RE: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD (was= Does VygotskyAccept the "Assistance Assumption"?)

From: Michael Glassman (
Date: Tue Nov 28 2006 - 11:03:24 PST

Andy and Paul,

What is the argument that a dialectical approach, even dialectical materialism, dissolves the difference between subject and object? I guess we are all influenced by what we have been reading lately, but it seems that it is difficult for a dialectic based perspective to escape the idealism trap.



-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 5:09 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Empirical Evidence for ZPD (was= Does VygotskyAccept the "Assistance Assumption"?)

Paul, surely you overstate the matter.

ZPD is, like all scientific concepts, a theory-laden object. To say that it
exists says that certain more or less well-defined procedures understood
within the Vygotskyan theory, will produce this or that verifiable result.
Otherwise what is the useof the concept and the theory of which it is a
part? While there are lots of concepts within the Vygotskyan theory which
are new and unique, or have a Marxist genealogy, there are also plenty
which are shared with all pedagogical theories and common sense. In fact,
all scientific theories must incorporate "common sense" concepts into their
framework in order to be truly scientific. "Empiricism" denies that
scientific objects are "theory laden" and that there is anything
problematic in the idea of a purely factual test for the existence of some
object. But to deny Empiricism is not to deny the validity and necessity of
empirical evidence.

And surely it is wrong to say that in Marxism or Vygotsky "the subject
object distinction is dissolved". The absolute independence and
separateness of subject and object is certainly denied by Marx and
Vygotsky, but neither claim that "subject" and "object" are invalid
concepts, or concepts between which no distinction can be made. For
example, Marx does not claim that an object (e.g. ZPD) exists insofar as a
subject (Vygotskyan psychology) incorporates the concept in its activity,
so that empirical refutation of the concept is ruled out in principle. No
subject exists in absolute separateness from every other subject, all
subjects exist in a material and therefore infinitely interconnected,
world. So the identity of subject and object can only be relative, not


At 12:26 AM 28/11/2006 -0800, you wrote:
> Isnī't the idea of "empirical" evidence for the ZPD something of an
> oxymoron in itself? Didn{t Vygotsky develop his thinking within the
> framework of dialetical materialism, something that many north americans
> and others seem all too ready to forget? Isn't the concept of a ZPD a
> dialectical model in itself, which is to say, a model in which the
> subject object distinction is dissolved, a dissolution which defies the
> concept of empirical?
> Paul Dillon

  Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, AIM
identity: AndyMarxists mobile 0409 358 651

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