Vygotsky. The Historical Meaning of The Crisis in Psychology: A Methodological Investigation
We have finished our investigation. Did we find everything we were looking for? In any case, we have come quite close. We have prepared the ground for research in the field of psychology and, in order to justify our argumentation, we must test our conclusions and construct a model of general psychology. But before that we would like to dwell on one more aspect which, admittedly, is of more stylistic than fundamental importance. But the stylistic completion of an idea is not totally irrelevant to its complete articulation.
We have split the tasks and method, the area of investigation and the principle of our science. What remains is to split its name. The processes of division which became evident in the crisis have also influenced the fate of the name of our science. Various systems have half broken with the old name and use their own to designate the whole research area. In this fashion one sometimes speaks, of behaviorism as the science of behavior as a synonym for psychology and not for one of its currents. Psychoanalysis and reactology are often mentioned in this way. Other systems break completely with the old name as they see the traces of a mythological origin in it. Reflexology is an example. This latter current emphasizes that it rejects the tradition and builds on a new and vacant spot. It cannot be disputed that such a view has some truth to it, although one must look at science in a very mechanical and unhistorical manner not to understand the role of continuity and tradition at all, even during a revolution. Watson, however, is partly right when he demands a radical rupture with the older psychology, when he points to astrology and alchemy and to the danger of an ambiguous psychology.
Other systems have so far remained without a name – Pavlov’s is an example. Sometimes he calls his area physiology, but by terming his work the study of behavior and higher nervous activity he has left the question of the name open. In his early works Bekhterev openly distinguished himself from physiology; for Bekhterev reflexology is not physiology. Pavlov’s students set forth his theory under the name “science of behavior.” And indeed, two sciences which are so different should have two different names. Munsterberg [1922, p. 13] expressed this idea long ago:
Whether the intentional understanding of inner life should really be called psychology is, of course, still a question that can be debated. Indeed, much speaks in favor of keeping the name psychology for the descriptive and explanatory science, excluding the science of the understanding of mental experiences and inner relations from psychology [emphasis by Vygotsky].
However, this knowledge nevertheless exists under the name of psychology; “It is true that it seldom appears in pure and consistent form. It is mostly somehow superficially connected with elements of causal psychology” [ibid., p. 13]. But as we know the author’s opinion that the whole confusion in psychology is due to this mixture, the only conclusion is to select another name for intentional psychology. In part this is how it goes. Right before our eyes phenomenology is producing a psychology which is “necessary for certain logical goals” [ibid., p. 13] and instead of a division into two sciences by means of adjectives, which cause enormous confusion..., it begins to introduce various substantives. Chelpanov observes that “analytical” and “phenomenological” are two names for one and the same method, that phenomenology partially coincides with analytical psychology, that the debate as to whether the phenomenology of psychology exists or not is a terminological matter. If we add to this that the author considers this method and this part of psychology to be basic, then it would be logical to call analytical psychology phe nomenology. Husserl himself prefers to confine himself to an adjective in order to preserve the purity of his science and he talks about “eidetic psychology.” But Binswanger [1922, p. 135] openly writes: we must distinguish “between pure phenomenology and ... empirical phenomenology (= descriptive psychology)” and bases this on the adjective “pure” introduced by Husserl himself. The sign of equality is written down in a highly mathematical fashion. If we recall that Lotze called psychology applied mathematics; that Bergson in his definition almost identified empirical metaphysics with psychology; that Husserl wishes to regard pure phenomenology as a metaphysical theory about essences (Binswanger, 1922), then we will understand that idealistic psychology itself has both a tradition and a tendency to abandon a decrepit and compromised name. And Dilthey explains that explanatory psychology goes back to Wolff’s rational psychology, and descriptive psychology, to empirical psychology.
