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[Xmca-l] Re: Mediating Activity and Mediated Activity

The theory is attractive, but these theories are always a bit bothersome. I don’t enough about historical linguistic theory to say anything sensible but it always pays at least to look for the counter argument: 



> On 5 May 2016, at 11:46 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> Remarkable and beautiful!
> andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making 
> On 5/05/2016 12:02 PM, Martin John Packer wrote:
>> <http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=3285>
>> <https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/where-on-earth-did-language-begin/>
>> Martin
>>> On May 4, 2016, at 6:47 PM, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co> wrote:
>>> David,
>>> No, Cavalli-Sforza studies human migration by tracing shared genes. I was referring to the work of Quentin Atkinson:
>>> Atkinson, Q. D. (2011). Phonemic diversity supports a serial founder effect model of language expansion from Africa. Science, 332, 346-349.
>>> I tried to include an image in my last message, but it seems to have been stripped out.
>>> Martin
>>>> On May 4, 2016, at 6:40 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Henry:
>>>> Martin's referring to the work of Cavalli-Sforza, which assumes that you
>>>> can trace the spread of language by studying mitochondrial DNA. This
>>>> overlooks the fact the people do not simply inherit languages. They learn
>>>> them.
>>>> I think that this may be Vygotsky's most overlooked contribution.
>>>> Vygotsky's description of the proto-language of the child's first two years
>>>> of life, combined with Halliday's great "Nigel" studies, provides us
>>>> with...the key to the origins of language.
>>>> The question of the origins of language in linguistics is a little
>>>> like string theory in physics; it's something linguists go into
>>>> because they find working with data messy and unpleasant, and dead speakers
>>>> tell no tales. For most of Western intellectual history, the only field
>>>> workers were amateur archaeologists seeking Biblical confirmation: a quest
>>>> for the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel. In the 19th Century, the
>>>> field became so speculative that the Royal Society and the French Academie
>>>> des sciences banned the acceptance of scientific papers on the subject.
>>>> It was almost forgotten in the twentieth, and recent attempts to revive it
>>>> by searching the Human Genome Project for a "language gene" have led
>>>> absolutely nowhere.
>>>> Vygotsky shows us what language looks like when the infant tries to invent
>>>> it. When he says that thinking and speech have separate roots, and then
>>>> come together, what he means is that the first languages, which are still
>>>> being invented right in front of our noses, have separate two layers: a
>>>> semantics and a phonetics, and these are then linked. But that link is not
>>>> yet wording; it's not lexicogrammar: it's simply pointing out and naming
>>>> things: matching sounds to objects.
>>>> Halliday shows us how the child is able to exapt the lexicogrammar he sees
>>>> and hears being enacted around him to his own functional purposes, his own
>>>> semantics and his own phonetics. It's a big step, but it's a step that even
>>>> a two year old human can make given the collaborative help of conspecifics.
>>>> So it is not reasonable to assume that it was made only once. Throughout
>>>> human history, the number of human languages has tended to diminish and not
>>>> increase, either through genocide or through literacy or both. Babel was
>>>> indeed our past, but the single language that supposedly preceded it is
>>>> really a long-ago that is yet-to-come.
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Macquarie University
>>>> On Thu, May 5, 2016 at 9:04 AM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> Gente,
>>>>> As far as the invention of language, whether spoken, signed or written, do
>>>>> we know whether it was invented once, or many times, independently? Are we
>>>>> humans alone in the universe, the only inventors of language? Are these
>>>>> questions relevant to the thread? If not, I only have questions, so they’re
>>>>> my best shot.
>>>>> Henry
>>>>>> On May 4, 2016, at 3:57 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>> Well, but then in hindsight everything coevolves with everything, Andy.
>>>>> And
>>>>>> only in hindsight. Three problems with that.
