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Re: [xmca] zpd zbr zedpd and zoped

Ha ha! That's a nice usage, Carol!
I have no idea how long this adoption of Ur- into English has been going on, but it may be wider than I thought.


Carol Macdonald wrote:
When one of my colleagues discovered some rampant plagiarism in students'
essays, he called the core, which was common to them all, the Ur-essay.

On 6 January 2011 18:23, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com> wrote:

Yes, very helpful, Andy.  Interesting neologism, "Urunit."  Your
explanation gives me an intuitive sense, a place to start - and some more

Google translates 'Urphaenomen' as 'primary phenomenon' while Babel
translates it as 'elemental phenomenon'.  One translation could be seen as
more of a time concept, and the other, spatial, or as you suggest, cellular.

A little more googling finds 'Ur-' as possibly meaning a number of closely
related concepts, both in terms of 'essential units', and also in terms of
'genesis'.  A list of English substitutes for the German 'Ur-' includes the
ones you mention, original and prototypical, and a few others: primary,
elemental, ancient, fore-, primal, greatgrand-, primitive, primeval, proto-,
and archetypal, in a quick search.

These kinds of meanings makes this term especially interesting to use in
the dialectical senses you and Mike are giving it.  The mixture of the
simultaneous senses of time and space gives the impression the word has had
a contradictory evolution.  Ur was also an ancient city in Mesopotamia, one
of the oldest, became a world famous archeological dig, and is likely the
birthplace of Abraham.  A lot seems to be packed into that two-letter German
prefix and its history!

Did Marx, Engels or Hegel use the prefix 'Ur-' in a significant way?

And who (if anyone knows) introduced terms such as "ur characteristic" and
"ur model" into English?  What meanings are generally being given to these

- Steve

On Jan 6, 2011, at 1:12 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:

I'll respond to your question about the meaning of "ur," Steve.
"Ur-" is a prefix that is used in German, actually. It has been around
since the year dot in German, but it has become a bit of a fad recently for
English speakers.
Ur- is a prefix which means original or prototypical. I mostlly know it
from Goethe's idea of /Urphaenomen/ which is the original of Vygotsky's
"unit of analysis", should I say, the Urunit? This is because of
Goethe/Hegel/Marx/Vygotsky's idea that in order to understand some complex
process as a whole (i.e. a /Gestalt/) then you have to begin with the
simplest unit of it, it's germ or cell. So the reference is to an
(artefact-mediated) action as the ur- of psychology and cultivated human

Does that help, Steve?


Steve Gabosch wrote:

... "Generalizing Dual Stimulation.

* The ur characteristic of higher psychologically (culturally mediated)
human action is that it operates indirectly, through the environment.
* DS method is the ur model of human action incorporates the environment
as tools for action.  But it must be generalized into group as well as
individual circumstances."

Mike urges the non-Russians at the conference to ask their fellow Russian
attendees what 'ur' means.

So - to our fellow Russian speakers - what does 'ur' mean in Mike's

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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
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MIA: http://www.marxists.org

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