It is true, some idealists are against attaching this name to natural scientific psychology. Thus, Frank [1917/1964, pp. 15-16] uses harsh words to point out that two different sciences are living under a single name, writing that
It is not at all a matter of the more or less scientific nature of two different methods of a single science, but of simply supplanting one science by a totally different one, which though it has retained some weak traces of kinship with the first, has essentially a totally different subject ... Present-day psychology declares itself to be a natural science .... This means that contemporary so-called psychology is not at all psychology, but physiology ... The excellent term “psychology” – theory of the soul – was simply illegally stolen and used as a title for a completely different scientific field. It has been stolen so thoroughly that when you now think about the nature of the soul...you are doing something which is destined to remain nameless or for which one must invent some new term.
But even the current distorted name “psychology” does not correspond to its essence for three quarters of it – it is psychophysics and psychophysiology. And the new science he wants to call philosophical psychology in order to “revive the real meaning of the term ‘psychology’ and give it back to its legitimate owner after the theft mentioned before, which already cannot be redeemed directly” [ibid., p. 36].
We see the remarkable fact that reflexology, which strives to break with “alchemy,” and philosophy, which wishes to contribute to the resurrection of the rights of psychology in the old, literal and precise meaning of this word, are both looking for a new term and remain nameless. What is even more remarkable is that their motives are identical. Some fear the traces of its materialistic origin in this name, others fear that it lost its old, literal and precise meaning. Can we find a – stylistically – better manifestation of the dualism of contemporary psychology? However, Frank also agrees that natural scientific psychology has stolen the name irredeemably and thoroughly. And we propose that it is the materialistic branch which must call itself psychology. There are two important considerations which speak in favor of this and against the radicalism of the reflexologists. Firstly, it is exactly the materialistic branch which forms the crown of all genuinely scientific tendencies, eras, currents, and authors which are represented in the histozr of our science, i.e., it is indeed psychology according to its very essence. Secondly, by accepting this name, the new psychology does not at all ‘steal’ it, does not distort its meaning, nor does it commit itself to the mythological traces which are preserved in it, but, on the contrary, it retains a vivid historical reminder of its whole development from the very starting point.
Let us start with the second consideration.
Psychology as a science of the soul, in Frank’s sense, in the precise and old sense of the word, does not exist. He himself is forced to ascertain this after he convinced himself with amazement and almost despair that such literature is virtually nonexistent. Further, empirical psychology as a complete science does not exist at all. And what is going on now is at bottom not a revolution, not even a reform of science and not the completion through synthesis of some foreign reform, but the realization of psychology and the liberation of what is capable of growing in science from what is not capable of growth. Empirical psychology itself (incidentally, it will soon be 50 years since the name of this science has not been used at all, since each school adds its own adjective) is as dead as a cocoon left by the butterfly, as an egg deserted by the nestling. James says that
“When, then, we talk of ‘psychology as a natural science’ we must not assume that that means a sort of psychology that stands at last on solid ground. It means just the reverse; it means a psychology particularly fragile, and into which the waters of metaphysical criticism leak at every joint, a psychology all of whose elementary assumptions and data must be reconsidered in wider connections and translated into our tenns. It is, in short, a phrase of diffidence, and not of arrogance; and it is indeed strange to hear people talk of ‘the New Psychology,’ and write ‘Histories of Psychology,’ when into the real elements and forces which the word covers not the first glimpse of clear insight exists. A string of raw facts; a little gossip and wrangle about opinions; a little classification and generalization on the mere descriptive level; a strong prejudice that we have states of mind, and that our brain conditions them: but not a single law in the sense in which physics shows us laws, not a single proposition from which any consequence can causally be deduced. We don’t even know the terms between which the elementary laws would obtain if we had them. This is no science, it is only the hope of a science [see pp. 400-401 of Burkhardt, 1984].”
James gives a brilliant inventory of what we inherit from psychology, a list of its possessions and fortune. It gives us a string of raw facts and the hope of a science.
How are we connected with mythology through this name? Psychology, like physics before Galileo or chemistry before Lavoisier, is not yet a science which may somehow influence the future science. But have the circumstances perhaps fundamentally changed since James wrote this? At the 8th Congress of Experimental Psychology in 1923, Spearman repeated James’ definition and said that psychology was stifi not a science but the hope for a science. One must have a considerable amount of philistine provincialism to represent the matter as Chelpanov did. As if there exist unshakable truths which are accepted by everybody, which have been corroborated over the centuries and which some wish to destroy for no reason at all.
The other consideration is even more serious. In the final analysis we must openly say that psychology does not have two, but only one heir, and that there can be no serious debate about its name. The second psychology is impossible as a science. And we must say with Pavlov that from the scientific viewpoint we consider the position of this psychology to be hopeless. As a real scientist, Pavlov [1928/1963, p. 77] does not ask whether a mental aspect exists, but how we can study it. He says:
How must the physiologist treat these psychical phenomena? It is impossible to neglect them, because they are closely bound up with purely physiological phenomena and determine the work of the whole organ. If the physiologist decides to study them, he must answer the question, How?
Thus, in this division we do not yield a single phenomenon to the other side. We study everything on our path that exists and explain everything that [merely] seems [to exist].
For how many thousands of years has man elaborated psychical facts. ... Millions of pages have been written to describe the internal world of the human being, but with what result? Up to the present we have no laws of the psychic life of man [ibid., p.114].
What is left after the division, will go to the realm of art. Already now Frank [1917/ 1964, p. 16] calls the writers of novels the teachers of psychology. For Dilthey [1894/1977, p. 36] psychology’s task is to catch in the web of its descriptions what is hidden in King Lear, Hamlet, and Macbeth as he saw in them “more psychology than in all the manuals of psychology together.” It is true, Stern laughed maliciously at such a psychology procured from novels and said that you cannot milk a painted cow. But in contrast with his idea and in accordance with Dilthey’s, descriptive psychology is really developing into fiction. The first congress on individual psychology, which regards itself as this second psychology, heard Oppenheim’s paper, who seized in the web of his concepts what Shakespeare gave in images – exactly what Dilthey wanted. The second psychology becomes metaphysics whatever it is called. It is precisely the impossibility of such knowledge as science which determines our choice.
Thus, there is only one heir for the name of our science. But, perhaps, it should decline the heritage? Not at all. We are dialecticians. We do not at all think that the developmental path of science follows a straight line, and if it has had zigzags, returns, and loops we understand their historical significance and consider them to be necessary links in our chain, inevitable stages of our path, just as capitalism is an inevitable stage on the road toward socialism. We have set store by each step which our science has ever made toward the truth. We do not think that our science started with us. We will not concede to anyone Aristotle’s idea of association, nor the theory about the subjective illusions of sensations by him and the skeptics, nor J. Mill’s idea of causality, nor J. S. Mill’s idea of psychological chemistry, nor the “refined materialism” of Spencer which Dilthey [1924, p. 45] viewed not as a “sure foundation, but a danger.” In a word, we will not concede to anyone this whole line of materialism in psychology which the idealists sweep, aside so carefully. We know that they are right in one thing: “The hidden materialism of [Spencerian] explanatory psychology has played a disintegrating role in the economic and political sciences and in criminal law” (ibid., p. 45).
Herbart’s idea of a dynamic and mathematical psychology, the works of Fechner and Helmholtz, Tame’s idea about the motor nature of the mind as well as Binet’s theory of the mental pose or internal mimics, Ribot’s motor theory, the James – Lange peripheral theory of emotions, even the WUrzburg school’s theory of thinking and of attention as activity – in one word, every step toward truth in our science, belongs to us. After all, we did not choose one of the two roads because we liked it, but because we consider it to be the right one.
