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


This is a different analysis, in a different paper, that purports to document how selected members of the Indo-European language family spread geographically between the seventh millennium BC and 1974. 


> On May 5, 2016, at 12:11 AM, Helen Harper <helen.harper@bigpond.com> wrote:
> 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: 
> http://www.geocurrents.info/cultural-geography/linguistic-geography/quentin-atkinsons-nonsensical-maps-of-indo-european-expansion
> Helen
>> 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