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[Xmca-l] Re: how to broaden/enliven the xmca discussion



The understanding of action and activity AS BOTH thinking and behaviour
contrasting with an appeal to differentiate the aspects thinking and
behaviour.
The notion *species* was introduced by David K as returning to Vygotsky's
words as he used them [paleo return] or we will loose this species as it
becomes extinct.

Therefore Leontiev's theory could also be considered a separate *species*
with its own characteristics, features, and object of activity.
SO in my return to the species of Activity theory I turned to one of
Leontiev's students [Victor Kaptelinin] in his 2005 MCA article "The Object
of Activity: Making sense of the Sense Maker"

Kaptelinin opens his article with this fragment from the *species* of
Leontiev's own specified object of activity [activity theory]

"A basic or, as is sometimes said, a CONSTITUTING characteristic of
activity is its objectivity or, rather object relatedness. Properly the
CONCEPT of its object, gegenstand, is already IMPLICITLY contained in the
very concept of activity. The expression objectless activity is DEVOID of
any meaning. Objectivity may SEEM objectless, but SCIENTIFIC investigations
OF activity NECESSARILY REQUIRES discovering its object.
THUS the object of activity IS TWOFOLD:
First, in its INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE as SUBORDINATING TO ITSELF and
transforming the activity of the subject [The question arises if this
subordinating is the object's *motive* - LP]
AND
Second, as an IMAGE OF the object, as a product OF its property of
psychological reflection THAT IS realized AS AN ACTIVITY OF THE SUBJECT,
and cannot exist OTHERWISE."

This paragraph which Kaptelian offers as a *specimen* of a particular and
unique *species* of expression seems to present a clear *case* to hold up
to Vygotsky's *species* .
I would add that Merleau-Ponty offers an alternative *species* that is also
looking at objects of activity from another *angle* of vision.

Are Vygotsky, Leontiev, and Merleau-Ponty all gesturing at the same
phenomena and walking around this *object* [imagined? or real?] from
various vantage points.

I will pause by returning to the second quality of the TWOFOLD quality of
the *object of activity*

"SECOND as an IMAGE OF the object, AS a product OF its PSYCHOLOGICAL
REFLECTION that is REALIZED [brought into form -LP] AS an activity OF the
SUBJECT and cannot exist OTHERWISE.

Is this a new *species*??

