Re: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko article: whose sociology???

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Tue Dec 09 2008 - 08:31:13 PST

Very thought provoking observations, Haydi. I wonder if there is any
"biography" of what followed in the fates of the Makarenko kids. THAT would
be a fascinating way to tell a history of the USSR.

Personally, I feel quite strong this thought: *The more society discloses
itself to the personality, the fuller becomes its internal world *. Again,
personally, it is not any easy process, but rather, a form of disenchantment
or in Yrho's terms, "development as breaking away."

Thank you for the morning meditation.

On Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 6:32 AM, Haydi Zulfei <> wrote:

> Dear all,
> A very happy welcome/return to Paul Dillon !
> I don't know much to discuss ; however , I think the following consecutive
> quote from Leontiev's *A,C,P* could be considered related to the ongoing
> discussion .
> My guess is it can enlighten us about what sociology can bring into the
> science of psychology . We all know about L's discussion to the effect that
> formerly by psychology people meant a science which took a psyche which was
> not certain where it dwelled , within the mind , the heart , the nervous
> system , etc. as their subject of research or introspection but that marxist
> psychology sought that psyche in its volatile tenets and interrelationships
> with the social relations outside of the individual individual . The
> individual history , experience , past which is again social/activity-based
> is also discussed in the following passage . All emphases are mine unless
> otherwise expressed :
> [Still deeper changes mark the subsequent levels of development up to the
> level at which the system of *objective social relations and its expression
> acquires a personal sense itself *. Of course, phenomena occurring at this
> level are still more complex and may be truly tragic, but even here the same
> thing takes place: *The more society discloses itself to the personality,
> the fuller becomes its internal world *.
> The process of development of personality always remains deeply individual,
> unique. It produces major displacements along the abscissa of growth and
> sometimes evokes social degradation of the personality. The main thing is
> that it proceeds completely individually and depends on the
> *concrete-historical conditions *, * on the belonging of the individual to
> one or another social environment *. It is particularly dramatic * under
> conditions of a class society with its unavoidable alienation and
> partialization of personality *, * with its alternatives between *labor* and
> *management*. It is understood that * concrete life circumstances * leave
> their mark on the process of development of personality even in a
> socialistic society. Eliminating the objective conditions that form a
> barrier for returning his true essence to man, for a well-rounded and
> harmonious development of his personality, makes this a real prospect for
> the first time *but does not
> automatically reconstruct a personality*. Fundamental change lies in
> something else, in the appearance of a new movement: *a struggle of society
> for human personality*. When we say, "In the name of man, for man," this
> means not simply for his use but for his personality, although here it is
> understood, of course, that man must be assured material good and mental
> nourishment.
> If we return once more to the phenomena marking the transition from the
> period of preparation of personality to the period of its development, then
> we must indicate yet another transitional transformation. This is the
> *transformation of expression of class characteristics of personality* and,
> speaking more broadly, characteristics depending on the social
> differentiation of society. *The subject's belonging to a class* conditions
> even at the outset (the development of his connections with the surrounding
> world, a greater or smaller segment of his practical activity, his contacts,
> his knowledge, and his acquiring norms of behavior). All of these are
> acquisitions from which personality is made up at the stage of its initial
> formation. Is it possible and is it necessary according to this to speak
> about the class character of personality? Yes, if we keep in mind that which
> the child assimilates from the environment; no, because at this stage he is
> only an
> object, if it may be expressed in this way, of his class, of his social
> group. Later the situation is turned around and he becomes *the subject of
> class and group*. Then and only then does his personality begin to be formed
> as a *class personality* in a different, true meaning of the word: At the
> beginning perhaps unconsciously, then consciously, but sooner or later he
> will take his position - more or less active, decisive or vacillating. For
> this reason, under conditions of *class confrontation* he does not simply
> "show himself-original" but takes his place on one side or the other of the
> *barricade*. Something else becomes evident, specifically, that at every
> turn of his life's way he must free himself of something, confirm something
> in himself, and he must do all this and not simply "submit to the effect of
> the environment.original"
> Finally, along this line there takes place still another change, which also
> changes the very "mechanism-original" that forms personality. Earlier I
> spoke about the ever-widening activity that actually exists for the subject.
> But it exists also within time - in the form of his *past* and in the form
> of the *future* he sees before him. Of course, primarily we have in mind the
> first thing - the subject's individual experience, the function of which
> appears to be, as it were, his personality. And this again resurrects the
> formula about personality as a product of innate properties and acquisition
> of experience. At earlier stages of development this formula *can still seem
> credible*, especially if it is not simplified and if all the complexity of
> the mechanisms that go into forming experience are considered. Under
> conditions of the *hierarchization of motives*, however, it continuously
> loses its meaning and at the level of personality it seems to
> *topple*.
> The fact is that at this level past impressions, experiences, and actual
> actions of the subject *do not in any way appear to him as dormant layers of
> his experience*. They are the subject of his relations and his actions and
> for that reason their contribution is changed into personality. One thing in
> the past dies, loses its sense, and is converted into a simple condition and
> means of his activity: the developed aptitudes, skills, and stereotypes of
> behavior; everything else appears to the subject in a completely *new light
> and acquires a new meaning*, which he had not perceived before; finally,
