Hi Michael I thought you become happy when you read that infants are themselves objects of activity . Because it was the big knot to be disentangled in your debate . As I know you for years , I guess you have read all the following I like to introduce : 1. The awakening to life (If you have not , and if Andy allows , I can send it to you ; it is really very promising in this respect . 2. The article I recently attached from Andrey Maidansky 3. Ilyenko's analysis of the very events which took place at the Institute where Mesh. worked . 4. Problem of age and Elkonin's and some others' works at Marxists.org 5. Davydov's two published major works and articles . Then : How does learning occur in L's terms ? I answered : simply through activities which are mainly based on previous generations' products of activities or not-yet-reified activities of theirs which have bequeathed to us and await reification . The problem with your argument was that because you could not imagine and assert how a cycle of activity with all its debated long procedures could be related to an infant itself , you felt a vaccum which , to your perspective , could not be filled out by the activity theorist . In fact , you broke down the cycle of activity by your supposed configuration . You tried to mount the behavouristic notions up upon the chains or rings of an activity process . Hence your forcefully-posed actions and motives in scrambled shapes . And you did think that an infant could not have motives of itself ; what you thought of were natural instincts . Then , you had to drag the carers into the scene . Our ideality of the actual world draws us into action to achieve our life needs . The action of necessity finds its object . Action needs an active willful agent to act on the object according to the known properties . This knowing comes from the previous generations' works on their objects of activities in different shapes . The subject , in this process of interaction which might necessitate a solution and resolution of likely contradictions , LEARNS the ways and mechanisms of achieving a goal , and how to take it to its end , material and spiritual (in our particular sense) are heretofore created to be recycled again and again . Why does learning occur ? I'd rather have faced 'why doesn't' ? Because 'interactions' are inevitable . Because 'matter' existed . Because transformations of 'matter' occured . Because matter got complexed in higher , highest shape . Because reactibility , irritability , sensibility , psychicality , conscientiality ? occured within transformability of matter . Because we cannot now not think and act . Can you learn only by engaging in operations? I know not of your behavouristic 'operations' , not my province now . But with Activity-action-conditions-based operations : No ! I remind you of activity cycle being molar , non-partial , etc.etc. We cannot override our definitions , can we ? If you believed in the Activity Theory , you posed the question thus : When we saw an infant behavouring in such a way and then we see her being directed when she errs , then we are to believe that the very cycle of activity works really but in a specific conditions . Best Hdydi ________________________________ From: "Glassman, Michael" <email@example.com> To: Haydi Zulfei <firstname.lastname@example.org>; "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com> Sent: Saturday, 6 April 2013, 21:43:36 Subject: RE: [xmca] Project Hi Haydi, It seems like you are agreeing with Andy, or saying Leontiev would, that you might not consider operations of an infant embedded within an action because the infant can't imagine an object. But then here is my question, if infants are only engaging in operations then how does learning occur? Why does learning occur? Can you learn only by engaging in operations? Do we suggest that neonates and infants don't learn? Then what is the moment that they do start learning? Michael ________________________________________ From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] on behalf of Haydi Zulfei [firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Friday, April 05, 2013 5:39 PM To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity Subject: Re: [xmca] Project Hi Michael et al No ! No ! If your notions are based on reading Leontiev's works , No ! All Leontiev tries to nullify is the formula S=====>> R . Then , he even doesn't put 'tool' in between because tool without activity is void . L's activity should always have an object : activity of ... It's not the case that any object could be the object of any activity . For the object to ascend to the rank of a motive , it should satisfy a Need . It's the NATURAL NEEDS he dubs 'instincts' or 'stimulus needs' which directly affect the passive subject if any . It's DIRECT and the derivative DIRECTNESS , bipolar versus tripolar ; activity posed as sort of 'unit of life' if one is pressurized to go parallelism with the 'unit of analysis' . It's thus : ACTIVITY subject object He says a No-object activity is not an activity . For the Subject to be able to transform the object according to the particular need , she has to know about its properties ; he says acting according to the properties is not passivity but his critics focus on this ; then they conclude the object-orientedness evades the agentivity or influentiality or the willfulness of the Subject . Activity , of necessity and of its Nature , has its due object and active subject within ; it's molar , non-atomic , non-partial , contiguous , integrated , amalgamated , blend , momentarial , etc. Can we actually separate inhalation from exhalation ? Once again , let's remember the exemplar : Eating is a essential need , life perpetuating ! Hence going hunting . Eating =====> hunger drive ======> motive for hunting . Motive of the active subject drives him towards 'games' as fit to act on . Pusher of the animal is allocated his proper action according to the division of labour ; should be able to relate the action to the activity . should be , then , conscious about it . Conditions assign corresponding operations : pushing to the centre ; stoning , targeting , drawing among the bushes , throwing sharp devices , etc. etc. For L , psychical activity is different from 'conscious' , 'self-conscious' activity . The lengthening and doubling of the rod by the chimpanzee is a psychical activity . The nucleus of later phase of consciousness is formed here . Then an infant has just its Natural instincts to be satisfied by carers . Meshcheryakov's kids were not even able to satisfy their natural needs ; that was why the enterprise looked miraculous and so greatly appreciated by Ilyenko . You might say that was a pathological case ; Ilyenko and M. answer they were able to drag them first to be able to satisfy their natural needs themselves ; then they were able to drag them to more complicated activities ; thus , four of them ascended to the rank of university professors . Consciousness was instilled in them through activities . Infants here (the way you discuss) are themselves the 'object' of carers' 'activities' . Motives are assigned by the Institute . Actions are carried out by different personnel . operations were up to their then possibilities . M. criticizes the then ruling elite for their carelessness over the provision of facilities and possibilities . Let's read you once again : [[Do infants simply engage in operations? Is that possible? Isn't there an action tied to every operation, or else why is the infant doing it. I think infants definitely do react to stimuli ... But when they react don't they have an aim of some type? It might be very rudimentary but it is an aim and the child/INFANT is developing operations to meet those aims (it also seems to me that there are much fuzzier boundaries between operations and actions at this point).]] And if there's a type of an AIM with the infant , then why associating SOME CAREFUL MOTIVES to their aim-oriented behaviours ? The Hindi infant/child tries to take the erected neck of a big snake ; the snake abstains , the infant/child pushes forward again and again ! Aimed ?? What motive could be associated to ? L says eating is an instinct and natural but sitting at a table , taking the fork and the spoon , etc. , mannerism , in short , are SOCIAL . Andy has had his critique and has aimed for projects ; I'm not well read with projects now . Best Haydi ________________________________ From: "Glassman, Michael" <email@example.com> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Thursday, 4 April 2013, 19:23:40 Subject: RE: [xmca] Project Hi Martin, I'm trying to get an understanding from your posts (and from Andy's). Are you saying we shouldn't use both behavior and activity as they somehow represent dichotomous perspectives. It seems to me that behaviors, at least the way the term has been used, are empirical facts. We observe what is person is doing without making assumptions about a continuum of experience (including historical motivations). Activity on the other hand is a continuum, it involves the reasons behind the behavior stretching back into history, as well as the assumed projection of the behavior going forward in the service of some aim. To go back to one of the root points of this (at least I think it is) the few pages Vygotsky devotes to Stanislavskii's ideas on motivation of the actor. What the audience sees on stage is the behavior, but in order for that behavior to have ongoing meaning for the audience the actor must reach back and think about the history that led to the motivation for the behavior coming forward, and where the actor thinks he will be going after he leaves the stage. Certainly important stuff, but then the audience really only has the observed behavior with which it can connect (unless of course you take some type of course with the actor in question - and find out you were completely wrong about everything you thought - very humbling). But I also I think disagree with Andy to some extent. Do infants simply engage in operations? Is that possible? Isn't there an action tied to every operation, or else why is the infant doing it. I think infants definitely do react to stimuli (feedback I think can be define through information processing but it can also perhaps be defined through social cognitive theory which is more behavior oriented). But when they react don't they have an aim of some type? It might be very rudimentary but it is an aim and the child is developing operations to meet those aims (it also seems to me that there are much fuzzier boundaries between operations and actions at this point). But I think here is a really good example of why it is important to maintain both behavior and action as ways of understanding what the child is doing. The only information we have, especially from an infant, is the behavior, and we have to be really carefully about associating motives, no matter how basic, to those behaviors. In James' and then Dewey's famous