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.
Balibar, Étienne (1997). Spinoza: From Individuality to Transindividuality. Delft: Eburon.
Bergson, Henri (1944). Creative Evolution . Trans. Arthur Mitchell. New York: The Modern Library.
Blunden, Andy (1997). “Vygotsky and the Dialectical Method.” Marxists Internet Archive. https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/comment/vygotsk1.htm.
Chuzhak, Nikolai, and Christina Lodder (2009). “Under the Banner of Life-Building (An Attempt to Understand the Art of Today)” . Art in Translation 1.1: 119–51.
Dafermos, Manolis (2015). “Reflection on the Relationship between Cultural-Historical Theory and Dialectics.” Psychological Science & Education 20.3: 16–24.
Derry, Jan (2013). Vygotsky. Philosophy and Education. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.
Doise, Willem, Christian Staerkle, and Alain Clèmence (1996). “Vygotsky in the East and West. A Textual Analysis of Key Words and Abstracts in Recent Psychology Journals (1974–1994).” Journal of Russian and East European Psychology 34.2: 79– 89.
Edwards, Anne (2007). “Vygotsky, Mead, and American Pragmatism” In The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky, eds. Harry Daniels, Michael Cole, James V. Wersch, 77–100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Eisenstein, Sergei (1976). “Notes for a Film of ‘Capital’ [1927–1928].” October 2 (Sum mer): 3–26.
Engels, Friedrich (1967). “Engels an Margaret Harkness. Anfang April 1888.” In Werke, Bd. 37, 42–44. Berlin: Dietz Verlag.
Engels, Friedrich (1987). “Dialectics of Nature” . In Collected Works, trans. Richard Dixon and others, Vol. 25, 313–619. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
Ilyenkov, Evald (1977). Dialectical Logic. Essays on its History and Theory . Trans. H. Campbell Creighton. Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Ilyenkov, Evald (1984). Dialecticheskaia logika: Ocherki istorii i teorii, 2-e izdanie [Dialec tical logic. Essays on its history and theory, 2nd edition], . Moscow: Politizdat.
Kline, George Louis (1952). Spinoza in Soviet Philosophy. A Series of Essays, Selected and Translated, and with an Introduction. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.
Kozulin, Alex (1990). Vygotsky’s Psychology: A Biography of Ideas. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Langford, Peter (2005). Vygotsky’s Developmental and Educational Psychology. New York: Psychology Press.
Leontiev, Alexei Nikolaevich (2009). “The Development of Higher Forms of Memory” . In The Development of Mind. Selected Works of Alexei Nikolaevich Leontiev, 295–329. Marxist Internet Archive. https://www.marxists.org/admin/books/ac tivitytheory/leontyev/developmentmind.pdf.
Luria, Alexander Romanovich (1976). Cognitive Development. Its Cultural and Social Foundations. Trans. Martin Lopez-Morillas and Lynn Solotaroff, ed. Michael Cole. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Macherey, Pierre (2011). Hegel or Spinoza. . Trans. Susan M. Ruddick. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Maidansky, Andrey (2003). “The Russian Spinozists.” Studies in East European Thought 55.3: 199–216.
Maidansky, Andrey (2012). Chitaia Spinozy [Reading Spinoza]. Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing.
Marx, Karl (1982). Capital: Critique of Political Economy. Volume One . Trans. B. Fowkes. London: Penguin Classics.
Mamardashvili, Merab (1990). “Prevrashchennye formy. O neobkhodimosti irratsional’nykh vyrazhenii” [Converted forms. On the need for irrational expres sions]. In Kak ia ponimau filosofiu [How to understand philosophy], 374–91. Moscow: Progress.
Parcker, Martin (2008). “Is Vygotsky Relevant? Vygotsky’s Marxist Psychology.” Mind, Culture, and Activity 15.1: 8–31.
Read, Jason (2012). “Desire is Man’s Very Essence: Spinoza and Hegel as Philosophers of Transindividuality.” In Between Hegel and Spinoza. A Volume of Critical Essays, ed. Hasana Sharp and Jason E. Smith, 42–60. London: Bloomsbury.
Simondon, Gilbert (1992) “The Genesis of the Individual.” In Incorporations, ed. Jona than Crary and Sanford Kwinter, trans. Mark Cohen and Sanford Kwinter, 297–319. New York: Zone Books.
Simondon, Gilbert (2005). L’Individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information. Grenoble: Millon.
Spinoza, Benedict (1994). “Ethics” . In A Spinoza Reader: The “Ethics” and Other Works, trans. Edwin Curley, 85–265. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Surmava, Alexander (2012). Myshlenie i deyatel’nost [Thinking and activity]. Moscow: NIU MIET.
Van der Veer, René, and Jaan Valsiner (1991). Understanding Vygotsky: A Quest for Synthesis. Oxford: Blackwell.
