|And now—about the present
Paying no heed to the difficulties of moving around the planet occasioned by grave illness, I attended the last seminar of Boris Elkonin's laboratory. Its goal was to draw up the results of the first stage of realization of the general conception of the Elkonin-Davydov school and to determine the path of further development of that conception in the practice of these schools. In the introductory part of his orientation report, the absolute master not only of the laboratories but also of the entire program of their development, Boris Elkonin, established that the first stage of the program had been successfully completed. The task was to substantiate the next stage theoretically.
My commentary: as coordinator and expert of another movement, the "Eureka" movement, I am not unfamiliar with the work of the 600 schools—the experimental sites of the Russian Federation. Among them there are many schools working to the Elkonin-Davydov curriculum. I assert that what has happened in and with these schools is what Vasilii Vasil'evich [Davydov] predicted in his reply to Menchinskaia. A delightful result has been obtained: the theory exists in isolation and practice corresponds nominally to theory. It is not for nothing that after Boris's report to the meeting of "Eureka" experts, in which he purported to demonstrate the possibility of an organic link between "Eureka" and the schools working on the Elkonin-Davydov system, the leadership of the "Eureka" schools network declared: "We will not share our path with a defunct movement."
As regards the second stage, that of the theoretical elaboration of educational curricula, I did not, frankly speaking, quite understand its theoretical purpose. He drew three lines on the blackboard, indicating somehow on each, by means of interconnected points, something theoretically significant. Boris's lexicon was equally complicated. And I understood only what was defined as the theoretical basis of further development of the Elkonin-Davydov schools. It is possible that the latter must be the conception of the step in development as a unit (the starting point of all theory). A step in development is a transition from the ideal image that the child has assimilated of the object presented to him to its new reality—to the solution of new tasks and examples that fix in the memory the verbal definition of rules that are new to the child. So it will be in practice, although Boris presupposes something different. In the final reckoning—the merging of theory with the practice of teaching, which in reality is more like training.
And this is not by chance. I was an opponent at the defense of his doctoral thesis and an attentive reader of his book. At the defense ceremony I said that the members of the specialized council were present not only at the defense of a doctoral thesis but at the birth of a new and very promising psychological-pedagogical theory. For I was and remain an irreconcilable enemy of the empiricism and empty abstractions that serve as the axioms of other approaches to the most important problem of psychology—the problem of the self-development of human subjectivity, which motivates the entire life activity of Homo sapiens. The intentions of Boris's thesis permitted me to believe so in Boris and to speak so of him.
But I am no less an irreconcilable enemy of special elaborations of the professional thesaurus that are closed in upon themselves. My task as their critic should have been made easier by a clear presentation of the authors' conclusions at the end of his book Introduction to Developmental Psychology.8 However, it is also no coincidence that the almost deliberate complexity and modernist refinement of the author's lexicon is hard to penetrate.
Boris's first thesis is as follows: "The general and abstract representation of the act of development is its representation, coming from L.S. Vygotsky, as a correlation of real and ideal forms."9 This is none other than a claim to definition of the axiom of a new theory, but.. .
We do indeed encounter in Vygotsky the concept of ideal and real forms of each act of creation of new senses. And he wrote quite a lot about the semiotic mediation of subject-subject communication—true, at the very beginning of his life's work. But in his last, "Spinozan" works the idea of semiotic mediation is supplanted by the concept of the intersubjective speech field. Incidentally, I have had occasion more than once in my own works to demonstrate that the soul knows no mediators. The dynamic identity of intersubjectivity and intrasubjectivity confirms the truth of Goethe's aphorism: we have nothing within us, all that is within is on the outside. We have "on the outside" the subjectivity of the world of speech, of the world of thought, for each of us lives purposively and willfully, turning tothis world for co-feeling [so-chuvstvie; the hyphen emphasizes the literal sense of sochuvstvie, sympathy—Trans.], co-thought [so-myslie], and co-action [so-deistvie; the hyphen emphasizes the literal sense of sodeistvie, assistance]. The "unit" of the psychic sought after by Boris Elkonin is not the step in development but the act of communication, the act of addressing others and addressing the self as some kind of other. Hence, again, Kant is right when he asserts that we are filled equally with delight by the stars above us and by the moral sense within us. Genrikh Rikkert is also right to regard the moral sense or conscience as the first basis of knowledge.
Thus, the main thesis of Boris's theory, which purports to be the axiom of a new theory, is chosen arbitrarily. And not very felicitously: to reduce the creative act of positing oneself as an individual in the capacity of subject of development to the dynamic of transitions between ideal and real forms of subjective development means to exploit one of a number of possible abstractions.
But not to address the true problem of the general study of man, including psychology: how did the exclusively subjective motivation of the entire volitional and purposive life activity of man become possible?
Moreover, I must note that the ideal and the real are not psychological categories. They are developed measures of the thinkability of some kind of something. Arsen'ev in his lectures (addressed to Boris among others) used to "hammer in the nails" and jeer at the empiricist and naturalist definition of the ideal and the material. He used to declare, with full competence, that in philosophy there is no idealism or materialism of any kind. There is only the investigation of categories. Let me add that it was precisely Hegel who remained incomprehensible while technogenic naturalism was dominant in philosophy itself. His "philosophy of nature" is by no means the subordination of natural processes to the logic of categories, but a demonstration of the fact that all our judgments concerning nature are subordinate to measures of the thinkability of its being. What "exists or does not exist," is "nearer or farther," "essential or not essential," "ideal or real," and so on— these are not forms of reality itself, but only semantic measures of its mastery by thinking.
To say that the real and the ideal are forms of motion of human subjectivity "objectively" inherent in the psyche of man means either to say nothing or to say something like the following: the square, the hypotenuse, and the infinitesimal really exist in nature and only awareness of their objective reality turns them into measures of the thinkable world. Thus, the real and the ideal are an ordinary categorial (measure) pair, the inner contradiction of which is the moving force of any thought.
I anticipate that you will appeal to Kant's third antimony of pure reason: the ideal is real and the real is ideal because the search for new meaning in the searching motion of thought itself relies upon an ideal model—upon a Platonic idea.10 But an "image" (model) [in Russian the two words are very similar: obraz—image, obrazets—model.—Trans.] is a reality of the semantic basis of thought's search for a new measure of the thinkable that will correspond more closely to intention. For this reason alone the real and the ideal, like all other measures of thinkability of any thinkable object, cannot suddenly become psychological (from a professional point of view) categories.
Yes, the author quite correctly understands the subject not as an idealized (imaginable, thinkable) object but as the subject of a completed action. "Subjectivity is a specific life regime and not a characteristic of an observed individual." Very well said! But the whole "mechanics" of the mutual transformation of ideal and real forms takes us away from the chief question of the theory of human existence. Let us recall Bibikhin's "piece of news"—there is the true continuation of the ideas of Vygotsky, who throughout his creative career criticized himself and what he had established.
And now concerning Boris's father—the classical psychologist, Vygotsky's pupil and friend.
I have had good luck throughout my life, both as regards friends and with my work—in general, with everything. A very big piece of good luck has been my communication over many years with Daniil Borisovich Elkonin. It so happened that we were being thrown together all the time—in the compartment of the train that took us now to Prague, now to Berlin, in delegations, or just the two of us on our own. This last circumstance is explained by the fact that Stoletov included only us on the editorial board of the textbook Pedagogics [Pedagogika], which was published jointly by two academies of pedagogical sciences—ours and the [East] German. We had frequent occasion to take part in the work of the editorial board.11
Once the Germans were unable to get us tickets to Moscow and after giving us money for our living expenses left us in a room at the hotel of the GDR Council of Ministers. For five days or so, disturbed by no one, we loafed around Berlin on our own, visited all the magnificent museums, and went to cinemas (I translated for D.B.). We were also at an operatic performance of Carmen, the stage director of which, the renowned [Walter] Felsenstein, had created a five-hour "fruit salad" out of the text of [Prosper] Mérimée and the opera of [Georges] Bizet. Our Galina Pisarenko sang and played Mikaela magnificently in the Berlin dialect, just as though she and all her forebears had lived their lives precisely in Berlin.
As you will understand, we had more than enough time for heart-to-heart theoretical conversations. And I made full use of that time. Disputes flared up frequently. Especially frequently I attacked D.B., desperately criticizing his idea of leading activities at different ages. On the following grounds: I was unable to accept the transitions from the play of preschool children, brilliantly analyzed by D.B., to learning activity, and in the teens from learning activity to the search for the self in various adolescent and adult communities, because these are transformed, socially codified forms of the child's real development. I insisted that in various historical and contemporary sociocultural communities other forms of so-called socialization have prevailed or do prevail. Children become adults both among the Gypsies, who do not know schools, and among American Indians living on reservations, and among other peoples whose traditions are incomparable with European traditions. The psychologist does not have the right to confine himself to his immediate surroundings.
D.B. would reply: I am an experimental psychologist. I deal with what exists. I do not have the right to think up laws of maturation for peoples with whose lives I am familiar only from literature.
On one occasion, as soon as we had entered our train compartment, D.B. told me with delight of a discovery that had been suggested to him by the behavior of his grandson. "I was sitting at work and felt like a drink. I asked my four-year-old grandson, who was busy with some child's game of his own, to bring me a cup and saucer with cooled-down tea from the newspaper table. In delight he spun round to the table, grabbed the cup and saucer in his arms, and paying no further attention to his burden successfully brought it to me. You had to see his eyes, his smile to understand: I was needed by the child; by all that which is called the life of his organism he was an affective challenge to me, an address to me, offered to my attention by all his child's subjectivity!" The conclusion of the classic of psychology followed: man lives in a world of senses and affects, addressed to himself and addressed by him to others, and not by the objects of so-called object-related activity. Later D.B. published his discovery in one of the issues of the psychology series of Vestnik moskovskogo universiteta. Such was the act by which Daniil Borisovich returned to the teaching of his friend and teacher—L.S. Vygotsky.
And somehow everything suddenly became clear: there exists a different, informal law of the child's development that is subordinate to the social forms of technogenic civilization, and it is psychologically natural for the child to be dependent on the ocean of speech of adults and children, who present to him their own unique personalities (precious to him or simply essential). And then instead of the strict Mariia Ivanovna in the school of formal teaching he will encounter a different structure of the new stage of his life that has nothing to do with classes and lessons, such as, for example, the form of the cultural-educational center. Uniting children and adults in a single task that is necessary and interesting to them personally—that of mastering various streams of culture, including handicraft and occupational culture, such a center would offer him the possibility of personal choice. In this case, "learning activity" as understood by Elkonin and Davydov would cease to exist. For here we would have living communication and not learning activity of the child in accordance with artificial schemas for mastering the language of the object rather than speech in his own language.12
In contrast to the logic of Boris Elkonin, I would cite the example of the creation of a different, truly philosophical, or—more precisely—general theoretical logic. Here I would refer the reader to the latest numerous psychological works of Surmava, who provided a fundamental proof that the behavioristic or, more precisely, the Descartian polarization of the spatially and temporally extended being of nature, with its unquestionable objectivity, and the subjective mentality of man's psyche are two things as mutually incompatible as genius and villainy.
It is precisely this villainy that transforms subjectivity into a special substance requiring supernatural—in essence, divine—creation. Surmava's logic is the logic of natural genesis from the "cell" of the future organism that reproduces itself exclusively by the volitional motion of its internal organs. He rejected any abstract idea that manifested itself in the description and investigation of the psychic as some kind of developed and present subjective reality objectively inherent in life. A reality understood as the spirit of culture and the soul of man. Neither the reactivity of life nor the orientation of the living being under the objective conditions of its existence, nor irritability, nor sensitivity, nor any other qualities and properties inherent in living beings are of interest to him. He is interested in one question alone: how did all this at one time become possible, both as distinct phenomena and in the context of life as a planetary reality? I repeat again: this is the first and only possible question for a theoretician.
His solution—at first a hypothetical one, as it were feeling out the limits of his formulation of the question, posits some kind of prelife reality of massive "ejection" in the soup of the world ocean of a complex chemical substance capable of internal "reflexion" of its polar centers. It does not yet have the surface membrane characteristic of the first forms of life. But the inner interreflexivity of its "centers" already makes possible independent motion along the gradients of the streams of the "environment." In this hypothesis it is important to note that the "environment" does not confront the new chemical formation as something that calls forth its activeness from without. The "environment" is the inner basis of such activeness, for the formation itself presupposes, by the laws of chemical transformations, its self-reproduction. The role of the "environment" is that of a "nutritive" support for internal acts of self-reproduction. An eloquent and cogent example with the very simple form of a sponge! Its external "cilia" assist its motion in the environment (in the old terminology—activity of the organism with an object, "object-related activity"). But when it is "turned inside out" they are transformed into a means of subjectively reflexive self-definition of life.
Here we have a logic of self-development of life and not a reaction to external stimuli. It is not for nothing that today no one so thoroughly and so thoughtfully knows all (I emphasize—all!) the works of Vygotsky. And I could demonstrate to my few readers the strikingly profound philosophical literacy of the author. But this no longer has any bearing upon the myth of cultural-historical psychology.
But even given such a divergence between the theoretical basis of the Elkonin-Davydov conception and school practice, things are not so terribly tragic. First, the principals and teachers of a number of schools under Elkonin's direct guidance, so he asserts, are seriously drawn toward the theory and try to bring the content of all lessons into correspondence with it. Perhaps without great success, but the attempt is important in itself. Second, there are also "violations" of the quite strict canons of this theory that create something fundamentally new but exceptionally productive— and not only for Elkonin-Davydov schools. Above all, I have in mind the literature textbooks with a full "basket" of all the materials needed by teacher and students that have now been prepared not only for primary school but also for higher grades. They were created by Galina Nikolaevna Kudina and the poetess Zinaida Nikolaevna Novlianskaia, pupils of Davydov who were awarded the state prize for these textbooks. These are fantastic textbooks! My granddaughter, who is not yet six years old, reads the second-grade textbook that they gave her like a poem by Pushkin. It contains almost everything that is familiar to her from children's booklets, starting with L.N. Tolstoy and ending with contemporary children's storytellers and poets. There are none of the idiotic questions following each verse or fable that without fail kill the ability to appreciate poetry.13 Nor do they contain pseudoscientific definitions of metaphor, poetic styles, and so on. Their textbooks radiate the energy of linguistic creativity: fables, verses, and stories familiar since early childhood unobtrusively and covertly allow children to learn for themselves what a metaphor is and what kinds of styles are used in prose and poetry, including the Bible's Song of Songs, the suras of the Koran, and religious Buddhist poetics—not to mention the classics of Russian and foreign literature. So the corresponding commission of the Ministry of Education is not giving these textbooks its seal of approval for the publication of new textbooks by Kudina and Novlianskaia!
Instead of them, something definitively perverse and dangerous is being "pressed" skillfully through the sieve of ministry permits. During the reign of the militant atheism of pseudocommunist ideology, any reference to the Psalms or to any of the other religious values of culture was removed from the fairy tales of Andersen, Russian fables, andL.N. Tolstoy's children's stories. The new creators of educational curricula, textbooks, and reading books, self-assured and irresponsible, have suddenly decided that fables and legends, stories and verses contain many tragic elements that, in their opinion, have a bad effect on the way the child views the world. Now everything will be different. The wolf will accompany Little Red Riding Hood to grandmother, where they will drink tea with dumplings. Muzgarka and the Rooster in The Winter Hut on StudenaiaHill [Zimov'e na Studenoi] will, of course, stay alive and rescue the hero. Rusalka will marry her prince, while in Gaidar's Military Secret [Voennaia taina] the hero will not die from the stone thrown by the enemy but will heroically swaddle the enemy and take him to the border guards.
Idiocy! There is no other word for it! And there was I, dumb kid, before starting school and at primary school, sobbing incon-solably as I experienced as my own the tragic fate of the heroes of these works. But what a starry-eyed blockhead I would have grown into if the grownup world had not also revealed to me its tragic aspect! It is all these pretentious novelties from the subjects of the imperious bureaucratic leadership of education, who are throwing out the Elkonin-Davydov legacy onto the trash heap of history, that I consider, alongside all the discrepancies (to put it mildly) between the theory of the cultural-historical determination of the formation of human subjectivity and the canons of formal education, to be the true tragedy of V.V. Davydov.
It is not by chance that one of the pupils of the new teachers recently declared that he was ready to "smash" the theory of Vygotsky and all the Vygotskians by demonstrating their Marxist narrow-mindedness and complete barrenness. So then, let us await this surprise too, inspired by the apostasy of the teachers of such a bellicose young man.
And thus, I shall start with the search for the true axiom of the science of man. Taking into account the fact that the subjective-mental motivation of each future step in the development of human life activity properly speaking returns us to Emmanuel Kant's third antinomy of pure reason.14
On the one hand (thesis), those who incorporate the life of man into cause-and-effect relations with the external world are right. But on the other hand (antithesis), man lives by his future, motivating his every life action by an image of his goal. Therefore, unlike all other living beings on the planet, man creates himself willfully and purposively!
Such is the third antinomy of pure reason.
And now to the main thing! Vygotsky stood on this same platform. And it was precisely from this position that the masters of the new psychological technologies and seekers after a new basis (a new axiom) of psychology as a closed-in-upon-itself science, equipped only with professional "spectacles," distanced themselves. L.S. Vygotsky—this bard, this Mozart of the higher theory that understands the processes of growth of individuality within the general intersubjective speech field—was a superb master of the logic of genesis of the self-development of life, a logic that has been discussed in a meticulous and contradictory fashion (that is a compliment) by logicians of theory par excellence from Thales to Marx. One is struck by his openness to all concepts of the science of man. If there is any fault of which he cannot be accused, it is that of being professionally closed in upon himself!
Wherein lies the enduring value of Vygotsky's work? It lies precisely in his awareness of the identity of Kant's thesis and antithesis! In Kant all antinomies are given and resolved in the following manner: the thesis contains the antithesis within itself and generates the antithesis for us. The antithesis is "pregnant" with the thesis and makes no sense without its explication. The dynamic identity of their apparently opposite senses is productive for the development of a new sense of the antinomies—the unity of opposites as the solution of the problem hidden in the antinomies. For indeed, it is precisely this identity of theirs that guides our every step on life's path. Are we subordinated to objective circumstances when they are insuperable? No, a thousand times no! Without the attempt to change them man would not take a single step. His fate lies in the struggle for the purposive and willful change of circumstances, and this ends up as self-change. Creativity—that is the essence of human life. Even the repudiation of creativity, adaptation to circumstances requires the energy, albeit dull, of the renunciation of struggle. Again the will of man himself! One may not respect the motives behind such renunciation, leaving them to the conscience of the weak of spirit and will. But, after all, even renunciation is a subjective motivation of conduct! Thus, our axiom of the general science of man, like any theoretical axiom, retains its a priori character, and, therefore, its clarity as something that does not require proof.
Hence, also what may be called the genome of moral feeling: The unique capacity of man for purposively volitional actions addressed to the sympathy of other people in the hope of mutual understanding, for free co-being with them as the being of good, as moral being—there is the basis and supreme value of human history and culture! But, alas, man's free will is capable of leading also to the suppression of the free will of others and to the restric tion of their freedom, right up to the deprivation of life itself (the being of evil). And none of us can resolve upon word or deed without presentiment of its most important result: the attitude that other people will take toward it. And that means—toward each of us as a personality, toward the motives and possible results of our word and deed. And the main thing in this attitude of theirs is not their assessment of their utilitarian need of us, of the usefulness for themselves of our words and deeds. The main thing is their correlation of our words and deeds with the "space" of their own freedom—their freedom of thought, freedom of feelings, freedom of actions, a correlation that is not always actually conscious but that unambiguously motivates their reaction to our words and deeds. The sense-bearing presentiment of this moral reaction compels us each time to transfigure anew our every address to other people in the moral field of communication, thereby reproducing this field as an intersubjective reality.
In other words, any action of ours, deliberate or impulsive, is inevitably verified by us and in us for the degree of its freedom— or, if you like, for the spirit of freedom, a single intra- and intersubjective affect of humane co-being. It is verified for humaneness as primordially and objectively the chief condition (and precondition!)—albeit an unspoken one, not engraved in rules and maxims—for the establishment of a human kind of life. It is verified not in court, not on the public square, not at meetings, but inside ourselves. For each "I" is a bearer and subject of this spirit, the subject of its own will to freedom.
Limitation of the always anticipated verification for humaneness is its source and the possibility of volitional effort. The organism does not garner its strength for action (or inaction) by itself; senses of the communicative situation that it does not itself experience dictate to it, as their inevitable consequences, the impulse of affective-semantic effort. Whether a deed (action, word, text, music, picture, etc.) is to be or not to be depends, above all, on the extent to which the person himself is carried away by his need to address himself urbi et orbi—to the city and the world, to other people, to eternity, to himself. On this in large measure also depends whether the person will have sufficient strength to overcome himself. And due to his anticipation not only of direct or indirect resistance from others, but also of their possible inattention and lack of understanding. And also of the resistance of the material to be used and, consequently, of the always viscous stream of the deed or action itself, which constantly threatens to become entangled in its own "steps." The strength to overcome oneself and circumstances, the strength of their creative remolding—that is the strength of free will. For this very strength manifests itself as none other than the effort purposively to transform reality and, first of all, oneself as a real subject—one who is master of his own body and in some measure also of the objective conditions of his life.
Thus, it turns out that the intellect, the higher emotions, the moral imperative (Kant's "moral law within us"), the will, and intuition all really realize a single capacity—the capacity not to accept everything as it is, but to transform what is by synthesizing new images into new realities of being. This capacity and its power within the isolated "world" of universal symbols of the triumph of life and spirit constitute the higher emotions. Within the isolated "world" of discourse they constitute the intellect. Within the subjective "world" of the "I" proper they constitute the will. And within all the worlds of human life activity, which is always addressed to all and, therefore, also to each (including to oneself) they constitute morality.
It is possible that the absolute reciprocal counterposition of these "worlds" is a historically transient phenomenon. It is not by chance that the plastic tissue of esthetic experience, temporarily lost within the material of semiotic discourse, nonetheless constantly breaks through in the revelations of simple and beautiful formulations of that experience. Nor is it by chance that the "rationalists" themselves regard as the truth of creativity in science not calculation but intuition and sudden insight, training for which, in their opinion, can be provided only by art. No less symptomatic and no less inspiring to litterateurs, artists, sculptors, and musicians is the emotional reinterpretation of "dry and rational" scientific discoveries, be they Newton's model of the universe or Einstein's absolute relativism, Plato's "ideas" and "good" or the unconscious of Sigmund Freud.
The first readers of this manuscript have already managed to tell me that my claim to definition of the axiom of the general science of man looks like an impudent usurpation of truth. Will all those theoreticians who proceed in their theories from different bases take offense? In what way are they any worse than me?!
It seems to me that this objection arises from a failure to understand the nature of the axiom of a theory. An axiom is a priori by definition: it needs no proof, for it is clear as it stands, affirming itself as the unconditional basis of a theory, as the measure of all future transformations of the object of the theory. And, after all, the theory merely outlines its object field: geometry throughout the ages will be concerned with the senses of measures of the extension of being, mechanics with the reciprocal dependence of the senses of categorial measures of the time, distance, velocity, and inertia of the motion of masses, and astronomy with the semantic measures of all the realities of the universe. And any comprehension of human existence is possible only within the domain of the sense outlined by Kant's third antinomy of pure reason.
But even before Kant, everything that is thinkable by people was maturing within the same domain in the rituals of primitive kinship communes. Witness to this is borne by their investment by the volitional and purposive moving force of their existence with all the phenomena of nature. In the myths of the first peoples of the earth, as later in the world religions, one finds the same contradiction of human existence—that between the dependence of the will and goals of people's lives on supernatural and natural circumstances and the freedom of choice, the purposive and willful character of the subjective motivation of their heroes' conduct, appraised through the support or retribution of their gods. The object field of all theories of the science of man—in history, physiology, psychology, sociology, economics, and so on—is outlined by the domain of this contradiction.
This cannot be concocted, because theory as such is none other than the resolution of contradictions within the measure-related senses of thinkable being. It tests itself by means of experiment and the technical practice of applying theoretical ideas, but even in the course of this process it remains pure theory. Its initial axiom is not exposed to doubt, inasmuch as that axiom is not derived from professional applications but posits itself as something that exists in theoretical thinking prior to and without the latter.
The very first axiom of Euclid proclaims the point and its motion to form a line. The point cannot be divided in two, and if an infinite number of points are removed from the line formed by the point's motion then an infinite number of points will remain on the line. All geometric transformations are based on this axiom. This confirms its absolutely a priori character. I repeat: the object of any theory is given by its axiom, which outlines the field of sense-bearing measures of the thinkable reality of being that correspond thereto. The development of the object of a theory does not go beyond the bounds of its axiom. However, the axiom, for all its a priori clarity, inescapably contains within itself a contradiction—its affirmation and its own negation: the point cannot be divided in two but, after all, we presuppose this operation in thought. The dynamic, actively pulsing identity of "cannot" and "can" sublates the tension of this contradiction (German aufheben—remove while retaining). In this way a new—more correctly, a transformed—axiom is born. The history of the development of the theory is rearranged upon a new basis while retaining within itself the original, fundamental axiom in transformed form.
It is important to recall also that Vygotsky himself, analyzing the causes of the historical crisis of psychology, saw the chief cause in the fact that psychologists rush from "nature" to "culture" and back again. Thereby they try to find the roots of the spirituality of man's life either in his body and in his reactions to stimuli from the "environment" or in the historical forms of cultural discourse.
They are unable to grasp the contradictory identity of these "op-posites" that is clearly outlined by Kant's third antinomy. For them Kant is not an authority—he is a philosopher, not a psychologist. However, Kant's axiom—the identity of corporeality and subjectivity, taking us back to Spinoza, to his single substance of being—is the axiom of the general science of man, which lies, I repeat, at the basis of physiology, psychology, history, literary studies, and all other theoretical disciplines that have as their object the life and activity of man.
Thus, the a priori postulating basis of any theory serves also as its object. It is the measure of all senses of the theory that do not exist as things. Theory deals exclusively with measures of senses that are born out of their always existing inner contradictions and tries to resolve those contradictions. Theoretical work radically transforms the primary, initial conditions of the original positing of senses, seeking the utmost clarity of those contradictions the resolution of which defines its goals. The practical utilization of these goals is not its affair. The demand for their practical realization is brought to light through the selfish interests of various socially organized groups (classes, strata, state and public organizations, etc.) that live at the expense of others. Ideology industriously justifies, as it has always done, the self-interest of their dependence on theory. The task of theory is to throw out ideology onto the trash heap of history.