This presentation is part of the “Imagination and Creativity in Vygotsky’s Works” seminar series. The writings of L.S. Vygotsky continue to be a source of new ideas (inspiration) for people from many different disciplines, nearly ninety years after his death. This video seminar allows a real time, ongoing, exchange of ideas among people interested in Vygotsky’s writings on imagination and creativity. In keeping with the spirit of cultural praxis, this format allows for an ongoing scholarly discourse among an international community who are participants (rather than an audience). The reading for this session was “The Imagination and International Relations,” co-authored by Caitlin Sparks, Shannon Brincat, and Tim Aistrope (2022), just published in International Studies Quarterly 66(3).
Abstract: The imagination is at the heart of what it means to be human. For this reason, it has been the subject of close examination across time and locale. Yet, while international relations (IR) researchers often mobilize the term rhetorically, its character and operations remain underconceptualized in the discipline and disconnected from the rich literatures that explore this vital faculty. This article identifies a commonsense account of the imagination in IR’s most pervasive discourse on order and anarchy. Taking its cues from the Hobbesian tradition, here a distinctly monological imagination is fearful and pessimistic, rooted in the overriding dread of a sudden and violent death. We draw out its underlying assumptions by foregrounding the deliberate, systematic, and sustained construction of the imagination in Hobbes’ Leviathan, where it acts as a crucial and animating impetus for the Hobbesian subject, including in the oft-analogized “state of nature” scenario. We argue that this Hobbesian imagination has been superseded by a multidisciplinary contemporary scholarship that presents a markedly different view. Anyone thinking seriously about the imagination today should disagree with the Hobbesian account, reconsider theories of international relations predicated on it, and explore the political possibilities entailed in other approaches.
[…] Shannon Brincat, “Imagination and International Relations” (Tuesday, October 18, 9am Pacific Time). The reading for this session is “The Imagination and […]
On Tuesday Nov 15th Gillian will do a presentation on Vivian Paley’s use of
‘story telling/story acting’ with preschoolers. In addition to Mollie is 3, we are reading
an article by Ageliki Nicolopoulou et,al that provides another fascinating case study
that of a young girl named Destiny. (PDF) Using the Transformative Power of Play to Educate …https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233150814..There are connections that can be made with Vygotsky’s writings, and implications for
how imagination can contribute to international relations. Just as important, as Henry
points out, how imagination can contribute to community relations.
A major question that I came away with was that in reaching the scale of global conflict I believe you come back to the key Vygotskian notion that human will is the ability to control yourself from the outside, upside down.
Here is what I mean: For the developing child we can say that there is an “outside,” by means of which they acquire self control. However, in matters concerning the course of our own bio/Social- cultural/Historical development/reproduction, there is no “top down” process that pre-exists our species. The global outside is a necessary fiction, by means of which we justify the necessity killing each other. Luria’s first book, written he was still a member of the Soviet Freudian group, is non-coincidently dedicated to the concept of will and the problem of how one knows other minds.
Which leaves us with Lenin’s question: What is to be done?
A very interesting point Mike. We did make this argument as the basis for an attempt to enrich an ethical standpoint in world politics – a better way to “control yourself” as you put it. Which of Luria’s works are you referring to?
If it works, I attach a review of Luria’s Nature of Human Conflicts.
Can you point me to the ethical standpoint in world politics you refer to.
I wonder if the argument you make for world politics is isomorphic to the
argument for the ethics of interpersonal interaction.
It turns out that I did not have a copy of my summary of Luria 1932.I will get it posted on luria.ucsd.edu as soon as possible. Meantime, you can google it at “New Vodka in New Bottle”
A copy of the book is at marxists .org Again, google title. Here is one of my favorite passages from the book.
Many observations support our view that the consideration of the voluntary act as accomplished by “will-power” is a myth, and that the human cannot by direct force control his behaviour anymore than “a shadow can carry stones.” The development of the voluntary processes comes about as a result of the elaboration of the various forms of behaviour, the mobilisation of the QuasiBedurjnisse to achieve his ends. Voluntary behaviour is the ability to create stimuli and to subordinate them; or in other words, to bring into being stimuli of a special order, directed to the organisation of behaviour.
I get the notion of “outside” influences on development. It seems Vygotskian theory gets us a long way into understanding how we negotiate zpds sometimes more successfully than others. The “upside down” part of learning to control ourselves intrigues me. Who has control, grabs it and gets it is no fiction. Its the checks and balances in group/community/social dynamics that gets way out of control (except in well run classrooms with young children!). I look forward to discussing these ideas in relation to Vivian Paley’s classrooms.
In emails with Francine, she is planning for us to discuss pretend play and imagination using “Mollie is 3” by Vivian Paley in November. To seed the ground for that discussion given my comment on upside down development and control, In Mollie is 3, page 119, Vivian says, “”The issue seems to be control. What does it look like, who has it, and how far can one’s imagination carry it?” I can’t wait to hear what we come up with in looking at the world through the eyes of 3 and 4 year olds figuring this out.
Gil- Unless we posit a God who is pulling the strings, there is not teacher in evolution so a discipline such as IR must rely on people who claim to be more capable peers.Spooky!
I got the notification. Thanks.
So now, Henry, you should get a notification that I have responded to you, and Gil and Shannon should get such a notification, too., There are four of us so far.
So, to the issue, Henry What about self control can we learn from the preschool that will help us think about international peace and comity?
Funny you should ask. I have joined the council of a local community elementary school in my community (the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, 6000 residents). I think they are considering adding preschool. I will be connecting with the instructional council, the parent teacher organization and the student council (3rd-5th grade students!). A community school provides social services for parents and students. Community schools are new to me. The mission is that the school becomes a narrative of social justice that teaches the adults how to behave. 🙂