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Re: [xmca] Interpreting Leontiev: functionalism and Anglo Finnish Insufficiences
- To: Haydi Zulfei <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Interpreting Leontiev: functionalism and Anglo Finnish Insufficiences
- From: Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 05:53:05 -0800
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I'm going to jump in to reflect on your question from my perspective :-}}
You have to act even today and in the future , too , taking from the
consciousness but with each
taking you encounter it anew because you should act in the direction of a
particular goal which does not give you all compentency and omnipotency of
dealing with it whatever you want . It's just during the act , it gets
clearer and clearer until you reach a REIFICATION all the time having been
involved with the IDEAL you've got from REALITY or , better , the OBJECTIVE
MATERIAL WORLD . And all culture and consciousness you so heavily and at
times quite salienly lean against are but REiFIED PRODUCTS of previous
generation's actions and activities .
Haydi, yes this is a fantastic question. I agree with your statement that
its during the act "it" [goal, purpose, perspective gets clearer and
clearer.] I would suggest for humans many of the "meaningful" acts are
dialogically and hermeneutically expressed WITHIN material [artifactual]
contexts. Then you over time REACH a reification. *for example the God
Terminus [as a perspective] expressing particular social arrangements* Now
is this reaching a reification a "cognitive" [epistemological]
achievement, or is it amaterial achievement [already formed] or is it
dialogical [an expression of social relations which BECOME reified]
This goes back [in my reflections] to the question of IDENTITY. Is
identity a formation or a forming which BECOMES reified. When we explore a
"system" are we exploring a previously formed "entity" or an emerging
in*formation. Cognition as a process of identity "recognition" of what
already exists and is reafied, or idenity as the backward glance which we
identify [after the dialogue and hermeneutical expression WITHIN material
places] IDENTITY as a TEMPORAL existence NOT a spacial EXISTENCE.
Patchen Markell in his book "Bound by Recognition" is proposing that
"identity" [as reified] is a BINDING which creates boundaries which are not
permeable. The social arrangements enacted in worshipping the God Terminus
are not as FIXATED on the boundary markers as is the reified notion of
"private property" as social arrangements which have become so "cognizied"
and preoccupied with their ACTUAL RECOGNITION that we loose sight of this
reified ABSTRACTION FROM CONTEXTS. Patchen calls us back to his
fundamental ontological notion of being/becoming human - our FINITUDE [our
vulnerability at the heart [not head] of our existence]. He suggests our
pursuit of self-assertion and self-mastery are assertoric WAYS or MODES
[perspectives???] of organizing our social relationships. At the heart of
modernity is this pursuit of "identity" as reified objects which we then
desire [cultural-historical] and which motivate us [cultural-historical]
but ORIENTED towards "identity" as already formed [and needing recognition]
What if we take a different "perspective" that does not pursue reifications
[constructions that can be deconstructed in the realm of epistemology [as
our north star compass point] and instead turn to temporal UNDERSTANDINGS
[which start from FINITUDE: fallibility, uncertainty, not knowing]
VULNERABILITY to FINITUDE
and from THIS PERSPECTIVE orient to our social arrangements as dialogical
understandings [not constructions] within material places. Gadamer's
notion of "understanding" as recognizing our FINITUDE and VULNERABILITY in
COMING TO UNDERSTANDING [within a temporal inscape/landscape] NOT a REIFIED
DEFENSE [through cognitive recognition of what already exists as identity]
A dialogical/hermeneutical perspective focuses on emergence [bringing into
existence something that does not yet exist] THROUGH con-verse-ation.
VERSE or graphy or text not as where we live but as tools used in our human
dialogue of in*forming perspectives which BECOME IDENTITY with rigid fixed
boundaries when reified.
This "sensibility" embraces "ambivalence" and multiple perspectives
[cultural-historical] as the GIVEN of existence. To try to grasp identity
[as reification] (for example labelling An abstract group as the
"masses") that already exists and has an identity is the perspective which
may be dissolved through dialogical perspective taking.
I want to emphasize that reifications are "real" in the sense that they
lead to "real" consequences but are the reifications "real" in the
physically natural sense or merely cognitions which we struggle to
recognize cognitively. If they are cognitions then that perspective
recognizes the dialogical/hermeneutical remediation of what was previously
thought as open to further con-verse-ation. Not "merely talk" but
"understanding" which is fundamentally a process of perspective taking.
Seeing through "property rights" as having "real" consequences as "wine
bottles" but thes "wine bottles" are not rigid fixed boundaries. They ar
permeale and can be dissolved.
I work at the personal level of identity politics and I have witnessed what
seemed to be a rigid, concrete WALL of identity dissolve in a micro moment
as the consequence of a shift in perspective. I'm not as clear on the
possibility of dissolving identity reifications at the structural societal
level but I suspect that if enough people "see through" a particular
identity formation then there can also be a radical shift in perspective.
[for example the girl in the blue bra who was brutally attacked in Egypt].
