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Re: [xmca] material intersubjective and subjective

We have rarely discussed S.L. Rubenshtein on XMCA, Larry, but you and others
might find him interesting. For many years in the late 20th century his
approach to activity theory was politically dominant in the USSR and his
followers hammered Vygotskians for not emphasizing the subjective side of
activity sufficiently.

I have encountered an essay by Merleau-Ponty in his book, based on radio
lectures in 1948 called *The World of Perception.* I will have to wait to
get home to be able to make a pdf of the essay that seems of closest
interest to xmca-ites, but I was able to find one passage from that essay
that seems relevant to the current discussion (he begins his account of
infancy with the primacy of the other).

*Humanity is not an aggregate of individuals, a community of thinkers, each
of whom is guaranteed from the outset to be able to reach agreement with the
others because all participate in the same thinking essence.*

*Nor, of course, is it a single Being in which the multiplicity of
individuals is dissolved and into which these individuals are destined to be
reabsorbed. As a matter of principle, humanity is precarious; each person
can only believe what he recognizes to be true internally and, at the same
time, nobody thinks or makes up his mind without already being caught up in
certain relationships with others, which leads him to opt for a particular
set of opinions. Everyone is alone and yet nobody can do without other
people, not just because they are useful (which is not in dispute here) but
also when it comes to happiness. There is no way of living with others which
takes away the burden of being myself, which allows me to not have an
opinion; there is no ‘inner’ life that is not a first attempt to relate to
another person. In this ambiguous position, which has been forced on us
because we have a body and a history (both personally and collectively), we
can never know complete rest. We are continually obliged to work on our
differences, to explain things we have said that have not been properly
understood, to reveal what is hidden within us and to perceive other people.
Reason does not lie behind us, nor is that where the meeting of minds takes
place: rather, both stand before us waiting to be inherited. Yet we are no
more able to reach them definitely than we are to give up on them.*

* *

On Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 7:58 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> The conversation between Anna Sfard and Andy is very thought provoking and
> appreciated.  I have been reading Anna Stetsenko's articles that I've
> accessed many articles downloaded from a google search = [Stetsenko Anna]
> Her project to highlight the subjective dimension of activity is where my
> deep curiosity lies.  A chapter of a book [Critical Psychology] titled
> "Vygotskian Collaborative Project of Social Transformation: History,
> Politics and Practice in Knowledge Construction" (co-authored with Igor
> Arievitch; date not listed) furthers her project.
> She has an interesting distinction she makes between Marxist, Vygotskian,
> and Activity projects between the material, intersubjective, and subjective
> dimensions of historical/human development.  On page 65 she quotes,
> "However, whereas Marx focused primarily on the dynamics, contradictions
> within, and transformations between material production of human existence,
> on the one hand, and the emerging collective forms of its regulation,
> (i.e.,human society) - on the other, Vygotskian project addressed two other
> forms of interdependency critical for human development.
>     Specifically, Vygotsky focused on exploring the functioning and
> transformations between the societal and the individual forms of human
> life,
> relatively (and inevitably) neglected in Marxist philosophical and
> economical analyses.  The IDEA that became pivotal for Vygotsky was that
> the
> social exchanges between people were at the foundation of all
> intra-psychological processes, as the latter ones originate from the
> intersubjective ones in both the history of civilization and of individual
> life (cf. the famous law of development, Vygotsky, 1999).  For Vygotsky,
> the
> transitions from inter-subjective to intra-subjective psychological
> processes, by means of cultural mediation became the FOCUS OF ANALYSIS.
> Leontiev and other colleagues of Vygotsky focused relatively more on how
> the
> material forms of activity and practice are transformed into
> intra-psychological processes (in what became termed 'activity theory')
> (bold is my emphasis)
> I find this 3 part framework helpful when reading the posts on concepts,
> systems, and communication. By juxtaposing how Stetsenko sees these various
> projects linked it allows me to have a broader and more focused perspective
> of the various projects and the contrasting explicit emphasis in each
> approach to human and historical development.
>  From my perspective, Anna Sfard's emphasis on "communication" [more
> general than discourse or dialogue] is focusing  on linking and
> understanding  the same inter-subjective  to intra-psychological
> transformational process through collaboration.  I would add Buber's notion
> of "confirmation" to the concept of transformative collaboration.
> Larry
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