Van Der Veer, René (2011). Lev Vygotsky. London: Continuum.
Virno, Paolo (2015). When Word Becomes Flesh. Language and Nature. Trans. Giuseppina Mecchia. South Pasadena: Semiotext(e).
Veresov, Nikolai (2010). “Forgotten Methodology. Vygotsky’s Case.” In Methodological Thinking in Psychology: 60 Years Gone Astray?, ed. Aaro Toomela and Jaan Valsiner, 267–95. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Veresov, Nikolai (2016). “Duality of Categories or Dialectical Concepts?” In Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science, 50.2: 244–56.
Vygotsky, Lev (1929). “K voprosy o plane naychno-issledovatel’skoi raboti po pedologii national’nikh menshinstv” [On the question of the research plan for the teaching of ethnic minorities]. Pedologia 3: 367–76. Moscow: Uchpedgiz.
Vygotsky, Lev (1971). The Psychology of Art . Trans. Scripta Technica, Inc. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Vygotsky, Lev (1982). “Myshlenie i Rech” [Thinking and speech] . In Sobranie sochinenii v 6 tomakh [Collected works in 6 volumes], Vol. 2, 5–294. Moscow: Peda gogika.
Vygotsky, Lev (1983). “Istoriya razvitiya visshikh psikhicheskikh fynkziy” [The history of the development of higher mental functions]. In Sobranie sochinenii v 6 tomakh [Collected works in 6 volumes], Vol. 3, 5–328. Moscow: Pedagogika.
Vygotsky, Lev Semyonovich (1984). “Orydie i znak v razvitii rebenka” [Tool and sign in the development of child]. In Sobranie sochinenii v 6 tomakh [Collected works in 6 volumes], Vol. 6, 6–89. Moscow: Pedagogika.
Vygotsky, Lev (1986). “Konkretnaia psikhologiia cheloveka. Neopublikovannaya rykopis L. S. Vygotskogo” [Concrete human psychology. An unpublished manuscript by L. S. Vygotsky] . Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta, Psychologia [Bulletin of Moscow University, Psychology] 14.1: 51–65.
Vygotsky, Lev (1987). “Thinking and Speech” . In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 1, trans. Norris Minick, 39–285. New York: Plenum Press.
Vygotsky, Lev (1989). “Concrete Human Psychology. An Unpublished Manuscript by Vygotsky”, trans. Alexei Puzyrei. Soviet Psychology 27.2: 53–77.
Vygotsky, Lev (1994). “The Socialist Alteration of Man” . In Vygotsky Reader, eds. René van der Veer and Jaan Valsiner, 175–84. Oxford: Blackwell.
Vygotsky, Lev (1997a). “The Historical Meaning of the Crisis in Psychology: A Methodological Investigation” . In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 3, trans. René Van Der Veer, 233–343. New York: Springer.
Vygotsky, Lev (1997b). “On Psychological Systems” . In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 3, trans. René Van Der Veer, 91–107. New York: Springer.
Vygotsky, Lev (1997c). “The History of the Development of Higher Mental Functions” . In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 4, trans. Marie J. Hall, 1–251. New York: Springer.
Vygotsky, Lev (1997d). “Mind, Consciousness, the Unconscious” . In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 3, trans. René Van Der Veer, 109–21. New York: Springer.
Vygotsky, Lev (1997e). “Consciousness As a Problem for the Psychology of Behaviour” . In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 3, trans. René Van Der Veer, 63–79. New York: Springer.
Vygotsky, Lev (1999a). “Tool and Sign in the Development of Child” . In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 6, trans. Marie J. Hall, 3–68. New York: Springer.
Vygotsky, Lev (1999b). “The Teaching about Emotions. Historical-Psychological Studies” [1931–1933]. In The Collected Works of L. S. Vygotsky, Vol. 6, trans. Marie J. Hall, 71–235. New York: Springer.
Vygotsky, Lev (2000). Psichologia Iskysstva [The psychology of art] . St Petersburg: Azbuka.
Wersch, James (1985). Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Zavershneva, Ekaterina (2014). “The Problem of Consciousness in Vygotsky’s Cultural- Historical Psychology.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology, ed. Anton Yasnitsky, 63–100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zavershneva, Ekaterina (2015a). “Predstavlenie o smislovom pole v teorii dinamicheskikh smislovikh system L. S. Vygotskogo” [The notion of semantic field in the theory of dynamic semantic systems of L. S. Vygotsky]. Voprosi Psikhologii 4: 119– 35.
Zavershneva, Ekaterina (2015b). “Problema svobodi kak otlichitel’naya kharakteristika cheloveka v rabotakh L. S. Vygotskogo” [The problem of freedom as a distinctive characteristic of person in the works of L. S. Vygotsky]. Voprosi Psikhologii 5: 89– 106.
Copyright (c) 2017 Stasis
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.