>>>>>> First of all, this view of "co-evolution" renders the idea of evolution
>>>>>> vacuous. There is no obvious reason why the larynx should be considered
>>>>> the
>>>>>> "rudiment" of language rather than the mouth or the ears or for that
>>>>> matter
>>>>>> the hand (Stokoe makes a very convincing argument that sign languages
>>>>>> predate vocal ones). So then we have to say that speech co-evolved with
>>>>>> mouths and ears and hands?
>>>>>> Secondly, to pre-empt a little the upcoming issue of MCA, that this view
>>>>> of
>>>>>> co-evolution also makes it impossible to explain crises as internal
>>>>>> phenomena. The pace of change of language is qualitatively different from
>>>>>> the pace of change of the "rudiment" of language, wherever you choose to
>>>>>> locate it, and this changing of gears needs to be explained. It wasn't a
>>>>>> simple adaptation to the environment, whatever it was; it doesn't appear
>>>>> to
>>>>>> be environment specific at all.
>>>>>> Thirdly, this notion of co-evolution, discovering "rudiments" in
>>>>> accidents,
>>>>>> does not give us a unit of analysis that has all of the properties that
>>>>> we
>>>>>> are interested in studying. The quipu and the notched stick
>>>>>> are deliberately endowed with meaning, but the larynx is not.
>>>>>> Perhaps what you mean is not the larynx but the vocal tract: the lungs,
>>>>>> the bronchial tubes, the wind pipe, the voicebox, the oral cavity, the
>>>>>> tongue, the lips and the nose and nasal passages. But this did not evolve
>>>>>> at all; in  fact, as a physiological organ the vocal tract does not even
>>>>>> exist. It's not an adaptation but an exaptation--a bringing
>>>>>> together of organs which evolved with very different functions for
>>>>>> a purpose which is not an adaptation to the environment but an attempt to
>>>>>> create a qualitatively new type of environment, namely a semiotic one.
>>>>>> The notion of the co-evolution of tools and signs not only renders the
>>>>> idea
>>>>>> of evolution almost meaningless, it also makes it next to impossible to
>>>>>> consciously and deliberately and rationally introduce design into
>>>>>> development. If signs are, like tools, just ways of slavishly adapting to
>>>>>> an environment or (worse) slavishly adapting the environment to human
>>>>>> whims, we can only stagger and struggle against each other, from one
>>>>>> adaptation to the next. But if speech is an audaciously wise attempt to
>>>>>> create an environment of an entirely new type, an environment made of
>>>>>> meaning rather than merely of matter, then we humans might have some hope
>>>>>> of transforming the bitter blind combat of each against all into a common
>>>>>> collaborative project. That would be co-evolution indeed.
>>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>>> Macquarie University
>>>>>> On Wed, May 4, 2016 at 2:09 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>>>>>> David, I am responding to "Tool use--and even tool manufacture--is quite
>>>>>>> common in higher primates. But while the higher primates regularly use
>>>>>>> gesture, there is no evidence of any other species developing anything
>>>>> like
>>>>>>> a lexicogrammar."
>>>>>>> In his somewhat discredited book "Ape, Primitive Man and Child,"
>>>>> Vygotsky
>>>>>>> makes the point that the form of activity which is found in non-human
>>>>>>> animals in *rudimentary* form but is fully developed in humans, is the
>>>>> key
>>>>>>> to the "transition from ape to man" and is thus the "essence of man" (to
>>>>>>> use a lot of 19th century language). That is why he was so determined,
>>>>> at
>>>>>>> the time, to find "rudimentary" forms of writing among not-literate
>>>>> peoples
>>>>>>> (those memory sticks and knots).
>>>>>>> For all the faults of this work, I think this was a profound insight.
>>>>> What
>>>>>>> he seemed to have been blind to is that the larynx evolved together with
>>>>>>> the hand, and human beings learnt to speak at the same time as they
>>>>> learnt
>>>>>>> to make tools. It was only in 1931 that he recognised that a spoken word
>>>>>>> was as much a sign as a piece of technology manufactured for
>>>>> communicative
>>>>>>> purposes - which nonetheless, did turn out to mark a qualitative leap in
>>>>>>> human cultural development.
