your propositions to make the discussion

      In comparing the two views, yours and mine, we can detect some basic

1. Proposition 1: While you argue that subjectivity, i.e. reasonable
activity, as the source for human conditions and life activity, I see
subjectivity as emergent out of and in contradiction to objectivity.

2. Proposition 2: While you contend that the whole AT- CHAT model must be
overturned to introduce subjectivity as a critical, if not the critical,
"subject" I argue that the subjective is implicit in the model and that what
is necessary is the recovery of what is in essence a "stage" or moment in
the dialectical process that was refused by the founders of CHAT, but that
is integral to the current CHAT model.

3. Proposition 3: You seem (this is not clear to me at least) to take the
position that subjectivity and objectivity are simultaneous. Does the
simultaneity refer to timing or to logical relation? If the former then we
are in agreement, if the latter you will have to help me further in
understanding the logic of the idea.

     I will concentrate here on proposition 1. Proposition 2 is more or
less dependent on its predecessor, while proposition 3 I do not understand
well enough to discuss.

      Along with the rest of Hegel's mankind I've considerable difficulty in
conceiving of spirit, i.e. rational activity (or subjectivity), in the
absence of the object. I find it difficult to imagine spirit being manifest
without an operator and being expressed, internally and externally, in the
absence of some material form. It appears more reasonable to me to propose
that the object is a necessary precondition for subjectivity, and that
subjectivity while incorporating the object in the form of internal imagery
and external modes of expression, that then negates the object as it is or

     The precedence of the object does not simply represent the ontology of
cognition, after all dialectics and the theory of knowledge is one, but also
the historical-prehistorical origins and development of cognition as a
universal form. K. Holzkamp finds in Marx the idea that it is the
individual drive to survive that is the basis for human sociality, and
develops the ancient argument that individual subjectivity, albeit
socialized subjectivity, is the touchstone of collective social life.
concept is much more developed than this. Drawing from his discourses on
the origins of human sociality from the German Ideology and Die Grundrisse,
we find that Marx argues for a much more modern theory of basic human
sociality than that of Holzkamp. For Marx it is the essence (the germ of
the universal) of life forms to reproduce themselves, to project their
existence into the future that is the basic form of reason and of all
subsequent development of life forms, including of human society and of
human instrumentality. Marx and Engels did not regard the study of man as
limited to his social and inner life, quite the contrary; it was for them of
the greatest importance that the development of human history be firmly
anchored in the universal paradigm of natural science. Thus, despite the
relatively primitive development of the natural sciences of their day,
especially of the life sciences, it was of paramount importance to begin the
dialectics of human history with the emergence of life, the category that
includes all purpose-imbued matter, from the inanimate.

 Note that reproduction is not at all a strictly subjective activity,
neither in its prosecution nor in its consequences, but as a phenomenon
emergent from the absolute objectivity of non-life it incorporates
(sublates) objectivity in its negation of the objectivity of inanimate
nature. It is important to stress; that at the stage of the dialectics of
the development human social life where men's conscious participation in
collaborative programs for collective survival, subjectivity is very much
predicated on objectivity. At this point in the analysis the problem is no
longer a matter of which came first, but of how the complex dialectical
relations between objectivity and subjectivity play themselves out in the
formation and change of ideational, social and material forms.

Victor Friedlander-Rakocz
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Cole" <>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Cc: "Stetsenko, Anna" <>
Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 18:54
Subject: [xmca] Fwd: could you please post this for me on xmca? thanks.

