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[Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities

On 8 August 2013 04:26, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Lubomir,
> I agree that AN:'s concept of an activity needs to be simmplied, not
> expanded a la Engestrom, if it is to be adequate as a foundational concept.
> I also agree that the problems in the conception of an activity are not
> visible from the point of view of psychologists but they do appear as
> serious problems for social theory. Further, I don't believe Activity
> Theory can fulfill its potential until the same concepts work at micro-,
> meso- and macrolevels. Otherwise, psychologists have to just take the tasks
> as given by some abstract "society" and social theorists take their
> subjects as given by some abstract human nature." Neither is sufficient.
> I don't agree though, that the alternative to taking the object as
> external to the activity (as defining it) is to take the object as internal
> to the subject, a.k.a. individual. At all. I think the work of the Moscow
> Methodological Circle began in the right direction, but to my eyes, it
> ended up locked into an "engineering" approach, somewhat symmetrical with
> the cognitivism which was popular in the US at the same time.
> In my view, the object is *immanent* in the activity, being realised by
> the activity. The subject/object problem (or dichotomy) is resolved not by
> choosing an objective motive or a subjective sense/meaning, but by
> following Hegel in using the individual/particular/**universal
> relationship which he took to be the foundation of a concept (as the ideal
> object of an activity). I use the concept of "project" (I think I share
> this with the MMC) to represent the idea of an activity in which the object
> is imminant within the activity.
> Andy
I suspect there is significant scope for communicative errors on such a
point (writing/translation etc.)  E.g. the object construed by the parent
presented to the child etc.

"[Activity] can be thought of, roughly, as a kind of dynamic envelope
enclosing both subject and object."<http://www.igs.net/~pballan/Leontiev.htm>

Re theory of human needs, needs seem fairly integral to studying activity
developmentally, no?


> Lubomir Savov Popov wrote:
>> Dear Andy,
>> (sorry for typos, I type as I think)
>> I agree in some way with your concerns about the model that you envisage
>> in your mail. Although Leontiev is very disciplined in his logic, I have
>> difficulty accepting some of the relationships there.
>> http://www.igs.net/~pballan/**AT.htm <http://www.igs.net/~pballan/AT.htm>   At this time, I cannot access articles that talk about this problem.
>> Also, it is not very common to refer to that model as problematic. The
>> Scandinavians talk about a problem, and their solution was to expand the
>> original activity model to include the social environment and group action.
>> Consider that the original activity model is created by psychologists, not
>> social psychologists or sociologists. Even the Moscow Methodological Circle
>> keeps with the Lentiev tradition, although have "on board" a lot of
>> philosophers and sociologists. However, I accept Leontiev's model as
>> general. That is why it has to be kept simple and straitforward. On the
>> basis of this model, several other more specific models are developed. They
>> might represent only one level selected from the general model.
>> The problems I see are not that the motive is external to activity. The
>> motive can be interpreted as internal to the subject, if necessary.
>> However, the goal can be seen both at activity level and at operations
>> level. The model doesn't talk about the Task. However, if you need models
>> that incorporate Task, go to Ergonomics. Another problem that I see is that
>> the directions at the higher levels are provided by teleological concepts.
>> However, at operations level, the direction is provided by the Conditions.
>> Conditions do exist at each level and do affect the trajectory/course at
>> each level. There are many other variations as well. In Russian, they talk
>> about deyatelnost and aktivnost. The best way to get into activity theory
>> is to read Russian originals. There are a lot of problems when translating
>> Russian concepts and terms in English. This comes with difficult to
>> translate tatigkeit. Plus, the Russians have borrowed the word aktivnost
>>  and endowed it with their own meaning. For me, it was always a puzzle why
>> they use Aktivnost, when in English is actually Activity. But that is the
>> nature of the production of terminology. People just take a word and endow
>> it with new meaning that they need for communicating their ideas.
>> I haven't seen yet a global model of activity that models it at each
>> level and that connects/relates all component concepts. I am not sure that
>> this is possible. There are hundreds of model variations when we look in
>> different disciplines. Each discipline envisages only one particular aspect
>> and level.
>> In the 1960s, Vladimir Lefevre, the founder (or one of them) of the
>> Moscow Methodological Circle, had come with the idea of the Conceptual
>> Configurator. It was supposed to be a model that presents all aspects and
>> levels of a phenomenon in a coordinated way. Unfortunately, he didn't go
>> beyond the idea. No one has ever created a conceptual configurator for
>> activity, and I am not sure if this is possible at this time. All models
>> are either general, at a very high level of abstraction like Leontiev's, or
>> discipline specific, with very peculiar terminology and discriptory and
>> explanatory capabilities.
>> Best,
>> Lubomir
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.**edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>[mailto:
>> xmca-l-bounces@**mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>] On
>> Behalf Of Andy Blunden
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 5:15 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Leontyev's activities
>> Leontyev says that an activity is defined by its motive.
>> See "The Development of Mind," Leontyev 2009, p. 28-29
>> http://www.erythrospress.com/**store/leontyev.html<http://www.erythrospress.com/store/leontyev.html>
>> But Leontyev, in my opinion, does not adequately distinguish between "an
>> activity" and "a type of activity," leading to confusion on this point.
>> Plus the fact that the object or motive is given externally to the
>> activity, underming his claim to have created an activity theory, rather
>> than a theory of human needs.
>> Andy
>> ------------------------------**-
>> The specific processes that realise some vital, i.e. active, relation of
>> the subject to reality we shall term processes of /activity/, in
>> distinction to other processes.
>> We shall also, accordingly, limit the concept of object. It is normally
>> used in a dual sense: in the broadest one as a thing standing in some kind
>> of relation to other things, i.e. as 'a thing having existence'; and in a
>> narrower sense - as something withstanding (German /Gegenstand/), resistant
>> (Latin /objectum/), that to which an act is directed, i.e. as something to
>> which precisely a living creature relates itself as the /object of its
>> activity/ - indifferently as outward or inward activity (e. g. /object of
>> nutrition/, /object of labour/, /object of meditation/, etc.). >From now on
>> we shall employ the term /object/ precisely in this narrower, special sense.
>> Any activity of an organism is directed to some object or other; activity
>> without an object is impossible. Consideration of activity therefore
>> requires us to single out and distinguish that which is its real object,
>> i.e. the object of an active relation of the organism.
>> All lower filtrable organisms (certain larvae living in water, copepods,
>> all Tunicata, etc.), for example, are capable, as we know, of altering
>> their activity in connection with a change in the aqueous medium; in that
>> connection it can sometimes be said with confidence that the change in the
>> organism's activity is specifically linked with a definite activating
>> property of the medium, for example with a greater or less concentration of
>> nutrients. Imagine, however, that we have artificially altered the medium,
>> for example, of a daphnia, by putting it into water that lacks its
>> nutrient, plankton but contains particles of some neutral inorganic
>> substance; the daphnia would react to this by a slackening of the movements
>> that create a flow of water to its ventral slit. Is the observed slackening
>> of the water flea's filtering movements a response to the absence of
>> plankton in the water? Or is it, on the contrary, a response to the
>> presence in it of unassimilable particles? Or does it, finally, depend on
>> some other moments still, not considered by us? Only by answering these
>> questions can we decide precisely /what/ property of the medium is the
>> object of the daphnia's activity, i.e. with what kind of a relation we are
>> dealing with here.
>> /Thus, the principal 'unit' of a vital process is an organism's activity;
>> the different activities that realise its diverse vital relations with the
>> surrounding reality are essentially determined by their object; we shall
>> therefore differentiate between separate types of activity according to the
>> difference in their objects/.
>> Huw Lloyd wrote:
>>> Well I am currently looking for specific text on how leont'ev
>>> operationally defines a unit of analysis of activity, I'm sure I'll find
>>> details, but some pointers may help me get there faster.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Huw
>>> On 7 August 2013 18:57, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Seems we are up and ready for chatting.
>>>> mike
>>>> On Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 10:34 AM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>       testing.
>> --
>> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
>> ------------
>> *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>
> --
> ------------------------------**------------------------------**
> ------------
> *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>