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[Xmca-l] Re: Vygotsky,Marx, & summer reading



I'm still catching up, but like I used to remind my developmental students
when they felt they missed an opportunity in one of their interesting
conversations with kids,"You can always reinstate the context. They will
remember the conversation and sometimes the delay creates opportunities
that weren't there before."

The Wertsch article that Mike sent creates a new opportunity in the context
of simulations, like the "giant component" simulation that I sent
yesterday. I see such simulations as models (or tools) that help us
remember aspects of our complex topics that are too easily forgotten.
Wertsch's argument that xmca writer's now rarely forget is to keep the
social-cultural-historical context in mind when talking about human
activity. For example, words without such context, cannot really be
understood. The giant component simulation (especially with the added
parameters I mentioned) shows how past coincidences accumulate into units.
But this should not be construed as reductionism. The giant component is by
no means equivalent to the sum of the dots. It would not exist without the
relationships between them.

Nonlinear dynamics provides a different model with different contexts from
network theory. Adrian Bejan has developed many examples of how it connects
to various social and psychological phenomena, which he summarizes in what
he calls "the constructal law" (in my opinion, "constructal model" would be
more descriptive and less misleading). His ideas help to see how such
models might be useful in discussing social-cultural-historical phenomena.
Of special interest in this discussion is the reminders that fluid dynamics
can have for our discussion about units. The August 25 issue of Science has
a fascinating article by a group of Spanish physicists (Cardesa,
Vela-Martin, and Jimenez) on "The turbulent cascade in five dimensions."
Their work greatly transcends Bejan's in precision but also does not
consider his breadth of applications.

They began with a rhyming verse from L.F. Richardson's work on weather
prediction "Big whirls have little whirls that feed on their velocity, and
little whirls have lesser whirls and so on to viscosity."  This means that
to understand the phenomena we need not just the three dimensions of space
and another of time, but also a dimension of scale. They then examined the
extent to witch energy was transferred across scales. Their fascinating
result was that there was energy transfer only between adjacent scales.
This resulted in an energy cascade (a hurricane transfers energy to an
embedded tornado but not to the eddies within the tornado).

If we use the model to suggest ideas about units of typing activity, it
suggests a very testable hypothesis that letter coincidences influence word
typing, but do not add anything to phrase typing beyond the effects of word
typing. The value to our discussion using simulations to understand tool
mediated actions is that such models bolster the argument that we need
multiple levels (scales) of units. In short, the how can we study the
formation of larger units and any types of transfer between them if we do
not consider multiple scales?

