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[Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Unit of Analysis

Dear Sasha

Passive as in driven by the passions. Isn't that how Spinoza would characterise animals and infants?


festina lente

> On 11 Sep 2017, at 18:05, Alexandre Sourmava <avramus@gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Ivan.
> To say that "that the neo-nate is not active at all, but passive, and that therefore neo-nate behaviour is not activity" means to say that neo nate is not alive creature, but mechanic agregate of dead parts. And I am not sure that idea about passiveness of animals or neo-nate fallows from Spinoza :-).
> Sasha 
>    понедельник, 11 сентября 2017 18:07 Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> писал(а):
> Yes, I think a further elaboration of this idea would lead 
> to an examination of needs and activity and sensuousness in 
> connection with needs and their development in connection 
> with activity.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/index.htm
>> On 12/09/2017 1:01 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
>> Thanks Andy, the sense of 'visceral' is much more nuanced 
>> in your text, yes, and quite different from what one could 
>> grasp from the previous e-mail. And I now follow your 
>> elaboration on micro- and macro-unit much better, so 
>> thanks for that. I was hoping, however, that the 
>> elaboration would lead to some acknowledgement of the role 
>> of needs, real needs, as key to what the word 'visceral' 
>> was suggesting here. I was thinking that rather than a 
>> 'grasping', we gain more track by talking of an orienting, 
>> which is how I read Marx and Engels, when Marx talks about 
>> the significance of 'revolutionary', 'practical-critical' 
>> activity, the fundamental fact of a need and its 
>> connections to its production and satisfaction.
>> A
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> *From:* Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>> *Sent:* 09 September 2017 03:30
>> *To:* Alfredo Jornet Gil; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> *Subject:* Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis
>> Yes, it is tough discussing these topics by email. All the 
>> issues you raise are treated in 
>> http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/pdfs/Goethe-Hegel-Marx_public.pdf
>> I am *not* dividing the world into 'immediate, bodily, 
>> and sensuous' and 'mediated, disembodied, and a-sensuous'. 
>> The whole point is to begin by *not* dividing. By contrast 
>> for example, Newton explained natural processes (very 
>> successfully!) by describing a number of "forces"; a force 
>> is an example of something which is not visceral or 
>> sensuous (and also not discrete so it can't be a 'unit'). 
>> The "expression" of a force can be visceral (think of the 
>> effect of gravity) but gravity itself is an invention 
>> needed to make a theory of physics work (like God's Will) 
>> but has no content other than its expression. People got 
>> by without it for millennia. This is not to say it does 
>> not have a sound basis in material reality. But it is 
>> abstract, in the sense that it exists only within the 
>> framework of a theory, and cannot therefore provide a 
>> starting point or foundation for a theory. To claim that a 
>> force exists is to reify an abstraction from a form of 
>> movement (constant acceleration between two bodies). 
>> Goethe called his method "delicate empiricism" but this is 
>> something quite different from the kind of empiricism 
>> which uncritically accepts theory-laden perceptions, 
>> discovers patterns in these perceptions and then reifies 
>> these patterns in forces and such abstractions.
>> If you don't know about climatology then you can't guess 
>> the unit of analysis. Marx took from 1843 to about 1858 to 
>> determine a unit of analysis for economics. Vygotsky took 
>> from about 1924 to 1931 to determine a unit of analysis 
>> for intellect. And both these characters studied their 
>> field obsessively during that interval. This is why I 
>> insist that the unit of analysis is a *visceral concept* 
>> unifying a series of phenomena, something which gets to 
>> the heart of a process, and which therefore comes only 
>> through prolonged study, not something which is generated 
>> by some formula with a moment's reflection.
