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Re: Re :[xmca] Idem per Idem

I have not counted the number of words, but your response seems to be long
enough to count as a song

Larry  :-)
On Sun, Jan 1, 2012 at 2:20 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

> My dear Christine--
> Oh, I don't think of myself as given to excesses, Larry is the one whose
> posts are long and exubertant and CAPITALIZED, and I certainly don't have
> his erudition or his stamina. I am more like one of those boring relatives
> who falls asleep on the couch when everybody else is partying to excess,
> and who occasionally jumps and rumbles when others burst into song..
> Ivan remarks that I have probably misunderstood Leontiev. That is always
> possible; nay, it is even probable. But if so, I am not the first and will
> not be the last, and it seems to me that my misunderstanding is as good
> occasion as any to straighten out what appears to be a very common flaw in
> the way Leontiev is read and written about. And if not--well, if not, it
> seems to me that this "misunderstanding" might explain some of what we've
> been reading in Leontiev's "Michurinist" work from the early sixties.
> On the one hand, Leontiev insists that activity is molar, and on the other
> hand he tells us that it is non-additive. I have never really understand
> what this means: to me, "molar" refers to fungibility; it suggests that a
> number of things make up another thing (Avagadro's number of atoms making
> up a mole). But on  p. 64 of Acitivity, Consciousness and Personality,
> Leontiev writes:
> "If the action that constitute activity are mentally subtracted from it,
> then absolutely nothing will be left of an activity."
> So this suggests that actions add up to make a kind of mole out of
> activity. Activity, in turn, is non-additive: we do not add activities
> together to make some larger unit, the way we add actions together to make
> an activity, or operations to make up an action.
> This is Kozulin's interpretaton (see p. 117 of his article "The concept of
> activity in Soviet psychology" in the Daniels "Introduction to
> Vygotsky" [Routledge 2005]), but it is also Andy's, reiterated in his new
> book. It is what A.A. Leontiev means when he says that actions make up an
> activity "without remainder", and it's what I object to.
> It turns out that "system of activity" has quite a history even before
> Vygotsky uses it in "History of the Development of the HIgher Mental
> Functions". He takes the idea from an American mathematical geneticist
> called Herbert Spencer Jennings, about whom I was asking Huw (because I
> wrongly thought they had the same first name for some reason.)
> Jennings was a psychologist malgre lui; that is, an involuntary
> psychologist, in both senses of the word "involuntary". First of all, his
> real love was asexual reproduction: he believed that protozoa enjoyed
> eternal life, and he wanted to study it (it was only much later that he
> grudgingly admitted that sexual reproduction also produced a "rejuvenated"
> cell). He was the first person to really work the mathematical
> possibilities that Mendel's law permits, and so single-handedly founded
> mathematical genetics.
> But he was also an outspoken critic of the eugenic craze that swept the
> USA at the end o the nineteenth century (my grandfather's high school
> report card, circa 1916, says that he got an A- in eugenics, which was a
> required course at the time). He criticized the laws that states passed for
> the sterilization of criminals, poor people and immigrants, and he also
> spoke out against the anti-Chinese immigration act of 1924, which is in
> many ways still the basis of US immigration policy (by fixing quotas based
> on populations that have already gotten into the US, America seeks to avoid
> changing the precise racial mix that obtained in 1924. Of course, this
> assumes that people only marry their own race!)
> Vygotsky's point, in Chapter One of the History of the Development of the
> Higher Psychological Functions, is that the "system of activity" CANNOT be
> used to explain the development of the higher mental functions, because an
> organism's system of activity develops on the basis of the anatomy of the
> organism (the organs). In child development, the child's internal organs
> and the child's system of activity develop at the same time, because the
> latter is really part of the child's use of "artificial organs", that is,
> tools.
> The fact that the system of activity can actually outstrip the maturation
> of the organism gives Vygotsky an idea. In some special cases, viz. human
> beings, it ought to be possible for instructed learning to outstrip
> development. The area between development, which is snoring on the couch,
> and learning, which is partying in the rafters, is what he calls the zone
> of proximal development.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> PS: Oh, the opera. It is a personal obsession; I have always been
> intrigued by  the idea that sociogenetically, music and speech seem to have
> co-evolved, and that melody is merely an exaggeration and systematization
> of speech intonation. If that is true, opera, and especially recitative,
> would hold the key to understanding the sociogenesis of speech in the same
> way that the Coecolanth held the key to understanding the phylogenesis of
> lungs. But it is only speculation.
> dk
> --- On Sun, 1/1/12, christine schweighart <schweighartgate@hotmail.com>
> wrote:
> From: christine schweighart <schweighartgate@hotmail.com>
> Subject: Re :[xmca] Idem per Idem
> To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> Date: Sunday, January 1, 2012, 9:58 AM
> Dear David,
> It's impossible for me to address the content of your message ( two days
> of fiestas and still no sleep! ). Though there  are many many issues around
> 'systems' notions to discuss sometime.
> I thought I would convey that I recieved this response as a 'gesture of
> generation of excess'  and although I remember your sharing of opera - had
> the feeling this 'was opera' - a very imaginative image of this 'content'
> actually being a burst of song has tickled my sense of humour since I set
> off travelling on the 30th December - and even today I still laugh - I have
> no idea why this should be the case.
> It might flow past without timely response -  so I've sent this in the
> meantime. happy New year,
> Christine
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