example of the infant with the candle we can see the behavior of the child putting their hand towards the flame, but from that individual observation we can't know why, and shouldn't make assumptions, which may lead us to a truth that is not shared with the child we are observing. So I guess this finally gets to the reason I put this on the project page, and my idea of why a project should be the unit of analysis. The only place we really get a good idea about motivations of individuals is by how their behaviors play out in a project. Michael ________________________________________ From: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org] on behalf of Martin Packer [email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, April 04, 2013 9:39 AM To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity Subject: Re: [xmca] Project Hi Lubomir, You've said, "By the way, the bakery is a behavior setting." What I would have expected you to say is something like, 'Roger Barker would have viewed the bakery as a behavior setting. But we now know that it makes more sense to view it as an activity setting.' How would you, using your concept of 'activity setting,' approach the task of conducting field work regarding the 'form of life' that one encounters at the bakery? Or would you buy your bread somewhere else? Martin On Apr 3, 2013, at 9:07 AM, Lubomir Savov Popov <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > Dear Martin and Andy and all participants in this dicsussion, > > I just get into this dconversation. It is fascinating. The concept of the project as an activity system offers heuristic advantages. It is obviously an activity system, a molar phenomenon, not a molecular phenomenon. I would mention here the concept of behavior setting by Roger Barker, the founder of ecological psychology (now environmental psychology). By the way, the bakery is a behavior setting. > > For a long time I am trying to promulgate the concept of activity setting instead of behavior setting. By the way, I use activity setting as a analytical framework for analyzing build environment. I apologize to all Barker followers for my boldness, but coming from the domain of activity theory I believe that the concept of activity has stronger heuristic power than the concept of behavior. In the East European tradition, behavior is only the manifested facet of activity. In the American tradition, behavior refers to most of the content of activity. These conceptual and terminological differences produce a number of difficulties in justifying the concept of activity setting. > > However, I am also working on the concept of activity system. The activity system is a broader category, with a major emphasis on the social facets, although the mat4erial/physical aspects are considered as well. > > The project can be seen an activity system with all ensuing implications. > > If we look at the project as a personals endeavor, it might be better to talk about design activity. This will lead to major insights into personal decision-making, invention, factors influencing the decision-making process, and so forth. > > If we look at the project as a group activity, then we need to expand our framework or use a somewhat different framework that is designed to account for social relationships. There are cooperation, collaboration, and so forth. Motivation is very important. There are also power play, envy, confrontation, and other phenomena of that kind. > > One interesting approach to the study of individual and group design activities is the activity methodology developed in the 1960 by the Moscow Methodological Circle (MMC) lead by Lefebvre and Shchedrovitsky. http://www.fondgp.org/gp/ ; Lefebre was the mastermind, but after he immigrated to the U.S.A. in the 1970s (if memory serves), he stagnated. Shchedrovitsky and a number of other people, actually all comparable to him in their achievements, have achieved quite of a progress in development of their kind of activity theory, despite of obstructions from the Soviet system. Although they were not considered political dissidents, they were evidently political and scientific outcasts. They had harder time getting promotions and being published, although they managed well their careers in a quite unfriendly environment. > > There are still people in Russia working with that approach, but for linguistic reasons, they are not well known in the West, not well published, and virtually dwelling in their own consciousness. > > In the 1970s and 1980s the MMC start developing the methodology of organizational games. This is a practical application of activity theory for designing and managing social organisms and situations. It was also quite unexpected phenomena for the Soviet scientific community, which dwelled at the philosophical and theoretical layers of thinking and didn't try to get into practice, despite of formal slogans to fuse science and practice. The progress of organizational games was slowed significantly after the political transition. > > Kind regards, > > Lubomir > > Lubomir Popov, Ph.D. > School of Family and Consumer Sciences > American Culture Studies affiliated faculty > 309 Johnston Hall, > Bowling Green, Ohio 43403-0059 > Lspopov@bgsu.edu > 419.372.7835 > > -----Original Message----- > From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Martin Packer > Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 9:27 AM > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity > Subject: Re: [xmca] Project > > It probably seems as though I am simply trying to rain on Andy's parade, or on his project. And I'm really not. There are important issues here. > > Remember LSV's advice that the unit of analysis should still have the key characteristics of the phenomenon we're trying to understand. So to study water you don't study its elements, hydrogen and oxygen, you study the molecule, H2O, in its various qualitative forms. > > That begs the question, then, what are the characteristics of the phenomenon we're trying to understand? Recall that we were discussing occasions of emotion - my example of a 'Gott!' when trying to open the window; Manfred's example of the bank worker getting angry at her boss. > > Brecht gave us a wonderful detailed portrait of what's happened in Egypt - in which exploitation and conflict seemed to me to be write large. So let's select those two as key characteristics. Surely there are others; I've suggested reproduction (we don't want to be asking, does the chicken produce the egg or does the egg produce the chicken). > > We need, then, a unit for the analysis of human activity that includes at least exploitation and conflict and reproduction. Activity (as per activity theory) doesn't seem to have these. Neither, in my view, does "project" - at least I don't yet see how it does. > > Don't ask me to define it (!), but I've been having my students go out to conduct field work in a 'form of life' that they select. One group has been visiting a panaderia (a bakery, basically) - and they've done a great job describing the production (of breads) and exchange (to customers), the way the business is being reproduced on a daily basis, the degree of exploitation of workers, tempered somewhat because it is a "family business," in detail. > > So what is all that? A project? An activity? An assemblage? That's what we need to figure out. > > Martin > > > On Apr 2, 2013, at 9:04 PM, Ron Lubensky <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote: > > I am going to wade warily into this discussion. I think asking for a *definition* for project is fraught in itself, because it demands ontological decomposition or deconstruction, which we resist in a dialectic analysis and an immanent critique. Andy has stated in many places that a project is "an activity". A particular activity. With an emergent concept of itself arrived through socio-cultural development and collaboration. I don't need much more to understand it. > > > -- > Ron Lubensky > www.deliberations.com.au<http://www.deliberations.com.au/> > 0411 412 626 > Melbourne Australia > > Please support my 200km bicycle Ride to Conquer Cancer<http://ml13.conquercancer.org.au/goto/support-ron-lubensky>(r) with a donation to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. > > __________________________________________ > _____ > xmca mailing list > email@example.com > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca > > > __________________________________________ > _____ > xmca mailing list > firstname.lastname@example.org > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca > __________________________________________ _____ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca __________________________________________ _____ xmca mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca __________________________________________ _____ xmca mailing list email@example.com http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmcaTitle: Soviet Psychology: Activity and Knowledge
E. V. Ilyenkov 1974
Source: Ilyenkov E. V., ?Deyatel?nost? i Znanie? (1974), in: E. V. Ilyenkov, Filosofiya i Kul?tura [Philosophy and Culture], Moscow: Politizdat (1991), © Novokhat?ko A. G. 1991;
Translated: by Peter Moxhay 2002;
Transcribed: Nate Schmolze.
In pedagogy, there is a troubling and (when you think about it) strange problem that is usually described as the problem of ?the practical application of knowledge to life.? And it is in fact true that the graduate from school (whether high school or college) finds himself in the quandary of not knowing how to ?apply? knowledge to any problem that arises outside the walls of school.
This seems to imply that human abilities should include the special ability of somehow ?correlating? knowledge with its object, i.e. with reality as given in contemplation. This means that there should be a special kind of activity of correlating knowledge and its object, where ?knowledge? and ?object? are thought of as two different ?things? distinct from the person himself. One of these things is knowledge as contained in general formulas, instructions, and propositions, and the other thing is the unstructured chaos of phenomena as given in perception. If this were so, then we could clearly try to formulate rules for making this correlation, and also to enumerate and classify typical errors so that we could warn ahead of time how to avoid them. In instructional theory, one often tries to solve the problem of knowing ?how to apply knowledge to life? by creating just this kind of system of rules and warnings. But the result is that the system of rules and warnings becomes so cumbersome that it starts to impede rather than help things, becoming an additional source of errors and failures.
Thus, there is every reason to believe that the very problem we are trying to solve arises only because the ?knowledge? has been given to the person in an inadequate form; or, to put it more crudely, it is not real knowledge, but only some substitute?
