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2 Vygotsky

2 Vygotsky

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Published by Closing Invectives
2. Introduction to the Russian translation of Freud's beyond the pleasure principle (Vygotsky and Alexander Luria)
2. Introduction to the Russian translation of Freud's beyond the pleasure principle (Vygotsky and Alexander Luria)

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Published by: Closing Invectives on Jun 14, 2011
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04/20/2013

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1
IntroductiontotheRussiantranslation
of
Freud's
Beyond
the
pleasure
principle
Lev
Vygotsky
and
AlexanderLuria
I
Amongthegreatmindsofourtimes,Freud'swasprobablyoneofthemostintrepid. Aqualitysuchasthiswasalwaysconsideredtobeavirtuemoresuitedtoapractical manthantoascholarandthinker.Courageisneededforaman
of
action,
but
itseemsthataninfinitelygreateramountofdaringisrequiredforthinking.Ateveryturn, scholarshipispopulatedbysomanyindeterminateminds,timidthoughtsand spinelesshypothesesthatitalmostseemsasifwarinessandfollowinginotherpeople'sfootstepshavebecomeobligatoryattributesofofficialacademicwork.Freudmadehisdebutasarevolutionary.Thedegreeofoppositionwhichpsycho analysiselicitedinofficialacademiccircles,
bears
incontestablewitnesstothefactthatitwasguiltyofhavingseverelyinfringedageoldtraditionsofbourgeoismoralityandscholarshipandhadoversteppedthelimits
of
whatisacceptable.Thisnewscientificideaanditscreatorswereforcedtospendmanyyearsindismalisolation.Themostvirulenthostilityandopenresistanceroseupagainstthenewscienceatalllevelsofsociety.Freudhimselfsays,thathe'wasoneofthosewhohave"disturbedthe sleepoftheworld",asHebbelsays'.'Andthisisexactlywhatdidhappen. Theuproarsurroundingthenewsciencesgraduallysubsided.Nowadays,anynew workinthefield
of
psychoanalysisnolongerelicitssuchahostilereception.
If
notentirely,thenatleastpartially,theformerharassmenthasbeenreplacedbygeneralacceptanceofthenewdisciplineinanatmosphereofintenseinterest,profoundregardandstrongcuriositywhichevenitsprincipalopponentscannotdenyit.Psychoanalysis
has
longceasedtobejustatechniqueusedinpsychotherapy-ithasgrowntoincludeanumberofgeneralbasicproblemsingeneralpsychology,biology,historyofcultureandallso-called'Geisreswissenschafren'.ParticularlyhereinRussia,Freudianpsychologyisverypopular,notonlyinlearnedcircles,
but
alsoamongthegeneralreadingpublic.DuringthepastfewyearsalmostallofFreud'sworkshavebeentranslatedintoRussianandpublished.Infront
 
ofoureyes,anewandoriginaltrendinpsychoanalysisisbeginningtoforminRussia,which,withthehelpofthetheoryoftheconditionalreflexes,attemptstosynthesizeFreudianpsychologyandMarxismandtodevelopasystemofreflexologicalFreudianpsychology'inthespiritofdialecticalmaterialism.SuchatranslationofFreudintoPavlov'slanguageisanobjectiveattempttodecodethedark'depthpsychology',andisalivingproofofthegreatvitalityofthistheoryanditsinexhaustibleresearchpotential.ButforFreud,withtherecognitionofhiswork,the'heroicage'didnotmerelybecomeathingofthepast,
but
itrequiredinfinitelygreatercourageandevengreaterheroismthanbefore.Whereasearlierhehadbeenconsignedtohisown'splendidisolation'and
had
arrangedhislife'likeRobinsonCrusoeonadesertisland',nowhewasfacedwithnewandseriousthreatssuchasmisrepresentationsofthebasictenetsofthenewtheoryandtheneedforthescientific
truth
toconformtotheexigenciesandtastesofthebourgeoisworldvie.Inaword,earlierthethreatcamefromtheenemyside,nowitcamefromtheallies.Andindeed,manyoftheleadinglights,who'havefoundtheirstayintheunderworldofpsycho-analysistoouncomfortablefortheirtaste',abandonedit.
2
Thisinternalstrugglerequiredamuchgreatereffortthanconfrontationwithenemies.Freud'sfundamentalidiosyncrasyliesinthefactthatheisboldenoughtotakeeveryideatoitslogicalandfinalconclusion.Hedidnotalwaysmanagetotakeothersalongwithhimonthisdifficultandfrighteningjourneyandmanyabandonedhimimmediatelyafrerthestarringpointandturnedoffthe
road.
ThismaximalistthinkingprocessresultedinFreudremainingessentiallyisolatedasascholarevenatthevery
peak
intheriseofscientificinterestinpsychoanalysis.Thepresenttranslationofthe
book]enseits
tks
Lustprinzips
(920)
whichisbeingofferedtothereader,belongstoanumberofjustsuchlonelyworksbyFreud.Evenorthodoxpsychoanalystssometimespassoverthisworkinsilence;as
far
asawidercircleofreadersisconcerned,bothabroadandinRussia,onekeepscomingupagainstdefiniteprejudicewhichmustbeclarifiedanddispelled.Thisbookreachessuchastoundingandunexpectedconclusionsthat,atfirstglance,theyappeartocontradictsharplyeverythingwhichweallhavebecomeaccustomedtoconsidertobeirrefutablescientifictruth.Andwhatismore,itcontradictssomefundamentalclaimshichhadbeen
put
forwardbyFreudhimselfinearliertimes.Here,Freudchallengesnotonlygeneralopinion,
but
callshisownassertionunderlyingallpsychoanalyticrevelationsinquestion.Theintrepidityofhisthinkingreachesitszenithinthisbook.Wehavebecomeaccustomedtoconsidertheprincipleofselfpreservationofalivingorganismandtheprincipleofitsadaptationtotheconditionsoftheenvironmentinwhichithastoliveasbasicexplanatoryprinciplesforallbiologicalsciences.Theinstincttopreservelifeandthelifeofthespecies,aswellasthedrivetoadapttotheenvironmentinthebestandmostpainlessway,appeartobethemain
forces
drivingallorganicdevelopment.Incompleteagreementwiththesepremisesoftraditionalbiology,Freudhadearlierformulatedatheoryaboutcwoprinciplesof
FREUD'S
'BEYOND
THE
PLEASURE
PRINCIPLE'
11
 