David Dirlam

On Sun, Aug 20, 2017 at 2:48 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> This is a question for Jim Wertsch, Alfredo:
>
> So, what was that something for which Vygotsky or his Western readers were
> developing 'tool mediated action' as unit?
>
> Here is a copy of an early MCA article on the topic, but Jim's book on Mind
> as Action or his later writing with V.P. Zinchenko ought to be sources for
> seeing how the issue of units is dealt with there.
>
> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Journal/pdfs/01-4-wertsch.pdf
>
> mike
>
> On Sun, Aug 20, 2017 at 3:16 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> wrote:
>
> > Yes, I guess, they are different concepts. But, in a way, the two are
> > being mobilised here to do a similar job, namely to establish a field of
> > inquiry and its methodology. As you've written somewhere else, for a unit
> > to be such it has to be a unit of something, right? So, what was that
> > something for which Vygotsky or his Western readers were developing 'tool
> > mediated action' as unit? And, was there a unit Vygotsky was envisioning
> to
> > account for the semantics of action?
> >
> > Alfredo
> > ________________________________________
> > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > on behalf of Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> > Sent: 20 August 2017 12:03
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Vygotsky,Marx, & summer reading
> >
> > Nicely put, Alfredo. But "key" then is quite a different
> > concept from "germ cell" or "unit of analysis", isn't it?
> >
> > Andy
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > Andy Blunden
> > http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> >
> > On 20/08/2017 7:44 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
> > > In my e-mail, 'key' was loosely used as 'central aspect'; but if you
> > push me a bit, I could also entertain the idea of 'key' as in 'the
> anatomy
> > of man is the key to the anatomy of ape' (the anatomy of the meaning of
> the
> > situation, or semantic field, is the key to the anatomy of human tool
> use,
> > if you will).
> > >
> > > Alfredo
> > > ________________________________________
> > > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >
> > on behalf of Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> > > Sent: 20 August 2017 10:38
> > > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; ablunden@mira.net
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Vygotsky,Marx, & summer reading
> > >
> > > Was not the early Vygotsky already arguing that, in ontogenesis (not
> > phylogenesis) 'properly human forms of using tools'  emerge only 'as
> speech
> > and the use of symbolic signs are included' (From 'Tool and Sign ...')?
> Are
> > not these then not just 'two distinct forms of activity', abut also two
> > developmentally different strata (for a lack of a better word)?
> > >
> > > In the late Vygotsky, we find the argument of a 'transition from the
> > dynamics of thought to the dynamics of action, and back', where the sign
> no
> > longer is the key, but 'the meaning of the situation' is. Considering
> > this,a good deal of exegesis seems to be needed before one can attribute
> > 'tool mediated action' as a unit implicit in Vygotsky's legacy, does not
> it?
> > >
> > > David, would your assessment of word meaning be the same if word
> meaning
> > would stand for the 'interpersonal meanings' that you suggest it does not
> > contain? For, if we were to follow Vygotsky's own remarks that
> > psychological functions are relations between people first, could it make
> > sense to pursue 'word meaning' as actual speech, which always is a
> concrete
> > and real relation between people?
> > >
> > > Also, I wonder how Perezhivanie would fare your (or Vygotsky's own)
> test.
> > >
> > > Lots of wondering here!
> > >
> > > Alfredo
> > > ________________________________________
> > > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >
> > on behalf of Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> > > Sent: 20 August 2017 07:23
> > > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Vygotsky,Marx, & summer reading
> > >
> > > "Artefact Mediated Action" was a product of the exegesis of
> > > Vygotsky especially in the West; people came to the
> > > conclusion that it was implicit in Vygotsky's work. But it
> > > was also recognised and incorporated by A N Leontyev in his
> > > work - indeed, Leontyev's Activity Theory makes no sense
> > > without the artefact-mediated action as a unit of analysis.
> > > But I don't think Vygotsky never said as much, did he? He
> > > was more concerned to counter the tendency to subsume speech
> > > as a subtype of artefact-mediated action, and keeping
> > > tool-mediated actions and sign-mediated actions
> > > qualitatively distinct forms of activity. But his analysis
> > > of Sakharov's experiments takes as given that a concept is a
> > > system of artefact-mediated actions.
> > >
> > > Do you see a problem here, Helena?
> > >
> > > Andy
> > >
> > > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > > Andy Blunden
> > > http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > > http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> > >
> > > On 20/08/2017 2:27 PM, Helena Worthen wrote:
> > >> So "mediated action" works as a unit of analysis?
> > >>
> > >> Thanks -- H
> > >>
> > >> Helena Worthen
> > >> helenaworthen@gmail.com
> > >> Vietnam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com
> > >>
> > >> On Aug 20, 2017, at 4:01 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
> > >>
> > >>> I would like to propose the following tests for a unit of analysis.
> > They
> > >>> are all based on things Vygotsky wrote in the pedology.The examples,
> > from
> > >>> biology, political economy, and music, are my own.
> > >>>
> > >>> a) It must be maximally simple. That is, it must be small enough to
> be
> > >>> manageable in experiments, clinical settings, and observable using
> > >>> "objectivizing" methods of research such as the functional method of
> > dual
> > >>> stimulation or the Zoped. For example, cells can be managed in a
> petri
> > >>> dish, drawn from patients during examinations, and their genesis may
> be
> > >>> provoked and observed with a microscope: the commodity can be
> > abstracted
> > >>> from an exchange for analysis, observed as it arises in production
> and
> > >>> exchange, and elicited through barter and markets. The four note
> > "theme" of
> > >>> that opens Beethoven's fifth symphony is simple enough to play on a
> > timpani
> > >>> as well as a piano.
> > >>>
> > >>> b) It must be minimally complex. That is, it must contain functioning
> > >>> analogues of all the properties which are the object of
