SCIENTIFIC AND SOCIO-CULTURAL ROLE OF REFLEXIVE MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA
Round Table Discussion, March 5, 2001
Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Initiated by the Editorial Board of our journal, the Round Table marked the birth of the new monthly interdisciplinary workshop “Reflexive Processes and Control”, whose work shall be regularly highlighted for our readers. Over 70 researchers (psychologists, philosophers, sociologists, political science experts, mathematicians, managers, etc.) contributed to a vast diversity of theoretical representations considered at its proceedings. We would appreciate any suggestions regarding possible improvements in the way the seminar is organized.
V. E. Lepsky (RAS Institute of Psychology) Problems dealing with the scientific domain of reason are of strategic importance, for both academic research and practical applications. From a practical viewpoint, the focus of the research on reasoning will introduce the concept of “subjectivity” as a characteristic feature of social systems of control and development, and elaborate fundamentally new technologies to support the subjects (individual or corporate) of activity, with the concurrent substitution of the dominant intellectual, (reasoning-related) and other abilities.
The broad application of this approach is undoubtedly based on some original ideas of V.A.Lefebvre, initially developed to meet the needs of major military projects. This necessitated the creation of a methodology that would allow interdisciplinary research during the modeling of various conflicts and the search for invariant methods of modeling conflicts. Lefebvre’s principal achievement is that he took the notion of reasoning out of the area of philosophy, which was highly ideologized at that time, to apply it in the field of general systemic research. That was mostly due to the introduction of the term “reflexion system”. Thus the “reflexive” approach appeared, and the instrumental facilities abundantly created within its framework were validated through scientific discussions and experimental and practical work. The scientific establishment was at that time reluctant to accept many of Lefebvre’s ideas. The reason had to do with the overall supremacy of the natural-science approach, which dominated research in the area of controlling complex systems. Traditional technologies relied on the functional methodologies used as the foundation of the “operations research”. By contrast, Lefebvre’s ideas were based on structural-functional approach.
Today, the situation has radically changed. The apparent crisis of the approaches traditionally used to design and control complicated, multicomponent systems (social systems, first of all) has become generally recognized.
The time has come for the reflexive approach to establish itself as a new priority.
Considering the great impact the reflexive approach has increasingly had on psychology in recent years, we should emphasize that this has primarily been prompted by the development of the subjectival-activitistic approach. In this respect, we must mention the influence of the seminal writings of S.L. Rubinstein and the principal orientation of the Institute of Psychology, RAS (A.V. Brushlinsky and some others) on the development of the subjectival- activitistic approach.
Many an example may be cited to show the increased role of the reflexive approach in the integration of humanities with natural sciences notably, synergetics (S.P. Kurdyumov, G.G. Malinetsky, and others) a new and promising trend of integration of different scientific contexts; some new ideas and technologies enabling scholars and ´mathematiciansª to join their efforts; mathematical visualization of reflexions (A.A. Zenkin); autological modeling of complicated systems (Yu.P. Shankin); and synthesis of different scientific fields versus logical inference generation procedures (D.A. Pospelov, V.K. Finn, T.A. Taran).
Special mention should be made of breakthrough areas in the practical application of the reflexive approach: these primarily involve problems of supporting business management in computerized environments (the subject-oriented concept of V.E. Lepsky and studies by V.I. Maksimov, E.G. Grigoryev, I.P. Beliayev, and others), and to education procurement (as presented by the Davydov school, works by V.V. Rubtsov and I.N. Semionov, analysts of G.P. Schedrovitsky’s and of some other schools of thought).
In recent years reflexion-related terminology and methods of reflexive analysis have been increasingly used in psychotherapy (V.A. Petrovsky, V.M. Rozin, and some others), ecological psychology (V.I. Panov and others), and information (informational psychological) security to reveal the negative manifestations of political PR-campaigns, totalitarian sects and the mass media (V.E. Lepsky, A.M. Stepanov, and some others). Works dealing with problems related to the controlling and developing of society are characterized by the much wider use of the reflexive approach in the creation of new models of strategic management, team functioning, etc. than ever before (see, for example, organization-activity games by G.P. Schedrovitsky and his followers; O.S. Anisimov’s approach to strategic thinking and strategic management; and the views postulated by V.E. Lepsky and A.N. Raikov on “strategic congresses”).
The fact that the Round Table was attended by scholars representing a wide variety of scientific fields and schools shows that the ideas submitted for discussion are supported by the advent of new reality.
A.V. Brushlinsky (RAS Institute of Psychology) First of all, I would like to discuss such aspects of the problem under consideration as reflexion and reflexive processes and control, as revealed in the course of the Institute’s theoretical and empirical research. They will be presented primarily from the psychological and, to some extent, philosophical viewpoint.
In his opening address, V. E. Lepsky pointed out that there are many scientific schools and concepts that study, analyze, consider, criticize, and accept various aspects of reflexion, reflexive processes, and the related problem of control.
In psychology, reflexion is considered as an integral part of consciousness, thus it serves as constituent of fundamental importance; moreover, it can, in some measure, be regarded as the highest level consciousness can attain in the course of its development. In this capacity reflexion, in its various interpretations, has been widely used in psychotherapy both in this country and abroad.
As regards the psychological and philosophical concepts proper, I would single out the subjectival-activitistic theory touched briefly on by V.E. Lepsky. This concept stems from the studies of S.L. Rubinschtein and his pupils and followers. As regards G.P. Schedrovitsky, he and his numerous followers laid claim to having elaborated a specific scientific discipline but he never considered himself a “pure” psychologist, being more of a logician or methodologist.
I.N. Semyonov and his staffers and many other researchers have been working hard in psychology. Much consideration is given to reflexion in the writings of V.V. Davydov and his team and in the work of the RAS Institute of Psychology as a whole.
A theme or, perhaps, the theme of primary importance to the Institute is that of the psychology of the subject. From my point of view, no subject can come into existence by any means other than a combination of such specific properties as activeness, integrity, and self-sufficiency. No one can be born a subject; one can only evolve into being it. Any individual or a group of individuals can become a subject, as , sooner or later, humanity as a whole will do through the formation of common interests, objectives, and tasks.