>> Each unit is the foundation of an entire science. But both 
>> Marx's Capital and Vygotsky's T&S identify a micro-unit 
>> but quickly move on to the real phenomenon of interest - 
>> capital and concepts respectively. But capital (which 
>> makes its appearance in chapter 4) cannot be understood 
>> without having first identified the real substance of 
>> value in the commodity. The rest of the book then proceeds 
>> on the basis of this unit, capital (i.e., a unit of 
>> capital, a firm). To ignore capital is to depict bourgeois 
>> society as a society of simple commodity exchange among 
>> equals - a total fiction. Likewise, Vygotsky's real aim it 
>> to elucidate the nature and development of concepts. He 
>> does not say it, and probably does not himself see it, but 
>> "concept" is a macro-unit (or molar unit in ANL's term), 
>> an aggregate of actions centred on a symbol or other 
>> artefact. The whole point of introducing the cell into 
>> biology was to understand the behaviour of *organisms*, 
>> not for the sake of creating the science of cell biology, 
>> though this was a side benefit of the discovery.
>> Andy
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> Andy Blunden
>> http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/index.htm
>>> On 9/09/2017 5:31 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
>>> Andy, thanks for your clarification on the 'visceral'. 
>>> The way you describe it, though, suggests to me an 
>>> empiricist position that I know you do not ascribe to; 
>>> and so I'll take it that either I've missed the correct 
>>> reading, or that we are still developing language to talk 
>>> about this. In any case, I assume you do not mean that 
>>> whatever our object of study is, it is divided between 
>>> the visceral as the 'immediate, bodily, and sensuous' and 
>>> something else that, by implication, may have been said 
>>> to be 'mediated, disembodied, and a-sensuous' (you may as 
>>> well mean precisely this, I am not sure).
>>> I do not know what the climatologist's unit of analysis 
>>> is when discussing hurricanes either, but I do think that 
>>> Hurricanes Irma, José, etc, are expressions of a system 
>>> in a very similar way that any psychological fact is a 
>>> expression of the society as part of which it occurs. I 
>>> was thinking that, if we assumed for a second that we 
>>> know what the unit for studying of hurricanes is (some 
>>> concrete relation between climate or environment and 
>>> hurricane), 'feeling' the hurricane could be thought of 
>>> in may ways, only some of which may be helpful to advance 
>>> our scientific understanding of human praxis. The way you 
>>> seemed to refer to this 'visceral' aspect, as 'immediate, 
>>> embodied, and sensous' would make things hard, because, 
>>> are we 'feeling' the hurricane, or the wind blowing our 
>>> roofs away? In fact, is it the wind at all, or the many 
>>> micro particles of soil and other matter that are 
>>> smashing our skin as the hurricane passes above us, too 
>>> big, too complex, to be 'felt' in any way that captures 
>>> it all? And so, if your object of study is to be 'felt', 
>>> I don't think the definition of 'immediate, embodied, and 
>>> sensuous' helps unless we mean it WITHOUT it being the  
>>> opposite to 'mediated, disembodied, and a-sensuous'. 
>>> That is, if we do not oppose the immediate to the 
>>> mediated in the sense just implied (visceral is immediate 
>>> vs. 'not-visceral' is mediated). So, I am arguing in 
>>> favour of the claim that we need to have this visceral 
>>> relation that you mention, but I do think that we require 
>>> a much more sophisticated definition of 'visceral' than 
>>> the one that the three words already mentioned allow 
>>> for. I do 'feel' that in most of his later works, 
>>> Vygotsky was very concerned on emphasising the unity of 
>>> intellect and affect as the most important problem for 
>>> psychology for precisely this reason.
>>> I have also my reservations with the distinction that you 
>>> draw in your e-mail between micro-unit and macro-unit. If 
>>> the question is the production of awareness, of the 
>>> 'experience of having a mind' that you are discussing 
>>> with Michael, then we have to find just one unit, not 
>>> two, not one micro and one macro. I am of course not 
>>> saying that one unit addresses all the problems one can 
>>> pose for psychology. But I do think that the very idea of 
>>> unit analysis implies that it constitutes your field of 
>>> inquiry for a particular problem (you've written about 
>>> this). You ask about Michael's mind, and Michael responds 
>>> that his mind is but one expression of a society.I would 
>>> add that whatever society is as a whole, it lives as 
>>> consciousness in and through each and every single one of 
>>> our consciousness; if so, the unit Vygotsky was 
>>> suggesting, the one denoting the unity of person and 
>>> situation, seems to me well suited; not a micro-unit that 
>>> is micro with respect to the macro-activity.
