Re: [xmca] subjectivity

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Mon Oct 31 2005 - 07:34:05 PST

Hi Peter,

I think that Anna Stetsenko criticizes the reductionism in the theories
of Leontiev and some other CHAT and Marxist theoreticians in placing
"individual" under a "dominance of social". In her words: "These
discrepancies and internal contradictions in activity theory (i.e.,
emphasis on the primacy and dominance of social over individual, of
internalization over externalization, of acquisition of sociocultural
experience over its expansion, as well as dichotomous view of these
aspects of human life and unintended reification of objects) were quite
understandable and legitimate in light of rhetorical goals of activity
theorists at the early stages in developing this approach, especially
given the extremely individualized and solipsistic views that dominated
theoretical landscape at that time. [...] ...the de facto strict
dichotomy of social and individual in initial formulations of activity
theory (also taken up by many followers of the school) need to be
resolved to move to new levels of consequentially materialist and
nonreductionist theory of human development that would not exclude human
subjectivity from the dialectical accounts of social life."

However, I don't think that Anna's solution is that there is an "aspect
of human subjectivity that is *not* social in nature". Rather, I
interpret her overcoming of this dichotomy as a complete
reinterpretation of both concepts: "social" and "subjective". Thus she
says that: "the emphasis is placed on human subjectivity as being object
related in the sense of being involved in the creation and production of
new objects, relations and other aspects out in the world of social
practice (p.81-82)". AND also she says that "... psychological processes
need to be conceptualized as phenomena that never belong to some
separate mental realm. Psychological processes need to be conceptualized
as actions, and not in the classical Piagetian sense of mental acting,
but as object-related actions out in the world, making a difference in
the world and participating in its construction and development."

As I understand it -- Anna Stetsenko introduces continuity between
definitions of "social process of production, "social process of
exchange" and "human subjectivity" -- by re-defining "object
relatedness" of human activity as being productive, significative, and
self-constructive at the same time.

Ana M-S

Peter Moxhay wrote:

> Mike, and all:
> In a footnote, doesn't Anna say rather directly that she is
> introducing the term "subjectivity" as a replacement for the term
> "psyche" (approximately, mind) as used in Russian? If so, let me
> explain how I am trying to get a grasp on her very interesting paper,
> in case it's of use to others.
> My understanding is that a number of Russian CHAT theorists regarded
> the *psyche* as something that both animals and humans have, and
> *consciousness* as the particularly form of the psyche possessed by
> humans. At least, I find very clear statements to this effect in some
> reading I have been doing in parallel with Anna's paper, namely
> Davydov's "Lectures on General Psychology," recently published in
> Russian.
> So, in reading Anna's article I have been conditionally making the
> connections:
> subjectivity = psyche
> human subjectivity = consciousness
> where (again in my understanding of the CHAT perspective) the term
> consciousness [so-znanie, "co-knowledge" in Russian] implies that
> *every* aspect of the human psyche is social in nature, that even
> young babies very early on learn to see themselves through the eyes
> of their mama and papa, and so on and so forth. In other words, the
> human psyche is social in nature, totally and without exception. To
> me, this already implies a rather complete dialectics of the
> individual and the social, that is, a complete spectrum, in
> principle, from the individual to the social and back again.
> Is Anna suggesting that there is some aspect of human subjectivity
> that is *not* social in nature and that must be added in to the
> picture? Or just that a certain portion of the spectrum from the
> individual to the social has been neglected in concrete research?
> What do you think?
> Peter
>> Among my uncertainties as we start to dig more deeply into Anna's
>> article
>> is whether we are using key terms in the same way. An old worry with
>> respect to the word, object, and one that occurred to me in seeking to
>> interpret the article. But subjectivity is also a term, the meaning
>> of which
>> varies with the discourse it is a part of. I thought it might be
>> useful to
>> identify
>> the range of meanings we bring to the discussion. As a start, here
>> is the
>> wikipedia
>> entry.
> ...
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Ana Marjanovic-Shane

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