12
LEV
VYGOTSKYAND
AL
EXANDER
LURIA
psychicactivity.Henamedthehighertendencytowhichpsychicprocessesare subordinate,thepleasureprinciple.However,thepursuitofpleasureandtheavoid anceofpaindonotcompletelyholdswayandarenotexclusivelytheforceswhich directpsychicprocesses.Thenecessityofhavingtoadaptcreatestheneedforacareful awarenessoftheexternalworld;atthisstageanewprincipleofpsychicactivityis introduced,namely,therealityprinciplewhichattimesdictatesadenialofpleasure forthesakeof'somethingmoredependableeven
if
postponed'.'Allthisisextremely elementary,atruismthattoallappearancebelongstotherealm
of
irrefutable,selfevidenttruths.However,thefactswhichareobtainedbypsychoanalyticalresearch,propelthe mindbeyondthenarrowconfinesofthisselfevident
truth
.
Itisthis
attemp
tofthe
ind
to
reach
fartherthanthistrutb
-
bey
ondthe
plea
sure
prin
cip
le
-
w
hich
wasthe
creative
force
behind
this
book
.
ButaccordingtoFreud,evenmoreelementarythanthisprinciple,andhowever paradoxicalitmaysound,istheprincipleofthedeathinstinct,whichisabasic primordialanduniversalprinciplecommontoalllivingmatter.One
has
codifferen-.tiatebetweentwosortsofinstincts.Theonewhichismoreaccessibletoobservation andhasbeenstudiedforalongtimeisErosinitswidersense,theLibido,which includesnotonlythesexualdriveanditsvariousmanifestations,
but
thewholeinstinctofselfpreservation-thesemakeupthelifeinstinct.Theothertypeof instincc,atypicalexampleofwhichonecanconsidertobesadism,canbedesignated asthedeathinstinct.
As
Freudsaysinanotherbook,thepurposeofthiskindof impulseis'coleadorganiclifebackintotheinanimatestate',i.e.itsgoalis'tore establishastateofthingsthatwasdisturbedbytheemergenceoflife',foralllifeto regresstotheinorganicexistenceofmatter."Atthesametime,allpositivelife protectingtendenciessuchasthestrivingforselfpreservationetc.areregardedascomponentinstincts,whosefunctionistoassurethattheorganismshallfollowits individualjourneycowardsdeathandtowardoffallextraneousprobabilitiesofitsreturningtoinorganicexistence.Atthesametime,allliferepresentsadrivetorestorethedisturbedlifeenergyequilibrium,likecircuitouspaths(Umwege)towardsdeath;thisamountstoaperpetualstruggleandcompromisebetweentwoirreconcilableandoppositeinstincts.Aconstructionsuchasthisproducesnaturalresistanceagainstitselffortworeasons.Firstly,Freud[1920,p.59]himselfpointsoutthatthisworkstandsin contrasttosome
of
hisotherarguments.Thesehadbeennothing
but
directandaccuratetranslationsoffactualobservationsintothelanguageoftheory.Butinthiscase,reflectionfrequentlysupplantsobervation-speculativethinkingreplacesthemeagrefactualmaterial.Therefore,onemayeasily
get
theimpressionthatinthiscasewearedealingwithmetaphysicalspeculationratherthanscientificallyreliablepropositions.
So
itisnotdifficulttoplaceanequalssignbetweenwhatFreudhimselfcallsthemerapsychologicalpointofviewandametaphysicalone.Secondly,onthispoint,anyonemayfindthatanotherobjectionagainsttheveryessence
of
theseideasinevitablycomestomind.Thesuspicionarisesthatperhaps

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