> something from the past may be actively rejected by the subject and
> psychologically ceases to exist for him although it remains in the
> compendium of his memory. These changes take place gradually, but they may
> be concentrated and may comprise moral breaks. The resulting reevaluation of
> the past that is established in *life* leads to man's casting off from
> himself the burden of his biography. Does this not in itself indicate that
> the contributions of past experience to personality were dependent on
> *personality itself* and became its function?
> This seems to be possible because of the new internal movement that has
> arisen in the system of individual consciousness, which I have figuratively
> called a movement "along the vertical-original." But one must not think that
> major changes in personality in the past were produced by consciousness;
> *consciousness does not produce them* but simply mediates them; they are
> produced by the *actions* of the subject, sometimes even *external actions*
> break off former contacts, a change in profession, a practical entering into
> new circumstances. This was beautifully described by Makarenko: Old clothing
> worn by orphans in an orphanage is publicly burned by them on a bonfire.]
> Best
> Haydi
> --- On Tue, 12/9/08, Paul Dillon <> wrote:
> From: Paul Dillon <>
> Subject: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko article: whose
> sociology???
> To: "xmca" <>
> Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 1:03 AM
> Hi all,
> The following fragments are rough (in every sense of the word) as befits
> their
> object.
> I am in total agreement with the discussion article's expressed aim and for
> that reason even more critical than I might be otherwise.
> Sawchuk and Stetsenko's emphasis on the transformative goal of Vygotsky's
> psychology, YES. YES, YES. It always seemed to me that Vygotsky's
> psychological program was intended to be a major part of the development of
> a
> society in which the exploitative structures of capitalist society (as
> well as
> all previous stages of socio-cultural development) would no longer
> disfigure
> human personality. Sadly, as S&S make clear in the article, this
> inspiration of the early years of the Russian Revolution did not survive
> and
> flourish.
> The authors point to three key elements of the CHAT tradition and use them
> to
> situate the sample of sociologists they choose to discuss: a)material
> production,, 2) intersubjective exchange, 3) subjectivity. It's not at all
> clear to me that these glosses capture the direction of a "psychology of
> liberation" or that they provide a useful triangulation for sociological
> theory.
> The authors point out that the goal of exploring how particular social
> structures, with their power constellations and systems of privilege shape
> development has not typically been pursued within CHAT. Yes, yes, and again
> yes. There is some kind of fanciful dream that the Vygotskian lineage can
> develop its original aim within capitalist society and consequently we see
> multiple "reinterpretations" by academic mega-stars whose names will surely
> be forgotten in a few decades, as the name of those who won prizes in Paris
> while Van Gogh suffered in anonymity.
> But the article didn't live up to my hopes for several reasons.
> The Review of Sociological Theory was really spotty, arbitrarily
> selective.
> For example:
> Durkheim: social facts, what about Mauss? Was Durkheim a sociologist or
> an
> anthropologist? Do these disciplinary distinctions matter. If so, it
> wasn't explained why? If not, what about the entire tradition of
> anthropological theories about culture and society?
> Social Action v. Theories of Enactment.
> Weber. - summary of Parsons somewhat strange, ignorying Parson's four
> structural levels etc.
> Garfinkel, ethnomethodology, what about Berger and Luckman?
> Attempts at integration of social action and enactment, but the dismissal
> of
> Bourdieu really weird, inexcusable? Giddens is really both derivative of
> and
> much less influential than Bourdieu. Not to mention his sychophantic
> brown-nosing in the Blair administration in contrast to Bourdieu's active
> opposition to the depredations of global capitalism. Furthermore, unlike
> Bourdieu, he did not carry out important on-the-ground research comparable
> to
> Bourdieu's "Distinction" or the ground-breaking Kabyle research—
> Furthermore, in whose scheme of things if Judith Butler (though dismissed)
> considered an important sociological theorist – why not other feminist or
> queer theorists, not to mention that she is also someone who has not
> published
> significant primary research; in this vein, where are Zizek, La Clau,
> Mouffe,
> and others who attempt a post-modern integration (is it "deconstruction" or
> disintegration we're talking about here)?
> Really, Gramsci has a lot more to offer than Giddens, etc.
> Discussion of Schutz very interesting but to say he was "heavily influenced
> by Husserl" ignores the fact that he was Husserl's student and that most of
> Schutz's most important ideas can be found in Husserl's "Ideas II".
> Factual errors: Schutz's horizons of temporality are not "past now",
> "now" and "future now" but "ancestors", "contemporaries", and
> "descendants which also also derive from Husserl's "retention",
> "present", and "protention". ". The concepts of "past now",
> "now" and "future now" don't make any sense and their very incoherence
> was criticized way back in 1960 by Friedrich Kummel, nor can such glosses
> deal
> with the fundamental problem of phenomenology or any serious investigation
> of
> temporality: i.e., the incompatibility of duration (within which the
> so-called
> NOW happens) and succession . All talk about "time scales" here on xmca
> throughout thee years and elsewhere
> simply overlooks "duration"d i.e., – Husserl's "melody" –
> and hence can provide no real understanding of the rrelationship between
> meaning
> and existence which is a central issue in CHAT.
> And what about the elephant in the living room: Jurgen Habermas, not to
> mention
> various other giraffes and rhinocerii roaming the house, such as G.H. Mead
> (obviously key to all that followed in the Garfinkel tradition), or Thomas
> Merton, C. Wright Mills, and others. This all goes to the arbitrariness
> and
> spottiness of the discussion of sociological theory.
> Finally, how does the placement of the arbitarily selected sociologists
> into
> a triangle whose nodes are similarly arbitrary lead to a realization of
> Marx's
> 11th Thesis on Feuerbach that Vygotsky's psychology and the best of CHAT
> tradition have sought? Doesn't it just lead to more academic commodities
> that don't lead to social transformation but to another form of
> consumption.
> Wishing everyone the best of the Holiday Season!
> Paul Dillon
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Received on Tue Dec 9 08:44:28 2008

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