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[Xmca-l] Object oriented activity and communication



Dear Alfredo, Ivan et al

The discussion really becomes more and moreinteresting, touching on the most fundamental categories. But before proceedingto the answers, a short replica aparté (replica aside) :-)

Theoretical discussion can be productive only ifit is conducted in the context of a single theoretical approach, based on thegeneral principles accepted in its framework and shared by the debaters. Here,on the XMCA, such a common, unifying conception are usually considered thetheories of Vygotsky, Spinozism or even Marxism. Meanwhile, I am afraid thatthe course of our discussions reveals not just a difference, but a gap in theinterpretation of these concepts.

For example, is semiotics compatible with theprinciple of activity, is Spinoza's materialistic monism compatible with theplurality of bases of the theory, that is, it is possible to consider bothobjective activity and communication as the "germ cell" of thetheory. Or maybe for completeness of the theory it is necessary to add to thesetwo principles something third, say - "subjectness"?

I am convinced that without answering these andsimilar fundamental questions at the very beginning of our inquiry and withoutanswering them in the most general form, we are doomed to stumble on them atevery next step. But this leads us to another difficulty. Over and over again,returning the conversation to the most basic theoretical grounds, we comeacross the inevitable reproach that instead of discussing a substantivepsychological theory, based on which we can practically solve sociallysignificant problems, let us say, create a consistently democratic educationsystem, we draw everyone to the interesting only for us theoretical verbiageabout imposed on everyone in the teeth psychophysical problem, and the real orimaginary contradictions between Vygotsky and Leontiev.

Believe me, it would be much more interestingfor me too to reflect on how to help find the path to education and culture forthe children of poor migrants from Central Asia in Moscow or migrants fromMexico to San Diego.

 Agitprop
             sticks
                     inmy teeth too,
and I’d rather
                   compose
                              romances for you - 
more profit in it
                       and more charm.

But I
       subdued
                   myself,
                           setting my heel
on the throat
                 of my own song.

                                    Vladimir Mayakovski

 Имне
             Агитпроп
                     в зубахнавяз,
и мне бы
                   строчить
                               романсы навас —
доходней оно 
                        ипрелестней.

Ноя
       себя
                   смирял,
                            становясь

на горло
               собственнойпесне.

                          Владимир Маяковский

  Among other things, such an over and over againforced return to the very foundation makes it difficult to understand eventhese very basics, for it forces us to return to the most abstract level allthe time, literally stuck in abstractions, instead of moving from the abstractto the concrete.

Alfredo, you put in your post very interestingquestions about how to understand the principle of interaction as such andabout the relationship of object oriented activity to communication. Withpleasure I will answer them. I will only note in brackets that the detailedanswers to these questions have been formulated by me in my theoretic researchalmost thirty years ago ORIGIN OF LIFE,PSYCHE AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS.docx In Russian Принципы теории рефлексивной деятельности. Since 2006, an article with a brief outline of the principles of the"theory of reflexive activity" is available in English. It was evensent in published in English international journal... but for some strangereason was not published then or later.

So, it's easy for me to answer both of yourquestions, especially since I can answer by quoting my old text https://www.academia.edu/33954148/LIFE_PSYCHE_CONSCIOUSNESS.

But before I start to quote myself :-) I wouldlike to repeat - I completely agree with you that the interaction of thesubject and his object (predmet) should in no case be understood as asymmetrical interaction of two ready-made things. I'm not sure if such a falseapproach should be called a "dualism," the term dualism has in myopinion a fairly precise theoretical meaning that should not be expandedwithout special need, but it is obvious that such a logic of interaction ischaracteristic of the type of interaction that Hegel and Schelling called themechanism and chemism. When it comes to the object oriented activity of aliving organism, we are not dealing with the logic of abstract interaction, butwith the logic of positing, positing of the object (логика полагания предмета), or "organic" typeof interaction in the terminology of German classics. In other words,"positing" is also an interaction, but that is its highest,essentially different from the mechanism and the chemism type. Mechanism andchemism are symmetric, in the sense that one can not in principle separate out itsactive and passive side, on the contrary, in organic interaction, in the processof positing of an object one side is active, subjective, while the other ispassive, objective. There are many interesting differences between them, but letus return to this somehow later. 

In the meantime, the promised quote from mygraduation work of 1988:

“Activeor predmet directed (object oriented) relation can not be possibly comprehendedas interaction of two objects external to each other. For example, the suntaken abstractly, out of touch with the process of life, is neither “predmet”for a plant, nor for astronomy. It receives a specific predmet qualityexclusively due to spontaneous activity of a green plant (or astronomer)“selecting” the sun as its predmet and “scrupulously” imitating its celestialmovement with that of the plant leaves (with his telescope).