Activeness is the measure of the highest level of the activity of the subject. Neither the subject nor his activities can exist without consciousness and reflexion, thus making all constituents of this system of relationship inseparably inter-connected. By the example of, first and foremost, cognition and its particular component of psychology of thinking, two aspects of reflexion can be seen explored in the most systematic and distinct manner, these are the individual and “procedural” ones.
Personality approach should be identified as part of a broader ñ subjectival ñ one. It is of crucial importance as far as a human being is concerned.
Essentially, it directly concerns human motivation and capabilities, including the intellectual ones. And where there is a motivation there must be a goal. Generally speaking, anything within the realm of the conscious entails issues related to motivation, capabilities, reflexion, etc.
The individual aspect of thinking manifests itself mostly at the level of consciousness, first of all, at the level of reflexion. As distinct from the individual aspect, the procedural one primarily reveals itself at the level of the unconscious. I place emphasis on this circumstance to spell out once again that the conscious can never be present unless it is accompanied by the unconscious, which is especially true for reflexion. Having no reason, that is the ability to reflect, animals do not have the unconscious.
Animals have nothing but psychics. When a human being is born, he initially manifests himself with the simplest psychical reactions, which in time differentiate into the conscious (specifically, reflexion) and the unconscious. As mentioned above, where there is reason there is the unconscious, and, therefore, where there is reflexion there is the unconscious. And, conversely, wherever the unconscious may exist, there is reflexion and the underlying conscious. Thus, this dual category of the conscious (in particular, reflexion) and the unconscious is extremely important for a proper understanding of the subject and his actions. Since reasoning is an inseparable unity of the conscious and the unconscious, intuition is also essential at the level of the unconscious. I emphasize my disagreement with a number of works on reflexion that regrettably overstate the role of reflexion and understate that of intuition as well as of the unconscious in general. In broader terms this implies the understatement of the role of activity: if there is no activity, there is no reflexion, even in its most primitive form, or the conscious in general.
We have studied the problem of intuition in experimental work (conducted together with Ms. Senguziyeva, a post-graduate student) to show how reflexion, as interaction of the conscious and the unconscious, is generated and developed. Thus, although it is in a sense limited to the conscious, the very process of making an inference or opening a new property or aspect lies largely within the domain of intuition, and, therefore, of the unconscious, while reflexion, which is only minimally present up to that point, will be fully involved at the subsequent stages.
Let us also mention the area of artificial intelligence, where spectacular results have been achieved: it will suffice to mention the chess-playing software that defeated Garry Kasparov. In his comments published on the Web, Kasparov explained the reasons of his failure. Human mentality during a chess game, he said, is characterized by the utmost flexibility, mobility, and variability. These are the immanent characteristics of any procedure, and since reasoning is a process, it is also characterized by the utmost flexibility, plasticity and variability, whereas software, sophisticated as it may be, will never match the flexibility of reasoning displayed by a human being and is, therefore, less mobile. So Kasparov built his strategy on the conviction that the intellectual capacity of a computer is insufficiently flexible and plastic. So, when at the most decisive moment of the game, the computer made a move that came as a complete surprise, Kasparov decided that some human chess players had secretly intervened and taken the computer to a new level of game. Although debatable in terms of possible causes of the defeat, this explanation gives a correct picture of the relationship between artificial intelligence and a human being.
I regard the understatement and overstatement of reflexion as equally negative. While the very fact of having this seminar proves that reflexion is not likely to be understated, one must be careful not to overstate it, thus moving from one extreme to the other and disregarding the unconscious, first of all, the activities carried out by a subject. Avoiding these extremes, we can achieve tangible results in our further research into the problems of reflexion.
V.I.Panov (Institute of Psychology, RAE) First of all, reflexion, at least as it is presented in the research done by our Institute, is distinguished as a principle of cognition and a principle of development. Second, reflexion always presupposes the splitting or disintegration of one’s self. This self-disintegration makes it possible to build a relationship with my own self as with another person and thus create another form of my being as another form of the self-existence of certain universal principles, say, of thinking, whose carrier I am as subject of reflexive act.
What areas of psychology are studied by the Institute with the use of reflexion as a method of analysis and what are the subjects of this study ? That reflexion is a method of thinking is self-evident. We know the position concerning the empirical type of generalization as defined by Menchinskaya and the theoretical type of generalization stated by V.V. Davydov. However, not all researchers fully appreciate the contribution made by Davydov, who not only changed the subject matter of teaching but introduced thinking as the subject matter according to the theoretical type of generalization.
In this case the attitude of a teacher changes fundamentally: the teacher can no longer afford the subject-to-object pattern of the traditional way of teaching, when teaching is defined as a transfer of the cultural-historical methods of human activity from person to person or from generation to generation. It is not a transfer of readily available knowledge from one, less active, subject to another who accepts or rejects this knowledge according to his capacity. The teacher is no longer a subject who relays knowledge but a subject who organizes activities shared among the students or among the students and himself or carried out individually. Consequently, the type of interaction changes into subject-to-subject pattern since, as above-mentioned, wherever a subject appears, reflexion appears as well.
The teacher has to split the situation of societal-cognitive interaction to identify what may be liable to comprehension, and to determine the means required to provide this comprehension. But it may eventually turn out to be insufficient. You can often hear: “We adhere to the person-oriented form of teaching, we practice the subject-to-subject type of interaction”. As a joke goes, a professor, tired of giving the same lecture over and over again, brought a player, turned it on, and left the room. When he showed up for the next lecture, the room was empty with a tape recorder sitting on each student’s desk. This is how the object-to-object type of tuition operates.
Therefore, there is little point in involving any of the types of interaction ñ object-to-object or subject-to-object or subject-to-subject. One should add one more type, the subject-generating. For, as is obvious according to Davydov, there is not only a necessity for subjects to interact, but also a necessity for a joint subject to make a joint effort in the inter-subject relation space in order for interaction to occur. This is equally true for any team, be it a soccer team or a presidential team.