>>>>>>> The great insight from this work is that despite himself, he looked
>>>>> *not*
>>>>>>> at the attribute of human beings which was exclusively found among
>>>>> humans
>>>>>>> (lexicogrammar) as the "essence of man," but on the contrary to the
>>>>>>> mediating activity which produced the change from one species to
>>>>> another.
>>>>>>> This is the Hegelian idea of concept, a.k.a. species, as opposed to the
>>>>>>> positivist concept of species/concept which looks for "essential"
>>>>>>> attributes as definitive. But he didn;t know that until 1931.
>>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>> Andy Blunden
>>>>>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
>>>>>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>>>>>>> On 4/05/2016 1:48 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
>>>>>>>> Greg:
>>>>>>>> Tool use--and even tool manufacture--is quite common in higher
>>>>> primates.
>>>>>>>> But while the higher primates regularly use gesture, there is no
>>>>> evidence
>>>>>>>> of any other species developing anything like a lexicogrammar. It's in
>>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>>> sense that I was arguing that tool use has temporal priority over
>>>>> signs. I
>>>>>>>> don't think tools and signs co-evolved phylogenetically any more than
>>>>> they
>>>>>>>> co-evolve ontogenetically. I think that practical intelligence and
>>>>>>>> speech have separate genetic roots and separate functional paths, the
>>>>> one
>>>>>>>> oriented towards the environment and the other towards conspecifics.
>>>>>>>> While he was in prison, Oscar Wilde was allowed one sheet of paper a
>>>>> day,
>>>>>>>> which was issued to him in the morning and then locked in a safe in the
>>>>>>>> evening. He used this to write a very long letter to his lover Lord
>>>>> Alfred
>>>>>>>> Douglas (about a third of this letter, with the long and highly
>>>>>>>> contradictory complaints removed, was published as "De Profundis").
>>>>> But it
>>>>>>>> was only after his release that he was able to transform the sorry mess
>>>>>>>> into great art, a ballad about a trooper who was hanged while he was in
>>>>>>>> prison.
>>>>>>>> He did not wear his scarlet coat
>>>>>>>> For blood and wine are red
>>>>>>>> And blood and wine were on his hands
>>>>>>>> When they found him with the dead
>>>>>>>> The poor dead woman that he loved
>>>>>>>> And murdered in their bed
>>>>>>>> It's all there: the blue coat of the trooper is now red, Christ
>>>>> transforms
>>>>>>>> blue water into red wine at Canaa, wine is transformed into blood
>>>>> before
>>>>>>>> Gethsemane and Golgotha, and even the main complaint Wilde has against
>>>>>>>> Douglas in "De Profundis", which is that "each man kills the thing he
>>>>>>>> loves
>>>>>>>> but each man does not die" is changed into "murdered in their bed". But
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> very first step in this transsubstantiation of mere suffering into
>>>>> great
>>>>>>>> art happens in the very first word, where Wilde begins with "he"
>>>>> instead
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> "I".
>>>>>>>> Of course it's possible to use your personal misery to create great
>>>>> art.
>>>>>>>> But it's hard, for (at least) three reasons. First of all, it's hard to
>>>>>>>> stand back and let the material alone rather than try to whip it into
>>>>>>>> shape. Second, it's hard to reconcile the sense that your pain is the
>>>>> one
>>>>>>>> and only and incomparable and ineffable and the sense that you are at
>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> same time everywoman. Thirdly, pain is debilitating: it withers your
>>>>>>>> embrace right at the very moment when you need to reach out, makes you
>>>>>>>> unfit for companionship right when you need it most, fills your mouth
>>>>> with
>>>>>>>> incoherent screams precisely when you most need the precision of words
>>>>> to
>>>>>>>> convey what you are feeling to others. On top of that, as Vygotsky
>>>>> says,
>>>>>>>> really good art is not the contagion of feeling: it's the
>>>>> individuation of
>>>>>>>> social emotion and not the socialization of individual emotion.