Consequently, this road encompasses absolutely everything which was scientific in psychology. The attempt itself to study the mind scientifically, the effort of free thought to master the mind, however it became obscured and paralyzed by mythology, i.e., the very idea of a scientific conception of the soul, contains the whole future path of psychology. For science is the path to truth, even if by way of delusion. But this is precisely the road of our science: we struggle, we overcome errors, via incredible complications, in a superhuman fight with age-old prejudices. We do not want to deny our past. We do not suffer from megalomania by thinking that history begins with us. We do not want a brand-new and trivial name from history. We want a name covered by the dust of the centuries. We regard this as our historical right, as an indication of our historical role, our claim to realize psychology as a science. We must view ourselves in connection with and in relation to the past. Even when denying it we rely upon it.
It might be said that in its literal sense this name is not applicable to our science now, as it changes its meaning in every epoch. But be so kind as to mention a single word that has not changed its meaning. Don’t we make a logical mistake when we talk of blue ink or a pilot’s art? But on the other hand we are loyal to another logic – the logic of language. If the geometer even today calls his science with a name which means “measuring the earth,” then the psychologist can refer to his science by a name which once meant “theory of the soul.” Whereas the concept of measuring the earth is now too narrow for geometry, it was once a decisive step forward, to which the whole science owes its existence. Whereas the idea of the soul is now reactionary, it once was the first scientific hypothesis of ancient man, an enormous achievement of thought to which we owe the existence of our science now. Animals probably do not have the idea of the soul, nor do they have psychology. We understand that, historically, psychology had to begin with the idea of the soul. We are as little inclined to view this as simply ignorance and error as we consider slavery to be the result of a bad character. We know that science on its path toward the truth inevitably involves delusions, errors and prejudices. Essential for science is not that these exist, but that they, being errors, nevertheless lead to the truth, that they are overcome. That is why we accept the name of our science with all its age-old delusions as a vivid reminder of our victory over these errors, as the fighting scars of wounds, as a vivid testimony of the truth which develops in the incredibly complicated struggle with falsehood.
All sciences essentially proceed this way. Do the builders of the future really start from scratch, aren’t they those who complete and follow all that is genuine in human experience? Do they really not have allies and forebears in the past? Let us be shown but a single word, a single scientific name, which can be applied in a literal sense. Or do mathematics, philosophy, dialectics and metaphysics signify what they once signified? Let it not be said that two branches of knowledge about a single object must absolutely carry the same name. Let logic and the psychology of thinking be remembered. Sciences are not classified and named according to their object of study, but according to the principles and goals of the study. Does Marxism really not want to know its ancestors in philosophy? Only unhistorical and uncreative minds are inventive with respect to new names and sciences. Such ideas do not become Marxism. Chelpanov comes with the information that during the French revolution the term “psychology” was replaced by the term “ideology,” since for that era psychology was the science about the soul. But ideology formed part of zoology and was divided into physiological and rational ideology. This is correct, but what incalculable harm results from such unhistorical word usage can be seen from the difficulty which we now have in deciphering different loci about ideology in Marx’s texts, how ambiguous this term sounds. It gives occasion to such “investigators” as Chelpanov to claim that for Marx ideology signified psychology. This terminological reform is partly responsible for the fact that the role and meaning of the older psychology is undervalued in the history of our science. And finally, it leads to a clear rupture with its genuine descendants, it severs the vivid line of unity. Chelpanov, who declared (1924, p. 27) that psychology has nothing in common with physiology, now vows for the Great Revolution. Psychology has always been physiological and “contemporary scientific psychology is the child of the psychology of the French revolution.” Only extreme ignorance or the expectation that others would be so ignorant can have dictated these phrases. Whose contemporary psychology? Mill’s or Spencer’s, Bain’s or Ribot’s? Correct. But that of Dilthey and Husserl, Bergson and James, MUnsterberg and Stout, Meinong and Lipps, Frank and Chelpanov? Can there be a bigger untruth? After all, all of these builders of the new psychology advanced another system as the foundation of science, a system which was hostile to Mill and Spencer, Bain, and Ribot. The same name which Chelpanov uses as a shelter they slighted “like a dead dog.” But Chelpanov shelters behind names which are foreign and hostile to him and speculates on the ambiguity of the term “contemporary psychology.” Yes, in contemporary psychology there is a branch which can regard itself as the child of revolutionary psychology. But during his entire life (and today) Chelpanov has done nothing but attempt to chase this branch into a dark corner of science, to separate it from psychology.