This reflexive approach has been applied by the Institute of Psychology to inquire, primarily, into the psychological mechanisms of teaching, which has prompted a logical chain: traditional teaching aimed at developing the learning process in which the subject matter of learning ceases being an end and becomes a means to develop the pupil’s ability to study or engage in any other activity. Now we have advanced even further: there appears the notion of an education that develops pupil’s abilities. Such education not simply provides a method or creates a situation of interaction, it provides conditions necessary for the creative nature of one’s mental development to reveal itself through, as an instance, educational situations. The reflexive approach has been also applied to environmental psychology, that is reflexion as the principle of integration based upon some general foundations. It incorporates certain branches of psychological ecology, psychology of environment, extreme psychology, and environmentally- conscious psychology. Essentially, this block of knowledge has been systematized and integrated by us as a relationship between humans and the environment and between the social and natural environments. Here, again, we see the same structure: the subject of environmental psychology will vary depending on the type of interaction ñ object-to-object, subject-to-object, subject-to-subject, or subject-generating.
Another area is talent as a reality, realized or unrealized. This requires the introduction of another block in the analysis needed to verify the underlying assumption of a subject being talented. Finally, we come to the most important block of analysis, the one involving the reflexive approach, the determination of psychics as the object and the subject of exploration.
G.P.Smolian (RAS Institute of System Analysis) My vision of Lefebvre’s achievements is different from what was described by V.E. Lepsky. That was the reason why this summary was entitled “Some Notes, Subjective As They Are, on the Margins of an Unwritten History of the Reflexive Movement”, for I am not quite aware of what the so-called reflexive movement is, and, therefore, adopt this term conditionally. I’ll start with citing some aphorisms by Nietzsche and will address the Talmud in the end.
Aphorism One: “What is originality? The ability to see what has not been named yet, what cannot be named yet, though it is in everyone’s view. Humans routinely take notice of a thing only when they know its name. Eccentric people usually belong to those who give names to things”.
Aphorism Two: “The more signs a man devises, the deeper his self-consciousness”.
Both V.A. Lefebvre and G.P. Shchedrovitsky have fitted into the definition offered by Nietzsche, since they have attached names to things that had been unnamed. For objectivity’s sake I should note that Shchedrovitsky did this after Levebvre, when he searched for the way out of the “blind alleys” of the informal logic he was developing.
Shchedrovitsky used his own graphical language to depict reflexive processes in the broadest context of thinking and explained mostly his methodological approach. Lefebvre devised a language to describe separate objects and actions these objects are subjected to (reflexive games, reflexive control), even though he chose to call them “subjects” in order to conveniently incorporate them into the context of reflexive control or a reflexive game. Odd though it may seem, he was largely a carrier of cybernetic rather than psychological thinking with its notions of “black box”, “system”, “control”, “function”, “model”, etc. They both were remarkably good at drawing squares, ovals, and circlets with a manikin inside (although those drawn by Lefebvre looked more dynamic).
Having received names, fragments of knowledge become “frozen” and “inviolable”, to quote from De Bono. And we have to consider the world built of names like of bricks which have to be “broken into” to be explored in order to make it easier for us to understand the whole. As follows from his work on the underlying logic of reflexive games and reflexive management, Lefebvre found in the late 1960s an elegant method of “breaking into” reflexive structures in order to explore them. He contrived a very simple device to formally present and depict them and showed a wide range of applications of these images and depictions.
Apart from some ideas, trivial as they are, borrowed from the operations research to designate actions performed by subjects during a reflexive process, Lefebvre found a method to present the essence of this process in a more precise way by arranging several mirrors opposite one another. Thus, he evidenced the objective necessity of not only giving “reflexive” notions names but of presenting their images. After that things took their natural course: depending on the frequency of the use of these concepts in a certain concrete social group and in full correspondence with the Zipf law, the professional language of the contemporary reflexive movement began to be shaped.
The pictorial language offered by Lefebvre proved to be well suited for the use of algebraic polynomials employed to record reflexive processes or operations performed on reflexive structures. However, this was not its sole virtue. The new language also made it possible to simplify the very process of cognition of reflexive processes and reflexive systems without simplifying these processes and systems, which was fully consonant with Ashby’s principle: “Making models is freeing the system from excessive information”. Having portrayed reflexive interaction between structures as initially subjectless, Lefebvre opened up a whole range of new opportunities for filling reflexive models with any information that is not excessive for solving practical problems.
They say that there is the successful practice of implementing the behavioral models of reflexion, for example, in criminal proceedings, PR events, and military planning, which confirms their heuristical strength and practical value. However, this has yet to be proved. But this does not matter. What really matters is the very possibility of building reflexive polynomials and initial images, specifying and processing details.
In conclusion, I would like to share some observations I made at the symposium on reflexive control held last October. They deal with criticism concerning contrasting the views of Lefebvre and George Soros. In making the first attempt to describe the ontology of reflexive processes, Lefebvre restricted his study to the area of conflicting structures. This ontology can be easily traced to the initial notation of “studying systems compatible with the researcher by perfection”. In situations described by means of reflexive models, the researcher’s actions influence the object under study, changing its behavior. To explain this influence, there was no need for Lefebvre to resort to any information notations. These appeared later, with the development of reflexive control schemes.
As for G. Soros, he did not read the works by Vladimir Lefebvre. As stated by Soros himself, his starting point was Karl Popper’s concept of imperfect comprehension. A successful financier, Soros, in order to have this disequilibrium (or imperfection) balanced (first and foremost, to his own benefit), tends to perceive decision-making systems as ones of double feedback. These systems’ ability to perform actions that can influence comprehension was described by Soros, without giving much thought to it, as reflexivity and was applied to describe the behavior of economic agents. As was the case with the early work of Lefebvre, Soros felt no need for information either circulating in the system or reflecting a person’s internal world. “On the one hand”, he writes in the “Alchemy of Finance”, “the participants are endeavoring to gain an understanding of the situation they are involved in, while, on the other, such understanding, once it is attained, serves as a basis for making decisions, and these, in turn, influence the course of events”.