>>>>>>>> The unmotivated reconciliation that ends "Lemonade" is deus ex machina,
>>>>>>>> i.e. both unartistic and unrealistic. Either it was manufactured for
>>>>> mass
>>>>>>>> market consumption, or the raw emotion that preceded it was. Or both.
>>>>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>>>>> Macquarie University
>>>>>>>> On Tue, May 3, 2016 at 11:05 AM, Greg Mcverry <jgregmcverry@gmail.com>
>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>> I would have to agree with Andy on the co-evolution of the tools. To
>>>>>>>>> separate one as developing phylogenetically as ontogenetically seems
>>>>>>>>> false.
>>>>>>>>> Could one argue that agriculture was a pre-cursor to formal writing
>>>>>>>>> systems
>>>>>>>>> but sign systems evolved as a form of communication long before? I am
>>>>>>>>> not a
>>>>>>>>> cultural anthropologist. I really do not know if there has been a
>>>>> writing
>>>>>>>>> system developed in a hunting and gathering culture.
>>>>>>>>> Yet that does not mean those same cultures were not ripe with sign
>>>>>>>>> systems
>>>>>>>>> and meaning makings.
>>>>>>>>> I think the mediation and differentiation of tools coevolving is even
>>>>>>>>> more
>>>>>>>>> stark when we consider the age of the web. For the first 25 years of
>>>>> the
>>>>>>>>> web the people building the web were also doing their own identity
>>>>> work.
>>>>>>>>> People that hung out on the the Well, Usenets, chat rooms. xmca
>>>>>>>>> listservs,
>>>>>>>>> etc were defining the tools in a way to help define themselves. Here
>>>>> is
>>>>>>>>> agreat piece by Ben Werdmuller reflecting on how his tool development
>>>>>>>>> could
>>>>>>>>> not be separated from his own ontological development:
>>>>> https://words.werd.io/we-are-the-monkeys-of-rum-70f81d4a02df#.n0x23ugom
>>>>>>>>> In terms of Beyonce. Whether you call it a mediating activity or a
>>>>>>>>> mediated
>>>>>>>>> activity. I am not sure it matters. The point is to be a force. For
>>>>> those
>>>>>>>>> not in the states her latest release has been seen as a call to women
>>>>> of
>>>>>>>>> color. Her Super Bowl performance was both celebrated and vilified.
>>>>>>>>> I haven't heard Lemonade yet ( I suffer from severe pop culture
>>>>> deficit)
>>>>>>>>> but I hear it getting talked about all over the web. I wonder how
>>>>> Hegel
>>>>>>>>> would think of something like the web where the culture is both
>>>>> affected
>>>>>>>>> by
>>>>>>>>> market pressures but not limited to any one national identity. Is the
>>>>> web
>>>>>>>>> the world spirit?
>>>>>>>>> On Mon, May 2, 2016 at 8:44 PM Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>> I think the evidence is in that speech and labour (i.e.,
>>>>>>>>>> tool-use) co-evolved, but writing came a whole epoch later.
>>>>>>>>>> I do not think it is a sustainable "developmentalist" point
>>>>>>>>>> of view that a form of activity can first be differentiated
>>>>>>>>>> and then be mediated: the mediation and the differentiation
>>>>>>>>>> co-evolve (so to speak). That's the whole point.
>>>>>>>>>> On my update to:
>>>>> https://www.academia.edu/4781886/From_where_did_Vygotsky_get_his_Hegelianism
>>>>>>>>>> I never claimed that Vygotsky only got his Hegel through
>>>>>>>>>> Marx: his knowledge of Hegel was mediated through a number
>>>>>>>>>> of sources (including Lenin and Engels and probably
>>>>>>>>>> Plekhanov, followers of Deborin and Lewin). The correction
>>>>>>>>>> you referred to was my admission that the passage you drew
>>>>>>>>>> my attention to in HDHMF I had overlooked in my catalogue,
>>>>>>>>>> and that it had to be included with the one or two other
>>>>>>>>>> allusions which seem to have come from a reading of the
>>>>>>>>>> section of Hegel's Subjective Spirit named "Psychology".