Larry


On Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Mike, what I got out of Seth's intervention was just a plea for people to
> stop claiming to have the "real Vygotsky" and I thoroughly agreed with him.
> And so far as I know Marx uses the German word for Activity, viz.,
> Taetigkeit, in "Theses on Feuerbach" - that word which pre-dates
> "behaviour" and "consciousness" by centuries, but which is sometimes
> referred to nowadays as a unity of these two abstractions, and it was only
> later interpreters that introduced the term "praxis", which being Greek
> sounds a lot cleverer. Action and Activity, in my view and etymologically,
> are both thinking and behaving.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>
>
> mike cole wrote:
>
>> Thanks, David. I think i understand better what you mean by "LSV rejects
>> "activity" as a unit of analysis for anything but behavior,and most
>> certainly as a unit of psychological analysis. Somehow I was expecting
>> text
>> from LSV where he says "activity is not a unit of analysis" because of all
>> the places in his text where he uses the term activity as a sort of "lay
>> term".
>>
>> ​...​
>>
>>
>>>  Holbrook Mahn.
>>> Holbrook began by saying that:
>>>
>>> a) We do not "borrow" concepts made for one discipline and "apply"
>>> them to another. Not even dialectical materialism can be "applied" to
>>> psychology (or even sociology or economics--Marx didn't do applied
>>> philosophy!). Holbrook then produced a number of quotations from The
>>> Historical Meaning of the Crisis in Psychology to show that Vygotsky
>>> knew this, and countered with other quotations from Problems of the
>>> Development of the Mind to show that Leontiev did not know this.
>>>
>>> ​I know places where LSV is clear on this score, in Historical meaning,
>>>
>>>
>> for example, but not the evidence of Leontiev's errors.
>> ​
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> b) The term "praxis" has been thus borrowed. It doesn't refer to
>>> practical activity: it refers to a unity of thinking and practice.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>> ​Borrowed from Marx by ..??? by Leontiev? There is any form of practical
>> activity without human thinking? ​
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> c) The term "social situation of development" has been thus borrowed;
>>> it does not refer to a "context" but to the child's relationship to
>>> the environment.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>> By whom? I am always in a puzzle about the use of this term. Isn't
>> perezhivanie the term that LSV uses to talk about relation of child to
>> environment? At least, there seems to be a lot of chatter about issue.​
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> d) The term "unit of analysis" does not refer to a God particle that
>>> is indifferent to the problem of analysis. ygotsky did not imagine a
>>> "unit of analysis" that fit any and all problems in psychology. Each
>>> unit of analysis is specific to a particular problem of unity (e.g.
>>> the problem of the unity of the child and his or her environment in
>>> Problem of the Environment and the problem of the unity of verbal
>>> thinking in Thinking and Speech).
>>>
>>> ​Amen to that. ​
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> e) The term "verbal thinking" is a mistranslation: Vygotsky is talking
>>> about thinking by language, or thinking through word meanings, and not
>>> some kind of verbalizable inner speech (which does exist, but which is
>>> a distinct layer from thinking).
>>>
>>>
>>>
>> ​There is a lot of confusion around this issue and would probably need
>> somewhat separate discussion. I interpret in the former way. The role of
>> meaning in inner speech, and the usefulness or not of the sense/meaning
>> distinction has me confused. Dima Leontiev has put the distinction behind
>> him and now refers to "cultural meaning" (paleo meaning ​
>>
>> ​) and
>> "personal meaning (paleo sense)." I am paleo in this regard.​
>>
>>
>>
>>> Most of this has been said before, not least by Vygotsky himself. I
>>> know that Holbrook has been saying it at least since 2007 when I first
>>> heard him at the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Costa
>>> Mesa, and he develops it at some length in:
>>>
>>>
>>> https://www.academia.edu/1803017/Vygotskys_Analysis_of_
>>> Childrens_Meaning-Making_Processes
>>>
>>> Mahn, H. (2012). Vygotsky's Analysis of Children's Meaning-Making
>>> Processes, International Journal of Educational Psychology1(2):100-126
>>>
>>> It's been said by others too: Mike Cole actually makes many of the
>>> same points in discussing how the Kharkov school deviated from the
>>> work of Vygotsk,
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> ​I did not know enough to make many of these points in 1978! They
>> certainly
>> distanced themselves from LSV and PI Zinchenko went after the
>> natural-cultural memory distinction,​
>>
>>
>> ​​
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> and J.V. Wertsch is quite explicit in his revisionism
>>> when he presents "mediated activity" as a unit of analysis in
>>> opposition to "word meaning".
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> ​mediated ACTION and often as not, mediated action in context.​
>>
>>
>>
>>> But of course since a unit of analysis
>>> must preserve in some shape or form the essential properties of the
>>> whole, the use of "mediated activity"
>>> ​(action) ​
>>> cannot be a unit of analysis for
>>> the mind if we wish to retain the idea that the mind has a semantic
>>> structure (that is, if the "whole" is structured something like a text
