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Social and Anthropological Aspects of the Activity Approach in Russian Philosophy. P. 53–60

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Section: Philosophy, Sociology, Politology




Petr M. Kolychev
Saint-Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation;
ul. Bol’shaya Morskaya 67, St. Petersburg, 190000, Russian Federation; e-mail:
Anna A. Khakhalova
Saint-Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation;
ul. Bol’shaya Morskaya 67, St. Petersburg, 190000, Russian Federation; e-mail:


This article addresses the history of developing the activity approach in Soviet humanist tradition during the 1960s. This issue is of interest for contemporary Russian philosophy due to the status of subjectivity in multidisciplinary research. The authors focus on the historical and social context of the activity approach, believing that the latter was a direct consequence of the events of that time. The novelty of this paper consists in the fact that it elucidates the hermeneutic connection between the reasons for the development of the activity approach and a range of questions dealing with personal dimension. From the start, the authors differentiate between the enactive approach in contemporary philosophy of mind and the activity approach in Russian (Marxist) tradition. Further, the paper outlines the view shared by some philosophers of that period who argued in favour of introducing this approach into cultural studies. The authors criticize that line of argument supposing that it is the lack of anthropological thought in socially oriented Soviet philosophy that was the real reason why the activity approach was established. Namely, it is obvious that none of the individualistic problems could be a subject of socially oriented discussion. As a result, the theme of the individual was included in more reliable scopes of cultural problematics. Another reason lies in the period itself, the Thaw, whose features are described in the paper. The authors consistently present the subsequent differentiation between static and dynamic models of the activity approach. In conclusion, the authors accentuate a crucial drawback of this approach, namely, the lack of an adequate model of collective, social agent. This drawback is overcome in the emergent approach, devised within social philosophy. Thus, the authors stress the necessity of further development of the activity approach in dialogue with the emergent approach.


social philosophy, philosophical anthropology, social culture, anthropological culture, activity approach, emergent approach, enactivism, externalism
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