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Re: [xmca] Educational neuroscience - from Mike Cole


As far as I am aware, the Marxian dialectical materialism addresses
dynamics of producing human artifacts and is not concerned with natural
phenomena as an object of study.

You mentioned Model but did not figure this into your formulation.  The
model seems necessary to distinguish the study of natural phenomena (but we
can, ofcourse model artificial phenomena too).  The model is such an
artifact which is "created" in the process of studying the natural

A Marxian unit of analysis is required to be reducible to a single basis
(Marx, Davydov).  But there is no such requirement for natural phenomena to
reduce to a single basis, although I believe attempts have been made to
formulate this (e.g. negentropy).

>From the position of the natural scientists (with their models and
experiments) there is no such deep need to identify the unit of analysis in
Marxian terms.  Rather, the natural scientist's "unit of analysis"
contributes toward the genetic understanding of the origins of the natural
phenomena studies, which is achieved through an appreciation of the
unfolding, interacting, systemic relations of natural phenomena.  The
"unit" under these circumstances is the system of interest (system to the
un-initiated is not easily defined).  But it is also appreciated that a
system is not isolated from all other natural phenomena (which is in basic
agreement with the materialist conception of mind).

This leaves us in the interesting position of having two complementary
systems of thought applicable to two related phenomena.

1. The image-ideal elaborated upon by Ilyenkov, Davydov etc, which traces
the genesis of the (artificial) concept.

2. The psychological system elaborated by Vygotsky, Luria etc, which traces
the changing (genesis) functional relations of the system in support of
these artificial concepts.

The interaction of these two systems of thought yields further
considerations such as:

1. The tentative demarcation of a functional system of interest on the
basis of a dialectical-materialist unit of analysis (e.g. those changing
systems at play in "thought and speech") and the system of activity that
the subject participates in.

2. The genesis (of the concept?) of the model and its social influence etc,
which includes the history of the concept of system.
With respect to your comment "The unit of analysis suggests the method", I
would say, rather, that the awareness of the holistic nature of the
activity system and the conceived of sub-systems necessary participation in
this configuration affords the method. Or, the problem of modelling this
psychological behaviour is facillitated by the appreciation of
object-oriented activity as a holistic system.

I have not had much time to disconfirm the points I have inferred (e.g. I
have some Davydov & Ilyenkov, but not much Marx and less Hegel), but have
yet to find anything that contradicts this.

I look forward to your comments!


On 30 July 2013 04:42, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> So we have 4 distinct but interrelated concepts: system, model, unit of
> analysis and method.
> I will try to formulate a view on unit of analysis and method.
> The idea of "artefact-mediated (collaborative) action" as a unit of
> analysis (a generalisation of "word meaning") is the basis for the "method
> of dual stimulation," as I see it.
> Once you have a concept of that S - X - R triangle, as the unit of action,
> then it suggests a method of investigation based on offering the auxilliary
> stimulus, the artifact X, to the subject, S, to assist them to complete the
> task, R. By varying teh artefact X and the task R, investigation of S is
> possible.
> Likewise, let us suppose that you see the mind as a psychological system
> made up of functional subsystems each of which are interconnected,
> irrespective of whether the subsystem in question itself produces
> observable phenomena. This could be represented in a diagram, too,
> something like S -> Ssys1 ---> Ssys2 -> R, meaning that every subsystem
> (Ssys1) is connected with every other (Ssys2), and disturbance of Ssys1
> will cause a disturbance to Ssys2, which may be manifeted in an observable
> response, R.
> So the implication of this is that the "unit of analysis" of an entire
> psychological system is two functional subsystems with an interconnection.
>  Ssys1 --- Ssys2.
> This is not trivial, because much of Ssys1 will not be observable, and
> this unit of analysis allows the investigator to study Ssys1 by means of
> the observable responses via Ssys2.
> The unit of analysis suggests the method.
> Andy
> Andy Blunden wrote:
>> I think the issue is HOW one makes observable the "unintended motor
>> responses", Andy.
>> The issue of whether the combined motor *method* is a unit of analysis. I
>> think it is a method.
>> what whole is it the simplest instance of? It is a method for being able
>> to identify with some degree of certainty what another person is thinking
>> about. Help me get from there to what it is a unit of analysis of.
>> mike
>> ps- why is this not on xmca....
>> (Andy mistakenly sent his previous message to Mike alone. This is just to
>> put it all back on xmca)
> --
> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
> ------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts
> http://marxists.academia.edu/**AndyBlunden<http://marxists.academia.edu/AndyBlunden>