RE: [xmca] CHAT and the Question of "which way is up."

From: Stetsenko, Anna (
Date: Sat Oct 21 2006 - 12:34:37 PDT

the book you are referring to takes the model of transmission as its core at two levels: it understands Vygotsky in line with a transmission ideology and it itself enacts this ideology as its method (so that Vygotsky can only be replicated but not transformed). This is not done explicitly but can be seen from the whole approach. At least this is how I see it. The rest follows from there, I believe and there is really much to question in such an approach (I had a chance to argue against reducing Vyg to transmission ideology, while also noting that there were threads, especially in Leontiev and Ilyenkov, that were dangerously close to this model; not surprizingly, given the historical context they worked in that acted to subvert the initially transformative impulse).
So, there is no homogenous group that sees things similarly even though their geograpical trajectories coincide to some degree. Have not seen this other review you mentioned (Mesherjakov & Zinchenko) - can't even guess which position it comes from; it can be any number of things given how much the landscape is shifting in that context.
As to 'which way is up' -- this is, for me, connected to the view of science as either 'pure knowledge' or, alternatively, a form of practice.
About agency in 'was meant to be suggested': I was answering a direct question to me, so thought that an impresonal form was nontheless clear from the context of me clarifying my position.
I relaize that this is very brief to make much sense and is not relevant to all anyway; there certainly should be ways to meaningfully address this, especially the which way is up question in some other format. a symposium? a special issue of something? (if only there were more than 24h a day in this best of worlds, as Mike said)


From: on behalf of Mike Cole
Sent: Sat 10/21/2006 1:11 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] CHAT and the Question of "which way is up."

So many topics are sneaking into the discussion with no change in headers (I
know, Reply is easier and
definitely preferable to silence!) that I want to pick up on just one of the
many issues raised in the past
couple of days.

When Ana writes "no absolute, universal, pre-existing, a-historical template
against which to judge and define 'heights' was meant to be suggested" I
think it is worthwhile pausing at least a little to consider the agency
buried in "was meant to be suggested." This issue relates to the issue of
one-right-way thinking about the legacy of Vygotsky and his colleagues and
how to orient to it.

So, first, about who might have suggested that while no "pre existing,
a-historical template" was a part of their understanding of
genesis (phylo.cultural.onto.micro) there is little doubt in my mind that
LSV and Luria and Leontiev all had a HISTORICAL developmental, from lower to
higher, sequence of changes in mind when they talked about primitive/modern,
etc. According to this way of thinking Theoretical thinking in scientific
concepts is
later than thinking in complexes ontogenetically and cultural historically,
and phylogenetically and such later modes of thought are higher, better,
more "context independent," and to adopt the
view expressed by Michael and Ana is, from this perspective, not only not
true to Vygotsky but the delusions of well meaning bourgeois liberals whose
hearts are obscuring their vision.

(For clear statement of this perspective see Karpov's book on neo-vygotskian
psychology or Mescheryakov & Zinchenko's characterization of the deviations
from Vygotskian
thinking of which I am manifestly guilty in *Cultural psychology* as reason
to characterize my view as "anti-historical cultural psychology.")

My own view which is, a trust, readily available to anyone who is not bored
by repitition of it, is that for almost 20 years we have been witnessing
historical changes
of many kinds, one consequence is, for this group, the meeting, converging,
transforming, distorting, changing, improving, debasing, etc of the ideas of
Soviet (largely Russian)
psychologists with a very heterogeneous group of non-Soviet, non-Russian
psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, educationalists, work
researchers...... all of whom are
attracted by what appear to be important strengths in the core ideas to be
re-constructed from the writings of LSV et al from the mid 1920's up to the
mid 1970's with several
very significant periods of disruption and radical zigs and zags.

We all do this differently, drawing upon what we can from those cultural
traditions of which we are a part. So for me it includes Dewey and the
little of American pragmaticism I know,
a melange of Anglo-American anthropological work, Bartlett, a background in
human development, encounters with different OTHERS in various parts of the
world. For Michael it
includes a range of European thought much of which I have not even heard of,
never mind read and thought about, for Ana there is a strong starting point
as a young participant
in the late days of the Moscow school's approach and her many years of
experience in Western Europe and the United States, bb brings his strong
background in physics and
tireless efforts to enable the education of teachers around the country
combined with a voracious reading appetite. Etc.

All of this to reproduce what LSV wrote in 1924-34? Or Leontiev, or.....?
Did they know how to incorporate Bakhtin? And if they did, could they would

Short bottom line: Establishing the one right way to develop the unfilled
program of lsv and his colleagues is not an attractive task. Seeking to
explore ways to enrich, correct, make
relevant to our times, and in general, make those ideas equipment for our
living and the prospects for living of our progeny IS an attractive task.
What a great tool kit we have been
bequeathed! And with all the modern tools at our disposal and their
shoulder's to stand on, can we see past our noses? At least as far as the
computer screen?

It snowed again in Colorado just after I left and the sun glistens in my
back yard.
Neighbors slaughter each other in Baghdad.
I vamos escriber en dos lingues acqui en XMCA

All true. Guess it really is the best of all possible worlds.
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