> investigation.
> > For
> > >>> example, cells have functioning analogues for metabolism,
> > reproduction, and
> > >>> equilibrium with the environment.Commodities contain, in a coded,
> > >>> potential, or "embryonic" form, all the social relations of labor and
> > >>> capital we find in a mature capitalist economy. Beethoven's "theme"
> is
> > >>> complex enough to describe the structure of the symphony as a whole,
> > and to
> > >>> form its coda.
> > >>>
> > >>> c) These analogues cannot be simple, miniaturized "recapitulations"
> of
> > the
> > >>> properties which are the object of investigation. The mechanisms of
> > cell
> > >>> metabolism, reproduction, homeostasis are not the same as the
> > metabolism of
> > >>> the human organism. A commodity cannot produce or exchange or invest
> > >>> itself; it does not contain productive labour or finance capital in
> > >>> anything but a coded form; these must be unfolded through the
> > historical
> > >>> process and that historical process is not infallibly predictable.
> > >>> Beethoven's "theme" did not create its variations and permutations:
> > >>> Beethoven did.
> > >>>
> > >>> Applying these tests to the units that Andy proposes (with one
> > exception,
> > >>> number three below, they are also based on Vygotsky!) we find:
> > >>>
> > >>> 1. Word meaning is maximally simple but not minimally complex. It
> > doesn't
> > >>> contain analogues of interpersonal meanings, e.g. questions,
> commands,
> > >>> statements, requests. It doesn’t contain analogues of textual
> meanings,
> > >>> e.g. hypotaxis and parataxis, Theme and Rheme, Given and New
> > information.
> > >>>
> > >>> 2. The social situation of development is minimally complex but not
> > >>> maximally simple: it does construe the ensemble of relations between
> > the
> > >>> child and the environment at a given age stage, including the whole
> of
> > >>> actual and potential language, but these cannot be managed in an
> > >>> experimental or clinical setting, or elicited in complete form using
> > the
> > >>> functional method of dual stimulation or the Zoped.
> > >>>
> > >>> 3. Mediated actions are maximally simple and minimally complex, but
> > not, as
> > >>> far as I can see, structurally, functionally or genetically different
> > from
> > >>> the phenomena of activity they purport to explain.
> > >>>
> > >>> David Kellogg
> > >>> Macquarie University
> > >>>
> > >>> Recent Article: Vygotsky, Halliday, and Hasan: Towards Conceptual
> > >>> Complementarity
> > >>>
> > >>> Free E-print Downloadable at:
> > >>>
> > >>> http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/W7EDsmNSEwnpIKFRG8Up/full
> > >>>
> > >>> On Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at 10:37 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> > wrote:
> > >>>
> > >>>> Word meanings for the study of (verbal) intellect
> > >>>> Artefact-mediated actions for the more general study of the
> > development of
> > >>>> activity
> > >>>> Perezhivaniya for the study of personality development
> > >>>> (Defect-Compensation) for the study of disability or whatever
> > >>>> Social Situations of Development for the study of child development
> > >>>>
> > >>>> See page 9 on https://www.academia.edu/11387923/
> > >>>>
> > >>>> Andy
> > >>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> > >>>> Andy Blunden
> > >>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > >>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-
> decision-making
> > >>>> On 19/08/2017 10:47 PM, Martin John Packer wrote:
> > >>>>
> > >>>>> What are the five, Andy?
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>> Martin
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>> On Aug 18, 2017, at 9:07 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> wrote:
> > >>>>>> Amazon have it for $38.21: https://www.amazon.com/Vygotsk
> > >>>>>> y-Marx-Toward-Marxist-Psychology/dp/1138244813 which is not too
> > bad.
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> My chapter is available at https://www.academia.edu/11387923/ but
> > so
> > >>>>>> far as I can see other authors have not posted theirs on
> > academia.edu -
> > >>>>>> maybe elsewhere?
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> Thank you, Alfredo, for highlighting how I have pointed to 5
> > different
> > >>>>>> domains in which Vygotsky demonstrated the "method of analysis by
> > units."
> > >>>>>> To me, it seems useless to identify a writer's methodological
> > innovations
> > >>>>>> unless you can transport that methodology to a different context,
> > and
> > >>>>>> pointing to five applications by Vygotsky himself seemed a good
> way
> > of
> > >>>>>> showing how portable the method is. More recently, I used this
> > method in an
> > >>>>>> approach to political science, taking a group of people in the
> room
> > trying
> > >>>>>> to decide on what they are going to do together as a unit of
> > analysis.
> > >>>>>> Personally, I think this method has proved very fruitful and
> > original. How
> > >>>>>> lucky we are to be inheritors of Vygotsky's brilliant insights,
> > still
> > >>>>>> generally so unknown to the general scientific audience. What a
> > gift LSV
> > >>>>>> has given us!
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> But legacies are always problematic. Alfredo, I think you would
> be a
> > >>>>>> very good candidate to review this book. Beth?
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> Andy
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> > >>>>>> Andy Blunden
> > >>>>>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > >>>>>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-
> > decision-making
> > >>>>>> On 18/08/2017 10:16 PM, mike cole wrote:
> > >>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> Peter, Alfredo Et al -
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> It seems that the readers of MCA would appreciate a good overview
> > >>>>>>> review of
> > >>>>>>> the LSV and Marx book, but so far as I know, no one has proposed
> > the
> > >>>>>>> idea
> > >>>>>>> to Beth, the book review editor. (You seem to have a jump on the
> > task,
> > >>>>>>> Alfredo!).
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> Also, given the cost of the book, it would be nice if authors
> could
> > >>>>>>> follow
> > >>>>>>> Andy's lead and make a draft available. Andy's article on units
> of
> > >>>>>>> analysis
> > >>>>>>> is on Academia, a click away. That way the many readers of XMCA
> > around
> > >>>>>>> the
> > >>>>>>> world would not be excluded from the discussion.
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>> Mike
> > >>>>>>> Happy travels summer readers.  :-)
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>>>
> > >>>>>
> > >>
> > >
> >
> >
>