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[xmca] Re: Bladeless Knives Without Handles (David Kellogg)

Dear Nikolai (if I may):
I enjoyed your comments on the paper under discussion a lot. I don't know if agreement is really a necessary or even desirable outcome of a discussion (I find I really take a lot more away from discussions that end in disagreement). 
So I found that I disagreed with the first two points you made: I don't really understand what "the generative character of human psyche" means and I think Rey's concept of "sense" is too psychological and not sufficiently linguistic; part of a general attempt to make cut Vygotsky off from his social--and socialist--roots.
But I DO agree with the last points you make. First of all, Rey's new periodization is really not motivated enough, partly because it is not explicitly contrasted with previous periodizations (including your own), and partly because the distinctness of the periods is overemphasized at the expense of the links. Secondly, the claims of novelty are greatly overstated (see the quotations I gave, which Professor Surmava thought were yours).
Fortunately, we are not condemned to agree! I find plenty of room in your last post for some fruitful disagreement (as well as grist for questions which might be even more fruitful).  For example, I really don't agree that I have attributed to you views you do not hold, and still less that my remarks referred to you personally rather than to your views. 
Even when I skip over "Vygotsky Before Vygotsky" and go back to "Marxist and Non-Marxist Aspects of the Cultural-Historical Psychology of L.S. Vygotsky" (Outlines 2005, No. 1), I find similar claims that are not too different from those in the article under discussion. This one seems to me to overemphasize the break between the "Classical" cultural-historical period and Vygotsky's early work much as Fernando Gonzalez Rey has done:
p. 32: “Any attempt to find a cultural-historical theory amidst the pre-1928 writings of Vygotsky would be futile.”
I note that this overemphasis is partially contradicted on p. 43, where you say "We may add than (sic) the cultural-historical theory of the development of higher mental functions worked out by Vygotsky in 1927-1928 was an attempt to overcome the traditional dualism in the psychological explanation of mind.”
But mostly I think the overemphasis on a break is contradicted by Psychology of Art, where I do find, particularly in the last part, the eminently cultural-historical idea that art is a tool of social emotion, that art is an individuation of a social emotion in much the same way that a sense is an individuation of meaning. This is explicitly contrasted to the Bukharinist idea that art is the socialization of an individual emotion.

Again on p. 32, you have this to say: 
“In contrast to the widespread discussions in the literature of the ‘classical’ Moscow period when the cultural historical approach appeared (1928-1934), the earlier stages in the development of Vygotsky’s theoretical views are generally presented as being of no serious significance.”
This seems unfair. As I said, "Psychology of Art" was the second work to be published in English. Even before 2005, when you wrote this, it was presented as a work of serious significance by many writers (Lindqvist, Kozulin, van der Veer and Valsiner). And then there is "The Historical Meaning of the Crisis in Psychology" (see Martin's "Is Vygotsky Relevant?" in Mind, Culture, and Activity, 1532-7884, Volume 15, Issue 1, 2008, Pages 8 – 31).
Perhaps the most fruitful response, though, is not to agree or to disagree, but rather to QUERY. So I find that I have some questions about your article, to wit:
a) Why do you think that "Tool and Symbol" is an incorrect translation? I think that all symbols are signs, but not all signs are symbols. However, Vygotsky and Luria are really interested in speech, which is a symbolic sign (rather than, say, an indexical one like a footprint or an iconic one like an actual foot).
b) You list as "non-Marxist" influences on Vygotsky the following writers: Florensky, Sorokin, Blonsky, and Meyerhold. That's a pretty mixed bag by any standard: Florensky was a Russian Orthodox monk, Sorokin, if I have the right guy, was a minister in the Kerensky government and later founder of the sociology department at Harvard, Blonsky was Vygotsky's colleague, and he certainly considered himself a Marxist, and of course, Meyerhold was the founder of the Moscow Theatre and a member of the Bolshevik Party.
There is plenty of textual evidence for the Marxist influences on Vygotsky (e.g. refs to the Moscow Theatre in Psychology of Art and to Blonsky's work in Pedology of the Adolescent and later in Thinking and Speech). But what makes you think that Florensky and Sorokin had any influence on him at all?
David Kellogg

--- On Sun, 8/7/11, Nikolai Veresov <nveresov@hotmail.com> wrote:

From: Nikolai Veresov <nveresov@hotmail.com>
Subject: [xmca] RE: xmca Digest, Vol 75, Issue 7, Subject: Bladeless Knives Without Handles (David Kellogg)
To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
Date: Sunday, August 7, 2011, 1:04 PM

Dear David

Thank you for the focusing on the
content of the Ray’s article and valuable comments. That is wat I wanted
everybody to do. I put in XMCA my comments on Rey’s paper as well.

However, I would like to say
something else.

You wrote: 

“my remarks were not really personalist or ad hominem in any way. The proof is,
perhaps, that you yourself are not really able to reliable attach them to
the person for whom they were meant”. 

Probably I am
not really able to reliably attach them to the person whom they were meant.
However, I am
not blind and I am able to read. 

You wrote: (1) “Both Rey
and Veresov emphasize NEGATION in their periodization” and (2) “Both Rey and
Veresov stress that they are the FIRST to make this distinction...” 

These are
your words, David. So, your remarks about
extravagant claims of priority and extreme claims about periodization are
really directed to both Rey and Veresov. In my reply I did not want to speak for Rey, I
just said that (1) I do not emphasize  negation and do not stress ABSOLUTE difference
between the early Vygotsky and middle Vygotsky, (2) I do not split off early
Vygotsky from Marxism and (3)I do not stress that I am THE FIRST to make the
distinction. Of course you are free to criticize me, however please could you
be so kind not to ascribe to me what I never said or did. Thank you.

Nikolai Veresov  

> Dear Professor Veresov:
But if you read what I wrote (below) I think you will see that my remarks were not really personalist or ad hominem in any way. The proof is, perhaps, that you yourself are not really able to reliable attach them to the person for whom they were meant. 
> The parts you are really objecting to (that is, the remarks about extravagant claims of priority and extreme claims about periodization) are really directed to the article under discussion. 

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