But once again: bow dangerous is a common name and how unhistorically did the psychologists of France act who betrayed it!
This name was first introduced into science in 1590 by Goclenius, professor in Marburg, and accepted by his student Casmann in 1594. It was not introduced by Christian Wolff around the mid-eighteenth century and is not found for the first time in Melanchthon, as is usually incorrectly thought. It is mentioned by Ivanovsky as a name to indicate part of anthropology, which together with somatology formed one science. That this term is ascribed to Melanchthon is based on the preface of the publisher to the 13th volume of his writings, in which Melanchthon is incorrectly indicated as the first author of psychology. This name was quite rightly retained by Lange, the author of the psychology without a soul. But isn’t psychology called the theory of the soul?, he asks. How can we conceive of a science which doubts whether it has a subject matter to study at all? However, he found it pedantic and unpractical to throw away the traditional name once the subject matter of the science had changed, and called for the unwavering acceptance of a psychology without a soul.
The endless fuss about psychology’s name started precisely with Lange’s
reform. This name, taken in itself, ceased to mean anything. Each time one had
to add: “without a soul,” “without any metaphysics,” “based
on experience,” “from an empirical viewpoint,” etc. Psychology
per se ceased to exist. Here resided Lange’s mistake. Having accepted the
old name he did not embrace it fully, completely, did not distinguish, separate
it from tradition. Once psychology is without a soul, then with a soul we do
not have psychology, but something else. But here, of course, he did not so
much lack good intentions, as strength. The time was not yet ripe for a division.
We, too, must now face this terminological matter which belongs to the theme of the division into two sciences.
How will we call natural scientific psychology? It is now often called objective, new, Marxist, scientific, the science of behavior. Of course, we will reserve the name psychology for it. But what kind of psychology? How do we distinguish it from every other system of knowledge which uses the same name? We only have to sum up a small part of the definitions which are now being applied to psychology in order to see that there is no logical unity at the basis of these divisions. Sometimes the epithet designates the school of behaviorism, sometimes Gestalt psychology; sometimes the method of experimental psychology, psychoanalysis; sometimes the principle of construction (eidetic, analytical, descriptive, empirical); sometimes the subject matter of the science (functional, structural, actual, intentional); sometimes the area of investigation (Individualpsychologie); sometimes the world view (personalism, Marxism, spiritualism, materialism); sometimes many things (subjective-objective, constructive-reconstructive, physiological, biological, associative, dialectical, etc. etc.). On top of that one talks about historical and understanding, explanatory and intuitive, scientific (Blonsky) and “scientific” (used by the idealists in the sense of natural-scientific) psychology.
What does the word “psychology” signify after this? Stout [1909, p. ix] says that “The time is rapidly approaching when no one will think of writing a book on Psychology in general, anymore than of writing a book on Mathematics in general.” All terms are unstable, they do not logically exclude each other, are not well-defined, are vague and obscure, ambiguous, accidental, and refer to secondary features, which not only does not facilitate the understanding, but hampers it. Wundt called his psychology “physiological,” but later be repented and regarded this as an error and reasoned that the same work should be called “experimental.” This illustrates best how little all these terms mean. For some, “experimental” is a synonym for “scientific,” for others, it is only the designation of a method. We will only point out the epithets which are most widely used in psychology, considered in the light of Marxism.
I consider it inexpedient to call it “objective.” Chelpanov correctly pointed out that in foreign psychology this term is used in most diverse senses. In Russia as well it engendered many ambiguities and furthered confusion in the epistemological and methodological problem of mind and matter. The term promoted the confusion of method as a technical procedure and as a method of knowledge. This resulted in the treatment of the dialectical method alongside the survey method as equally objective, and in the conviction that the natural sciences have done away with all use of subjective indicators, subjective (in their genesis) concepts and divisions. The term “objective” is often vulgarized and equated with “truthful,” while the term “subjective” is equated with “false” (the influence of the common use of these words). Further, it does not express the crux of the matter at all. It expresses the essence of the reform only in a conditional sense and concerning one aspect. Finally, a psychology which also wishes to be a theory about the subjective or also wishes to explain the subjective on its paths, must not falsely call itself “objective.”
