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[Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis



Is there a computer simulation/
​visualization of the network producing a giant component you wrote about
available, David?

Good luck taming the human capacity you call intelligence!

mike

On Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 9:24 AM Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> What do you mean by "unit" David?
>
> Andy
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/index.htm
> On 13/09/2017 2:16 AM, David Dirlam wrote:
> > I've been on vacation in a spot with no internet or cell phone service --
> > cut off from civilization, perhaps, but that's not as bad as being cut
> off
> > from this fascinating discussion :-)
> >
> > An idea from each of Alfredo's and Andy's posts generated visceral
> > reactions in me. Out in the mountains, I spent many hours with a former
> > student of mine, who has been a licensed clinical social worker in the
> > western Virginia coalfields for 20 years. We're proposing a book on
> "Taming
> > Intelligence" to address the human side of dealing with AI changes in
> work.
> > I did a long developmental interview of her (a way of helping people
> > organize their professional experience) and the 9 needs of Manfred
> Max-Neef
> > turned out to be most of the dimensions for organizing her expertise.
> They
> > happen to be the topic of one of the 7 chapters we have planned for the
> > book, but I didn't expect to find them so deeply embedded in the
> > therapeutic process (my ignorance, probably). Where they fit into modes
> of
> > practice are that one of the parameters for describing changes in the
> > frequency of a practice over time is resources and the 9 needs spell out
> > the internal effects of resource availability (off the top of my head
> they
> > are health-safety, sustenance, leisure, creativity, understanding,
> liberty,
> > love, identity, and belonging).
> >
> > About the usefulness of a complex nested hierarchy, like biology's, it is
> > essential to the taming intelligence argument. Repetitive practices (up
> to
> > procedures and recipes) are those most vulnerable to automation. We
> toured
> > a former coal mine that exhibited what happened to the miners when the
> > "continuous miner" machine was introduced. Two men could accomplish in an
> > hour what it took a dozen to achieve in a day before it was introduced.
> The
> > devastating effect on miners and their families in the mid-20th century
> was
> > similar to the effect that the flying shuttle had on weavers two
> centuries
> > earlier.
> >
> > Adaptive practices require ongoing changes like the sort of learning that
> > my voice recognition software does, but also like transformative learning
> > and the development of expertise. They are more resistant to change, but
> > call-centers, customer-service personnel, and even journalists are being
> > affected by them.
> >
> > Finally, collaborative and institutional practices are most resistant. We
> > don't collaborate well until we begin to understand what others know and
> > can do that we do not. Group and institution formation begins to work
> when,
> > I believe, the division of labor occurs. But that is a topic that others
> on
> > this list have more expertise than me (of course I'd love to read more on
> > how they relate to units of practice from contributors). In any case,
> > machine discovery of these are farther away than for the simpler
> practices
> > that actually occur within them.
> >
> > Another aspect of the usefulness of multiple levels of units came up
> during
> > my interview of my colleague. She is a very versatile counselor, used to
> > many populations and therapeutic approaches, She mentioned the usefulness
> > of some behavior therapy approaches derived from animal behavior research
> > and memory research for helping patients with PTSD begin to fell secure
> in
> > public. The examples she used work best at the repetitive behavior level.
> > When we discussed transformative learning or belonging, the approach
> > changed to more cognitive and social methods.
> >
> > I have found network theory's concept of the giant component extremely
> > useful for thinking about nested units. It starts with random nodes
> > (envision dots on a paper) and adds links one at a time (lines between
> the
> > dots). Little twig compnents appear all over the paper when this is done.
> > However, when the number of links begins to get close to the number of
> > dots, there is a sudden change in the size of the linked components that
> > results in a "giant component" that links nearly all nodes. This giant
> > component is a model of the next level of unit.
> >
> > All for now. Thanks much for your thoughts.
> >
> >
> > David D
> >
> > On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 11:01 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <
> a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> > 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><mailto: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<mailto:xmca-l-bounces@
> >> mailman.ucsd.edu> <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu><mailto:
> xmca-l-bounces@
> >> mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of David Dirlam <modesofpractice@gmail.com
> ><
> >> mailto: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
> ><mailto:
> >> 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><
> >> mailto: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
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
>
>