RE: [xmca] Luria & the USSR

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Wed Mar 15 2006 - 00:19:39 PST

You're welcome, David.
- Steve

At 12:44 PM 3/14/2006 -0400, you wrote:

>Thanks for your thoughts, Steve. I am sharing your note with my students.
>David D. Preiss Ph.D.
>Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
>-----Original Message-----
>From: [] On
>Behalf Of Steve Gabosch
>Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 1:08 AM
>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>Subject: Re: [xmca] Luria & the USSR
>Mike describes some of the reaction to Luria's
>research among the Kashgars on page 214-215 of
>his "Epilogue: A Portrait of Luria" in Luria's
>autobiography, The Making of Mind. His research
>and explanations in this work "met with strong,
>not to say vitriolic, disapproval."
>Although Mike does not go into this, I think it
>is vital to point out that this kind of poisonous
>attack - one that represented a "mixing of
>scientific and political criticism in 1934" -
>took place during the full-scale Stalinization of
>nearly every aspect of Soviet society, including
>all the sciences. It was not the *content* of
>Luria's cross-cultural studies but its
>*suppression* that satisfied "Soviet doctrine"
>(whatever "soviet doctrine" was in Stalin's
>brutal campaign to drive out scientific
>discussion and debate in the USSR beginning with
>Lenin's death, and reaching a fever pitch prior
>to WWII). Excepting Stalin, the entire original
>leadership of the Bolshevik revolution had been
>killed, imprisoned or exiled by the end of the
>1930's, culminating in Trotsky's assassination in
>1940. In the late 1920's and throughout the
>1930's, a death grip was being placed on
>scientific work, which included, among much other
>repression, the banning of Vygotsky's
>writings. Lysenko's quack theories of genetic
>inheritance and his mismanagement of Soviet
>agricultural research was a shining example of
>the scientific "accomplishments" of this Stalinization process.
>This does not mean that Luria's analysis of the
>Kashgars (how they used syllogisms, etc.) is
>above scientific and political criticism. I
>think ARL did make certain errors (seeking
>cognitive rather than socio-economic, historical
>and class explanations for his results), along
>with creating brilliant precedents for conducting
>this kind of field research. I also think Luria
>would have welcomed such commentary. But there
>is no reason to believe that the poison-filled
>reaction to his work - and the suppression
>apparently of even any mention of this work - was
>an aspect of any coherent doctrine, let alone a
>worthy scientific critique. Rather, as I see it,
>the poison campaign Luria endured was part of the
>general Stalinization process of destroying
>independent thinking in the scientific community.
>- Steve
>At 05:45 PM 3/13/2006 -0400, you wrote:
> >
> >Dear XMCARs,
> >
> >A class of mine was studying Luria by the last 2 weeks, Mike's DVD
> >included, and one of the questions that arose was that of the
> >conclusions of the Asia studies and whether the way they were skecthed
> >in the book published by Harvard's press in the late 1970s would have
> >been the same in case the book would have been published after the
> >collapse of the Soviet Union. That is:
> > >From all what is said in the book, what can be attributed to the
> > >needs to
> >satisfy Soviet doctrine and what can be attributed to the real thinking
> >of Luria. Maybe it would help us to elarn what were the ideas related
> >to that study that kept it unpublished for so many years and whether
> >they had to be sublimated to reach final publication. I know that's a
> >difficult question, but maybe it can be answered by some of you here
> >that knew Luria personally. Feel free to reply to all since I am
> >copying to my students. All of them will be very grateful of your
> >imputs.
> >
> >Thanks!
> >David
> >
> >David D. Preiss Ph.D.
> >Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
> >
> >
> >_______________________________________________
> >xmca mailing list
> >
> >
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