It would also be incorrect to call our science “the psychology of behavior.” Apart from the fact that this new epithet, like the preceding one, does not distinguish us from quite a number of currents and, therefore, does not reach its goal; apart from the fact that it is false, for the new psychology wants to know the mind as well; it is a philistine, everyday term, which is why it attracted the Americans. When Watson equates “the concept of personality in the science of behavior and in common sense” (1926, p. 355), when he sets himself the task of creating a science so that the “ordinary man” “who takes up the science of behavior would not feel a change of method or some change of the object” (ibid., p. ix); a science which among its problems also has the following one: “Why George Smith left his wife” (ibid., p. 5); a science which begins with the exposition of everyday methods; which cannot formulate the difference between them and scientific methods and views the whole difference in the study of those cases which are of no interest for everyday life, which do not interest common sense – then the term “behavior” is the most appropriate one. But if we become convinced, as will be shown below, that it is logically untenable and does not provide a criterion by which we might decide why the peristalsis of the intestine, the excretion of urine, and inflammation should be excluded from the science; that it is ambiguous and undefined and means very different things for Blonsky and Pavlov, Watson and Koffica; then we will not hesitate to throw it away.
I would, further, consider it incorrect to define psychology as “Marxist.” I have already said that it is unacceptable to write textbooks from the viewpoint of dialectical materialism (Struminsky, 1923; Kornilov, 1925); but also “Outline of Marxist Psychology,” as Rejsner translated the title of Jameson’s booklet , I regard as improper word usage. Even such word combinations as “reflexology and Marxism,” when one is dealing with different concrete currents within physiology, I consider to be incorrect and risky. Not because I doubt the possibility of such an evaluation, but because one takes incommensurable quantities, because the intermediate terms which alone make such an evaluation possible are missing. The scale is lost and distorted. After all, the author passes judgment upon the whole of reflexology not from the viewpoint of the whole of Marxism, but on the basis of different pronouncements by different groups of Marxists-psychologists. It would not be correct, for instance, to raise the problem of the district soviet and Marxism, although the theory of Marxism has undoubtedly no fewer resources to shed light upon the question of the district soviet than upon reflexology and although the district soviet is a directly Marxist idea which is logically connected with the entire whole. And nevertheless we make use of other scales, we utilize intermediate, more concrete and less universal concepts. We talk about the Soviet power and the district soviet, about the dictatorship of the proletariat and the district soviet, about class struggle and the district soviet. Not everything which is connected with Marxism should be called Marxist. Often this goes without saying. When we add to this that what psychologists usually appeal to in Marxism is dialectical materialism, i.e., its most universal and generalized part, then the disparity of the scales becomes still clearer.
Finally, there is a special difficulty in the application of Marxism to new areas. The present concrete state of this theory, the enormous responsibility in using this term, the politiôal and ideological speculation with it – all this prevents good taste from saying “Marxist psychology” now. We had better let others say of our psychology that it is Marxist than call it that ourselves. We put it into practice and wait a little with the term. In the final analysis, Marxist psychology does not yet exist. It must be understood as a historical goal, not as something already given. And in the contemporary state of affairs it is difficult to get rid of the impression that this name is used in an unserious and irresponsible manner.
An argument against its use is also the circumstance that a synthesis between psychology and Marxism is being accomplished by more than one school and that this name can easily give rise to confusion in Europe. Not many people know that Adler’s individual psychology links itself to Marxism. In order to understand what kind of psychology this is, we should remember its methodological foundations. When it argued its right to be a science it referred to Rickert, who says that the word “psychology” applied by the natural-scientist and the historian has two different meanings and therefore distinguishes natural-scientific and historical psychology. If one would not do this, then the psychology of the historian and the poet could not be called psychology, because it has nothing in common with psychology. And the theorists of the new school assumed that Rickert’s historical psychology and individual psychology were one and the same thing [cf. Binswanger, 1922, p. 333].