That is to say that living, active or predmetrelation as such is possible only between a living, spontaneously actingsubject and a predmet positioned by its vital activity.

Something else againis a stimulating-reactive relation, or a relation of irritability. Firstly, itis not spontaneous on the side of a subject being stimulated. Secondly, it isnot productive since the organism does not determine its predmet but has tosatisfy itself with accidental and therefore indifferent external influence.Thirdly, the response of the organism (if only it is not just a mechanisticaction of an external cause) can be conditioned only by abstract inner natureof the organism itself but in no way by the shape of the external thingindifferent to the organism incidentally coming into contact with its livingsubjectivity. To put it differently, we can find not the slightest trace ofpredmet directedness within a stimulating-reactive relation.”

Now about the object oriented activity andcommunication, and it does not matter whether in the verbal form, or in theform of a special Mikhailovsky's "addressing" to another person.

Which of these two categories should beconsidered primary and universal, in which of them we have to try to discernthe notorious "germ cell" of human consciousness (psyche) isessentially the main problem that has been and remains the central problem oftheoretical psychology associated with the names of Vygotsky, Leontyev andIlyenkov.

To begin with, one preliminary consideration. Ifwe want to build scientific psychology in accordance with the famous Marxistmethod of ascent from the abstract to the concrete, whereas all three mentionedabove thinkers believed that the method of ascent, the method of"Capital", is the only scientifically correct method, to ignore whichmeans to condemn one's own theoretical discipline on vulgarity, then you willhave to choose one thing - either activity or communication. And at firstglance, the answer for any person who wants to be a Marxist is obvious - ofcourse, communication, of course sociality, for it is not for nothing that theclassic coined his famous sixth thesis, stating that ".…the human essenceis no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is theensemble of the social relations.. "

And if the construction of a Marxist or, inVygotsky's view, which we fully share, the construction of a purely scientificpsychology consisted only in the need to reconcile the basic propositions oftheoretical psychology with the "correct" ideological quotations fromMarx, then the task ... Then we would again be in an extremely difficultsituation, because the classics left us with different meanings on this topicand with which of them it is necessary to harmonize our theory in the firstplace, and with which in the second, it would still have to be solved byourselves.

So in the 1970s soviet psychologists divided on thisissue into two camps clustered around two «bosses». A group of Moscow-Kharkovpsychologists, whose leader was AN Leontiev and to which Davydov and Ilyenkov undoubtedlybelonged, was inclined to the primacy of object oriented activity, that is, tothe formulation of the first, second and fifth thesis "Theses On Feuerbach",whereas a group of Leningrad psychologists, led by B.F. Lomov was inclined toformulations of the sixth thesis. In other words, "Muscovites" werefor activity, whereas "Leningraders" were for communication.

Here, it is necessary, however, to clarify thatour reference to Marx's Theses on Feuerbach is not a literal reproduction of areal theoretical discussion, but our current reconstruction of its logic. Inreality, such a direct appeal to the texts and the authority of the classics ofMarxism in the 1970s was considered something rather indecent.

The end of the discussion between supporters of"activity" and supporters of "communication" is alsocharacteristic. Lomov won a purely bureaucratic victory, convincing theideological authorities that, by organizing the international Vygotskyconference, Davydov was dragging through dangerous Zionist ideas. Davydov wasexpelled from the party and dismissed from the post of director of theInstitute of Psychology, and the dean of Leontief's psychology department wasappointed a well-known adherent of "communication" LeningraderBodalev. Thus, "communication" with the useful people in theideological department of the Central Committee of CPSU won a pure victory overthe supporters of scientific "activity." This concludes all meaningfuldiscussions in Soviet / Russian psychology. To the leadership of the Faculty ofPsychology were no longer allowed  supporters of any kind of controversialscientific ideas. Davydov's short-term return to the Institute of Psychology ofRAE could not reverse the situation too.

Let us return, however, to our sheep, that is,to "communication" and "activity."

If we want to make our choice of the initialcategory, without looking back at the academic fashion, then for us as for thematerialists the choice is obvious. We will choose the one of the twocategories from which one can derive the entire diversity of human life,including another, the opposite category. And it is obvious that such aninitial category can only be object-oriented activity, for it is easy to deducecommunication from the latter, which is an attribute property of life. But fromcommunication, addressness, love, empathy and other such spiritually upliftingplots, we will not get life or object oriented activity with the greatestdiligence.

And this is not an unsubstantiated assertion,but a fact realized in a theory called the "Theory of ReflexiveActivity", which demonstrates how inner reflexivity and the entireaffective sphere associated with it is first generated by objective activity atthe most basic level, in the evolution of life itself. Then a complex dialecticof the relation of activity and reflexivity in the course of the evolution ofmulticellular organisms is traced. And, finally, it demonstrates how theexternal reflexivity, that is, the relations of individuals, together andpractically producing their own lives, assumes a specifically human character,being a reflexivity, mediating the joint-tool activity of man.