>>> or a discourse rather than like driving a car, shooting a gun, or
>>> hunting animals).
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>> ​When we get to semantic structure of consciousness, we know there was a
>> break between LSV and his buddies. It seems that it is in arriving at this
>> formulation that the charges of idealism and sign-o-centrism kick in.​
>>
>> ​My difficulty is in making arguments about consciousness- -in-general,
>> perhaps a relic of my behaviorist past. Luria appears to have come around
>> on this issue. I have had a difficult time understanding the changes in
>> Leontiev's thought over the period of the 30's and 40's. ​
>>
>>
>>
>>> Now, in the discussion of Holbrook's presentation, this wild-haired
>>> guy who looked a little like Itzhak Perlman rose to argue that
>>> Leontiev's interpretation was really one fair interpretation, and that
>>> it really was addressed towards a specific problem, which is how to
>>> prevent dualism from arising (that is, how to explain how word meaning
>>> could arise historically).​Through joint mediated activity?​
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> He also said that Holbrook was juxtaposing
>>> quotations out of context: the quotes that showed Vygotsky arguing
>>> against a "Marxist psychology" were directed against a very specific
>>> group of vulgar Marxists (e.g. Zalkind) and that is why Vygotsky uses
>>> scare quotes around "Marxist".
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>> ​Not so?​
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> I then muddied the waters, first by addressing the wild-haired guy
>>> instead of Holbrook (a major breach of protocol) and then by arguing
>>> that speech really is sui generis, because it is a form of "activity"
>>> (if we must call it that) whose conditions of comprehension are no
>>> longer recoverable from the activity itself (and so the unit of
>>> analysis for verbal thinking cannot be sought in activity). There
>>> wasn't enough time to really develop what I wanted to say, so I went
>>> over to continue the discussion, and it turned out that the wild
>>> haired guy was none other than Seth Chaiklin, who is, we all know, one
>>> of the foremost paleo-Vygotskyans when it comes to the much
>>> misinterpreted concept of the ZPD.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>> ​Speech is a form of activity or a means of activity? Or of action?​
>>
>> ​I guess I do not understand. If its worthwhile, perhaps spell the idea
>> out
>> here?
>>
>> So far as I can tell, there are ONLY misinterpretations of the Zoped. Seth
>> was right on about it being used in Anglo-American discourse as something
>> akin to zone of proximal learning,fitting into the associationist view of
>> development as more learning. But the one right interpretation has escaped
>> my notice.​
>>
>> ​Thanks again for taking the trouble to write that out. Perhaps it will be
>> generative for people.
>> mike​
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>>
>>> PS: Holbrook DID get one thing wrong. Stalin did not argue that
>>> language was purely ideal and superstructural; that was Marr's
>>> position. Stalin, or whoever ghost wrote his articles, argued that
>>> language was base, and therefore somehow material, whatever that
>>> means. But Stalin was not really interested in ideas; he was just out
>>> for Marr's blood.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On 6 October 2014 22:21, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>> Hi David--
>>>>
>>>> The specific example of your comments on originals and adaptations hits
>>>>
>>>>
>>> on
>>>
>>>
>>>> a point it would be helpful to hear more about:
>>>>
>>>> You wrote:
>>>>  Back in Sydney, Seth Chaiklin and I found ourselves in a somewhat
>>>> similar argument, with Seth in Perelman's chair, and me clinging
>>>> rather obstinately to a paleo-Vygotskyan interpretation which actually
>>>> rejects "activity" as a unit of analysis for anything but behavior,
>>>> and most certainly as a unit of psychological analysis. Seth's
>>>> argument was pragmatist: for certain practical applications, we need
>>>> new interpretations, including revisionist ones. Mine was an argument
>>>> in favor of species diversity: when the revisionist account supplants
>>>> the original to such a degree that Vygotsky's original argument is no
>>>> longer accessible to people, we need to go back to original texts (and
>>>> this is why it is so important to make the original texts at least
>>>> recoverable--once they are gone, it is really a whole species of
>>>> thinking that has become extinct).
>>>>
>>>> 1.   Could you guide us to a text you recommend where this
>>>> interpretation
>>>> is laid out?
>>>> 2. What sort of revision was Seth suggesting and why?
>>>>
>>>> I have been reading Russian discussions around this issue. Clarification
>>>> would be helpful.
>>>> mike
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Sun, Oct 5, 2014 at 12:37 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
>>>>
>>>>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>> This morning I had the great pleasure of waking up in my own bed and
>>>>> listening to Yo-yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and Itzhak Perlman playing this:
>>>>>
>>>>>  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRkWCOTImOQ
>>>>>
>>>>> It's the D Major Cello sonata number two by Mendelssohn, played, as
>>>>> Yo-yo Ma tells us, on the Davydov (no, that THAT Davydov) Stradivarius
>>>>> that was probably used to perform the sonata for the very first time
