Re: LSV-The Concrete Psychology of Human Beings

From: Bruce Robinson (
Date: Sun Feb 13 2005 - 16:06:18 PST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Cole" <>
To: "Xmca" <>
Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2005 1:02 AM
Subject: LSV-The Concrete Psychology of Human Beings

> "The specificity of this category lies in that, being different from
> two other universal concepts, organism and society, it canonly be
> understood in terms of these concepts. The individual
> is "a SOCIAL UNIT." This unit does not exist outside a system of links
> with other individuals. Vygotsky often quoted Marx's dictum: "Peter
> only establishes his own identity as a man by first comparing himself
> with Paul."

Or more precisely from Capital I, Ch 1, Part 3

" 19. In a sort of way, it is with man as with commodities. Since he comes
into the world neither with a looking glass in his hand, nor as a Fichtian
philosopher, to whom "I am I" is sufficient, man first sees and recognises
himself in other men. Peter only establishes his own identity as a man by
first comparing himself with Paul as being of like kind. And thereby Paul,
just as he stands in his Pauline personality, becomes to Peter the type of
the genus homo."

I have a feeling that Marx took this idea more or less directly from
Feuerbach (which is interesting from the viewpoint of those who have found a
Vygotsky-Feuerbach connection). Here's one possible source passage from the
'Essence of Christianity':

"The ego first steels its glance in the eye of a thou before it endures the
contemplation of a being which does not reflect its own image. My fellow-man
is the bond between me and the world. I am, and I feel myself, dependent on
the world, because I first feel myself dependent on other men...Without
other men, the world would be for me not only dead and empty, but
meaningless. Only through his fellow does man become clear to himself and
self-conscious; but only when I am clear to myself does the world become
clear to me. A man existing absolutely alone would lose himself without any
sense of his individuality in the ocean of Nature; he would neither
comprehend himself as man nor Nature as Nature. The first object of man is
man. The ego, then, attains to consciousness of the world through
consciousness of the thou."

Feuerbach also wrote earlier (in 1828):

"An animal as an individual being is an animal. Humans, on the other hand,
are only really humans *as one humanity, as human species, as a whole, as a
society*... The human is... linked to and unified with other humans in such
a way that that the *individual* human is only something arrived at; and if
we wish to seek a human who is not yet influenced by human society, we would
have to seek the kind of human that was neither born nor bred but created
out of nothing."

I am curious to track down the article in Soviet Psychology and see if it
reflects this further.

Bruce Robinson

> And later: "The individual is the highest form of sociality." (pp
> 218-291 in Yaroshevski)
> Aside from identifying a unit of analysis for the study of the entire
> individual/person-ality, this
> discussion helps me understand for the first time why Luria, in his
> x-cultural studies, had a chapter where he asked questions about
> knowledge of the self in relation to culture.And, it
> clearly links to the current almost-discussion of the dialogical
> creation of the self.
> But, is there no version of this in English? If so, I will ask the
> editor of J of Russian and
> East European psych to get it translated. Seems well worth while knowing
> better.
> Translation anyone?
> mike
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