Re: [xmca] Vygotsky on Identity?

From: E. Knutsson <eikn6681 who-is-at>
Date: Fri Nov 23 2007 - 06:39:17 PST

Thanks, Andy,

Although I guess I'm running a risk here (entering unknown/uncertain waters,
that is), I have the impression that the broader pre- and post-revolutionary
historical context in Russia – in which Vygotsky and his contemporaries made
rough drafts of a new homo sovieticus - deserves more attention.

A truly "culture-historical" approach should, in my view, have in sight far
broader horizons than those being offered by the traditional (and sometimes
narrow-minded) intellectual history.

Something tells me that 'identity', or at least the overwhelming focus on
identity, is a postmodern, predominantly Western phenomenon. On the other hand,
there was clearly a need for a construction of new identities in (post-)
revolutionary Russia.

The Reformation (as well as 19th-century and early 20th-century psychology)
probably reflects the general individualistic pattern in Western European
history. In Russian (and eastern European) history, the general pattern seems
to be radically different.


On 2007-11-23, at 00:57, Andy Blunden wrote:
> Wow! that's an answer, Erik!
> So putting Tony's and your answer together, Erik, I think we have it that
> lack of interest in identity is something that reaches back into a cultural
> legacy that preceded and underlay the Soviet experience, yes? And we assume
> that "lack of interest" in identity amongst path-breaking psychologists
> means that the concept was invisible for anyone in those communities, and
> we suspect that the same goes for other peoples who have not had the
> pleasure of modern corporate capitalism. Tony cites Erik Erikson as putting
> it down to Luther, i.e., the idea of a personal conscience and the idea of
> personal access to God. It always seemed to me that Luther and his fellows
> were able to form this idea of God because His representative on Earth was
> so remote. ? The further you were from God's representative on Earth, the
> more it made sense to rely on your conscience. The connection with
> incipient capitalism is also clear enough, with every person having to
> become a trader in their own right in order to live, rather than simply
> getting to know their station in life. In any case, we surely then have to
> include in our account of identity, the conditions which make consciousness
> of identity possible, before we get to the interpersonal transactions which
> are generally seen as lying at the base of identity-formation?
> Andy

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