In fact, knowledge in the precise sense of the word is always knowledge of an object. Of a particular object, for it is impossible to know ?in general,? without knowing a particular system of phenomena, whether these are chemical, psychological, or some other phenomena.
But, after all, in this case the very phrase about the difficulties of ?applying? knowledge to an object sounds rather absurd. To know an object?and to ?apply? this knowledge?knowledge of the object?to the object? At best, this must be only an imprecise, confusing way of expressing some other, hidden situation.
But this situation is rather typical.
And this situation is possible only under particular circumstances?when the person has mastered not knowledge of an object but knowledge of something else instead. And this ?other thing? can only be a system of phrases about an object, learned either irrespective of the latter or in only an imaginary, tenuous, and easily broken connection to it. A system of words, terms, symbols, signs, and their stable combinations, as formed and legitimized in everyday life??statements? and ?systems of statements.? Language. In particular, the ?language of science? with its supply of words and its syntactic organization and ?structure.? In other words, the object, as represented in available language?as an already verbalized object.
Yes, if ?knowledge? is always identified with verbally organized consciousness, then the problem will in fact be as described above?as the special problem of ?correlating? knowledge and object. But when the question is posed like this, the very problem of the ?application? of knowledge to the real world is easily replaced by the problem of the ?correct? verbalization of unverbalized material. The verbal ?object? then turns into a synonym for the chaos of totally unorganized ?sense data??into a synonym only for what I do not know about the object...
In general, we obtain the well-known program of Neopositivism with its utopian hopes of erecting a system of ?rules? that provide procedures for going from language to facts that lie outside of language, and vice versa, where there must be no ?contradictions? within language. This leads to the main principle of the Neopositivist solution?if you have verbalized certain known facts but have nevertheless obtained a contradiction within language, then it means that you have verbalized the facts ?incorrectly??not according to the rules. It means that you have ?broken? some ?rule of verbalization?...
You have crossed the boundary dividing the world of the verbalized from the world of the unverbalized, into some place that is forbidden (?by the rules?)...
The Neopositivist program, with its accompanying ?logic,? is therefore regressive in its very essence. It replaces the real problem of knowledge?as knowledge (cognition) of an object that exists not only outside of language but also independent of any self-organized language?by the problem of the verbal formation of verbally unformed material. Here the latter is thought of as the totally unformed chaos of ?sense data,? as the passive material of ?knowledge,? which can be formed verbally in one of two ways?either ?correctly? or ?incorrectly.? But here ?correctly? means according to the rules of available language, i.e. such that it is forced to fit without contradiction into available language, into the available semantic?syntactic ?framework,? into available ?knowledge?...
The real problem of the cognition of the object has therefore been twisted around into a purely linguistic problem?the problem of first assimilating available language (?the language of science?) and then of assimilating ?facts? in the forms of this (available) language. Naturally, this problem is solved by refining one?s linguistic ingenuity, allowing any ?data? to be expressed in such a way that they work without a hitch, without contradiction, within the available ?language framework,? within available ?knowledge.?
This is precisely what Imre Lakatos had in mind when he rightly noted that the Neopositivist program, if realized, would mean the death of science?available knowledge would forever be ?frozen? in the form of the available language of science... And the object would forever be doomed to the pathetic role of an object of linguistic manipulations and would not be present in the content of knowledge in any other form. It would not be allowed in?it would be held back at the entrance to ?knowledge? by the filters of Neopositivistic ?logic.?
And therefore, according to this logic, it is also not permitted to know the object (as something outside of and independent of language). We can know only ?the language of a particular object region.? And the question of which ?facts? are included in it (i.e. do not contradict it), and which are excluded from it (i.e. contradict it), depends on which ?language? is assumed.
Therefore, the very _expression_ ?to know an object,? according to Neopositivist logic, is illegitimate, for to a verbally formed consciousness it has the faint odor of ?metaphysical? or ?transcendental? language, i.e. of a somewhat ?other worldly? language. Here, ?to know? means to know language, for nothing else is given to humans to know. To the extent that ?knowledge? and ?object? have turned out to be merely two terms that mean essentially the same thing?namely, language?the problem of ?applying? one of these to the other has turned into the problem of correlating (coordinating) various aspects of language?semantics with syntax, syntax with pragmatics, pragmatics with semantics, and so on and so forth. Here, the object is always the verbally formed object. In the Neopositivist conception of things, the object simply does not exist in any form before it ?came into being? as a verbal sign, before it was embodied in language.
It seems as if the real solution to the problem of ?correlating? knowledge with the object can only consist in foreseeing and avoiding, from the very beginning, the very possibility that the problem might arise, for once it has arisen it is notoriously insoluble.
This means organizing the process of assimilating knowledge as knowledge of the object, in the most precise and direct sense of this word. In the very sense that Neopositivist philosophy strives to disallow using such insults as ?crude? and ?metaphysical??as an object that stubbornly exists outside of and completely independent of consciousness (and of language). Not as a separate ?thing? that we can always specially consider and represent while ignoring its surroundings, but precisely as a system of things possessing its own, language-independent, ?extra-language? organization and connections?as a concrete whole.
This is the only way to overcome verbalism?that chronic disease of school education that results in the notorious problem of ?applying? knowledge to life, of ?correlating? knowledge and object, but where the knowledge is in fact just a verbal shell, and where in reality we know nothing or next to nothing about the ?object? beyond what has already been said about it?beyond what has already been expressed by a word or a statement.
It is not easy to overcome this well-known disease?to do so is much harder than to describe it. It is even more important, however, to analyze it as precisely and as profoundly as possible, so that we can evaluate the effectiveness of the medicine. Otherwise?as often happens?the disease only gets driven inside, instead of being cured at the root.
Only the traditional philosophical naivete of the authors of books on teaching can possibly explain why they pin their hopes on the so-called ?principle of visual learning.? This principle, which has been used in schools for almost a century now, is in fact not at all as radical as it seems. When it is applied ineptly it leads to the opposite result from the intended one, since it creates only the illusion of a cure. It uses its multicolored cosmetics to paint over the external attributes of verbalism?its most glaring and obvious symptoms. Apparent health is thus obtained, but the disease then strikes deeper?and more important??organs of cognition.? And, most importantly, it strikes the capacity for imagination in its most important function, which Kant called the ?capacity for judgment??the ability to determine whether a given particular case comes under a given rule or not...
School often doesn?t just fail to cultivate this capacity once it has arisen, but rather actively deadens it. And it does so precisely using the notorious ?principle of visual learning.? It is not difficult to understand how this happens.
The fact is that, since this principle is taken as a panacea, as a ?bridge? between verbally acquired knowledge and the object, it focuses the pedagogue not on facilitating a real encounter between the person (the student) and the object, but just the opposite?towards the painstaking prevention of any such encounter, towards the removal of the object from the process of instruction.
The fact is that, instead of the object?in the serious, materialistic understanding of the word?the person is never presented with the object that he ought to compare and contrast with the formulas that have been given to him verbally. He is given something completely different that is only externally similar to it. What exactly? Artificially and previously chosen ?visual examples? that illustrate (i.e. confirm) the correctness of the assertions?the verbally formed statements that have been presented to him. In other words, instead of the real object, the student is presented with an artificially selected fragment of object reality that just precisely agrees with its verbal description, i.e. a graphical equivalent of the given abstraction.
As a result, the student develops a particular mentality whose insidiousness is only observed later on. From the very beginning, his attention is focused on actively searching for just those sensibly perceived phenomena that precisely agree with their own description?on singling out those ?properties? of the object that have already been uniquely expressed by verbal formulas, by a ?noncontradictory system of statements.? The student thus develops a mentality for which the word (language) becomes not a means for mastering the surrounding world, but just the opposite, the surrounding world becomes an external means for learning and practicing verbal formulas. Here, only the latter turn out to be the object of learning that is genuinely mastered.
And this is achieved precisely by means of the ?principle of visuality,? by systematically presenting the student with only such sensibly perceived things, cases and situations that precisely agree with their verbal description, i.e. that are nothing but a materialized abstract conception?i.e. ?objects? specially prepared in order to agree with a verbally given instruction, formula, or ?rule.?