>>>>> in front of Mendelssohn himself. Now, throughout this concert, Ma has
>>>>> been something of a stickler for "the original", and Perelman has been
>>>>> pulling politely but pointedly towards a more personal interpretation.
>>>>>
>>>>> So at around 6:45 on the clip, Perelman tells Ma that if Mendelssohn
>>>>> himself had heard the sonata played on that very cello, then he,
>>>>> Perelman, was sitting in the very seat that Mendelssohn had occupied,
>>>>> and that therefore his freer interpretation was really closer to
>>>>> Mendelssohn than any attempt to recreate the sonata with period
>>>>> instruments. Mercifully, at this point, Ax interupts them and starts
>>>>> to play.
>>>>>
>>>>> Back in Sydney, Seth Chaiklin and I found ourselves in a somewhat
>>>>> similar argument, with Seth in Perelman's chair, and me clinging
>>>>> rather obstinately to a paleo-Vygotskyan interpretation which actually
>>>>> rejects "activity" as a unit of analysis for anything but behavior,
>>>>> and most certainly as a unit of psychological analysis. Seth's
>>>>> argument was pragmatist: for certain practical applications, we need
>>>>> new interpretations, including revisionist ones. Mine was an argument
>>>>> in favor of species diversity: when the revisionist account supplants
>>>>> the original to such a degree that Vygotsky's original argument is no
>>>>> longer accessible to people, we need to go back to original texts (and
>>>>> this is why it is so important to make the original texts at least
>>>>> recoverable--once they are gone, it is really a whole species of
>>>>> thinking that has become extinct).
>>>>>
>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>>>>
>>>>> PS: Andy, what shocked me about Bonnie Nardi's plenum in Sydney was
>>>>> not her use of "society" or "object": actually, I think I would have
>>>>> liked it better if she had used those terms a little more imprecisely,
>>>>> in their folk meanings. In fact, a little more IMPRECISION might have
>>>>> made it even clearer to us the sheer horror of what she was
>>>>> contemplating.
>>>>>
>>>>> For those on the list who missed it, the plenary focused on a world
>>>>> without jobs--that is, a world where five-day forty-hour jobs are
>>>>> replaced by "micro-work". Nardi admitted that this was a rather
>>>>> dystopian state of affairs--but she also showed us what she called the
>>>>> "bright side": more leisure, less greenhouse gases, and also human
>>>>> identities less narrowly tied to work. As one person in the conference
>>>>> pointed out, and Nardi confirmed, it would also mean more time for the
>>>>> spiritual side of life.
>>>>>
>>>>> What was not pointed out was the effect of all this on the "object" of
>>>>> "society", using both terms in their folk senses. The working class is
>>>>> being ground down into the economic position of short term sex workers
>>>>> and atomized into the social position of housewives. Inequality is now
>>>>> at levels not seen since 1820. Even a cursory study of history tells
>>>>> us that the result of this is not going to be individual spirituality
>>>>> but rather more violence. The only "bright side" I can see is if that
>>>>> force is organized, social, and directed against social equality
>>>>> rather than against fellow members of the working class.
>>>>>
>>>>> dk
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On 5 October 2014 13:38, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> I found Kaptelinin's article in MCA invaluable, Mike. Bonnie Nardi I
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> had
>>>
>>>
>>>> the
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> great pleasure of meeting for the first time at ISCAR, and if she has
>>>>>> written something on "object" that is very good news.
>>>>>> I don't think the problem is intractable, though I don't think one
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> good
>>>
>>>
>>>> book
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> or one good article is enough. But for example, for a long while I
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> have
>>>
>>>
>>>> been
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> jumping up and down about how people use the word "perezhivanie"
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> without
>>>
>>>
>>>> an
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> article (the, a, an some, etc) implying it is some kind of "substance"
>>>>>> whereas in Russian it is a count noun. While there remains outstanding
>>>>>> differences about what perezhivanie means, I notice that almost all
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> bar
>>>
>>>
>>>> one
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> now use it with an article. So, however that happened that is a step
>>>>>> forward, and people are aware of the differences in interpretation and
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> they
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> are being discussed. I think if we talk about "object" for a while,
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> maybe
>>>
>>>
>>>> this can be straightened out. I know the task of conceptual
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> consistency
>>>
>>>
>>>> in
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> our research community seems to be a hopeless task, but I am
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> optimistic.
>>>
>>>
>>>> Andy
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ------------
>>>
>>>
>>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>>>>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> mike cole wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>> Those certainly seem like lively topics, Andy.