>>>>>>>>>> Someone, c. 1931, drew his attention to these passages.
>>>>>>>>>> There are other passages of The Subjective Spirit which
>>>>>>>>>> would have been of great interest to Vygotsky and would
>>>>>>>>>> certainly have been appropriated if he had ever read them,
>>>>>>>>>> but he hadn't, far less the Logic (though he had studied
>>>>>>>>>> Lenin's Annotations on the Logic) or the Phenomenology,
>>>>>>>>>> which no Marxist or Psychologist read in the period of his
>>>>>>>>>> lifetime.
>>>>>>>>>> Is it time yet, David, for you to make a correction to your
>>>>>>>>>> claim that the Vygotsky archive would eventually turn up
>>>>>>>>>> Vygotsky's annotations on the Phenomenology?
>>>>>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>>>> Andy Blunden
>>>>>>>>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
>>>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>>>>>>>>>> On 3/05/2016 9:00 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> Andy:
>>>>>>>>>>> You and I both come out of the pugilistic left, and
>>>>>>>>>>> we live in a country where socks are considered formal
>>>>>>>>>>> apparel. So I imagine that no question mark is required to
>>>>>>>>>>> start a discussion; nor pulling of punches to finish one.
>>>>>>>>>>> I think I made the case that the distinction was pretty
>>>>>>>>>>> useful, at least to Beyoncé fans--if not, see Vygotsky's
>>>>>>>>>>> conclusion to Chapter Two of HDHMF, where he points out
>>>>>>>>>>> that the precise nature of the relationship of signs and
>>>>>>>>>>> tools needs to be worked out yet, but in any case that
>>>>>>>>>>> relation is indirect; it MUST pass through a
>>>>>>>>>>> super-category he calls MEDIATING activities. For YOU and
>>>>>>>>>>> for HEGEL, all activity can be said to be both mediating
>>>>>>>>>>> and mediated, but this is a non-developmental point of
>>>>>>>>>>> view: for a developmentalist, one must perforce be
>>>>>>>>>>> differentiated first. Phylogenetically, it seems likely
>>>>>>>>>>> that tools were differentiated before signs, but
>>>>>>>>>>> ontogenetically it is usually the other way around.
>>>>>>>>>>> What really IS academic in the extreme is your
>>>>>>>>>>> own distinction between "really quoting" Hegel and
>>>>>>>>>>> quoting Hegel in a footnote to Marx academic. It's also
>>>>>>>>>>> quite unprovable. By the way, this might be a good place
>>>>>>>>>>> to acknowledge the corrections you have recently made to
>>>>>>>>>>> your assertion that every single Hegel reference you have
>>>>>>>>>>> found in Vygotsky's work can be found verbatim in Marx.
>>>>>>>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>>>>>>>> Macquarie University
>>>>>>>>>>> On Mon, May 2, 2016 at 12:00 PM, Andy Blunden
>>>>>>>>>>> <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>   I didn't see a question mark anywhere David, but (for
>>>>>>>>>>>   reasons of my own) could I just note that Vygotsky is
>>>>>>>>>>>   not really quoting Hegel, but rather quoting Marx
>>>>>>>>>>>   quoting Hegel's Shorter Logic in an author's footnote
>>>>>>>>>>>   to /Capital/. Marx puts an interesting twist on the
>>>>>>>>>>>   point Hegel is making in the original. I think it is a
>>>>>>>>>>>   twist which preserves Hegel's meaning, but it is
>>>>>>>>>>>   really the opposite of what Hegel is saying.
>>>>>>>>>>>   By "the cunning of Reason" Hegel means how History and
>>>>>>>>>>>   social processes in general unfold according to their
>>>>>>>>>>>   own logic, irrespective of the intentions of their
>>>>>>>>>>>   human actors. Marx twists this to make the point that
>>>>>>>>>>>   natural objects act according to human purposes, not
>>>>>>>>>>>   their material properties as such.
