The Communist Drama of Individuation in Lev Vygotsky
The article addresses the concept of individuation in the work of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky. It argues that the concept reveals the Soviet epistemological constructions based on a strategic union between Spinoza and Hegel. Although Vygotsky did make an original contribution to materialist philosophy and this contribution cannot be isolated from the Soviet context, he is better known as a practitioner, whose Marxism is often suppressed as an unimportant holdover from the past. It is suggested that individuation links a Hegelian dialectical logic of mediation with a Spinozist understanding of activity through a Marxian epistemology explicit to Das Kapital. Vygotsky overcomes both mechanistic and teleological conceptions of the individual and class, the social and the collective, in order to be able to sketch a political theory of communization that is an “adequate form” of individuation. This brings us to another, interrelated, observation concerning debates on individuation, developed by Gilbert Simondon, Étienne Balibar, and Paolo Virno. It is concluded that Vygotsky’s theory may help overcome the Hegel/Spinoza divide in a contemporary radical thought.
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