>>>>>>> I had in mind specifically topics that are on peoples' minds that go
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> U
>>>
>>>
>>>> discussed. I hope that the time spent at ISCAR produces a shower of
>>>>>>> interesting ideas. Isn't that the object of such gatherings?
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> (Whatever
>>>
>>>
>>>> object means!).  :-). The Nardi and Kaptelinin chapter on basics of
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> AT
>>>
>>>
>>>> is
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> one good source, but it seems the problem is intractable!
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> Mike
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> On Saturday, October 4, 2014, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>>>>>>> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>     I don't know, but it's hardly surprising if things were a little
>>>>>>>     slow this last week as a lot of xmca-ers are also iscar-ers and
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> we
>>>
>>>
>>>>     were all chatting like crazy in Sydney at the ISCAR Congress.
>>>>>>>     Everyone (and I mean everyone, including every passenger on a
>>>>>>>     Sydney suburban train as well) has their iPhones and tablets
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> etc.,
>>>
>>>
>>>>     so they could read/write on xmca, but I guess they were
>>>>>>>     oversupplied with correspondents and protagonists.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>     My impressions of CHAT research:
>>>>>>>     On the positive side: very diverse, and at its best, sharp and
>>>>>>>     critical in relation to the dominant political forces, and still
>>>>>>>     way out in front in understanding the several developmental
>>>>>>>     processes which all contribute to our actions (phylogenesis,
>>>>>>>     historical genesis, mesogenesis, ontogenesis, microgenesis), and
>>>>>>>     not focussing on just one. And I have to say it is a great
>>>>>>>     community of research, relatively lacking in the competitiveness
>>>>>>>     and jealousy which infects most research communities.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>     On the negative side:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>        * Most CHAT people still have a concept of "society" as some
>>>>>>>          homogeneous, abstract entity which introduces problems into
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> the
>>>
>>>
>>>>          social situation on which they try to focus, i.e., people
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> lack
>>>
>>>
>>>> a
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>          viable social theory or the ability to use theory they have
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> to
>>>
>>>
>>>>          analyse the wider social situation in a differentiated way.
>>>>>>>        * The idea of "unit of analysis" is almost lost to us. Only a
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> small
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>          minority know what it means and use the idea in their
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> research.
>>>
>>>
>>>>        * The concept of "object" is at the centre of a lot of
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> confusion;
>>>
>>>
>>>>          few researchers using the concept are clear on what the
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> concept
>>>
>>>
>>>>          is. This is related to an unwillingness to confront and
>>>>>>>     attempt to
>>>>>>>          resolve the methodological differences (I refer to
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> systematic
>>>
>>>
>>>>          difference, rather than accidental misunderstandings) within
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> the
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>          CHAT community; perhaps it's fear of losing the relatively
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> civil
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>          relations between researchers - people prefer to let
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> differences
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>          just fester without openly discussing them. The old Soviet
>>>>>>>          approach is gone, but perhaps we have gone too far the other
>>>>>>>     way. :)
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>     Andy
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ------------
>>>
>>>
>>>>     *Andy Blunden*
>>>>>>>     http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>>>>>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>     mike cole wrote:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>         Hi-- I assume you grabbed it from my erroneous response to
>>>>>>>         someone who
>>>>>>>         wrote backto xmca instead of me.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>         Had dinner with tim ingold yesterday evening. Such an
>>>>>>>         interesting and
>>>>>>>         unassuming guy.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>         Any ideas about how to broaden/enliven the xmca discussion??
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>         mike
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>> an
>>>
>>>
>>>> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science with an
>>>> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>