>>>>>>>>>>>   I agree that when Hegel is talking about human
>>>>>>>>>>>   affairs, "Spirit" means "Activity", but of course
>>>>>>>>>>>   unlike Marx, Hegel deifies Spirit. For Marx, men make
>>>>>>>>>>>   history, only not under conditions of their own
>>>>>>>>>>>   choosing. For Hegel, men are mere tools of the
>>>>>>>>>>>   Weltgeist (world spirit).
>>>>>>>>>>>   I was able to grasp the distinction between mediating
>>>>>>>>>>>   and mediated activity, though given that all activity
>>>>>>>>>>>   is mediated and all activity is mediating, the
>>>>>>>>>>>   distinction strikes me as academic in the extreme. I
>>>>>>>>>>>   remain to be convinced that Hegel knoew of any such
>>>>>>>>>>>   distinction.
>>>>>>>>>>>   The paragraph following the note on "cunning of
>>>>>>>>>>>   Reason" in the Shorter Logic is an interesting one:
>>>>>>>>>>>   TheRealised Endis thus the overt unity of subjective
>>>>>>>>>>>   and objective. It is however essentially
>>>>>>>>>>>   characteristic of this unity, that the subjective and
>>>>>>>>>>>   objective are neutralised and cancelled only in the
>>>>>>>>>>>   point of their one-sidedness, while the objective is
>>>>>>>>>>>   subdued and made conformable to the End, as the free
>>>>>>>>>>>   notion, and thereby to the power above it. The End
>>>>>>>>>>>   maintains itself against and in the objective: for it
>>>>>>>>>>>   is no mere one-sided subjective or particular, it is
>>>>>>>>>>>   also the concrete universal, the implicit identity of
>>>>>>>>>>>   both. This universal, as simply reflected in itself,
>>>>>>>>>>>   is the content which remains unchanged through all the
>>>>>>>>>>>   three/termini/of the syllogism and their movement.
>>>>>>>>>>>   Andy
>>>>>>>>>>>   ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>>>>>   Andy Blunden
>>>>>>>>>>>   http://home.mira.net/~andy <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>
>>>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>>>>>>>>>>>   On 2/05/2016 9:03 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>       I'm reading a chapter by Janette Freidrich in the
>>>>>>>>>>>       collection "Vygotski
>>>>>>>>>>>       maintenant" published in 2011. It's an imaginary
>>>>>>>>>>>       dialogue between Buhler
>>>>>>>>>>>       and Vygotsky on the former's theory of language
>>>>>>>>>>>       and the latter's criticisms
>>>>>>>>>>>       thereof, very cleverly written in INDIRECT SPEECH
>>>>>>>>>>>       so that Friedrich doesn't
>>>>>>>>>>>       have to waste time trying to imitate the voice of
>>>>>>>>>>>       each or pretend that she
>>>>>>>>>>>       knows the exact wording of each argument.
>>>>>>>>>>>       Friedrich begins with Hegel's
>>>>>>>>>>>       distinction (from the LONGER Logic, the one that
>>>>>>>>>>>       I've never read) between
>>>>>>>>>>>       mediating activity and mediated activity.
>>>>>>>>>>>       Mediating activity is what Vygotsky talks about
>>>>>>>>>>>       using the quote from Hegel
>>>>>>>>>>>       in HDHMF Chapter Two: it's when your role is
>>>>>>>>>>>       essentially bystanding, when
>>>>>>>>>>>       you use one force of nature, more or less in the
>>>>>>>>>>>       natural state, against
>>>>>>>>>>>       another.For example, you arrange the downspout of
>>>>>>>>>>>       your house roof gutters
>>>>>>>>>>>       so that it bores a hole in a piece of limestone.
>>>>>>>>>>>       Or you hang your wet
>>>>>>>>>>>       laundry on a tree branch and let the sun dry it
>>>>>>>>>>>       out instead of trying to
>>>>>>>>>>>       wring it dry yourself..