We emphasize that in the "Theory ofReflexive Activity" communication and the affective side of life are takennot as initial and independent concepts, of the origin of which no materialistcan say anything meaningful, but as necessarily inherent to object orientedactivity it’s REFLEXIVE side.

The concept of reflexivity was introduced by mein my diploma thesis in 1988 and, it seems to me, it is a Marxist theoreticalsolution to the question of the relation of objective activity and"communication". In the same time, reflexive object oriented activity,that is, the active relation of the subject to the object and to itself, is theonly possible "germ cell" of the human, as, indeed, any other,psychology.

Форматинтернет чата не самое подходящее место для того, чтобы вводить стольфундаментальные понятия, потому тем, кто хочет разобраться в проблеме пресловутой«клеточки», следует заглянуть в не слишком большой английский текст https://www.academia.edu/33954148/LIFE_PSYCHE_CONSCIOUSNESSи; прочитать его дальше первых нескольких страниц. 

The format of the Internet chat is not the mostsuitable place for introducing such fundamental concepts, therefore, those whowant to understand the problem of the notorious "germ cell" shouldlook into not too large English text https://www.academia.edu/33954148/LIFE_PSYCHE_CONSCIOUSNESS and read it to the end :-).

Полный текст на русском ORIGIN OF LIFE,PSYCHE AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS.docx In Russian Принципы теории рефлексивной деятельности

Наконец, краткийтекст на русском, соответствующий английскому переводу https://www.avramus.com/app/download/5446025763/%D0%9A%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%86+%D0%BF%D1%81%D0%B8%D1%85%D0%BE%D1%84%D0%B8%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B9+%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B1%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BC%D1%8B.doc?t=1486819527.

Dear Alfredo, Ivan et al

The discussion really becomes more and moreinteresting, touching on the most fundamental categories. But before proceedingto the answers, a short replica aparté (replica aside) :-)

Theoretical discussion can be productive only ifit is conducted in the context of a single theoretical approach, based on thegeneral principles accepted in its framework and shared by the debaters. Here,on the XMCA, such a common, unifying conception are usually considered thetheories of Vygotsky, Spinozism or even Marxism. Meanwhile, I am afraid thatthe course of our discussions reveals not just a difference, but a gap in theinterpretation of these concepts.

For example, is semiotics compatible with theprinciple of activity, is Spinoza's materialistic monism compatible with theplurality of bases of the theory, that is, it is possible to consider bothobjective activity and communication as the "germ cell" of thetheory. Or maybe for completeness of the theory it is necessary to add to thesetwo principles something third, say - "subjectness"?

I am convinced that without answering these andsimilar fundamental questions at the very beginning of our inquiry and withoutanswering them in the most general form, we are doomed to stumble on them atevery next step. But this leads us to another difficulty. Over and over again,returning the conversation to the most basic theoretical grounds, we comeacross the inevitable reproach that instead of discussing a substantivepsychological theory, based on which we can practically solve sociallysignificant problems, let us say, create a consistently democratic educationsystem, we draw everyone to the interesting only for us theoretical verbiageabout imposed on everyone in the teeth psychophysical problem, and the real orimaginary contradictions between Vygotsky and Leontiev.

Believe me, it would be much more interestingfor me too to reflect on how to help find the path to education and culture forthe children of poor migrants from Central Asia in Moscow or migrants fromMexico to San Diego.

 Agitprop
             sticks
                     inmy teeth too,
and I’d rather
                   compose
                              romances for you - 
more profit in it
                       and more charm.

But I
       subdued
                   myself,
                           setting my heel
on the throat
                 of my own song.

                                    Vladimir Mayakovski

 Имне
             Агитпроп
                     в зубахнавяз,
и мне бы
                   строчить
                               романсы навас —
доходней оно 
                        ипрелестней.

Ноя
       себя
                   смирял,
                            становясь

на горло
               собственнойпесне.

                          Владимир Маяковский

  Among other things, such an over and over againforced return to the very foundation makes it difficult to understand eventhese very basics, for it forces us to return to the most abstract level allthe time, literally stuck in abstractions, instead of moving from the abstractto the concrete.

Alfredo, you put in your post very interestingquestions about how to understand the principle of interaction as such andabout the relationship of object oriented activity to communication. Withpleasure I will answer them. I will only note in brackets that the detailedanswers to these questions have been formulated by me in my theoretic researchalmost thirty years ago ORIGIN OF LIFE,PSYCHE AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS.docx In Russian Принципы теории рефлексивной деятельности. Since 2006, an article with a brief outline of the principles of the"theory of reflexive activity" is available in English. It was evensent in published in English international journal... but for some strangereason was not published then or later.