Thus, the two roles interfere with each other. Such is, in fact, his overall interpretation of imperfect comprehension. Although G. Soros pretends to have little concern about other realia, except for thinking and actions, he does raise the question of situational uncertainty and of description of a situation in informational terms when he begins to illustrate his inferences, arguing that agents of economic behavior fail unless they possess relevant information.
A simple comparison between the starting points in Lefebvre’s and Soros’s respective patterns of comprehending the nature of reflexive processes shows that though they use different key words they both proceed from the same (experimental) results of research on the objects having the property of reflexion. But the similarity ends here. From this point their views began to differ substantially. Lefebvre went far beyond the methods of reflexive management, which are based on transference of information. He arrived at the non-informational grounding of the reflexive nature of an ethical choice and imparted it with a meaningful designation. As for Soros, he remained at the level of the initial informational notions, though he made progress in describing the driving forces of economic behavior ñ preferences and habits of participants.
All attempts to assess the significance of reflexion-related problems for the scientific or cultural development of this country (as well as the United States) are inseparably connected with Vladimir Aleksandrovich Lefebvre.
And now from the Talmud : “The text of what is studied is forgotten. But the process of study is purifying by itself.”
Even if Vladimir Lepsky publishes this text, it will be forgotten. But this Round Table will carry out its purifying mission.
Finally, I would not like the reflexive movement to become synonymous with anything that may get into the notion of “the anti-technological” or be manipulated into pretending to being a new scientific ideology for “saving Russia”.
V.A.Petrovsky (Russian Academy of Education) I’m astonished to hear many researchers discoursing upon personality, communication, the conscious, the self-conscious, and even reflexion in such a manner as if Lefebvre’s theory has never been developed at all. It is necessary, which is, in my opinion, obvious, to popularize the reflexive theory. At the same time, it is necessary to undertake a detailed logico-semiotic analysis of the theory itself.
In my view, two problems should be singled out here. One has to deal with the congruence of symbolic rows with textual (lexical) ones within reflexive structures. There are, essentially, three languages in the Lefebvre reflexive theory. These are: the formal language of symbols designed to define the relationship between them in logico-mathematical terms; a metalanguage to please us, and, finally, a kind of intermediate language. The latter can be described as one allowing formalization or even appealing to it but not yet realized as such. This language is between the language of the formal theory and metalanguage. Indeed, any attempt to formalize “every Tom, Dick and Harry” would, if applied to the area under consideration, turn out none other than a methodologically paranoid requirement of having the interstitial language absolutely coincident with the formal one. However, sometimes I do have the feeling that an interstitial language (typically called “marginal”) is a bit overused, and this may hinder an understanding of the basic, formal language. Another dangerous implication is that such overuse, when found in a situation that involves popularization of a theory, may result in oversimplifications with disastrous results as it happened with the ideas of E. Bern, the genius who created the transaction analysis. I refer, in particular, to refinements of the methods applied to describe, in a language of symbols, the state of a reflexive system and that of the operators of cognition, as undertaken within the context of “discerning” the world picture from the viewpoint of an external and internal observer. Precisely, I want to emphasize that the due congruence between symbols used in texts and their lexical explanation has not yet been achieved.
Here is an excerpt from Lefebvre’s Conflicting Structures: “… Presume two members to exist: Tx and Txy. Also assume that character Y can be reflected adequately, as Tx, and in a fundamentally inadequate way. Symbols can only register the very fact of the existence of such a member in the internal world of the character Y. Therefore, to apply symbols and in applying symbols, one will have to involve a commentary (italicized by the author) to deal specifically with the degree of adequacy as assessed from the viewpoint of the external observer” (p. 15). Then, one essential question arises: is it possible to make do without any special commentary, supplying, instead, some additional operations ñ as I have shown above (V.A. Petrovsky, Ibid.). Although the wording to be thus generated is more complicated than it would be if the symbol were preserved, it will cast more light, and with a higher degree of precision, on the internal world of X , for one, it allows reflecting the existence of one observer in the internal world of the other.
A second problem is that the ontological status of what is named by Lefebvre “the state of the reflexive system” should be cognized and symbolically fixed. By way of example, let us consider the state of the reflexive system that can be written as T + Tx . What can be meant by this expression from a philosophical point of view? In my opinion, it adequately outlines what may be called “unity” as applicable to the uniform system of a stative process and its content, irrespective of whether reflexion, or contemplation/ mediation, or sensation, etc., is concerned. To generalize, we deal here with the relationship of the subjectival and the objectival, which is a certain defined system featured by a fundamental inner unity and constituting an integral whole.
Which philosophical category could better remind us of itself in this context? It seems to me to be Hegel’s Idea, that is, the unity of a notion and the underlying objectivity (that of the wordy description of the object under reflexion and the object proper; a pulsation of transient states in between the reality and mental “replication” of the same).
Such an interpretation of Lefebvre’s structures might appear to be quite heuristic for the mentality of “the Self”. If we look at the Self within the above construction, we shall find that it lends itself to being generalized as an idea of the self inherent in the individual, or, essentially, the reflexion of the individual himself. One may express this postulate lexically as well as graphically.
Here we specifically talk of an individual who is susceptible to being legitimately qualified as the subject, object, and carrier of the act of reflexion (to generalize, as the source of reflexion) and, simultaneously, as the result, image and yield of reflexion (or, more generally, as the content of reflexion). Here one question is in order: is there a sign, or representation, with which the dynamic unity of the objectival and subjectival aspects of the Self could be explicated? The answer will be “Yes, there is”. Such a sign (named by us “live”) is Nekker’s cube (fancy a cube that is literally full of motion, that is moving before your eyes, turning itself “inside out”: the remote, “obscured”, sides will alternately come in the foreground and recede). Here, the cubeís sides interchanging their position symbolize what is termed “objectival” and “subjectival”. Thus, Nekker’s cube could be substituted for “+” in expression T + Tx.