>>>>>>>>>>>       Mediated activity is in some ways the same, but in
>>>>>>>>>>>       others completely
>>>>>>>>>>>       opposite. It's the same in that you are using one
>>>>>>>>>>>       natural force against
>>>>>>>>>>>       another, but it's opposite in the sense that your
>>>>>>>>>>>       role is not bystanding;
>>>>>>>>>>>       you are yourself one of the forces of nature. For
>>>>>>>>>>>       example, instead of
>>>>>>>>>>>       arranging the downspout, you make a chisel or a
>>>>>>>>>>>       drill of some kind to bore
>>>>>>>>>>>       a hole in a piece of limestone and sculpt it into
>>>>>>>>>>>       a flagstone or a
>>>>>>>>>>>       tombstone. Or you beat the laundry dry with a tree
>>>>>>>>>>>       branch instead of just
>>>>>>>>>>>       hanging it there.
>>>>>>>>>>>       Friedrich points out that in Vygotsky's early work
>>>>>>>>>>>       (e.g. "The History of
>>>>>>>>>>>       the Crisis") Vygotsky speaks of psychic tools--he
>>>>>>>>>>>       is treating ALL activity
>>>>>>>>>>>       as "mediated" rather than mediating. But in HDHMF,
>>>>>>>>>>>       we know that he
>>>>>>>>>>>       CRITIQUES this point of view, precisely because it
>>>>>>>>>>>       equates the sign and the
>>>>>>>>>>>       tool. Now, you might think that the sign even more
>>>>>>>>>>>       like mediated activity
>>>>>>>>>>>       and even less like mediating activity than the
>>>>>>>>>>>       tool. After all, sign users
>>>>>>>>>>>       are not bystanders; they are even more intimately
>>>>>>>>>>>       and intensively and
>>>>>>>>>>>       deliberately involved as subjects than tools. But
>>>>>>>>>>>       that confuses the sign
>>>>>>>>>>>       user with the sign itself. It also ignores a key
>>>>>>>>>>>       difference between
>>>>>>>>>>>       mediating activity and mediated activity--which is
>>>>>>>>>>>       that in mediating
>>>>>>>>>>>       activity the force of nature is allowed to act
>>>>>>>>>>>       according to its own
>>>>>>>>>>>       properties. When I use a word, I do not try to
>>>>>>>>>>>       transform it from a sound
>>>>>>>>>>>       into something else; or rather, if I do, then I
>>>>>>>>>>>       get something that is less
>>>>>>>>>>>       obviously language and more like onomatopoeia.
>>>>>>>>>>>       While I read, I am listening to Beyoncé's new
>>>>>>>>>>>       album "Lemonade", which is an
>>>>>>>>>>>       attempt to take a force of nature (the sour lemons
>>>>>>>>>>>       of a husband's
>>>>>>>>>>>       infidelity) and to transform it into something
>>>>>>>>>>>       larger than life or twice as
>>>>>>>>>>>       natural (the eponymous lemonade). It's an uneasy
>>>>>>>>>>>       cross between a mediating
>>>>>>>>>>>       activity ("for colored girls who have considered
>>>>>>>>>>>       suicide | when the rainbow
>>>>>>>>>>>       is enuf", where 20 imaginary characters are used
>>>>>>>>>>>       and Ntozake Shange simply
>>>>>>>>>>>       stands back) and a mediated one ("Black Macho and
>>>>>>>>>>>       the Myth of Superwoman",
>>>>>>>>>>>       where Michelle Wallace tries to use her own
>>>>>>>>>>>       experiences alongside a
>>>>>>>>>>>       traditional academic approach). Beyoncé can't
>>>>>>>>>>>       quite figure out whether she
>>>>>>>>>>>       wants to do this as a mediating choreographer for
>>>>>>>>>>>       an ineffable everywoman
>>>>>>>>>>>       or as a mediated activity by the one and only
>>>>>>>>>>>       Pasha Bey.
>>>>>>>>>>>       David Kellogg
>>>>>>>>>>>       Macquarie University

Status: O