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Subjectivity, intersubjectivity and material culture : The production of the subject in early development

1.1 Social, cultural, linguistic and educational mediation
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
1:50 PM, Tuesday 29 Aug 2017 (20 minutes)
Since the 1950s, mainstream psychology is primarily dedicated to studying a natural, individualistic and unsituated mind. In the second half of the 20th century, some criticisms have been addressed to this conception of mind (e.g. Acts of Meaning, Bruner, 1990) and research has been produced in the field of cultural psychology in the US. At the same time, Vygotsky’s cultural-historical ideas have been popularized in Western countries with the first publication in the US of Thought and Language (1962). Concerning early development, material culture and its role in the developing subject have apparently received little attention from psychologists excepted some few research where objects are redefined in their material and semiotic dimensions through their cultural uses and are appropriated in subject-subject-object triadic interactions (cf. Sémiotique, culture et développement psychologique, Moro & Muller Mirza, 2014). But more generally the reflection rather seemed to institutionalize a « division of labour » between two psychological lines of development of the construction of the subject, one organized around the development of communication (e.g. Trevarthen & Aitken, 2003) and another one organized around the development of cognition (e.g. Baillargeon, Spelke & Wisserman, 1985). The second line perpetuates the tradition of child psychology introduced at the end of the 19th century. In our talk, we will discuss this differentiation in early development. For this purpose, we will draw upon Marx, Spinoza, Heidegger and Kant with some recent works carried out in philosophy 1) concerning the notion of « world » examined by Michaël Foessel in Kant et l’équivoque du monde (2008); 2) and what we can qualify of « production of the subject » following Marx, on the basis of the work of Franck Fischbach, La production des hommes, Marx and Spinoza (2014). Our analysis would tend to demonstrate that 1) the separated study of communication and cognition in early development leads to the absence of consideration of material culture in psychological development; 2) that the allegedly scientific psychology is still dominated to a considerable extent by philosophical traditions, from which notions are often borrowed without questioning them.
University of Lausanne
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