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Re: [xmca] When does an action begin and end?
I thought you meant "action" as opposed to operation as opposed to activity. If that's the case then I think that your question should be "where does an action begin and end?" rather than "when".
In Problems of the Development of Mind, Leontiev tries to solve this problem. If, for example, you have not completely automatized the operations of changing gears on the car, then each operation becomes a conscious action, with a discernible goal, not simply something that is the helpless prey of operational conditions. Once you have automatized the operations of changing gears on the car, then changing gears becomes itself the operation, and goal directed actions include things like going around a corner.
I am not happy with this solution (I'm also not happy with Bakhtin's purely objectivist definition of the utterance, for similar reasons). On p. 235, Leontiev gives the example of a trained marksman which is almost identical to his example of shifting gears. The process of aiming and steadying his grip and breathing and so on are considered automatized: “For the trained marksman noneof these processes is an independent action and their objectives are not singled out in his consciousness.”
This is actually untrue, as the recent example of the Navy SEAL marksmen who freed a ship captain taken hostage by Somali pirates will show. But even if it WERE true it would be irrelevant to language.
I think it was Bakhurst who pointed out that a lot of Leontiev's ideas are really lead to a kind of Piagetianism without Piaget. Here, though, his ideas lead to a kind of skills theory without Gagne or Anderson. Essentially, Leontiev is taking the position that all skill learning is the automatization of declarative knowledge in the form of procedural knowledge. This is why Leontiev (and also Wertsch) like examples of sensorimotor skills and hand to eye coordination; the Anderson model handles this quite well for hte most part.
On p. 236, Leontiev writes: “These transformations of unconscious content in conscious and vice versa that occur in connection with a change of the place occupied by the content in the structure of the activity, can now be understood neurophysiologically.” p. 236.
And on p. 237 we have an unmitigated disaster, when this passable model of a physical skill is used to produce a theory of reading in which consciousness has no part in the recognition of text.
“When a person is reading, for example, it seems to him that both the ideas expressed in the book and the outward graphic form of their expression, i.e. the text itself are recognized identically-both the one and the other. In fact, however, that is not wholly so; in fact only the ideas and their expression are presented in consciousness and the outward aspect of the text may only seem to be conscious, as it usually is when there are omissions, crude typographical errors, etc.”
The reason I am not very happy with Bakhtin's definition of the utterance is twofold. First of all, many turns (and in fact almost all "feedback" turns that a teacher takes) consist of several utterances within a single turn.
T: How are you all today? (one turn, and one utterance)
S: Fine, thanks, and you? (one turn, but three utterances)
So it's actually much more useful to define an utterance as a POTENTIAL turn than as an actual one. But even this definition is too objectivist for what I want to do.
It does not help us at all at the most crucial moment of language development, the transformation of inter-mental vertical constructions in discourse into intra-mental horizontal constructions.
Imagine a small child nagging a parent for an ice lolly on a hot day. The child can only utter one or two word turns, but the child can do this for HOURS, using gestures, intonation, tears and tandrums.
An older child has learned to ventriloquate objections and respond to them, to incorporate the adults turns into his or her own, like this;
"You promised me I could have a lolly if it was hot and I'm really hot and thirst and I know it won't spoil my supper and besides you promised."
Now this is only OBJECTIVELY a single utterance; when we begin to analyze it we realize that it is a vitiated dialogue. The same thing is true of paragraphs, of novels and so on, all of which a purely OBJECTIVIST analysis would render as a single utterance.
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Mon, 8/17/09, Mike Cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
From: Mike Cole <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] When does an action begin and end?
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
Date: Monday, August 17, 2009, 10:22 AM
Pepper's discussion of "events" as units of analysis within a contextualist
world view might be helpful, Andy. World Hypotheses
On Mon, Aug 17, 2009 at 8:19 AM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I'll look in my Dewey and see what I can find. Then there's the internet
> which has lots of Dewey.
> It occurred to me that Bakhtin's utterance is delimited by turn-taking, and
> this is quite a nice definition for a pragmatic theory of social interaction
> etc. And then I realized that Vygotsky's conception seems to be very elastic
> on this point. Word-meaning shorter and much more cognitivist, the 'double
> stimulation experiments' more like Bakhtin's turn-taking, but the child
> development stuff much more open ended. And then 'activity' carries this
> connotation of being on-going and not delimited, which gives it quite
> different implications I think.
> And I certainly go with Im Anfang war der Tat.
> Mike Cole wrote:
>> Some time before it ends, Andy?
>> For sure I recommend that you take a look at Dewey's early critique of the
>> reflex arc concept in dealing with
>> this issue. Which was in the beginning, anyway, the word or the deed?
>> On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 6:05 PM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com <mailto:
>> firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:
>> Can anyone tell me whether there has ever been any discussion about
>> when an action begins and ends? (By "action" I mean in the technical
>> sense of Activity Theory.)
>> Andy Blunden (Erythrós Press and Media) http://www.erythrospress.com/
>> Orders: http://www.erythrospress.com/store/main.html#books
>> xmca mailing list
>> email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Andy Blunden (Erythrós Press and Media) http://www.erythrospress.com/
> Orders: http://www.erythrospress.com/store/main.html#books
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