Any ?visual aid? (or any real thing from the surrounding world used as a ?visual aid?) creates only an illusion of the concreteness of knowledge, of the concreteness of understanding, and at best it makes it easier for the person to learn formulas, to understand formulas, i.e. abstract schemas, for here the ?visual aid? is just a particular case of ?truth? enclosed in a formula or word. This is precisely how one derives the notion of the self-sufficiency of abstract ?schemas,? unavoidably accompanied by the idea that an individual sensibly perceived ?object? (or case, or situation) is nothing but a more-or-less random ?example,? i.e. a more-or-less random ?embodiment? of an abstractly general rule...
It is natural that there cannot and should not arise any polemical relationship between a ?general rule? assimilated in verbal form and a specially selected (or made) ?example? that supports it. Any disagreement, any lack of correspondence between one and the other can have only one cause?an incorrectness in the verbal _expression_, an incorrectness in the use of words. If the words have been used correctly, then the ?general rule? and the ?particular case? will fit each other precisely. There is no difference between them in content?these are one and the same formula, except that in one case it is presented ?visually? and in the other case ?nonvisually,? i.e. as the meaning of certain word?signs.
Of course, when we have such an artificial relationship between the general formula and the ?particular case,? the problem of correlating them does not require (and therefore does not develop) the capacity for imagination?the ability to construct an image from the mass of ?impressions? or unorganized sensations. Here, this ability is simply not needed, for the image of the thing is presented ready-made, and the whole problem has been reduced to merely expressing it in words. After all, a ?visual aid? is not the thing but a ready-made image of the thing?it has been created independent of the activity of the student?by the artist who prepared it by strictly following verbal instructions, or else by the pedagogue who gave him this image in verbal form. In either case, as an ?object,? as a reality existing outside of, prior to, and completely independent of the activity of cognition, the student is presented with an image that has been previously organized by words, and the student has to do only one thing?to make the inverse translation of this image into verbal form. The student thinks that he is describing an ?object,? but in fact he is only reproducing an ?alienated??a visually embodied?verbal formula, which has been used (but not by him) to create the image that was presented to him. The student thus learns only how to reproduce ready-made images?images that have already received their citizenship in the world of language. He does not produce the image, for he never encounters any object?any ?raw material? for the image?that has not already been processed by words. This has already been done for him by the pedagogue or the artist...
Thus, the student goes from a ready-made image to its verbal _expression_?this kind of learning is operating by the skin of its teeth. However, the decisive part of the path of cognition?to go from the object to an image (and then back from this image to the object)?remains outside the range of the student?s activity. In school, he is never confronted with the problem of correlating the image with the object?instead of the object, he is always given a ready-made image as a substitute. The corresponding ability of course never develops, since no activity with the object has taken place. What the student really acts with is an image?one that was created outside of his own mind. That is, he acts with a materialized conception.
After all, this is what geometric figures drawn on the blackboard are, or counting sticks (it doesn?t matter whether they are sticks of wood or of plastic?what?s important is that they are an image of ?quantity,? or, more precisely, of number), and colored pictures, and all the other ?real-object? stage props of the schoolchild.
The object all by itself?not yet transformed into an image by someone else?s activity (or into a ?schematism,? if we use the language of Kant)?remains outside the classroom door, beyond the boundaries of the ?academic subject.? The student encounters the object itself only outside of school and talks about it not in the ?language of science,? but in ?ordinary,? everyday language, using it to assemble his own, spontaneously formed conceptions, his ?personal? experience.
It is clear that this is where the crack appears between the world of scientific knowledge and the world of the conceptions found in everyday experience?a crack which then widens into a divide between knowledge and beliefs.
This divide is not a result of hypocrisy, dishonesty, or some other moral defect; the student simply does not know how to relate these two ?different? spheres of knowledge to each other. After all, a belief is also knowledge, but it is acquired independently, as an end result of personal experience, whereas ?knowledge? assimilated during class is instilled in him as a ready-made, abstract ?rule,? to which he must, is required to, is obligated to subordinate his actions in order to solve the kind of strictly-defined problems he encounters in school?problems which are often of no interest to him whatsoever... These are problems that he never meets with outside of school (although he is promised that he will do so later on, when he becomes an astronaut or a taxi driver, but often this doesn?t help).
