Re: [xmca] Did the Butterfly Leave the Cocoon, and then what?

From: Volker Bunzendahl <Volker.hippie who-is-at>
Date: Thu Feb 28 2008 - 01:50:16 PST

Dear Andy, thanks for this response, - now I am not at all sad anymore.
Thank you, Volker

Andy Blunden skrev:
> OK, you are quite right, Volker. I should not speak in such a way,
> My apologies. (My old communist training coming to the surface!)
> Andy
> At 12:26 AM 28/02/2008 +0100, you wrote:
>> Sorry, but, the quote:/ "I read laughable commentary about LSV"/
>> makes me not happy, but sad.
>> I know many people who love and dance to the music of Bob Marley.
>> Not all off them, who dance to the music and listen to the words,
>> have read the Bible (or smoked Ganja). For me, and for LSV as I read
>> him, the important thing is the dance, the joint-activity, not who is
>> best in understanding.
>> But /to judge by laughing /about others understanding is, in my eyes
>> not at all revolutionary.
>> But surely it is a good idea to read Marx, Engels, Spinoza, Iljenkov
>> and/or to listen to Bob Marley.
>> One love, Volker
>> Andy Blunden skrev:
>>> Well, in my experience, in this case, it is true.
>>> Recently I read an article by a well-known expert on LSV who I judge
>>> had not read Hegel or Marx, and I read laughable commentary about
>>> LSV's "method of thesis-antithesis-synthesis" which the author
>>> mistakenly thought had something to do with Hegel and Marx's use of
>>> the same fiction. This was helpful for me because a couple of months
>>> ago I spoke to a guy who had a book in draft about whether LSV's
>>> dialectic came from Marx or Hegel based on the premise that Marx
>>> used the "method of thesis-antithesis-synthesis". On being
>>> questioned, the writer claimed "The Misery of Philosophy" as his
>>> source, but it turned out that it was Proudhon using these terms and
>>> being ridiculed for it by Marx. All I am saying is that confusion
>>> reigns. LSV was "steeped" in Marxism. What he meant by "Empiricism"
>>> would have been informed by voluminous Marxist literature attacking
>>> empiricism at that time, possibly, rather than James. One gets what
>>> one can from a writer; that's fine of course. We all can only read a
>>> certain tiny portion of what has been written, and exotic
>>> appropriations are always original and creative. But when a writer
>>> is working within a genre such as Marxism, I really think that a
>>> broader familiarity with that genre is essential. Stern and Spinoza
>>> are a different question altogether.
>>> Andy
>>> At 08:11 PM 22/02/2008 -0500, you wrote:
>>>> Andy, come on - to say it's difficult to understand somebody if you
>>>> haven't read one of the progenitors of their ideas is a rather
>>>> dicey proposition. I mean it seems to me Vygotsky took his ideas
>>>> from a number of different sources. I've also heard people say you
>>>> couldn't understand what Vygotsky meant by concepts if you haven't
>>>> read Stern. Others say you can't really understand Vygotsky if you
>>>> haven't read Spinoza. I could make the argument that you can't
>>>> understand what Vygotsky meant by empiricism unless you read James.
>>>> I mean all different sources go in to all our ideas, but in the end
>>>> they are our ideas, and they rise and they fall and they are
>>>> understood or misunderstood as a result of our own efforts.
>>>> Michael
>>>> ________________________________
>>>> From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
>>>> Sent: Fri 2/22/2008 5:49 PM
>>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>> Subject: RE: [xmca] Did the Butterfly Leave the Cocoon, and then what?
>>>> Philip, I've always wondered how someone who has not read Hegel
>>>> understands
>>>> what LSV meant by a "genuine concept" as opposed to a
>>>> "pseudo-concept" at
>>>> all actually. And how anyone who had not read Marx's Capital could
>>>> understand what LSV meant by a "unit of analysis." Self-evidently
>>>> people
>>>> do, so I admit to an element of irony here, but what about it?
>>>> Andy
>>>> At 12:31 PM 22/02/2008 -0700, you wrote:
>>>> >Martin, I found your paper a pleasure to read - provided for me
>>>> multiple
>>>> >insights about LV, particularly about the intellectual-historical
>>>> context
>>>> >that he matured in. What i'm writing here is rather a kind on
>>>> running
>>>> >dialogue, based on your text, my experiences, other texts i've read.
>>>> >
>>>> >I can't say that these are my final thoughts, or concrete - mostly
>>>> >thoughts that stochastically emerged in response to your text.
>>>> (by the
>>>> >way, don't you think that Wertsch took history into account in the
>>>> text in
>>>> >which he describes the history of pole vaulting, and the historical