>>> If you take the Spinozist position that 'a true idea must 
>>> agree with that of which it is the idea', and then agree 
>>> with Vygotsky that ideas are not intellect on the one 
>>> hand, and affect on the other, but a very special 
>>> relation (a unity) between the two, then we need a notion 
>>> of 'visceral and sensous' that is adequate to our 'idea' 
>>> or field of inquiry. We can then ask questions about the 
>>> affects of phenomena, of hurricanes, for example, as 
>>> Latour writes about the 'affects of capitalism'. And we 
>>> would do so without implying an opposition between 
>>> the feeling and the felt, but some production process 
>>> that accounts for both. Perezhivanie then, in my view, is 
>>> not so much about experience as it is about human 
>>> situations; historical events, which happen to have some 
>>> individual people having them as inherent part of their 
>>> being precisely that: historical events (a mindless or 
>>> totally unconscious event would not be historical).
>>> I am no fun of frightening away people in the list with 
>>> too long posts like this one, but I think the issue is 
>>> complex and requires some elaboration. I hope xmca is 
>>> also appreciated for allowing going deep into questions 
>>> that otherwise seem to alway remain elusive.
>>> Alfredo
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> *From:* Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>>> *Sent:* 08 September 2017 04:11
>>> *To:* Alfredo Jornet Gil; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> *Subject:* Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis
>>> Alfredo, by "visceral" I mean it is something you know 
>>> through your immediate, bodily and sensuous interaction 
>>> with something. In this sense I am with Lakoff and 
>>> Johnson here (though not being American I don't see guns 
>>> as quite so fundamental to the human condition). Consider 
>>> what Marx did when began Capital not from the abstract 
>>> concept of "value" but from the action of exchanging 
>>> commodities . Commodity exchange is just one form of 
>>> value, but it is the most ancient, most visceral, most 
>>> "real" and most fundamental form of value - as Marx shows 
>>> in s. 3 of Chapter 1, v. I.
>>> I have never studied climatology, Alfredo, to the extent 
>>> of grasping what their unit of analysis is.
>>> In any social system, including classroom activity, the 
>>> micro-unit is an artefact-mediated action and the 
>>> macro-units are the activities. That is the basic CHAT 
>>> approach. But that is far from the whole picture isn't 
>>> it? What chronotope determines classroom activity - are 
>>> we training people to be productive workers or are we 
>>> participating in social movements or are we engaged in 
>>> transforming relations of domination in the classroom or 
>>> are we part of a centuries-old struggle to understand and 
>>> change the world? The action/activity just gives us one 
>>> range of insights, but we might analyse the classroom 
>>> from different perspectives.
>>> Andy
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Andy Blunden
>>> http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/index.htm
>>> https://andyblunden.academia.edu/research
>>>> On 8/09/2017 7:58 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
>>>> I am very curious about what "visceral" means here (Andy), and particularly how that relates to the 'interrelations' that David D. is mentioning, and that on the 'perspective of the researcher'.
>>>> I was thinking of the Hurricanes going on now as the expressions of a system, one that sustains category 5 hurricanes in *this* particulars ways that are called Irma, José, etc. How the 'visceral' relation may be like when the object is a physical system (a hurricane and the climate system that sustains it), and when it is a social system (e.g., a classroom conflict and the system that sustains it).
>>>> Alfredo
>>>> ________________________________________
>>>> From:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu  <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>  on behalf of David Dirlam<modesofpractice@gmail.com>
>>>> Sent: 07 September 2017 19:41
>>>> To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis
>>>> The issues that have arisen in this discussion clarify the conception of
>>>> what sort of entity a "unit" is. Both and Andy and Martin stress the
>>>> importance of the observer. Anyone with some experience should have some
>>>> sense of it (Martin's point). But Andy added the notion that experts need
>>>> basically to be able to agree reliably on examples of the unit (worded like
>>>> the psychological researcher I am, but I'm sure Andy will correct me if I
>>>> missed his meaning).
