An Interdisciplinary Theory of Activity


Author: Andy Blunden
Andy Blunden presents an immanent critique of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, the current of psychology originating from Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934). Tracing the roots of this theory from Goethe, Hegel and Marx, the author draws out the principles with which Vygotsky developed a theory of the mind in which the individual and their social situation form a single Gestalt, transcending the problems of mind-body dualism. Blunden follows the efforts of later members of the School to resolve outstanding problems in Vygotsky’s work. This includes a critical appropriation of Leontyev’s Activity Theory and Michael Cole’s cross-cultural research on the role of context in learning. The outcome is a concept of activity which transcends the division between individual and social domains in human sciences.

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Andy Blunden is an independent scholar in Melbourne, Australia. Andy works with the Independent Social Research Network and the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy and has run a Hegel Summer School since 1998. Andy retired from Melbourne University in 2002.

Part I. Introduction and Historical Excursus
1. Introduction
2. Soviet Cultural Psychology (1924-)
3. Goethe’s Romantic Science
4. The Young Hegel and what drove him
5. The Phenomenology and ‘formations of consciousness’
6. The Subject Matter of the Logic
7. Being, Essence & the Notion
8. Subjectivity and culture
9. Hegel’s Psychology and Spirit
10. Marx’s Critique of Hegel
11. Marx and the Foundations of Activity Theory
12. Marx’s Critique of Political Economy
13. Conclusions from this Historical Excursus

Part II. Lev Vygotsky
14. Vygotsky’s Critique of Behaviorism
15. Vygotsky and Luria on Romantic Science
16. Vygotsky on Units and Microcosms
17. Vygotsky on Gestalt and Bildung
18. The Significance of Vygotsky’s Legacy

Part III. Activity Theory
19. Activity
20. Activity as the Substance of a Science
21. Criticisms of Vygotsky’s concept of Activity
22. Leontyev’s Anatomy of Activity
23. Leontyev’s Activity Theory and Marx’s Political Economy
24. Groups as a Model of Sociality
25. Yrjö Engeström’s Model
26. Michael Cole and Cross-Cultural Psychology
27. The Results of this Immanent Critique

Part IV. An Interdisciplinary Approach
28. Collaborative Projects
29. Ethics and Collaboration
30. Marx’s Critique of Political Economy and Activity Theory
31. Towards a Taxonomy of Activity
32. Collaborative Projects and Identity
33. Collaborative Projects and Agency
34. Emancipatory science
35. Conclusion

All those interested in Cultural Psychology, particularly in educational psychology, education and child development, and in Critical Theory (Frankfurt School), Linguistics, Anthropology, Continental Philosophy (especially Hegel), Marxism, Social Theory, Transdisciplinary Studies, Political Science.