So, during class the schoolchild ends up dealing with ready-made images (schemas) of reality and the verbal formulas that express them, but he encounters the object only outside of lessons, outside of school. As a result, he never finds a bridge between these two very dissimilar worlds?these two spheres of his life activity?he is lost when he finally encounters any reality that has not been scientifically prepared for him. He ends up being able to ?apply formulas? successfully only in a situation that is precisely as described in the textbook, i.e. only when life has already been organized ?according to science.? That is, when the object has already been systematized by someone else?s activity, where it has already been made according to the ?rules,? where science has already been applied.
Where, in other words, we are talking only about the so-called ?visualization? of verbally given formulas or rules. Here, it is precisely the formula that organizes the ?image,? that directs the activity of constructing the image or ?visual representation? that replaces a ready-made verbal instruction?an image that is supposed to be the ?essence? of the matter, but that we can nonetheless safely ?do without.?
The person whose psyche has been developed in this way ends up a slave to ready-made ?formulas? even in the very act of contemplation, in the process of everyday perception?even in the object, he has become used to see precisely that which has been given to him in verbal form?that which precisely corresponds to words.
Of course, all this should not be understood as a ?rejection of the principle of visual learning.? In its place, this principle is good and useful?and precisely as a principle that makes it easier to assimilate abstract formulas. But that is all. When we begin to dream that it can be used to solve a different problem?the problem of developing the ability to correlate abstract (verbally given) formulas with the object?then just the opposite result is obtained.
The person then develops a type of mentality where, when he looks at an object, he sees (?visually represents?) only what he already knows about it through someone else?s words?through the words of the textbook author or the teacher. And not an iota more?he thus constructs not an image of the object, but only its ?schema? as given by words. If anything is then ?correlated,? it is only a verbal instruction (a word) being correlated with itself?with its own semiotic _expression_?and not with anything else. The object?in the serious, materialistic meaning of this word?remains completely ?transcendental.?
The principle of ?visual learning? is therefore helpless in the battle with verbalism. It only disguises it, and thereby subsumes it.
But, after all, serious, materialistic philosophy has for a long time suggested that teaching adopt another, more radical guiding principle. This is the organization of a special form of activity that really requires?and therefore develops?the special abilities that are more fundamental for the human psyche than speech (language) or the mechanisms of speech that connect the word with the image.
Traditional ?learning? activity is clearly not of this kind?it reduces to the process of assimilating ready-made knowledge, ready-made information, and ready-made conceptions, i.e. it is realized as the activity of the embodying of ready-made images in language and?inversely?of the ?visualization? of verbally formed conceptions.
Here, what is needed is activity of a different order?activity oriented directly at the object. Activity that changes the object, rather than an image of it. For only in the course of this activity does the image first arise, i.e. as a visual representation of the object, rather than as a ?schema? given a priori by a verbal instruction or ?rule.?
The difference here is a fundamental one, and was clearly pointed out as long ago as Kant in his distinction between an ?image? and a ?schema,? or ?schematism,? as psychic formations that are fundamentally different in origin, with no ?common root.? Because of this, the problem remained insoluble for Kant. The really fundamental (universal) form of human activity remained outside the bounds of his psychology: direct-object activity, outside of consciousness and independent of consciousness, accomplishing the work of the hands and dealing not with an ?image,? but with the thing in its most direct, ?crude,? meaning, in a ?crudely material? sense?activity that directly masters the object. Activity to which school teaching has devoted so little time and attention, although it is precisely in the course of this (and only this) activity that one develops the ?schemas? or ?schematisms? on which Kant conferred the scary names ?transcendental? and ?a priori.?
Real thinking is formed precisely when?and only when?the work of language is indissolubly joined to the work of the hands?the organs of direct-object activity. Not hands drawing letters, words, and ?statements? on paper, but hands making things, i.e. changing obstinate, intractable, and capricious matter. Only thus can we observe its objective nature?independent of words or ready-made ?images??its objective character or ?stubbornness.? Only thus does the object reveal itself as the thing in itself, compelling us to reckon with it more than with words or with ?schemas? that ?visualize? those words. It is clear that this is the only way one can hope to overcome verbalism and avoid the problem of ?the application of knowledge to life??a problem that school teaching itself has created.
ILYENKO HOW TO THINK (2).pdf
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ILYENKO MESHCEHRYAKOV (2).pdf
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ILYENKO ON ACTIVITY.pdf
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ILYENKO SCHOOL EDUCATION (2).pdf
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