Returning in conclusion to the above thesis that a necessity has arisen for the reflexion theory to be not only popularized but also subjected to further detailing, it is important to note that Lefebvre was the first to build up a self-contained language allowing the clarification and cognition of what is more often than not hidden under the heavy burden of words. Therefore, I want to challenge the traditional appraisal of his theory as merely a “contribution to science”. We can safely speak of his contribution to culture: it was Lefebvre who offered an explanation, theoretical as well as practical, of how a man and mankind may cognize ergo sum in terms of both one’s own and collective “self”. However, the development of Lefebvre’s theory will necessarily imply not only its gaining ground in the scientific world (the metaphor of wind rose seems to be quite relevant here), but also perfecting the theory’s formal aspects and language itself.
If we fail to achieve a proper congruence between the lexical and symbol- expressed rows, the popularization of the ideas of the reflexive theory, as opposed to detailing, may turn out to result in greater losses than gains. The Lefebvre theory does not deserve this in the least. Thus, the need for seeking new semiotic forms comes into the foreground.
V.M.Rozin (RAS Institute of Philosophy) First, I would like to point out that reflexion is formed in the context of the methodological approach. In this respect, it is interesting to have a look at history of Russia. At the end of the last century Latyshev, while discussing methodological problems in mathematics, emphasized the need for the reflexion of thinking so that one could resolve the problem of compressing the enormous amount of knowledge liable to mastering. We know the profound school of historiography inspired and headed by Petrushevsky. The name of this school was “methodological”. One can also refer to works by L.S.Vygotsky, who applying the methodological approach to psychology, addresses reflexion. Finally, today, we have a Moscow- based methodological society (see: V.M.Rozin. Ibid.). What served as the source of generating new “offsprings” of the thought ? According to Mikhail Bakhtin, the “oneís existential non-presentability”. When I was making my report, I had to take into account different opinions voiced by my opponents, who saw the material under discussion in a different way. So, in the absence of thinking rules, I had to formulate convincing arguments and establish the rules of “thought movement” in response to my opponentsí remarks and to justify my standpoint as the discussion went on. As a result, a new logic appeared that had a direct bearing on some separate - thought-activitistic - type of work, and that can be treated as a special type of communication.
Let’s now consider another situation. Any attempt to study the thinking process as a specific type of activities usually resulted in a sort of “backturning”, that is, the knowledge about thinking as gained in the course of its study was utilized as hypotheses building for historical patterns of thinking and vice versa. I shall repeat here that the results thus obtained concerned only the thinking patterns amenable to identification as distinctly existent in a historical retrospective and were selected by methodologists to normalize their studies; and conversely once new methods of the selforganization of thinking emerged, they were then applied to the historical patterns of human thinking. This type of turning the past into the present and vice versa was also understood as specific reflexive work.
The third type of reflexive work represents a special kind of deduction. Some works by G.P. Shchedrovitsky, commonly recognized as classical, display schemes of activities at the expense of reflexion. First, a “cell” of activities is introduced, to be followed by reflexion mechanisms and those which organize activities, which allows the insertion of different positions and types of knowledge and communication structures. Essentially, this is a deductive type of theoretical thinking. Note that, again, it was a fundamentally different type of work but it was generally cognized as reflexive. Still another situation was conditioned by description of concrete types of activity, which was also understood as reflexion.
Let’s summarize the above-stated. The analysis of the above material shows that reflexion cannot exist as one reality. It is common to speak of reflexion as an act. According to this thinking, reflexion is typically graphed as a dial arrow or a board. But, I want to call your attention to the fact that speaking of reflexion we have to do with absolutely different situations. In our case, the first situation was caused by the necessity of constituting new methods of studying the process of thinking. The second situation had to deal with the extension of knowledge gained in the course of the methodologists’ self-organization into the past, and conversely, the transference of historical knowledge about thinking into the present situation of the self-organization of thought. The third situation had to deal with the theoretical deduction employing the term of reflexion; and the fourth described some specific types of activities.
Thus, though we speak of reflexion in general terms, in fact, we have to deal with completely different situations of refelxive activity. Then, what do these situations have in common? The immanent and, thus, common feature is that the reflection of an activity, be that of the subject or of anyone else, is always there. As you remember, we started with the study of thinking and interpreted it as activity. However, while in the context of re- flexion, different types of work are subjected to limitation and are cognized as descriptions of activities, study of activities, reflection of activities, etc. However, we must distinguish between two different things. It is one thing to deal with the task and the structure of reflexive activities that are taking place. This type of work always manifests itself in a new way, depending on the situation within which it exists. It is quite another matter to present any such structure in the discourse in a special way, as an idea of activities and the adequate description of its practical manifestation.
Finally, one more point, one of extreme importance. Usually, all such situations have one feature in common: each presupposes either development or productive thinking. Note that the notion of reflexion is linked to the said implications in many respects and not necessarily to development but also to productive thinking. Really, if we look at the four situations I touched on above, we shall see that I mentioned development only in the third case, when referring to reflexion as a type of deduction. In all the other cases we can speak only of productive thinking, which allows us to obtain new formations that differ from each other because the tasks under consideration are different.
A few words of conclusive comment are necessary here. What is implied by the reflection of activity? Firstly, it is a special type of communication. Thus, when we studied reflexion and, using it, constituted various methods of studying thinking, it was of essential importance that the participants in the seminar took different stands, had different viewpoints, and could argue and give counter-examples. Such collective work is a unique process which enables any participant to look upon the seminar’s discussions as an external observer, to present counter-arguments and counterexamples or fundamentally new approaches, and thus forms one’s own view of reflexion.
A second noteworthy issue is the presentation of activities. But, again, what is meant by the term “activities”? The analysis of the above examples and situations shows that there is no uniform interpretation for activities. Sometimes, “activities” are preset as an ontology. However, this is rare. Most often it is an opportunity to undertsnad the way another person works. We also speak of activities but in a different sense. In short, activities are no more than a function, or place. The experience gained by both he Moscow Methodological Society and the entire reflexive movement in Russia shows that there are, at least, three things that need to be distinguished.