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Stetsenko, Anna <>
> Date: Nov 5, 2005 8:51 AM
> Subject: could you please post this for me on xmca? thanks.
> To:
> Cc: "Stetsenko, Anna" <>
> I wrote my comment below yesterday morning but then my university's server
> was down for much of the day (right, Joe?) and I could not post it. There
> are many new things today but I still think my yesterday's response is
> relevant. One addition only, because Mike and others again asked for
> clarification of my central terms. It would be impossible to explain what
> I
> meant by intersubjectivity and subjectivity (and I would also have to go
> back to Greeks, Hegel etc and do some historical excavations) if not
> that ...I
> use them from within the CHAT tradition, i.e. works by Vygotsky and
> Leontiev
> who had done much of such historical excavations already (with some
> variations due to the difficult task of finding a suitable translation,
> because for example, 'psyche' in English is not the same as 'psihika' in
> Russian; 'consciousness' is not 'soznanie', and on and on - just to say
> that
> translating is a highly theoretical work in itself).
> To discuss all the details here would be a separate, tedious and lengthy
> work. I suppose that one quote from Vygotsky should be helpful to
> illustrate
> the usage of terms:
> 'Any function in the child's cultural development appears twice, or on two
> planes. First it appears on the social plane, and then on the
> psychological
> plane. First it appears between people as an interpsychological category,
> and then within the child as an intrapsychological category... Social
> relations or relations among people genetically underlie all higher
> functions and their relationships.'
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Now, my comment from Nov 4, 2005.
> Mike has suggested that the discussion on xmca moves on to new topics. I
> totally agree and now want to thank all the participants for their time
> and
> effort. I do need to make up on my promise to comment, not to start a new
> round of discussions but to highlight a couple of things. I start with a
> response to Viktor - because this is a good way to sum up the main
> points --
> and then make a few more general comments.
> Viktor: You presented a fascinating analysis of Ilyenkov and I find myself
> agreeing with the main thrust of your arguments. In fact, I think there is
> much more agreement between what you are saying and my paper than you seem
> to imply. Let me explain this, necessarily briefly.
> First. My treatment of Ilyenkov is very sketchy in my paper (as you
> noticed)
> whereas you presented a much more detailed and, already due to this, a
> more
> fair account of his views. However, all the sketchiness of my treatment of
> EVI notwithstanding, my main argument does not depart that strongly from
> yours. Namely, I imply that it is a puzzle that EVI's dialectical - as I
> directly say -- view is not consistently pushed through and that it is
> often, de facto, does not say what needs to be said (your take) or is in
> contradiction with his own passages on ideality as reified in objects (my
> take). I attribute this puzzle, and you do too, to the difficulty of
> Ilyenkov's position in the sinister atmosphere of his society and the
> related impasse of not being able to fully integrate creative agency of
> individuals into the picture. Yes, you are right, because that would have
> threatened the status quo of the then established presumably perfect
> social
> order, which in reality was a stifling bureaucracy (I admit, you say it
> more
> openly than I did).
> Secondly and more importantly, regarding your central claim:
> <<For Marx (and Ilyenkov), subjectivity, the object, and the ideal develop
> simultaneously as the outcome of the special conditions of human
> sociality;
> the voluntary (in the sense here of non-instinctive) collaboration of
> mostly
> if not entirely socialized individuals for the purpose of producing the
> means for satisfaction of collective and individual needs. >>
> What I did in my paper was to show that it is indeed this central Marxist
> idea (my formulation of it, also attributing it to Marx, differs from
> yours
> in phrasing only rather than in essence) that is at the foundation of
> CHAT -
> Vygotsky, Leontiev ... and Ilyenkov's works. We are much in agreement here
> again. In addition, I addressed how CHAT theorists differed in that they
> placed more relative emphasis on some of the links within this system but
> not others (see details in paper; also note that some aspects are
> explained
> better in my Theory&Psychology paper - these two are really
> complementary).
> But all in all, this is the foundation and this foundation is indeed good,
> as I said many times in my paper. We agree here too, no doubt. I did not
> take anything away from this foundation and from all the great CHAT
> theorists, I believe, in my account.
> However, my central claim was that the concomitant idea -- of
> subjectivity,
> ideal, intersubjectivity being not ONLY THE OUTCOME but also the SOURCE
> for
> human condition and life - was either downplayed or neglected by ANL, EVI
> and other AT theorists. Or, in other words, that they did not consistently
> pursue the flexible and dialectical relations within this system taken in
> its totality. Therefore, I argued, the manifold relationship among
> material
> production, subjectivity (psychological processes) and intersubjectivity
> (culture, politics, ideality etc.) needs to be emphasized, re-instated (if
> not introduced anew) into AT and CHAT for us to move ahead.
> Thus reinstating both the materialist ontology of human subjectivity and
> the
> humanist ontology of material practice - together, at once, and not one
> instead of the other.
> This is especially urgent given TODAY's context where postmodernist and
> poststructuralist accounts with their rampant moral relativism (as well as
> the outright biologizing of human development a la evolutionary psychology
> and other brain-reductionist approaches) are winning, and winning big,
> over
> dialectical and consistently materialist views. ((though not directly
> addressed in my MCA 2005 paper, critique of reductionist biologizing views
> is part of my works, as reflected e.g. in my recent talk at Penn State