That image broadcast across the world broke through a particular identity
wall and called many others [particularly women] to a possible new
"understanding" 0f the reification of the concrete wall . Through dialogue
of imagining and acting in new WAYS new social arrangements
may form which in looking back we will recognize as forming new
identities. These new identities have not yet formed and so struggling for
their recognition [as spatially and structurally already in existence] is
putting the cart before the horse. It is out of the
dialogical/hermeneutical engagement with others i which we come to occupy
new places with new identies.
Haydi, acts are central to this perspective I'm articulating, but acts
within perspectives, and perspectives are MORE than cognitive or at the
level of identity. Perspectives are world-forming activities that we are
"given" and which we can "take" [soft agency] as "practices" guided by
particular ethical perspectives.
I grant that this perspective I'm offering up for consideration may be
expressed within a Marxist perspective. In dialogue we will possibly find a
fusion of horizons [perspectives] if we enter into the conversations with
an acknowledgement of our FINITUDE. It is this "attitude" or "sensibility"
which sustains generative dialogues which are remediated within a field of
FINITUDE. There will also be many acts of remediation that are more
"technical" [techne] or more theoretical but the approach of generative
dialogue embraces and orients towards phronesis.
I know there is an alternative perspective that privleges "explanations" or
"constructions" as other perspectives on dialogical in*formation but there
is a place to engage those alternative perspectives with Gadamer's
dialogical notion of "understanding" through con-verse-ation [not merely
"talk"] Bahktin's notion of utterances.
I hope this post is more focussed as I tried to stay with Patchen Markell's
language & perspective but I see the theme of recognizing identity [as
known cognitive reified spacial metaphors] contrasting with
recognizing identity [within an ontological COMING INTO BEING as a temporal
knowing phenomena] playing out in these conversations.
John Shotter's recommendation to stay close to the "saying" not the "said".
I also accept the ambivalence expressed within the heart of my argument.
Acknowleding the finitude of any perspective [and the underlying
vulnerability INHERENT in expressing a perspective] challenges not only
"what we know" but also "who we are" I believe this may be why we have
retreated into "private" or "intimate" spaces as we no longer TRUST our
vulnerability and finitude will be "recognized" "acknowledged"
"appreciated","witnessed" in our BECOMING so we fall back towards BEING and
identity and concrete reified perspectives of "knowing" and the "said"
My question is, "are specific places required that support "practices" of
acknowledgement [not identity recognition] . Or can an "individual" engage
with con-verse-ations through texts and develop the ability to act within
"practices" which lead to "dispositions" For example a Buddhist practice
of "self-emptying" or an academic department or a private "institute" or an
Andy suggests we can engage in a project through our struggles to "see
through" what is given and received. Can this form of reading and writing
and distributing texts " transform perspectives or must we also participate
in practices which are expressing traditions?
On Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 3:38 AM, Haydi Zulfei <email@example.com>wrote:
> It's got , I think , to be a vicious circle . Many say that men live with
> their culture . Yes, of course , they do . But the big problem is if they ,
> then , don't act ! And whether which one could have come or could come from
> the other both initially and ultimately . Initially goes to the
> phylogenetic process to the effect that man came into being with 'deed' or
> with 'word' . Those who so heavily lean on 'culture' and 'consciousness'
> and 'sign' and 'semiosis' altogether , should say if these categories are
> standing on their own , have been standing on their own , directly ,
> immediately , secure and guarantee living continuance . Ontologically
> speaking , a child is a little scientist as Chomsky once said , just
> needing to be exposed to a language , no needing to interact and act ? As
> far as I can remember Leontiev believes in activity being a unit of life
> itself (for a discussion see A.A.LEONTIEV --units and levels of
> activity--and this is where all
> focus to entrap L) . And 'system' is the label used by Engestrom . Now we
> are living in a very complicated world of enormously-multiplication of all
> sorts of phenomena . But does that rule out the initialities and
> essentialities of food , shelter , protection , game (hunting) and the
> aftermath ? Today , too , man has to struggle with Nature and with hostile
> blocking hindrances put up in his way to reach a prosperous , tranquil way
> of living in society . He has to take culture as mediating but what is
> culture ? Where did it come from ? Did man , without acting , reach having
> culture (material and spiritual) ? He also needs 'consciousness' to take
> from . But what is consciousness ? It's there fixed for ever like a
> storage-house on the alert for you to give it the honour of your presence
> and seek some needy things out of it and then leave without a good-bye ?
