Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Wed Dec 31 2008 - 07:52:17 PST

Oh, I don't think that an oak is a sublated willow. And I do think that LSV II, the Vygotsky of the psychological system and the criss-crossing lines of development, is a sublation of LSV I, the Vygotsky of the instrumental act.
Vygotsky himself says this, though, and the end of the beginning of Thinking and Speech:
"This book is the product of nearly ten years work. Many of the questions that emerged in the investigation were not apparent to us when we began. We were frequently forced to reconsider our positions during the investigation. Consequently, the results of a great deal of hard work had to be discarded. Much of the remainder had to be redone, restructured, or rewritten." (p. 40).
I take it this is Vygotsky's last word, both because of the phrase "ten years work", which covers Vygotsky's entire career in psychology and because it's the preface to his posthumously published work (which originally did not even have a Chapter One; internal evidence suggests that in the first draft the Piaget chapter was the first one).
So it's LSV III speaking to us from his deathbed, inviting us to consider carefully what exactly was discarded, what was redone, and what was gained thereby.
And here we are, seventy-five years later, doing exactly that. For example, a lot of our discussions seem to revolve around the question of whether (as neo-Vygotskyans believe) the fixation on object-oriented activity is the work of a mature, continuing LSVIII or whether it was simply a discarded part of LSV I (as I believe).
My problems with Chapter Five (discussed in this thread) are similar. They have to do with whether lines of development themselves become functionally differentiated. LSV II says no, but LSV III (as I read him) says yes.
Finally, one of the most enduring threads of xmca has to be the zone of proximal development. It seems to me that this was the way in which LSV III sublated the problems with LSV II: the idea of the psychological system was reformulated to include a social situation of development, but this meant discarded the idea that lines of development do not functionally differentiate.
For some problems (which we can call, somewhat misleadingly, psychological problems), LSV III's unit of analysis is consciousness and his explanatory principle is the social situation of proximal development (the classroom, the playground, etc.), which is in turn composed of two mutually defining elements: imitation and generalization.
But as Bronfenbrenner points out, some of the most important problems the child experiences are in the "exo-system", a set of relationships (e.g. parental employment) in which the child has no actual role and cannot take part. Where does that fit?
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Wed, 12/31/08, Paul Dillon <> wrote:

From: Paul Dillon <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV
To:, "xmc a xmx" <>
Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2008, 12:51 AM


I'm really struck by your question as to whether David finds your
counter-proposal (i.e., LSV developing (e.g., cultivating, growing) his ideas
dialectically (e.g., seed, sprout, vegetative, florescent))  reasonable, (I am
supposing)  in contrast to David's interrpretation that " ...he was
constantly throwing everything away and starting over from the beginning.

 Insofar as every question presupposes a range of answers (a domain), what is
the domain over which you expect a response?

 Do you imagine a willow might become an oak upon reflection?  Are you
casting flies? 

I'm curious.


--- On Tue, 12/30/08, Martin Packer <> wrote:
From: Martin Packer <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Date: Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 1:24 PM


For a while - at least ever since reading Norris Minick's Introduction
(which is insightful in many ways) - I've been thinking that Vygotsky
so much change his mind as develop in his thinking dialectically. I know
that's in danger of sounding cliched, but I think I have found places in
texts where his earlier concepts are not simply abandoned or erased, but
truly aufgehoben (it's that grammatically correct) - maintained and
at the same time.

I haven't had the time to pursue this point systematically, and right now I
can't even offer an example (though if I were try to find one it would one
where reflexes show up again in his late writings). But does the suggestion
strike you as resonable?


On 12/30/08 12:14 PM, "David Kellogg"
<> wrote:

> Second the motion! I think that one of the reasons why LSV is SO impatient
> with Stern (and also Werner) is that he really can't understand
thinkers who
> never change their minds. LSV had only ten years to work (and thought he
> less). Yet he was constantly throwing everything away and starting over
> the beginning. That's courage.
> But of course that means that almost everything we read of Vygotsky's
has to
> be read dendrochronologically, the way we look at tree rings. This is
> particularly true of Thinking and Speech, parts of which data from 1929
> (Chapter Four) and parts from 1931 (Chapter Five) and parts from his
> (Chapter Six and Seven).
> LSV is always going on about geological strata (Kretschmer). But perhaps
> the best metaphor for reading somebody who scribbles over everything
he's ever
> done every three or four years would be archaeological, or better yet,
> textological: a palimpsest.
> So far the most useful guide to the Vygotskyan palimpsest I've read on
this to
> date is Minick's intro to Thinking and Speech, now reprinted as the
very first
> chapter in Daniels' mistitled "Introduction (sic) to
Vygotsky", 2005,
> Routledge.
> Minick's palimpsestization (?) corresponds very well to most other
> periodizations, including Veresov (though Veresov adds a pre-Marxist
> from before 1924 which for rather tendentious reasons he finds very
> important). It will be VERY interesting to see if the work Jonna mentions
> confirms it.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> --- On Tue, 12/30/08, Mike Cole <> wrote:
> From: Mike Cole <>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Passages from Chapter 5 of LSV
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
> Cc: "Jussi Silvonen" <>
> Date: Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 8:58 AM
> We would welcome Jussi's input, thanks Jonna. We almost have a
> of
> psych" group here on
> xmca at presentl. Perhaps a strength we should find a way to use better.
> mike
>> a
>> Mike Cole kirjoitti 29.12.2008 kello 2.55:
>> Ooops, forgot to cc boris on my reply to david. He is author of,
>>> other
>>> interesting articles, the article on "LSV's
> in the Daniels et
>>> al
>>> Cambridge companion to vygotsky.
>>> I forwarded the message to him.
>>> mike
>>> On Sun, Dec 28, 2008 at 4:52 PM, Mike Cole
> wrote:
>>> Thanks for these observations and inferences, David.
>>>> The task of reconstructing the chronology of LSV's
thinking is
> a
>>>> formidable
>>>> one. I wonder if anyone anywhere has published such a
> I will
>>>> cc boris meshcheryakov who will know, if anybody does.
>>>> mike
>>>> On Thu, Dec 25, 2008 at 10:42 PM, David Kellogg <
>>>>> On p. 131 of Chapter Five, LSV already has the concept of
>>>>> psychological system, that is, the linkage of disparate
> functions into a
>>>>> single Gestalt, e.g. attention, association, judgement,
> representation,
>>>>> and
>>>>> motivation in activity.
>>>>> But he denies that this linkage of disparate functions has
> effect on
>>>>> the functions themselves. The relations between functions
> change. But
>>>>> the
>>>>> functions themselves do not change.
>>>>> Now, what causes the relationships between these functions
> change?
>>>>> That
>>>>> is not clear. One possible answer is "activity",
> that is the answer
>>>>> that
>>>>> activity theorists give. But we can see that LSV is not
> entirely
>>>>> satisfied
>>>>> with this answer.
>>>>> There are two problems. The first is that as Mike pointed
> LSV is
>>>>> using
>>>>> "activity" in a non-technical sense, it is
> just the task plus the
>>>>> contraints. (Note that Prout actually translates
> "task" as "problem").
>>>>> In
>>>>> other words, an "activity" is just a subject, an
> object, and a tool.
>>>>> That
>>>>> brings us back to the old stimulus-response unit with
> mediating
>>>>> artefact!
>>>>> The second is that Vygotsky suspects that when the
> between
>>>>> functions change, the functions DO change internally as
> We know,
>>>>> for
>>>>> example, that when role play is reconstrued as rule based
> games, the
>>>>> "roles"
>>>>> of rule based games are quite different, more abstract. So
> the goal,
>>>>> which is not to make an imaginary situation but to win a
> prize.
>>>>> So why does Vygotsky stress in this passage that the basic
> processes of
>>>>> attention, association, judgment, representation, and
> do not
>>>>> actually change? I think there are two reasons.
>>>>> First of all, he is trying to critically appropriate the
> of people
>>>>> like Buhler who deny that there is anything fundamentally
> in the
>>>>> transitional age. His way of doing this is to say that
> are correct,
>>>>> but
>>>>> they are ignoring the way in which the familiar old
> are united
>>>>> in
>>>>> a new Gestalt.
>>>>> Secondly, this is old work, first carried out in 1929 and
> written up
>>>>> some
>>>>> time in 1931. LSV has not yet conceptualized the actual
> mechanism by
>>>>> which
>>>>> differentiation takes place WITHIN functions and not just
> BETWEEN them.
>>>>> That
>>>>> does not happen until 1932, when he formulates the zone of
> proximal
>>>>> development, and he does not write about it until Chapter
>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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