[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] V.P. Zinchenko's article: From Classical to Organic Activity

Hi Larry-- I posted that article and ever since I have been immersing my in
VPZ's work, starting with the earliest materials in English. It is one hell
of a task. Volodya has written a great deal over a long period of time.'

In the hope that others can find something interesting, as well, I will
respond with
comments interspersed with yours.

On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 10:02 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Mike, thanks for posting this fascinating historical perspective on VPZ's
> perspective on the development of cultural historical theory. There are so
> many interesting points he discusses but I want to draw attention to one
> particular section on page 23.  Natalia mentioned that Piaget's emphasis on
> the development of logic was a castrating move that destroyed a green
> world.  VPZ, in a similar theme suggests that a preoccupation with the
> artificial (civilization) as a reductive move may also lead to emptiness.

*This kind of conclusion is perfectly understandable as part of V's disgust
with Soviet Power but, if you will excuse a twisted pun, it is throwing the
baby out with the bathwater. I am preoccupied with the role of the products
of prior human activity in the constitution of human nature. I do not reduce
the artificial to civilization and neither does V.*

> Page 22 opens with a discussion of how a childs operations are different
> from operations in higher animals. With the help of speech a temporal field
> emerges alongside the spatial.  The child becomes able to DIRECT her
> attention to the future while acting in the present.  "The plan of future
> actions become DIFFERENTIATED against all the possible actions and thus
> become clear." Attention becomes differentiated from perception.  This
> gives
> rise to the problem of choice (or volition) among many possible actions,
> instruments, and objective means.
> *V's emphasis on the future orientation of action is right at the center
> of my current interests. In one of his writings he discusses "vicarious
> perceptual actions" which have this future orientation and cites the work of
> Tolman who studied choice behavior in rats. As a consequence, I think it
> might be a good idea to pause and consider the connection between choice and
> volition. Tolman was famously accused of leaving rats "lost in thought." at
> the T of the maze where a choice is to be made. I grew up being taught to
> apply the lessons learned from rats to humans; rats as a model for human
> choice seems like a poor choice to me now.
> *

> It is the next paragraph which I found myself interesting. VPZ writes,
> 'Let me put the problem in even more categorical terms.  What we value most
> in a person is not his or her artificial or mediated dimensions, but the
> capacity to be natural, direct, sincere, genuine, spontaneous, overt, and
> ultimately, the capacity to be oneself. Is it really the case that all of
> this is lost in the process of development and mediation? Do people really
> develop in order to be turned into artifacts? ....
*Who is going to answer YES! ?  It is like arguing that the mediated
relations of person to world replace the unmediated, "natural" relations.
And that sounds suspiciously like the idea of the laws of history replacing
the laws of nature. Very dangerous when it was suggested in the 19th century
and equally dangerous today, if not more so. *

> Fortunately, not all mediational means are artificial. The supreme
> mediator,
> according to Vygotsky, is another human being.  This "other" human being is
> actually not an artifact, according to Vygotsky, Feuerbach, Buber, and
> Bakhtin.....

*Nor is another human being "natural"   *

>  This is also reflected in the following aphorism by Bakhtin:
> "Man is an equation of myself and the other"  In Vygotsky's theory, it is
> not the "force of things" but the "connection among human beings" that
> determines the development of higher mental functions and consciousness.
> *Again, either-or rhetoric. V would never argue that humans develop higher
> mental fuctions in the absence of culture. And he argues all over the place
> for the dual material/ideal constitution of culture. He is arguing against
> command and control Activity Theory, as he has been long before the fall of
> the USSR, although his rhetorical strategy has changed in the interim, a
> lot.*
> In the next paragraph be cites Prishvin who used an aphorism in a similar
> way:  Culture is the connection of people," and "civilization is the power
> of things"  He cites Jasper who wrote: "Perhaps, man hoped to find his own
> being in his activity, but instead has found himself, to his fear, in front
> of the emptiness he himself created"
*Sure culture is central to the constitution of human beings and yes,
civilization is the power of things to consume nature, including other human
beings. But culture is not THE connection. It is a constituent of the
particularly human form of connections between people. (See Latour on
interobjectivity in MCA, accessible to all I trust).*

> Mike, page 22 of the article is expressing a theme which I believe is being
> explored in current attachment theory as theorized by Fonagy in his concept
> of mentalization [reflective function]  It is only by being recognized
> [mediated or attuned] to a significant other which catalyzes the
> developmental process of higher mental functions.
> *I have been looking for a recent VPZ paper on pre-speech interactions
> among babies and caretakers, but it is lost in the maze of files at the
> moment. There is Russian work on early infancy and social interaction that I
> think would help to fill out the many fascinating connections. Not sure
> where it is available in pdf. Perhaps Natalia or Anton could help.
> *

I am hoping to catch up with myself and enter back into the conversation
more fully. It is always a challenge to think more deeply.

> Larry
> __________________________________________
> _____
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
xmca mailing list