Psychology has been divided into two parts and the debate is only about the name and the theoretical possibility of the new independent branch. Psychology is impossible as a natural science, the individual factor cannot be subsumed under any law; it does not want to explain, but to understand (ibid.). This division was introduced into psychology by Jaspers, but by understanding psychology he meant Husserl’s phenomenology. As the basis of any psychology it is very important, even irreplaceable, but it is not itself and does not want to be, individual psychology. Understanding psychology can only proceed from teleology. Stern founded such a psychology; personalism is but another name for understanding psychology. But he attempts to study the personality in differential psychology with the means of experimental psychology, of the natural sciences: both explanation and understanding remain equally unsatisfactory. Only intuition and not discursive-causal thinking can lead to the goal. The title “philosophy of the ego” it considers to be honorary. It is no psychology at all, but philosophy, and wishes to be so. And such a psychology, about whose nature there can be no doubt, refers in its constructions, for example in the theory of mass psychology, to Marxism, to the theory of the base and superstructure, as to its natural foundation. In social psychology it has yielded the hitherto best and most interesting project of a synthesis of Marxism and individual psychology in the theory of class struggle: Marxism and individual psychology must and are called upon to extend and impregnate each other. The Hegelian triad is applicable to both mental life and economics (just as in Russia). This project evoked an interesting polemic which showed in the defense of this idea a sound, critical and – in a number of questions – entirely Marxist approach. While Marx taught us to understand the economic foundations of the class struggle, Adler did the same for its psychological foundations.
This not only illustrates the entire complexity of the current situation in psychology, where the most unexpected and paradoxical combinations are possible, but also the danger of this epithet (incidentally, talking about paradoxes: this very psychology contests Russian reflexology’s right to a theory of relativity). When the eclectic and unprincipled, superficial and semi-scientific theory of Jameson is called Marxist psychology, when also the majority of the influential Gestalt psychologists regard themselves as Marxists in their scientific work, then this name loses precision with respect to the beginning psychological schools which have not yet won the right to “Marxism.” I remember how extremely amazed I was when I realized this during an informal conversation. I had the following conversation with one of the most educated psychologists:
“What kind of psychology do you have in Russia? That you are Marxists does not yet tell what kind of psychologists you are. Knowing of Freud’s popularity in Russia, I at first thought of the Adlerians. After all, these are also Marxists. But you have a totally different psychology. We are also social-democrats and Marxists, but at the same time we are Darwinists and followers of Copernicus as well.”
I am convinced that he was right because of one, in my view decisive, consideration. After all, we would indeed not call our biology “Darwinian.” This is included in the concept of science itself. It implies the acceptance of all great conceptions. A Marxist historian would never use the title “A Marxist History of Russia.” He would regard this as self-evident. “Marxist” is for him synonymous with “truthful” and “scientific.” Another history than a Marxist one he does not acknowledge. And for us it should be the same. Our science will become Marxist to the degree that it becomes truthful and scientific. And we will work precisely on making it truthful and to make it agree with Marx’s theory. According to the very meaning of the word and the essence of the matter we cannot use “Marxist psychology” in the sense we use associative, experimental, empirical, or eidetic psychology. Marxist psychology is not a school amidst schools, but the only genuine psychology as a science. A psychology other than this cannot exist. And the other way around: everything that was and is genuinely scientific belongs to Marxist psychology. This concept is broader than the concept of school or even current. It coincides with the concept scientific per se, no matter where and by whom it may have been developed.
