Re: [xmca] Vygotsky on Identity?

From: <ERIC.RAMBERG who-is-at>
Date: Fri Nov 23 2007 - 02:24:35 PST


Very relevant comments, well researched and articulated. It is my
understanding that Vygotsky's interest in defectology was for the purpose
of integration and not separation, very forward thinking on his part. The
most intriguing aspect of what you touched on was the idea that when
studying the development of a person's disability greater understanding
could be provided regarding all human development. Both Piaget and
Vygotsky use the term 'autist' to describe infant cognition where syncretic
stimulus can obviously spur activity in the infant yet communication is
limited and difficult. An individual with autism becomes trapped in this
loop of syncretic agency. "The Twins" that communicated with each other in
prime numbers out to 10 digits are a perfect example of being caught in
this loop. Dr. Olvier Sachs writes about them in his collection, "The man
who mistook his wife for a hat."


      To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
      Subject: Re: [xmca] Vygotsky on Identity?
"Katarina Rodina" <>
Sent by:
11/22/2007 10:01 PM CET
Please respond to "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <font

Yes, Eric, I agree, but would like to supplement with a few comments.

As you know, Vygotsky's understanding of genesis of HMF, personality and
identity formation in ontogeny, developed first and foremost along the
following lines:

1) "Psychology of art", focused on philosophy of language, pre-discursive
psychology, Russian and European tradition of constructivism,
structuralism ("Silver Age" etc.),

2) the genesis of HMF under disabled conditions (dysontogeny) as a
divergence on the biological and cultural plan of development (case:
blindness, mental retardation, deafness, deaf blindness, etc). Vygotsky
1931/2003: 505 emphasized the paradox that the key to an understanding of
HMF is to be found in the developmental history of the so-called
defective, that is, biologically deficient child (Vygotsky, L.S.
1931/2003): The Problem of development of Higher Mental Function(Chapter
1). In Vygotsky "Basic of defectology", Lanj Publishers, St. Petersburg,

3) "testimonium pauperitatis" (Vygotsky 1931/2003:511) ? indications of
insufficiencies in child psychology and as a consequence: educational
praxis of "the old school", cf. Vygotsky's "deep and merciless critic of
fundamentally pessimistic pedological theory?as the general method for
education and raising mentally retarded children" (Bein et al., 1998:
301). One of the Vygotskian critical points of view are directed towards
the argument that child psychology do not focus on the problem of higher
mental functions or the problem of cultural development of children.
Vygotsky concluded that the problem of personality (lichnost) and its
development remains a closed but still highly important problem in
psychology (Vygotsky 1931/2003:511). Based on the testimonium pauperitas
and his critique of general-, child-, and special (clinical) psychology
and education, Vygotsky formulated one of the basic ideas of his
non-classical psychology, namely that only a decisive leap/step from the
methodological limitations of traditional child psychology can lead to
research on the development of a synthesis of HMF, that could be called
child personality (lichnost rebenka). Thus, "the history of the cultural
development of children, lead the way to the developmental history of
personality" (Vygotsky 1931/2003: 511).

I have my doubts to the assertion that ĞLSV never wrote on identity". Of
course, Vygotsky did touch upon problems related to identity, the
formation of personality, the cultural development of the child etc. One
of the key ideas in Vygotskian psychology was the so-called psychology of
personality (psikhologia lichnosti) from a non-classical (contra modernist
or "pre-postmodernist"(Holzman & Neumann)) psychology. This should be seen
in the context of the "Silver Age of Russian Culture" (pre-postmodernist
condition of Russian live, culture and society). I think that the
contemporary term "postmodernist psychology" is a misunderstanding.
According to Steinar Kvale (1992) this is a "contradiction in terms ?
psychology is a project of modernity." The epistemological and
intellectual roots of Vygotsky's theoretical ideas about identity
formation are very complicated and multidisciplinary and, in my opinion,
relatively poorly investigated.


On Tue, November 20, 2007 18:57, wrote:
> "The fundamental problems of defectlology" Vygotsky focuses on how a
> disability should not be viewed as a defecit but rather how it can
> heighten
> a person's other sense and features.. It is all about identity and
> personality formation. Very good read.
> eric
> Andy Blunden
> <ablunden@mira.n To: "eXtended Mind,
> Culture, Activity" <>
> et> cc:
> Sent by: Subject: [xmca] Vygotsky
> Identity?
> xmca-bounces@web
> 11/19/2007 06:08
> PM
> Please respond
> to "eXtended
> Mind, Culture,
> Activity"
> Can anyone point me to where I should look in Vygotsky for his ideas on
> Identity and Identity formation?
> I have the LSV Collected Works.
> Andy
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Katarina A. Rodina,
MSc in Speech & Language Therapy/Logoped,MNLL
PhD-Research Fellow,
Department of Special Needs Education
University of Oslo
P.O.Box 1140 Blindern,NO-0318 Oslo, Norway
Phone: +47 22 85 81 38/Fax:  +47 22 85 80 21
Head of Russo-Norwegian Academic Relations,
The Vygotsky Institute of Psychology, Moscow
The Herzen State University in St.Petersburg
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Received on Fri Nov 23 02:25 PST 2007

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