Firstly, the context of reflexion, which will vary depending on the situation and the task; secondly, the chart of reflexion, which includes the idea of the reflection of activity in its various versions; and finally the structure of reflexive activities, which can also vary to a substantial degree.
O. S. Anisimov (Russian Academy for Civil Service, at the Office of the President of the Russian Federation) After years of work there appeared a logical scheme that shows the upsurge of the purely practical reflexive work conducted by the Moscow Methodological Society. The practice of interaction was extraordinarily intense in psychological terms, since each member was bright and vigorous in arguing in favor of his concept or his viewpoint. The very practice of the then “reflexive” being was, in my view, so sophisticated and so broad ñ from the naturally generated to ultimately artificial forms of interaction ñ that the very phenomenon of collective being served as a material, natural prerequisite for the development of the reflexive movement. If we look at the contents of this practice, including purely cogitative immanently verbal structures, we shall see all the history of psychology and even of philosophy reflected therein: when a theorist is under a necessity, slightest though it may be, to assess his contribution or to find his place in the historical process of the science he deals with, he will inevitably have to ponder over it, which was just the case with the period examined. Sometimes, efforts were made to single out reflexion as a separate block, which resulted in the appearance of reflexion-oriented philosophers. But as a movement that unites culture and ´liveª practice, it evolved, in my view, as far back as the late 1950s. That was followed by a succession of diverse transformations: groupings, separations, changes in attention focusing, etc.; all those metamorphoses, no matter how diversified in nature, preserved their belonging to reflexive inter-action in the most complicated forms.
Researchers who focused directly on reflexion stood out in this area. Lefebvre, in my opinion, was the first to provide the transition from having an action by a collective effort conceived from a practical point of view (whether concerning the feasibility of such action, or the way to effect it, or such action’s utility) to singling out the subject of reflexion proper, and further to efforts to create “pre-languages” within the frames of the subject thus “spelled out”. To enable these phenomena to be recorded and put under special scrutiny, a whole number of patterns, models and schemes were developed.
To have this thesis more vividly exemplified, I shall appeal to the scheme, which, in my mind, allows identification of attitudes and approaches by G.P. Shchedrovitsky and Lefebvre towards the above event and the said interaction as not contradicting each other, strikingly different though they may seem. Contradictions, in my view, lie in the emphases. Here, I adopt V.M.Rozin’s assessment of the nature of being in this inter-action and of the leading positions deservedly occupied by Shchedrovitsky, both subjectively and objectively. Subjectively, he was determined to be ahead of others, and this self-setting had great effect on his actions, making him resort to the best possible option of organizing himself and choose such an option of placing his actions and their results in objectively meaningful space, socio-cultural and cultural, that this would have not been possible without applying reflexion and specifically arranged reflexive patterns.
How do I envision this difference? First, a preliminary thesis of descriptive type should be introduced to distinguish “pre-activitistic” being as comprising, in its “activitistic” content, actions proper and reflexion as a reflexive relationship providing for the possibility of adjusting an action so as to make it fit into the corresponding active being’s component of the “pre-activitistic” being. It was necessary to “place”, under certain circumstances, specially arranged communication into the reflexion-related part, or the “reflexive” field, which configurating itself in a particular fashion creates a new mechanism, capable, in turn, of reflecting, through which the basic process would arise. At this point, we see different approaches. I won’t identify them now. My comment is only that the difference is great between an author, who understands, and a critic, who usually does not interfere until a suitable moment comes, and between understanding and opposing. Criticism was an extremely important part of the whole story as well as a special function and was to occupy its place within the arbitration process.
Here I want to make special emphasis on the way in which all those procedures were co-organized. In his capacity of leader, Shchedrovitsky was bound to exert his influence on the situation to keep it under control, all the more so since he most often combined the functions of an organizer, critic and arbitrator. He had to introduce some special reflexion model as the “reflexive” support to encompass and explain the entirety of this interaction. Moreover, he had to embark upon the development of the means capable of enabling further exploration into that type of reflexion. In my view, the above-mentioned difference may be summarized as follows. Owing to the position held by him, Shchedrovitsky had to elaborate an integral set of means to provide the survivability of both himself, as a leader, and the overall movement. As for Lefebvre, he was mostly engaged in creating the focusing part of reflexion and appropriate empirical support, which objectively served as a special tool to be used in that particular direction, which was due to the necessity for Lefebvre to realize his own specific goals. It is here that the polemical contraposition stems from: it was either when Lefebvre’s interests ran counter to the integral interests of the apparatus or when Shchedrovitsky noticed an excessive bias for this emphasis and diverting of the entire argumentative process from the mainstream of the discussion. In some measure, I was a witness to what was going on then.
Another side of the process was that the Moscow Methodological Society preserved and maintained any movements, including those which came under Shchedrovitsky’s severe criticism such as psychology-oriented or even psyche-organizing ones. The pervasive line, that is, the respective forms in which being and its image (embodied, in particular, in the phenomena of societal type) are themselves existent, was gradually acquiring such a great number of demarcations and instrumentalizations that this could not but find a practical way out and appeared simply in contact.
It was at that point that a special phenomenon of playmodelling, playdrawing of the above relationship was to be generated as basing itself on the plausibility of the presumed practice pattern. Sooner or later, practice would have inevitably been inserted into playmodelling. With the commencement of game modeling in 1979, the possibility that hitherto existed only potentially did present itself in reality. The 1990s were the years of the intensive proliferation of a special type of socio-cultural and cultural “infecting” of huge spaces with reflexivity. However, some problems arose connected with the fact that reflecting was a good occupation but reflexion presented on a free-wheeling basis could destroy any practice. Due to these problems, the above reflexive being was cognized as comprising both positive and negative sides. These were realized as such, internally as well as externally, to a different degree. It was within these confines that the movement was taking place. In the midñ1990s the movement shifted onto an acmeological basis. The idea itself was generated somewhere at the highest levels of the Academy for Civil Service, the only place where it still exists in some special way.