> where
> some of xmca'ers where present)).
> Incidentally, I also focus on the importance of not loosing a
> developmental
> stance (this has not been noticed in previous discussion of my paper on
> xmca) - as when I speak of MATURE forms of practice that simultaneously
> produce and are produced by subjectivity and intersubjectivity and when I
> say that this multi-fold relation gradually emerges in history of
> humankind
> and ontogeny.
> This is the bare bone of my argument. Now, addressing the xmca community
> more broadly. I realize that the paper, due to space constraints, does
> sound
> to many as too abstract (i.e., too few examples) and very dense. This is
> indeed the case and I can only vindicate myself by saying two things. One
> is
> that my argument has already found its way into interpreting some very
> concrete research findings - in Rejo Miettinen paper in the same MCA issue
> (as Rejo gracefully acknowledges there). Two is that I am now working,
> together with Arievitch on a book where many issues will be addressed in
> much more detail (integrating also important contributions by Galperin, so
> far grossly misunderstood).
> Are there lessons to be learned from the discussion in general? Clearly
> there is one for me - I see better where I need to elaborate more on my
> arguments to avoid misunderstandings. There is also one more general
> lesson,
> I believe. As it transpired in the discussion, the very foundations of AT
> and CHAT are in need of more work (e.g., we can't quickly make general
> claims such as that mediation or activity or culture is important or
> something like this and think that all issues are resolved to then simply
> move to concrete investigations). This work on the foundations of CHAT is
> a
> difficult one but it is necessary. As bb (I use the initials only because
> this is how I know the author, not having seen the full name - is it Bill
> Barrow?) pointedly stated, this kind of work is inherently difficult
> because
> it requires 'taking in' all the previous theorizing and then moving from
> there.
> Also, this work needs to be collaborative, not confrontational, as happens
> too often, leaving activity theorists in limbo due to incessant arguments
> among themselves and thus letting really opposite views take over in
> mainstream science and popular consciousness. Collaboration does not
> exclude
> contradiction and challenge (which is good and necessary) - it only
> excludes
> flat out dismissals based in misunderstandings and biased perceptions
> (including those that are gender biased - to use the mildest of
> expressions), or the combination of the two. Collaboration is not easy
> because it entails leaving aside our personal ambitions and becoming more
> open minded and generous - not an easy task by any count. I want to thank
> many of you and especially Mary Bryson and Vera John-Steiner for being
> exactly this - open minded and very generous.
> As to gender biases, since this has been in the focus, here is one
> comment.
> It is a well established finding that they are still alive and well in
> academia (e.g., see discussions around Larry Summers' 'remarkable' talk;
> study by Hopkins and also research that shows that ONE AND THE SAME PAPER
> is
> perceived starkly differently if presented as authored by an apparently
> male
> or female scholar). This is the case everywhere in the world, though more
> in
> some places than others, with for example Russia now developing egregious
> forms of sexism. A great topic to be discussed in any account of what is
> going on in that country (I have written on this and have done some
> research; this is another area that I feel strongly about).
> I still think, and want to emphasize it again, that LSV and ANL and EVI is
> a great foundation, at least I do not see a better one, and I have invited
> the CHAT community, having made one step in my paper, to re-examine and
> critically evaluate the very core of their work, expanding and
> strengthening
> it, so that we can move ahead, taking these very theorists with us, into
> today's context with its really formidable challenges.
> Thanks again to all,
> Anna Stetsenko
> PS. To Lois Holzman: Lois, thank you for your comment. I would need to
> explain more but don't want to take too much space here - we sure will
> meet
> some time soon, our paths seem to cross very often. For a position close
> to
> mine (in one important part), I refer you and others with similar
> questions
> to your recent discussion with Ian Parker in Theory & Psychology and my
> paper with IA in Critical Psychology). One quote from my paper: "Since the
> ...purpose of and meaning of science are seen as grounded in its role and
> ability to contribute to inevitably determinate pursuits undertaken in a
> certain direction and with certain GOALS OF CREATING CHANGES in the world,
> knowledge too turns out to be determinate and directional. This is NOT the
> old-fashioned, positivist-type, ahistorical determinacy of science...
> Neither
> is it a complete indeterminacy and uncertainty of constructivist accounts.
> Instead, it is a kind of a historically and culturally foregrounded
> determinacy of science that has to do with it being practical,
> goal-oriented, and therefore, transformative and value-laden pursuits of
> always determinate versions of the world".
> So, no disagreement that science is about changing the world. Our
> disagreement appears to be that I think changing the world entails having
> goals - i.e., direction, knowledge of where one wants to get that is
> value-laden -- whereas you seem to avoid talking about this kind of
> knowledge (goals, orientation, directionality).
> And just one more thing. Many views and issues from 19th century are
> indeed
> still prevalent today as well as... those from 17th and even earlier ones.
> I
> respect your efforts to develop what you call a tool-and-result approach.
> Indeed, the answers can't be found by putting together few quotes from
> Marx
> or anybody else, I would think, but by developing one's own system of
> ideas
> to address major issues that are not going away any time soon - those of
> knowledge, mind, human development, learning, teaching, human condition
> and
> so on.


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