>>>> >changes that emerged over time as practice and technology changed?)
>>>> >
>>>> >so, what i'm about to put out here is a kind of muddle that's my
>>>> initial
>>>> >start in working with your paper.
>>>> >
>>>> >for me the answer to your title is "yes, Vygotsky is relevant."
>>>> After
>>>> >reading your paper, my own conclusion is that Vygotsky's work has
>>>> >transcended Marxism. I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion
>>>> that it's
>>>> >necessary for future scholars to read "Marx, Hegel, Engels, Lenin,
>>>> Trotsky
>>>> >...". I strongly agree that it is "perhaps na´ve to think that we
>>>> can use
>>>> >the one (psychology) that Vygotsky fashioned unmodified", as you
>>>> write in
>>>> >your final sentence.
>>>> >
>>>> >I thought of Newton as I read your paper, all of his "natural
>>>> laws" of
>>>> >motion and light that he constructed, and considered too that
>>>> Newton was
>>>> >at heart and practice, an alchemist. To understand Newton, we do
>>>> >understand his historical context, but we don't read the alchemy
>>>> texts in
>>>> >order to understand his work - even his construction of labeling
>>>> his work
>>>> >"laws of nature", in order to avoid being attacked as a religious
>>>> heretic,
>>>> >we understand - so that when Newton explains that he's merely
>>>> revealing
>>>> >the laws of God, I don't think then that we turn to the bible for
>>>> further
>>>> >illumination or Aquinas or Descartes.
>>>> >
>>>> >So too with Vygotsky - the authors you, Martin, cite (Marx, Hegel,
>>>> Engels,
>>>> >Lenin & Trotsky) - I look back to as situated in a word of
>>>> positivism,
>>>> >with beliefs of utopianism (new society, new man & forces
>>>> controlled by
>>>> >men themselves & the root of the content and disconent of mend,
>>>> and which
>>>> >in that way determines their destiny & the new man could
>>>> self-consciously
>>>> >grasp and master the laws of his own formation & time to change
>>>> the world
>>>> >& fate & destiny & science of history & the natural laws of society's
>>>> >movement & lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society,
>>>> >etc.) and I consider what epistemological failures these beliefs
>>>> were.
>>>> >
>>>> >Instead, I consider Gregory Bateson (1904 - 84), who had many of
>>>> the same
>>>> >concerns as Vygotsky (1896 - 34), or Foucault (1926 - 84), as well as
>>>> >Pierre Bourdieu and Bruno Latour, who emerged also out of the
>>>> tradition of
>>>> >Kant, and Hegel, and yes, referred back to Marx and Engels, though
>>>> >certainly not Lenin and Trotsky, 'and struggled with the multiple
>>>> >questions of "mind in society" -
>>>> >
>>>> >I find the greatest strength in your paper beginning on page 23 with
>>>> >'Vygotsky's Account of 'Child History'" . I think Vygotsky's
>>>> brilliant
>>>> >lies in picking out gems from Marx - as in your quotes - but then
>>>> building
>>>> >a method of research that looks at consciousness, language,
>>>> memory, change
>>>> >over time - and the utilization of the concept of 'sublated'.
>>>> Vygotsky's
>>>> >exploration of consciousness is so much richer and grounded in the
>>>> >dialectic of theory and practice, than say Jung's or Freud's
>>>> notions of
>>>> >consciousness. It is a brilliant insight, as you explain, in the
>>>> >understanding of "coming to act on oneself as one acted on
>>>> others, or as
>>>> >others acted on one" (p. 28). (Which goes a long way in
>>>> explaining why
>>>> >Russians failed at socialism - tracing their historical path of a
>>>> >multiplicity of repressions for 500 years - and why northern European
>>>> >nations did such a far more successful job of socialism - those
>>>> nations
>>>> >did not have 500 years of state police, censorship, and power
>>>> residing in
>>>> >a single person - they had a far greater source of flexibility of
>>>> cultural
>>>> >resources to build on.) So, for a conception of history to build
>>>> a new
>>>> >psychology on, a new pedagogy in my case, I'd much rather look to
>>>> >Foucault, Bateson, Vygotsky, Bourdieu, Cole, Wertsch, and read
>>>> Tolstoy's
>>>> >"War and Peace" - for in Tolstoy one sees that the stochastic
>>>> emergence
>>>> >of events assures that there is no developmental path of history,
>>>> much
>>>> >less psychology and education.
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> >_______________________________________________
>>>> >xmca mailing list
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>>> mobile 0409 358 651
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> mobile 0409 358 651
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Received on Thu Feb 28 01:52 PST 2008

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