The need for the insertion of reflexivity was prompted by the understanding that a high-level professional can by no means avoid reflexivity. The higher the level of one’s professionalism the more effectively the compound of reflexivity serves to ensure success, but only when this reflexivity is well-organized. Thus, not an accumulative but decorative phase of cultural work begins. If these three layers were inserted into the process of organizing managerial work and into the resultant scheme of such work itself, and the insertion were “provided with” reflexivity in a sufficiently proportional degree ñ there would by impressive results. However, the reflexivity as yet needs itself to be procured with means of a linguistic culture and with an appropriate culture of thinking. It’s becoming generally recognized that unless a kind of cultural revolution takes place in managerial work itself, we shall have neither good nor optimal strategies, which will eventually result in a general failure of society. Whatever the results of our awareness, here we have a live practice of reflexion itself, featured by a complicated structural self-arrangement that originated on our soil but allowing the preservation of some traditions (traced back to Fischte, Hegel, etc.), - all this has resulted in a radical problematizing of the very frame of professional activitistic process.
Although not as yet revealed, this problematizing has already signalled its appearance. It seems to me that we are approacing this watershed.
The best that one can do for this country is to avoid turning the reflexive movement into a fetish.
V.Maracha (Centaur journal) It is within the context of today’s session of the seminar that I would like to discuss one direction of the research of Shchedrovitsky’s school, one that can be conditionally named “methodology of societal changes”.
Initially, the general interest in reflexion was connected with a set of epistemological problems. The point is that, if seen as a kind of social engineering, the problem of societal changes is most likely to entice one to have one’s societal changes-dependant actions constructed upon the foundation of some knowledge, however little, of the object or area you are going to influence. However, it is just this type of knowledge where a number of implicit problems readily arise. The reason is that the natural-science type of knowledge, the most common for European culture, ceases to “work” where society is concerned, because it’s here that reflexive paradoxes appear.
A social object “plays” with the researcher and starts generating knowledge of itself and competing with that of the researcher.
Let’s presume that there is a society with a number of subjects that are interconnected and thus creating some type of relationship and a certain field within which this relationship exists. Being subjects of a civil society, they are what is called a “reflexive societal establishment”. As such, they have self-consciousness and are well aware of the relationship between themselves; and since any society is a self-regulating system, they also serve to generate, in their capacity of system’s compounds, some regulatory norms for their behavior and settlement of disputes and the like.
At the opposite pole, we presume a distinctly different subject and call him the agent of societal changes. The agent is seeking to insert some other regulation, one that is to govern the above relationship in a different way. Any society that can be justifiably called civic allows no perspective for such direct leadership, since the normal practice of general strategy conventionally pursued by any such society is inserting some new behavioral prescriptions with the concurrent preservation of the freedom of its subjects’ will. This is quite normal, or parliamentary, strategy.
Essentially, this is the situation of two competing behavioral patterns, one of which can be described as natural and the other artificial. Here we have a field for further research in a wide range of disciplines, such as jurisprudence, political science, and economics.
D.V.Rehut (´Kreonª Holding Company) Reflexive processes can have a substantial impact on the steadiness of business activities. Early in the 90s, a network of exchanges, “Alice”, was created and started to grow rapidly. It had branches in scores of cities including two American offices. On achieving a certain phase of development, it began to need a higher degree of financial independence. The top management of each branch became, perhaps, not without reason, suspicious that their colleagues in the other branches wanted still more independence from the center. This developed an avalanche-like buildup of reflexive processes, as the resulting centrifugal tendencies eventually ruptured the exchanges system. Interestingly, even when these processes became evident to the upper management, there was no stopping them.
The problem of steadiness has been further aggravated by the spread of the Internet. The mobility of every subject of business activities included into the global network destabilizes the situation. This is the case of a dynamic network. Its alternative is a stable network with tightly fastened components. Regrettably, it is likely to rapidly degenerate into a vertically integrated functional system. A network of the internal market type is doomed to balance on the verge of either an economically unjustified protectionist policy or a full self-dissolution into the environment.
Thus, the problem is to create a stably operating economic entity incorporated into the global network in such a way as to be capable of varying the communication parameters of its components with a view to making the most of the network’s advantages.
It seems that steadiness of any organization, which operates through the Internet, can be securely preserved by selectively suppressing the “centrifugal” effect of reflexive processes at the level of the Board of Directors. As an empirical solution adequately covering the problem, it is suggested that several interaction mechanisms, all representing a single system of differing economic entities, be introduced.
These principles were used for the foundation of a creative holding company of a new type. The company allows the inclusion of any number of relatively independent firms (persons) maintaining a contractually defined economic relationship with each other and sharing the same evolutional ideology of creative development. Contracts between member companies have been signed for a five-year term and may be amended once a year by agreement between the parties. The company’s performance is reported on an Internet portal. The general activities of the company are managed by the Board of Directors, which is composed of the member firms’ upper managers, each being responsible for his area of operation as a separate direction of the parent company business as well as for the appropriate section of the portal. New members are admitted by unanimous vote, which may be described as element of conciliarism. It has been agreed that the Board must not have more than thirteen members. On achieving this number the organizational structure of the holding company may be revised.
The second (and, perhaps, the most important) function of the Board of Directors is managing creativity. This is effected through a cumulative voting on rating to be conferred on member firms including physical persons (if any) as included into the appropriate Participants List, depending on the results of their respective weekly performance. This mechanism can be treated as an internal market designed to make unbiased assessments; its peculiar feature is that the weekly creativity as shown by the participants is “paid” for from a fixed amount of some conditional “creativity-denominated” currency in the collective ownership, as it were, of participants.
Drawing comparison between the two economic entities as described above, one can clearly see that the second one has introduced some permanent means to narrow the space within which non-controllable reflexive structures might be generated by any member entity.
Symbolic operations with the “creativity-denominated currency” provide conditions for mutual claims and approvals to be explicitly announced in non-economic terms. Interactivism opens the possibility to act providing an alternative to reflexion.