>>>> We also need to address two other aspects of units--their classifiability
>>>> and the types of relations between them. What makes water not an element,
>>>> but a compound, are the relations between the subunits (the chemical bonds
>>>> between the elements) as well as those with other molecules of water (how
>>>> fast they travel relative to each other), which was David Kellogg's point.
>>>> So the analogy to activity is that it is like the molecule, while actions
>>>> are like the elements. What is new to this discussion is that the activity
>>>> must contain not only actions, but also relationships between them. If we
>>>> move up to the biological realm, we find a great increase in the complexity
>>>> of the analogy. Bodies are made up of more than cells, and I'm not just
>>>> referring to entities like extracellular fluid. The identifiability,
>>>> classification, and interrelations between cells and their constituents all
>>>> help to make the unit so interesting to science. Likewise, the constituents
>>>> of activities are more than actions. Yrjo's triangles illustrate that.
>>>> Also, we need to be able to identify an activity, classify activities, and
>>>> discern the interrelations between them and their constituents.
>>>> I think that is getting us close to David Kellogg's aim of characterizing
>>>> the meaning of unit. But glad, like him, to read corrections.
>>>> David
>>>>> On Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 10:08 PM, Andy Blunden<ablunden@mira.net>  wrote:
>>>>> Yes, but I think, Martin, that the unit of analysis we need to aspire to
>>>>> is *visceral* and sensuous. There are "everyday" concepts which are utterly
>>>>> abstract and saturated with ideology and received knowledge. For example,
>>>>> Marx's concept of capital is buying-in-order-to-sell, which is not the
>>>>> "everyday" concept of capital at all, of course.
>>>>> Andy
>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> Andy Blunden
>>>>> http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/index.htm
>>>>> https://andyblunden.academia.edu/research
>>>>>> On 7/09/2017 8:48 AM, Martin John Packer wrote:
>>>>>> Isn’t a unit of analysis (a germ cell) a preliminary concept, one might
>>>>>> say an everyday concept, that permits one to grasp the phenomenon that is
>>>>>> to be studied in such a way that it can be elaborated, in the course of
>>>>>> investigation, into an articulated and explicit scientific concept?
>>>>>> just wondering
>>>>>> Martin
>>>>>> On Sep 6, 2017, at 5:15 PM, Greg Thompson<greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> Not sure if others might feel this is an oversimplification of unit of
>>>>>>> analysis, but I just came across this in Wortham and Kim's Introduction
>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>> the volume Discourse and Education and found it useful. The short of it
>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>> that the unit of analysis is the unit that "preserves the
>>>>>>> essential features of the whole".
>>>>>>> Here is their longer explanation:
>>>>>>> "Marx (1867/1986) and Vygotsky (1934/1987) apply the concept "unit of
>>>>>>> analysis" to social scientific problems. In their account, an adequate
>>>>>>> approach to any phenomenon must find the right unit of analysis - one
>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>> preserves the essential features of the whole. In order to study water, a
>>>>>>> scientist must not break the substance down below the level of an
>>>>>>> individual H20 molecule. Water is made up of nothing but hydrogen and
>>>>>>> oxygen, but studying hydrogen and oxygen separately will not illuminate
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> essential properties of water. Similarly, meaningful language use
>>>>>>> requires
>>>>>>> a unit of analysis that includes aspects beyond phonology,
>>>>>>> grammar, semantics, and mental representations. All of these linguistic
>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>> psychological factors play a role in linguistic communication, but
>>>>>>> natural
>>>>>>> language use also involves social action in a context that includes other
>>>>>>> actors and socially significant regularities."
>>>>>>> (entire chapter can be found on Research Gate at:
>>>>>>> https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319322253_Introduct
>>>>>>> ion_to_Discourse_and_Education
>>>>>>> )
>>>>>>> I thought that the water/H20 metaphor was a useful one for thinking
>>>>>>> about
>>>>>>> unit of analysis.
>>>>>>> -greg
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>>>>>> Assistant Professor
>>>>>>> Department of Anthropology
>>>>>>> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>>>>>> Brigham Young University
>>>>>>> Provo, UT 84602
>>>>>>> WEBSITE: greg.a.thompson.byu.edu
>>>>>>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson