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Re: [xmca] Activity & Dialogue


Again thanks for all solemnity !
Now I can come up with my own ideas vis a vis yours more easily which I never claim will be an appropriate response .
My premises once again :
1. My problem is first whether you believe altogether in the existence/reality of 'activities' , second how you prove culture is prior to activity IN A FINAL COUNT and which is more directly closer to the living .
2. Living is a non-stop process (death implied) ; hence an activity .
3. 'Reification' is the end-point of a round of an activity , the starting-point of another round of activity , hence successive activities . 

4. Ideal , when reified , is no longer ideal . 

5. By 'objectivity' of the material world , we don't mean objects and corporealities up there ; They should be taken SUBJECTIVELY , that is both REFLECTIVELY AND AGENTIVELY and that is why we take processes and relations , too , as being material . 

 From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu> 
Sent: Saturday, 31 December 2011, 17:10:11
Subject: [xmca] Activity & Dialogue


Thanks for this reply to my thinking out loud and pointing out that I may

not be entering into the main arena of discussion.  You also recommend we

try to distinguish our gaps in order to have a conversation.   In your

words you wrote,

You know I'm talking within the domain of the 'activity theory' ,

Leontevian version .

Now look how you start your response :

You collect , goal , purpose , perspective , all together . You know by

'goal' I mean the point or focus one orients herself so that she , taking

advantage of the most comfortable 'operations' , succeeds in realizing an

'action' , a moment of an activity . Perspective is sort of a world-view ;

being conscious of a worldview one might be involved with , takes you to

the realm of the whole personality you've got , your dealing with Nature ,

your dealing with social relations , your belonging or lack of it vis a vis

a SOCIAL CLASS , the whole of your ideological stance , so on so forth .

It's with respect to all these which a NEED arises and to satisfy this need

, you have to orient on a corresponding 'object' and that 'object' in

itself does not motivate you , it should BECOME a MOTIVE of an activity .

It's here that Leontiev is charged with 'passivity' ; the opponents seek to

believe in a reverse process , already and internally stuffed with kind of

'faith' , 'morality' , (maybe God Terminus which I don't know about) , deep

spring of incessantly flowing / poring out of all kinds of motives , drives

, desires , incentives , etc . just laid there . We say one becomes

sacrificial socially having passed through all hierarchy of versatile

motives until she has reached the highest step , having tested all results

of different motives (reifications) .

next :

[[ I would suggest for humans many of the "meaningful" acts are

dialogically and hermeneutically  expressed WITHIN material [artifactual]

contexts. ]]

--"meaningful" acts ====> my 'action-based meanings' . You are identifying

and recognizing the 'acts' through testifying of 'meanings' and you don't

emphasize on dialectics of processes . Then for you meanings are prior to

acts and this is against all I said . You can have your own firm belief but

you cannot present what I've said so clearly as SHELL , KERNEL , ETC.

reversibly .

--are dialogically and hermeneutically expressed ====> my 'practically

weighed' . You test your 'dialogues' 'hermeneutics' even the TRANSFORMATIVE

ONES with PRACTICE and results (reifications) not vice versa .

--Within material [artifactual] contexts . =====> my first/third layer

(tied to the direction you take) . I say in a dialogue either SHELLS are

exchanged ====> communication lost .

or : KERNELS are exchanged =====> might lead to transformative status or

stance (Christine's reference) , a potentiality on the threshhold of ACTUAL

realization . Compare with so-called deep-hidden desires . so think

Vasilyuk takes this to the realm of the 'unconscious' .

--interactions are due ====> realm of my focus .

Then dear Larry , we should first of all distinguish our 'gaps' . Otherwise

communication is impossible .

Now I fear really more lengthening the response . however , I'll read your

message to the end for the second time .

--We use 'reification' for the end-point of an activity rather than the

end-point of a 'dialogue' . The latter acts just as an ARCHIVE .

-- [[*for example the God Terminus [as a perspective] expressing particular

social arrangements*]] ====> you put your point of departure a priori 'God

Terminus' . Then I could ask what your premises are . God Terminus ,

whatever , comes from itself ? Just falling down ? , what about evolution ,

history ? You know we believe in historical socio-economic formations . We

have base and superstructure . We say in the days of feudalism with such

kind of particular social relations , the feudal class had to administer

society in such and such kinds of affairs , superstructurally leading

people towards and propagating them with such kind of worldview/ideology as

God Terminus (a conjecture) destroying all kinds of Pagan Gods as Idols

putting them in an unseeable Monotheism which could correspond and be in

parallel with that kind of base and that kind of social relations , as it

could be with Capitalism , too . Then I could conclude that , you dear

Larry , with so fluent a speech and so flowing a pen . do not really enter

the main arena of discussion , you , in  fact , wayward it , you come with

your own separate treasure-house of ideas . Then , you're not , in fact ,

responding , you're perhaps ? uni-vocally/unil-laterally narrating your own

tale (forgive) .


Haydi, I'm going to try to "communicate" by attempting to find some "common

ground" by staying close to your phrases. This still may leave confusion

because how I "read" [understand] what you wrote may not be what you

intended to communicate.

I will begin with "perspectives" which is a key word I'm using. Your

interpretation of "perspectives", using your words is,

"a sort of world-view; being conscious of a worldview one might be

involved with takes you to the realm of the whole personality you've got,

your dealing with Nature, your dealing with social relations, your

belonging or lack of it vis a vis a social class, the whole of your

ideological stance, and so forth. It's with respect to all these that a

NEED arises and to satisfy THIS need, you have to orienton a corresponding

'object' and that object IN ITSELF does not motivate you, it should BECOME

a MOTIVE of an activity".

Haydi, I will move to a concrete example to explore how I may be seeing

this term "perspectives" not as "merely" the "whole personality" that

encompasses my unique personality.  I'm trying to use perspectives as a

cultural-historical concept that does develop over time but once developed

[reified??] has profound constraints on the personalities of all the

participants who operate within its framework.

a. One is not born a 'personality' .
b. I said : ...takes you to the REALM of the whole personality you've GOT , ...We say one BECOMES a SACRIFICIAL socially having passed through all hierarchy of versatile motives until she has reached the highest step , having tested all RESULTS of different motives (reifications) . 
Besides , what I want to say is : tell me what personality she has , I will tell you to what worldview she sticks (my previous quote from L days back) .
If you consider the content of what I've said above , you will not see a contradiction concerning your 'unique' personality . We are not dealing with fixed for ever concepts . 
c. I wonder why you use 'perspective' 'personality' 'participant' in plural . I'm of the idea we should beware of these inconsistencies because of an imposed interpretation not because of playing with 'words' . 'perspectives' as A 'concept' . 
d. In the context we are talking , I will not take a 'perspective/worldview' as a 'concept' because what I gather from the content is so vast and expansive that encompasses the whole life , an umbrella which preserves you from being influenced by any transient push of breezes and drops . A worldview , so I think , comes into being when all concepts one is dealing with at each stage of one's life come into a conclusion through their interactions . 
e. I prefer to say : ...has profound constraints on the ACTIONS #personalities of all the participants who OPERATE within its framework . I see a 'redundancy' here leading to a conflictual stance . See if you unknowingly , in spite of all you have said about 'perspectives' being 'evolutionary' 'historical' 'over time process' , might have taken it/them? as something being innate affecting 'personalities' . 
f. My problem is not solved : [[I'm trying to use perspectives as a cultural-historical concept that does develop over time but ...]] How ? Is it just C-ultural and H-istorical and not A-ctivity T-heory based ? Even if you might jump from Birth to a DEVELOPED WORLDVIEW , you still have to use 'OPERATE' within, quite automatically . Our problems seems to be first with 'action' rather than the activity theory . You don't try to locate 'action' in your long journey from birth to death .    

The concept of "agency" as a "perspective" is a concrete example of a

cultural-historically developed concept [emerging from

particular historically constellated social relations] that comes to be a

framework for helping to "orient" future acts. There are MULTIPLE

perspectives on "agency" and each perspective articulates and expresses

alternative "types" of personality formations.  Now as these alternatives

circulate within a specific historical moment some of these perspectives on

"agency" have more or less salience [are cultural-historically validated

and appreciated]

Some examples of alternative perspectives on agency [which come to orient a

particular person's personality] are:

Contractual agency:  Where your agency is recognized through an "exchange"

of mutual recognition and you develop your agency through MUTUAL

SYMMETRICAL recognition.  Acting from this particular framework forms

particular "types" of personalities

voluntaristic agency: This is a framework that posits an identity that

transcends context and through one's own voluntaristic agency can "choose"

how to act in the world. This also is a particular historically developed

framework which orients and has rofound cultural consequences for how we

constellate our social relationships.

Possessive Agency: This is the perspective or framework on agency which

Patchen Markell is challenging as "merely" another form of "sovereign"

agency [as are the contractual and voluntaristic]  This framework posits

"identities" that exist "a priori" and require  struggles and conflict in

order to be recognized as who we ARE.

Non-possessive agency:  This is a perspective which the Buddhists call

"self-emptying" Greg's email's suggest there is a Western trope

[perspective] which has historically developed in the West that shares a

family resemblance with the Buddhist perspective on agency.  This

alternative perspective embraces "action" at the center of agency but an

action that is non-possessive and ACTIVELY attempts to develop a

perspective that makes a committment to dialogue and communication that

requires a turning away from all the previous perspectives of "sovereign



a. The concept of "agency" as a "perspective" ...  . I accept 'agency' as a 'concept' but not as a 'perspective/worldview' . Do you use Shaupenhaur's agency , Heidegger's agency , whatever ? We can say his perspective is based on taking 'agentivity' as a non-deterministic view of man . Besides , you are going to narrate the different definitions different perspectives present on 'agency' . Then how can it be itself a 'perspective' ? Larry , my ever be friend , how easy-going you are with the flow of words :-)) 
b. Your contractual agency seems to be contradictory to my taking of the 'class struggle' . If yesterday , with the collapse of the Soviet Union , you said 'no class' , now with the %1 versus %99 which is the 'word' of the 'day' plus many other phenomena , you still say : 'no class' ? Contract between who and who ? I'm , in my turn , expecting the 'agentivity' of the 'OPPRESSED' .  Andy on his wish of the New Year pleaded the Arab Spring to get GLOBALIZED . Amen ! With so many controversies you still believe in equal folk ? 
But in less than three months , we'll be having our first day of the New Year . Don't want us to see Nato's super-jet aircrafts over our heads  ! as we don't want you accountable for a minority's oppression . 
Larry ! Please don't reply to this unfinished message . Let me go to the end this time . You seem to be so orientated . No problem ! Wait Plz . 
I don't agree with David Bakhurst . However , the attached might be of interest . Read individually :--))
Best Regards 

What motivates trying to "possess" agency" Patchen says it is the denial of

our FINITUDE. For him this is a central motivation and desire to develop

along the path of "becoming sovereign".

Haydi, as a "worldview" the impulse to recognize MY SOVEREIGN identity also

extends to concepts such as  the identity of sovereign state or the

identity of sovereign private property. Perspectives have real consequences

in our practices and our institutional formations as they express our

cultural-historically constituted personalities [our concepts, affects, and

actions]  Being sovereign requires FIRM BOUNDARIES and limits. In contrast

non-possessive agency embraces uncertainty, fallibility, ambivalence at the

HEART of our humanness.  From Patchen's perspective embracing the reality

of our VULNERABILITY to entering generative dialogues is avoided to

maintain our security needs to be recognized as "sovereign".

Back to Activity Theory. I hope I've shown that the concept "perspectives"

as I'm attempting to use it is much more inclusive than just "a person's

personality.  I believe we can operate from ALL four of the above notions

of agency at different moments and move between them as all four

perspectives on agency are recognized culturally.

Ethically and evaluatively I would promote the non-possessive form of

agency [as a particular perspective and position] Over time if this

perspective becomes shared with many others, then a personality

"disposition" MAY develop IF WE ACT on this particular perspective.

Haydi, and everyone else

Happy New Year in 2012


Haydi, I hope this concrete example

----- Forwarded Message -----

From: Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com>

To: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>

Cc: "xmca@weber.ucsd.edu" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

Sent: Saturday, 31 December 2011, 6:00:52

Subject: Re: [xmca] Interpreting Leontiev: functionalism and Anglo Finnish


With a bit of corrections if this time the Internet works !



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