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[Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities

FYI, Greg.

Activity is defined by its object.  See p. 363 in The Development of Mind
(Problems of Dev.)


On 9 August 2013 04:24, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Greg Thompson wrote:
>> Andy, I think I need still more help.
>> I got lost at, well, "an activity (generally) exists". Wondering what
>> this could mean.
>    xmca didn't exist when Mike Cole launched it. But for the many
>    thousands who have joined it since, it *existed*. Thus is
>    "generally" exists. On the whole, we *join* rather than create
>    activities (projects).
>  Then the middle part seems to make some sense for me: activities don't
>> simply and reasonably follow the intentions of their participants, but then
>> lost you again at the end, with "the outcome in '*immanent* in the project
>> itself". Not sure what exactly that means either.
>    As Vygotsky says somewhere, the problem which stimulates the
>    activity (the development of the concept) cannot in itself account
>    for the project (or concept). The *means* utilised, which
>    corresponds to how the problem or task is conceived by the agents,
>    is what is crucial. I.e., not the problem or task as such, but the
>    conception of the task, constitutes the ideal. But what this ideal
>    is, is *only realised by the work of the project itself*.
>> And as a bigger question, I am trying to figure out "where" the activity
>> exists? And "who" is a part of it?
>    OK, but just don't expect to find an abstract empirical (logical
>    positivist) answer to that. An activity (or project) is an aggregate
>    of *actions* not *people*. These actions are the fundamental (micro)
>    unit of an activity, which is a molar unit of human life as a whole.
>    So an activity exists in its artefact-mediated actions, not a group
>    of people.
>   For example, with XMCA, is each thread or discussion an activity? What
>> about all the intersections and overlaps with previous and soon-to-be
>> discussions? Or is the whole history of XMCA an activity?
>> And as to "who", is it just the people talking (i.e. writing!), or are
>> the "lurkers" part of the activity? And are non-XMCA folks with whom the
>> writers and lurkers speak, and who have significantly influenced the
>> writers' ideas - are they a part of the activity?
>    (1) Like all the concepts which are part of a science, projects are
>    *nested*. An aggregate of actions may have ideal or object which
>    makes sense only as part of one or more larger projects. All the
>    concepts of a science obviously have complex interactions and
>    interdependncies. No clear boundaries or lines of demarcation. Their
>    truth is part of the *whole*. (2) The question of "who" is part of
>    it  is the wrong question. An activity is an aggregate of actions,
>    not individual persons. Also, a project is the particular of a
>    concept. As a particular, the project has a relatively definite
>    location in time and space. But it is an instance realising a
>    concept which is a unit of an entire social formation. So the scope
>    of a project, being part of a family of such projects, may be larger
>    than the immediate participating actions.
>> In short, what are the bounds of an activity?
>> (oh, and where does a "project" fit into all of this?)
>    Boundary questions are the royal road to confusion. The question is
>    what is the concept (or in common parlance the "essence") of a project.
>    "A project" is just another word for "an activity." But it has its
>    own history and connotations in our culture. (BTW "project" and
>    "design" are the same word in Russian: "proyekt" and the etymology
>    of "de-sign" is interesting too) and also, by using a different word
>    I can get away from the orthodoxy of what ANL or someone else says
>    is the case for "an activity." So if I say that the object of a
>    project is immanent within the project, I am not directly
>    contradicting an Activity Theorist for whom the Object or motive is
>    given for the Activity. I want to re-discuss all the concepts of
>    Activity Theory without being stumped by orthodoxy, so a new word helps.
>    Andy
>  -greg