The present paper discusses perspectives of Activity Theory (AT) in the context of contemporary globalizing world, describing which we refer to the notion “De-structuralized modernity” (Sorokin & Froumin, 2020). Radical changes in everyday life challenge social sciences and humanities. Approaches are in demand, which have the potential to comprehend the changing human étant and éntre. We argue that Activity Theory has the potential to face these challenges. Leontiev’s AT grounds on the idea of qualitatively new mental features arising to deal with novel environmental challenges, which is much in line with J.M. Baldwin reasoning on evolution. AT also offers a method to prognosis the upcoming neoplasms. In the same time, applying classics of AT to the current reality, “De-structuralized modernity”, entails the need for new theoretical elaborations of the latter, stemming from the radical transformation of the relations between individual and socio-cultural environments. A unique societal context emerges on the global level, which, on the one hand, requires individual to adapt constantly to changing socio-cultural reality, and, on the other hand, dramatically expands his/her potential for proactive actorhood transforming surrounding structures. We argue that the major and novel challenge for the individual is the task of maintaining the integrity and coherence of the a) Self-identity and b) system of links in and with the socio-cultural environment - in their dynamics and unity. The notion of “culture” has particular relevance and importance in this context because it allows grasping simultaneously two dimensions in their dynamic dialectical interrelations. First, the “internal” (“subjective”, “in the minds”) and “external” (“objective”, material and institutional environment) realities. Second, individual (“micro”) and societal (“macro”) scales of human activities. Discussing the ways to understand these dynamics, we dispute the popular “constitutive view” on personality and refer to the concept of the “ontological shift” (Mironenko & Sorokin, 2018). We also highlight how technological advancements change and “expand” human nature making it capable to deal with the outlined new tasks.
There is a problem associated with contemporary studies of philosophy of mind, which focuses on the identification and convergence of human and machine intelligence. This is the problem of machine emulation of sense. In the present study, analysis of this problem is carried out based on concepts from structural and post-structural approaches that have been almost entirely overlooked by contemporary philosophy of mind. If we refer to the basic definitions of “sign” and “meaning” found in structuralism and post-structuralism, we see a fundamental difference between the capabilities of a machine and the human brain engaged in the processing of a sign. This research will exemplify and provide additional evidence to support distinctions between syntactic and semantic aspects of intelligence, an issue widely discussed by adepts of contemporary philosophy of mind. The research will demonstrate that some aspect of a number of ideas proposed in relation to semantics and semiosis in structuralism and post-structuralism are similar to those we find in contemporary analytical studies related to the theory and philosophy of artificial intelligence. The concluding part of the paper offers an interpretation of the problem of formalization of sense, connected to its metaphysical (transcendental) properties.
We comment on the article by Zagaria et al., which explicates the ““soft” nature of psychology: a minor consensus in its “core”” (Zagaria et al., p. 1), manifested by the discordant character of definitions of psychological “core-constructs”. Zagaria et al. build on the assumption that psychological science should reside in the status of a paradigm, meanwhile the real state of things they consider as pre-paradigmatic, imperfect and unhealthy, from which a transition to a paradigm is necessary.We cannot agree with this provision. We argue that not internal coherence and consistency, but the ability to reflect multifaceted reality, to answer its innovative manifestations in various dimensions and solve tasks that life poses to humanity with an adequate set of different tools not reducible to a single approach, is what makes the value of science. Psychology originally developed as poly paradigmatic science, because its subject has a most complex nature, holistic, yet incorporating many aspects different in their essence and, therefore, requiring different versions of the methodology. Considering epistemology of psychological science from the philosophical perspective implying special focus on the ontological issues, we argue that poly paradigmatic structure of psychology is a virtue, not weakness. Thanks to such a structure, modular, like a Swiss knife, our science may offer the most effective solutions for a variety of problems. Multiplicity of relative approaches is best fit for life and innovation, even though we have to sacrifice rigor and concordance of definitions in introductory textbooks.
Meaningful life is emotionally marked off. That’s the general point that Johansen (IPBS: Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science 44, 2010) makes which is of great importance. Fictional abstractions use to make the point even more salient. As an example I’ve examined Borges’ famous fiction story. Along with the examples of Johansen it provides an informative case of exploring symbolic mechanisms which bind meaning with emotions. This particular mode of analysis draws forth poetry and literature in general to be treated as a “meaningful life laboratory”. Ways of explanation of emotional effect the art exercises on people, which had been disclosed within this laboratory, however, constitute a significant distinction in terms that I have designated as “referential” and “substantive”. The former appeals to something that has already been charged with emotional power, whereas the latter comes to effect by means of special symbolic mechanisms creating the emotional experience within the situation. Johansen, who tends to explain emotions exerted by the art without leaving the semiotic perspective, is drawn towards the “referential” type of explanation. Based upon discussions in theory of metaphor and Robert Witkin’s sociological theory of arts it is demonstrated an insufficient of “referential” explanation. To overcome a monopoly of “referential” explanation of emotional engagement, in particular, in literature, means to break away from the way of reasoning, stating endless references to “something else”, presupposing the existence of something already significant and therefore sharing its effects.
This essay intends to explore the genesis of one of the key concepts in continental philosophy of personalism – the concept of the “Other”. It attempts to use some most influential philosophical and psychological contexts to demonstrate how the Self is linked to the Other logically, notionally and conceptually. The present analysis employs two principle approaches to the problem – philosophical and psychological. From the stand point of the former, the key figure of the hereunder discourse is Hegel and his theory, while the later will be represented predominantly by Lacanian ideas. The present article will also discuss major influences of Hegel’s philosophical ideas on the Lacan’s theory.
This article takes as a starting point the critical analysis of attempts to define “culture”, offered by Jahoda in 2012. Basing on the observed proliferation of various, often contradicting, definitions of “culture” (for instance, trying to refer to its both internal and external aspects), Jahoda arrives at the conclusion that attempts to define the concept of “culture” are vain and useless and it is quite practicable simply to use the term without seeking to define it. We find it hard to agree with this statement. Elaborating on Jahoda reflections and drawing on the recent debates in social sciences, cultural studies and philosophy, we argue that seeking for the definition of culture is necessary in the context of contemporary development of social and humanitarian knowledge. Moreover, we claim that the debates about culture indicate the need for a large-scale methodological reorganization of the social and humanitarian sciences, in response to the novel ontological congruence between internal and external, the fundamental “ontological shift”, “reversing the poles” of the human-related reality. The human individual becomes its core element and pivot. Other “objects”, “external” in relation to the individual (for instance, social structures and institutions), undergo such massive and rapid changes that grow progressively fuzzy and sometimes even less “real”, comparing to the individual. The “inner” nature of the individual also transforms: from being “subjected” to think, act and feel according to certain external conditions, an individual becomes an Actor, who is empowered to change the environment following his purposive plans, desires and visions.
One of the key concepts of the German philosopher Max Scheler (1874– 1928) is his concept of spirit. He understands spirit as one of several naturally functioning human mental agencies, such as consciousness, will, memory, etc. That is, he treats the mental agency of spirit in a scientific way and avoids any esoteric or religious connotations that this peculiar term may involve. The nature of human spirit, according to Scheler, is the ability to withstand and deliberately redirect biological imperatives and instinctive drives, up to the point of purposefully throwing away one’s own life. The presence of spirit constitutes the essence of the human being that differentiates him qualitatively from all animals. In this article, I argue that it is human spirit that plays the determinative role in causing heroic and self-sacrificial behavior. I also argue that the individual human spirit experiences its inherent development, thus having several rather dissimilar stages and manifestations. I discuss the meaning that the term ‘spirit’ has in the English and the American philosophical and psychological traditions and the meaning of the corresponding term ‘der Geist’ in the German traditions. The specific English-language understanding of the term ‘spirit’, compared to its German counterpart ‘der Geist’, namely, less scientific and more religious and esoteric and metaphorical for the former, makes it alien and almost unusable in the English and American traditions. The linguistic difference leads to the misunderstanding of some very important ideas brought by the concept of spirit as introduced by Scheler. My purpose is to overcome this discrepancy and omission and to introduce the notion and the concept of spirit, in their scientific understanding, into the arsenal of modern English-language cognitive science, psychology, and philosophy in order to provide for the full explanatory force of the hitherto neglected concept of spirit.
The Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) left the Soviet Union only once to attend a conference on the education of the deaf in London. So far almost nothing was known about this trip, which took place in a period when Vygotsky was still completely unknown as a psychologist, both inside his own country and abroad. Making use of a newly discovered notebook, it proved possible to partially reconstruct Vygotsky’s journey and stay in London. Vygotsky’s very personal remarks show him to have been a very sensitive and spirited man, who was prey to strong emotions during the conference and afterwards. Rather surprisingly, Vygotsky’s own paper about the education of the deaf was never presented during the conference and the stay in London appears to have had a limited value for his own scientific development.
In the commentary to Jens Mammen’s book A New Logical Foundation for Psychology (2017), three issues are discussed. The first one concerns possible interrelations of: (a) others’ irreplaceability and existential irretrievability rigorously proved by Mammen; and (b) morality and attitudes to the others. Lem’s criticism of Heidegger’s existential philosophy, which paradoxically ignores mass homicide, is discussed in the context of topology of being. Different attitudes to the other as irreplaceable and irretrievable (e.g., in case of apprehension and execution of a murderer) are analyzed. The second issue concerns the possibility of true duplicates of the same person. The paradox of copied complexity is introduced. The third issue concerns reductionism (including brain reductionism) and opportunities to deduce various phenomena of development (mental development, actual genesis of creative thinking, etc.) from the new logical foundation for psychology built by Mammen.