V.I. Maksimov (RAS Institute of Management Problems) The research we are engaged in can be called a cognioreflexive technology for building models and producing managerial solutions. This component of reflexion is of essential importance. Reflexive processes that are involved in the study are recorded through a picture of virtual reality as factually conceived by a subject to build the reality picture we are modeling. In building this type of models, individual and collective reflexive patterns differing in the degree of their self-involvement interfere with each other, and new tasks requiring new methodological approaches are encountered. The underlying premise for the creation of this class of models is the thesis that prior experience is of little importance when applied to the future. One has to master the art of forecasting. Using special procedures that rely on subjective perceptions of the participants in the process, we can build a cognitive chart or a weighted graph describing relationship between factors of differing nature in their interaction. The edges represent the influence exerted by these factors on each other. Once discrete time is introduced into the model, it becomes a springboard for a whole chain of developments. Thus we can eventually observe the process running in a reality created by ourselves. It is noteworthy that the models built in this manner also allow the solution of the “inverse task”. In accomplishing an “inverse” task, we are to answer the question, “What is to be done to ...?” and determine what factors of influence are to be supplied to the input to provide attainment of the purpose as sought. So, on supplying these, we enter roughly the required area, to be, then, at liberty of detailing to our discretion the influences supplied. These models are used to prognosticate the development of regions and various objects within a variety of geopolitical environments and to solve a number of other tasks of applied nature.
V.M.Kapustyan (Research Institute of Informational Technologies) In the monograph “Conflicting Structures”, a reference is made to the notion of “a system portrayed as underlain by another one”. Being of paramount importance, this notion is worth further investigation. Even though the multilevel types of symbolic notations have attracted attention of many researchers they are, regrettably, still lacking the attention they deserve. Among other researchers, similar ideas were postulated by Avenarius in his “Pure Experience Criticisms”. A simple two-level symbolics was offered by Pierce. A simple two-level psychology and two-level reflexion were developed by Vaczlahvick. It is important to embark upon the investigation of what has been done by V. Lefebvre. The need for applied research has come to the foreground.
A.A.Zenkin (Computer Center, RAS) I shall dwell on the problem of visualization and instrumental support to the reflexive process involved in the decision-making. Any process of decision- making presupposes the presence of a problem to be resolved. There are experts whose opinion serves as basis for a decision-maker (DM) to arrive at a solution. There is a specialized system of visual analysis of data, which allows visualizing the essence of the problem. V.Lefebvre in his first works on psychography in the early ‘70s used the algebra of his graphical subjects to visualize the core of a problem. Therefore, he became the inventor of what is known as cognitive reality and was the first to use visualization as a means of portraying the semantics of a specific function concerned. Once the essence of a problem is visualized, the DM becomes an active participant. It is worth noting that where the visualization is available as needed, the level of the DM competence rises to approximate that of an expert. And, most remarkably, such a situation also changes the experts’ behavior. The effect is usually further enhanced when a picture represents the viewpoint of other experts. This is an observation based on our experience in the development of systems of visual support in mathematical research.
It is important to note that science has been progressively evolving over the past 300 years into such an abstract system that itís become difficult to grasp it, at least, in the degree it actually deserves. To make matters worse, modern science has departed from ethics. Academician Arnold speaks of what he describes as “the catastrophic situation with science”, which has happened because science has become too perfect, that is too abstract. It is only through visualization-based support that the vector of development will start moving back from the abstract thinking to “live” world contemplation and backwards.
I.E. Zadorozhniuk (Journal of Psychology) Considering the socio-cultural context of the issues under discussion, I would like to say that the debate is going within the framework of what can be described with the French term “clarism” (transparency, clarity). Clarity is the topic of discussion in many sciences. As regards the RAS Institute of Philosophy, one can refer, in particular, to the discussion of the accuracy of psychological notions (A.V.Brushlinsky). The popularity of Freudism as well as neo-Freudism is on its wane, - reflexive processes are difficult to build on the quicksands of the unconscious. There is a growing interest in analitics in philosophy (A.F. Griaznov). Analytical philosophy and the English tradition, each tending to clarify the meaning of terminology, are becoming increasingly appealing.
Likewise, the economic theory is currently undergoing a revision of its foundations: as you know , the shamanist “campaigns” in support of a selfregulating role of the market, which claimed to be all-embracing and allexplaining, are fading. This is equally valid for performative politics: negative campaigning has ceased to be generally considered as governing factor. Thus, there is every reason to render support to the reflexive movement, which is characterized by transparency of the notions it involves.
E.P. Grigoryev (Russian Academy of Civil Service, at the Office of the President): has presented a summary of his research on systems specifically designed to support a synthesis of reflexive alternatives in the “golden section” format, placing special emphasis on similar systems he has developed.
A.M. Stepanov (Institute for Meta-Analytical Research): has scrutinized the prospects that homeostatics may have for proper involvement in the modeling of reactive and reflexive statuses of human psyche.
I.P. Beliayev (Research Institute for Informational Technologies): has outlined the prominent role of V.Lefebvre’s work in interdisciplinary research as a potential foundation for the integration of heterogeneous knowledge.
V.E. Lepsky (RAS Institute of Psychology). In his speech delivered to sum up the Round Table proceedings, he emphasized that nowadays homo sapiens is prepared to take full advantage of reflexion, being aware of its importance and inevitability, while, perhaps, eluding the memory of its “wonder, mystery, and authority”, to quote Dostoyevsky, though not rejecting its ontological status. Reflexive processes and related management, as factually presenting themselves at the current stage of socio-cultural development, are a product of supreme topicality, which is especially true for Russia.
By understanding another person’s thoughts and sensations we simplify (in a sublime sense) this person’s and our own life; this is true for subjects of any degree of generality, from an individual to society as a whole. However, its influence is especially important for a group subject responsible for making decisions. This is where the deep interest in reflexive processes originates, manifesting itself in conferences, round table discussions, publications, and many other initiatives.
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