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[Xmca-l] Re: Happy New Year and Perezhivanie!
Antti, firstly on "functionalism." There is an issue about
conceiving of the mind as an aggregate of various
psychological functions, as opposed to an integrated
"system" in which every psychological function (e.g.
perceiving, acting, cognising, reading, ...) entails a
particular configuration of the entire system, and related
issues. In this sense Vygotsky could be said to be a
structuralist and definitely not a functionalist. Except of
course, that as a Marxist he took the mind as the subjective
aspect of a subject-object which includes social relations
as its objective aspect. That is never what I have in mind
when I talk about functionalism and structuralism however.
By "functionalism" I am always referring to the sociological
theory of Talcott Parsons and the tendency among Soviet
Marxists to integrate this functionalist view into Marxist
dogma. E.g., "the role of the petit bourgeoisie is to ..."
By "structuralism" I mean the current of social theory
growing out of Saussure's linguistics, Levy-Strauss's
anthropology and Althusser's anti-Humanist Marxism. One
must, of course, appreciate the insights which these
currents of thinking bring to us, but when you get to the
theories of social stasis of American Functionalism and the
anti-Humanism of Louis Althusser, I confess it generates a
visceral negative reaction from me. Like Anthony Giddens, I
see functionalism and structuralism, together, as a bundle
of theories of the world which pretends that there are
"social forces" which act independently of the
consciousness, intentions and understanding of the human
actors through which they are active. Functionalism and
structuralism are together one side of a polarity, the other
of which is "hermeneutics" which lays all the emphasis on
the interpretation of the world by individuals, whether by
means of Freudian ideas, linguistic theories, literary
criticism or "social psychology." Like Giddens I look for a
third way, but unlike Giddens I look to a serious theory of
cultural psychology, not a do-it-yourself psychology based
on my own personal intuitions.
I haven't followed the views of Alex Kozulin, Antti, so I
will simply abstain on that question, but the Fedor Vasilyuk
of today is emphatically not a Marxist. He emphasises the
power of prayer, which is something quite foreign to the
Marxist tradition. In 1984, when he wrote "The Psychology of
Perezhivanie," however, his views reflected to an extent the
view of Leontyev and his following, so in that sense and to
that degree, he was a Marxist. But he did not interpret
Marxism dogmatically in the way Vygotsky criticised in his
day, and he was critical of Leontyev. BY turning to the
tradition of Russian Orthodox Christianity, it does seem
that Vasilyuk turned away from Marxism. Whether that is some
kind of "humanism" I don't know. "Humanism" is a very
On 19/01/2017 7:53 AM, Antti Rajala wrote:
I wonder if there is some confusion regarding the notion of functionalism.
Andy seems to refer to functionalism in social theory whereas David refers
to functionalistic psychological theory. Maybe they do not speak of the
same functionalism. Kozulin, suggested by Andy, seems to draw upon yet
another tradition, Russian humanism, in which life is seen as literature or
art. Perhaps, the preference for the notion of drama by Alfredo and
Nikolai, has some resonance with this tradition.
Andy, Kozulin depicts Vasilyuk's humanism in sharp contrast with Marxism.
Do you agree?