[xmca] Creativity

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (ana@zmajcenter.org)
Date: Mon Feb 20 2006 - 07:18:41 PST

Mike and all,
Here are a few thoughts about Seana Moran and Vera John-Steiner's
article "Creativity in the making: Vygotsky's contemporary contribution
to the dialectics of development and creativity".
Moran and John-Steiner have presented a very clear and at the same time
a very complex and challenging theory of creativity that Vygotsky was
developing throughout his whole career. In becomes clear that Vygotsky's
real and personally vested goal was to understand and describe processes
by which creativity and development are connected and ways in which
these processes produce, on one hand, unique individuals and, on the
other, how they move and transform culture. One finds out -- or
re-discovers - that Vygotsky's intellectual history started in critical
analysis of art and creativity and that he frequently returned to the
same issues.
There are a number of very important concepts that are not discussed in
the contemporary CHAT as often as, perhaps, necessary. For instance:
Moran and John-Steiner start off their article with the principle on
which Vygotsky founded both his theory of art and his general theory of
psychological development: "creative work is profoundly social".
Quoting Vygotsky: "Art is a social technique of emotion, a tool of
society which brings the most intimate and personal aspects of our being
into the circle of social life. ... It would be more correct to say that
emotion becomes personal when everyone of us experiences a work of art:
It welcomes personal without ceasing to be social" (form LSV: Psychology
of Art).
The development of emotions is rarely discussed in psychology from the
CHAT point of view -- i.e. that emotions are profoundly social in their
origin in the same way that we came to understand cognition. In fact,
Moran and John-Steiner's paper brings together various instances of
Vygotsky's thinking about creativity in such a way that the unity of
cognitive and emotional aspects of development become very clear.
Moreover, the social aspect of the personal development is even more
pronounced when an individual is understood as a historical development
of complex emotions which are, according to Vygotsky "combinations of
relationships that develop under conditions of historical life" (from
the LSV Collected Works).
Another issue which became very visible and clear from Moran's and
John-Steiner's paper is that "creativity" cannot and should not be
understood as just one among many other particular domains of inquiry
into psychological development. Creativity was for Vygotsky and it is
for Moran and John-Steiner a basic principle of psychological existence:
it permeates all aspects of psychological and social being. One needs to
understand creative processes in order to understand the relationship
between an individual plane and the social plane of socio-psychological
dynamics; one needs it to understand the development of cognition
because it is based on imagination as "a transforming, creative activity
directed from the concrete to a new concrete... with the help of
abstraction" (LSV, Imagination and Creativity in the Adolescent); one
needs it to understand the relationship between teaching and learning if
they are understood as creating relationships between the individual and
her/his community and through the transformation of interpersonal
relationships, building her/his ways of seeing the world as an
archipelago of significant "objects", "places", "events" and "others".
Moran and John-Steiner's article leads us through all aspects of
development as creative transformation of relationships between
developing functions: development of creative imagination in children
and the role of play in that process; adolescent fantasy and
construction of the subjective world and construction of objective
"external" reality as well as the interaction or even unity between the
two types of creativity; the relationship between imagination and
conceptual thinking; the importance of understanding creativity for
understanding the development of meaning and sense; the role of emotions
and experiencing (perezhivanije) in the personality development as a
social and creative process; and, finally, development of culture as
externalization and objectification of the creative processes and
transformations of relationships which are at the same time: a)
interpersonal and social ; and b) intimate and individual.
Finally, Moran and John-Steiner situate these ideas into the
contemporary world of creativity studies: works of Csikzentmihalyi,
Sawyer, Gruber, Gardner and John-Steiner herself. What Moran and
John-Steiner achieved is to present a very complex set of issues and
elements, all of which are necessary to start approaching the
explanation of creativity and building a dynamic system perspective of
it -- in a very condensed and a very organized way.
There are a whole lot of issues for discussion that intersect topics we
have been developing in various XMCA groups and subgroups all along. To
mention just a few:

    * Relationship between individual and social in the
      cultural-historical perspective - processes of internalization and
      externalization as dialectically connected, recurrent and inseparable;
    * How to understand transformation of the relationships between
      particular psychological functions: interaction between developing
      social relationships and developing cognition
    * Imagination and a socially originating process;
    * Role of play in the development of meaning;
    * Personality and symbolic processes;
    * Creativity as a way of developing will and self-consciousness;
    * Collaboration as a modus of both personal and cultural development;

This is a very inspiring article, it will probably make you read it a
few times over. I am still reading and re-reading it.


Mike Cole wrote:
> As we are in a lull betweein various topics and everyone has a lot of free
> time ..... :-)) ....... may I suggest that we return to a topic that got
> dropped some time
> ago and for which there is a paper on the xmca webpage to help us along. I
> am refering to the paper by moran and john-steiner on creativity. It seems
> well worth
> people's attention. if, collectivity, we have some!!
> the url is
> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Paper/VygotskyCreativityChaper.pdf
> mike
> PS-- All sorts of exciting stuff for AERA from ch-sig. Thanks a ton to ana
> et al.
> _______________________________________________
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> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
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Ana Marjanovic'-Shane,Ph.D.

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Philadelphia, PA 19144

Home office: (215) 843-2909

Mobile: (267) 334-2905

ana@zmajcenter.org <mailto:ana@zmajcenter.org>

http://www.speakeasy.org/~anamshane <http://www.speakeasy.org/%7Eanamshane>

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