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Re: [xmca] Concept of Activity
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Concept of Activity
- From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2011 06:39:22 -0800
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Varela is the scholar often credited with introducing the approach that I am
trying to "understand" as "embodied. I want to say that I also am not clear
about these distinctions, but will use this forum to "think out loud".
Andy, all acts or actions [organisms] are embodied. Therefore a dog pursuing
a cat up a tree is anembodied act. We as humans can account for this act by
creating a narrative that gives"reasons" for this activity [a clear cultural
historical act [general] activity as a special case of acts] As a language
game we can "explain" and "interpret" the dog's acts AS IF they were
activities and needs when in fact they are embodied actions [a different
case of embodied acts] Giving reasons for acts [actions/wants AND
activity/needs] is clearly a language game but the act of the dog chasing
the cat is not a representational cognitive activity altothough giving
a reason for the act is clearly an activity [cultural/historical] The dogs
actions [more generally acts] can be "explained" or "understood" as
perceptual actions at a sensory-motor level. It is at this level of DIRECT
perception that Varela is exploring.
Turning our attention to new born infants. They have intentional acts and
actions which are intentional, DIRECTED and embodied [as I agree are all
activity [as well as actions and acts]. However the infant does not act for
"reasons" when RESPONDING to SIGNIFICANT others [significant as outlined in
attachment and intersubjectivity accounts]. Her acts or actions are at the
perceptual sensory-motor level of responding intentionally and
purposefully. At this HUMAN level of responding perceptually AND DIRECTLY
[mediated by significant other its possible to consider the mother acting as
activity while the infants acts are considered acts or actions. These acts
or actions when observed by a significant other are INFERRED to be
activities of the infant but I suspect the infants embodied acts needs
further elaboration and Varela's scholarship is one discourse language game
attempting to elaborate how to understand direct on-line human acts and
actions within sociocultural activity.
Andy, if the infants human acts and actions are not activities [from the
perspectives of the infant] then developmentally we must explain how primary
enactments become activities [from the infants perspective. This is a
question of transformations but the continuing place of "embodied" [as
primary and basic] acts may continue to exist in a transformed structure as
the infant develops the capacity to participate in activities.
Andy this direct perceptually based "stuff" or "essences" is considered not
like dogs chasing cats or acting for reasons. It is posited to be human but
ontologically socially situated RESPONDING [intentional & purposeful but not
I'm not sure where Varela's perspectives of "embodied mind" fit or can be
bridged with cultural historical accounts. However, it is a sociocultural
developmental account. Whether it is a coherent account or just another
shape-shifting language game I'm not sure. It does seem to attempt to
bridge phenomenological continental philosophy with analytic accounts
On Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 12:10 AM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Larry, I will just make a series of points which may clarify something.
> I know that "embodied" notions of enactment is referring to some current of
> thought which you are asking me to comment on, but I really don't know what
> an act which is not embodied would be. Perhaps you could clarify that for
> I think the "activity theory notions of wants and needs" is in need of
> further thought. I don't think it is sufficient to (kind of) simply say that
> "we all do things for a reason."
> I don't know what alternative notions of substance or essence you have in
> mind. I know that most people use the word "substance" in the naive realist
> sense of "stuff" and "essence" in the sense which is the object of feminist
> criticism.You would have to spell out what you have in mind. I use these
> words in quite a different sense.
> I don't understand what you mean by counterposing "just cultural language
> game" to "biological components of wants."
> And I don't understand the distinction you are imputing to me between
> "object-oriented activity" that is perceptual and "activity."
> Sorry, Larry. To get through my thick head you need to be very specific.
> Larry Purss wrote:
>> Andy, what is your thoughts on "embodied" notions of enactment. This
>> tradition talks about DIRECT "on-line" pre-conceptual pre-linquistic
>> expressions of INTENTIONALITY without understanding [as interpretive].
>> Where do the concepts of "embodied mind" as PERCEPTUALLY based
>> directedness, fit within activity theory notions of wants and needs?
>> seems to be a question which points to alternative notions of substance or
>> essence? Is it just a cultural language game or is there a biological
>> component of wants involved. Or is it another special case of
>> object-oriented activity that is perceptual but not activity as you define
>> I hope this question is clear ?
>> xmca mailing list
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
> MIA: http://www.marxists.org
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