> You have to act even today and in the future , too , taking from the
> consciousness but with each
> taking you encounter it anew because you should act in the direction of a
> particular goal which does not give you all compentency and omnipotency of
> dealing with it whatever you want . It's just during the act , it gets
> clearer and clearer until you reach a REIFICATION all the time having been
> involved with the IDEAL you've got from REALITY or , better , the OBJECTIVE
> MATERIAL WORLD . And all culture and consciousness you so heavily and at
> times quite salienly lean against are but REiFIED PRODUCTS of previous
> generation's actions and activities . Leontiev says behind the SHELL (word)
> is the 'kernel' , 'marrow' -- word meaning all in all itself a process of
> action ; how can you create a meaning without an action ; yes , in a way
> you can create meaning out of other meanings in the privacy of thinking but
> three problems occur : a. if you call thinking an activity or not b. your
> other meanings are action-based or not c. whether you want to be a dead
> imprisoned in a room ? then , in fact , we are facing three layers here :
> THE SHELL , THE KERNEL AND THE WHOLE FRUIT , A REIFIED PRODUCT OF A PROCESS
> OF PLANTING , WATERING , ETC. ; and when a social conflict occurs whether
> in the province of 'social meaning' or in the province of the (personal
> meaning - sense- perezhivanie-experiencing) , then you knowingly or
> unknowingly reach a point of act to resolve the conflict . The problem with
> Vygotsky is not that he does not believe in act , at least , because he
> wants 'transformation' , 'freedom' whatever you like . And the problem with
> Leontiev is not that he is negligent of the profundity and profusion of
> signs in the life of man today . The point is whether to stick to the
> Labour theory of Marx (vygotsky relevant or irrelevant) as a way to
> 'salvation' --so bitter a taste I know --or to the huge world of nowadays'
> ?? motley and versatile products of semiosis-based phenomena leading at
> large to 'negotiation'
> and 'dialogues' hopefully leading to fantastically-believed automatically
> action-generating of 'emancipation' in confronting the ACTION-BASED
> day-to-day operations of Capitalism .
> Andy :[[Robert Brandom does the same thing. There is a whole tendency
> which is so
> afraid of Marx and the forces of production that they have theoretically
> excised the entire human-made material world from human society.]]
> From: Arturo Escandon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
> Sent: Thursday, 29 December 2011, 19:55:59
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Interpreting Leontiev: functionalism and Anglo Finnish
> Hi David.
> Not sure you are interpreting Leontiev correctly. For Leontiev, "life"
> is the sum-total of activities or a system, a hierarchy of successive
> activities. But he is dealing with this in relation to consciousness
> in a Marxian sense. For Marx, consciouness is "the actual life of
> people". In order to ascertain activity you have to look at the
> object, and therefore, you have to look at the object of actions that
> realize activity, for they are non-coincidental with the object of
> activity. But that is the method proposed by Leontiev in agreement
> with Marx's proposed method, not a unit of analysis.
> "...activity is not an additive process. Hence actions are not
> separate things that are included in activity" (Leontiev, 1977, p.
> The kind of "structure" of activity introduced by Leontiev is of
> abstractness or abstraction, not of levels or parts.
> I do not see any major departure from LSV. Eventually, if you take the
> unit of analysis "word meaning", you will have to empirically unwrap
> the contradiction between (personal) sense and (social meaning)
> meaning, which takes you back at the intersection between meaning and
> sense (or activity and action), otherwise you will get into some kind
> of reified form of interactionism.
> Of course my own interpretation may be wrong.
> On 28 December 2011 22:49, David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > I have a problem. I accept that Vygotsky's search for a unit of analysis
> is teleological: it works backwards from a problem rather than forwards
> from particular elements. I accept that for this reason it has a clear
> relationship to what Andy calls "defining a whole field".
> > What I do not accept is that the field is really reducible to the units
> of analysis, microcosmically, that we can really, as Blake says, perceive
> the universe in a grain of sand. That is not just romantic science (that
> is, science which dares to question Cartesian rationalism and dualism); it
> is romantic mysticism.
> > So for example capitalism is not the sum total of commodities. A mind is
> not a skull stuffed with word meanings. And nature is not just a bunch of
> spaces. Yes, in each case the unit contains the essence of the whole. But
> in no case is whole equal to the sum of its parts. A body is not simply
> cells, but also plasma, and electrical impulses, and structures that go
> well beyond the cellular level. Yes, the unit of analysis contains the
> problem. But the unit of analysis is not itself the solution to the problem.
> > Not only is the whole not equal to the sum of its parts, I think
> that the unit of analysis is not equal to itself; that is, it must develop.
> That means that the unit of analysis has to be an open system, and not a
> closed one; there must be some means by which things which are not part of
> the unit can become part of the unit. I think that the commodity and the
> meaning-laden word pass this test: the commodity absorbs labor, and the
> meaningful word absorbs sense. But I also think that "activity" does not.
> > That's part of my objection to Leontiev, I'm afraid. Leontiev DOES say
> that an activity is reducible to its component actions, without remainder,
> and an action similarly fungible into operations. That's why I think the
> accusation that his explanatory principle is the same as his unit of
> analysis (Kozulin) is true.
> > I realize that this brings me very close to Nikolai Veresov. Nikolai
> objected to my interpreting "microcosm" as "unit of analysis" (as in "The
> meaning-laden word is a microcosm of human consciousness"), and pointed out
> that a macrocosm is not made up of microcosms. I now think his objection
> was correct. The "meaningful word" is not really a unit of analysis for
> consciousness in general (and that is why Vygotsky offers, for example,
> perizhvanie for young children). It is only the "and" in "Thinking and
> > David Kellogg
> > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> > --- On Mon, 12/26/11, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
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