Blonsky (1921) uses the term “scientific psychology” in this sense. And he is entirely right. What we wanted to do, the meaning of our reform, the crux of our divergence with the empiricists, the basic character of our science, our goal and the size of our task, its content and the method of its fulfillment – is all expressed by this epithet. It would fully satisfy me if only it were not unnecessary. Expressed in its most correct form it clearly revealed that it cannot express anything more than is already contained in the word it predicates. After all, “psychology” is the name of a science and not of a theater piece or a movie. It cannot be anything other than scientific. Nobody would call the description of the sky in a novel “astronomy.” The name “psychology” is as little suited for the description of the thoughts of Raskol’nikov or the ravings of Lady Macbeth. Whatever describes the mind in a nonscientific way is not psychology, but something else – whatever you like: advertising, review, chronicle, fiction, lyric poetry, philosophy, philistinism, gossip and a thousand other things besides. After all, the epithet “scientific” is not only applicable to Blonsky’s outline, but also to Muller’s investigations of memory, Kohler’s experiments with apes, Weber – Fechner’s theory about thresholds, Groos’ theory of play, Thomdike’s theory of training, Aristotle’s association theory, i.e., to everything in history and contemporaneity which belongs to science. I would be prepared to argue that theories which are known to be incorrect, which have been falsified or are doubtful, can also be scientific, for being scientific is not the same as being valid. A ticket for the theater can be absolutely valid and nonscientific. Herbart’s theory about feelings as the relations between ideas is absolutely false, but equally absolutely scientific. The goal and means determine whether a theory is scientific and no other factors. That is why to say “scientific psychology” is equal to saying nothing or, more correctly, to saying simply “psychology.”
It remains for us to accept this name. It perfectly well stresses what we want – the size and the content of our task. And it does not reside in the creation of a school next to other schools; it does not cover some part or aspect, or problem, or method of interpretation of psychology alongside analogous parts, schools, etc. We are talking about all of psychology, in its full capacity; about the only psychology which does not admit of another one. We are talking about the realization of psychology as a science.
That is why we will simply say: psychology. We will do better to explain other currents and schools with epithets and to distinguish what is scientific from what is nonscientific in them, psychology from empiism, from theology, from eidos and from everything which has stuck to it in the centuries of its existence as to the side of an ocean-going ship.Epithets we need for other things: for the systematic, consistently logical methodological division of disciplines within psychology. Thus, we will speak about general and child psychology, zoo- and patbopsychology, differential and comparative psychology. Psychology will be the common name for an entire family of sciences.
After all, our task is not at all to isolate our work from the general psychological work of the past, but to unite our work with all the scientific achievements of psychology into one whole, and on a new basis. We do not want to distinguish our school from science, but science from nonscience, psychology from nonpsychology. The psychology about which we are talking does not yet exist. It still has to be created – and by more than one school. Many generations of psychologists will still work on it, as James said [see p. 401 of Burkhardt, 1984]. Psychology will have its geniuses and its ordinary investigators. But what will emerge from the joint work of the generations, of both the geniuses and the simple skilled workmen of science, will be psychology. With this name our science will enter the new society on the threshold of which it begins to take shape. Our science could not and cannot develop in the old society. We cannot master the truth about personality and personality itself so long as mankind has not mastered the truth about society and society itself. In contrast, in the new society our science will take a central place in life. “The leap from the kingdom of necessity into the kingdom of freedom”  inevitably puts the question of the mastery of our own being, of its subjection to the self, on the agenda. In this sense Pavlov is right when he calls our science the last science about man himself. It will indeed be the last science in the historical or prehistorical period of mankind. The new society will create the new man. When one mentions the remolding of man as an indisputable trait of the new mankind and the artificial creation of a new biological type, then this will be the only and first species in biology which will create itself ...
In the future society, psychology will indeed be the science of the new man. Without this the perspective of Marxism and the history of science would not be complete. But this science of the new man will still remain psychology. Now we hold its thread in our hands. There is no necessity for this psychology to correspond as little to the present one as – in the words of Spinoza [1677/1955, p. 61] – the constellation Dog corresponds to a dog, a barking animal.