So, it's easy for me to answer both of yourquestions, especially since I can answer by quoting my old text https://www.academia.edu/33954148/LIFE_PSYCHE_CONSCIOUSNESS.

But before I start to quote myself :-) I wouldlike to repeat - I completely agree with you that the interaction of thesubject and his object (predmet) should in no case be understood as asymmetrical interaction of two ready-made things. I'm not sure if such a falseapproach should be called a "dualism," the term dualism has in myopinion a fairly precise theoretical meaning that should not be expandedwithout special need, but it is obvious that such a logic of interaction ischaracteristic of the type of interaction that Hegel and Schelling called themechanism and chemism. When it comes to the object oriented activity of aliving organism, we are not dealing with the logic of abstract interaction, butwith the logic of positing, positing of the object (логика полагания предмета), or "organic" typeof interaction in the terminology of German classics. In other words,"positing" is also an interaction, but that is its highest,essentially different from the mechanism and the chemism type. Mechanism andchemism are symmetric, in the sense that one can not in principle separate out itsactive and passive side, on the contrary, in organic interaction, in the processof positing of an object one side is active, subjective, while the other ispassive, objective. There are many interesting differences between them, but letus return to this somehow later. 

In the meantime, the promised quote from mygraduation work of 1988:

“Activeor predmet directed (object oriented) relation can not be possibly comprehendedas interaction of two objects external to each other. For example, the suntaken abstractly, out of touch with the process of life, is neither “predmet”for a plant, nor for astronomy. It receives a specific predmet qualityexclusively due to spontaneous activity of a green plant (or astronomer)“selecting” the sun as its predmet and “scrupulously” imitating its celestialmovement with that of the plant leaves (with his telescope).

That is to say that living, active or predmetrelation as such is possible only between a living, spontaneously actingsubject and a predmet positioned by its vital activity.

Something else againis a stimulating-reactive relation, or a relation of irritability. Firstly, itis not spontaneous on the side of a subject being stimulated. Secondly, it isnot productive since the organism does not determine its predmet but has tosatisfy itself with accidental and therefore indifferent external influence.Thirdly, the response of the organism (if only it is not just a mechanisticaction of an external cause) can be conditioned only by abstract inner natureof the organism itself but in no way by the shape of the external thingindifferent to the organism incidentally coming into contact with its livingsubjectivity. To put it differently, we can find not the slightest trace ofpredmet directedness within a stimulating-reactive relation.”

Now about the object oriented activity andcommunication, and it does not matter whether in the verbal form, or in theform of a special Mikhailovsky's "addressing" to another person.

Which of these two categories should beconsidered primary and universal, in which of them we have to try to discernthe notorious "germ cell" of human consciousness (psyche) isessentially the main problem that has been and remains the central problem oftheoretical psychology associated with the names of Vygotsky, Leontyev andIlyenkov.

To begin with, one preliminary consideration. Ifwe want to build scientific psychology in accordance with the famous Marxistmethod of ascent from the abstract to the concrete, whereas all three mentionedabove thinkers believed that the method of ascent, the method of"Capital", is the only scientifically correct method, to ignore whichmeans to condemn one's own theoretical discipline on vulgarity, then you willhave to choose one thing - either activity or communication. And at firstglance, the answer for any person who wants to be a Marxist is obvious - ofcourse, communication, of course sociality, for it is not for nothing that theclassic coined his famous sixth thesis, stating that ".…the human essenceis no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is theensemble of the social relations.. "

And if the construction of a Marxist or, inVygotsky's view, which we fully share, the construction of a purely scientificpsychology consisted only in the need to reconcile the basic propositions oftheoretical psychology with the "correct" ideological quotations fromMarx, then the task ... Then we would again be in an extremely difficultsituation, because the classics left us with different meanings on this topicand with which of them it is necessary to harmonize our theory in the firstplace, and with which in the second, it would still have to be solved byourselves.


So in the 1970s soviet psychologists divided on thisissue into two camps clustered around two «bosses». A group of Moscow-Kharkovpsychologists, whose leader was Leontiev and to which Davydov and Ilyenkov undoubtedlybelonged, was inclined to the primacy of object oriented activity, that is, tothe formulation of the first, second and fifth thesis of Marx's "Theses On Feuerbach",whereas a group of Leningrad psychologists, led by Lomov was inclined toformulations of the sixth thesis. In other words, "Moscovites" werefor "activity", whereas "Leningraders" were for "communication".

Here, it is necessary, however, to clarify thatour reference to Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach" is not a literal reproduction of areal theoretical discussion, but our current reconstruction of its logic. Inreality, such a direct appeal to the texts and the authority of the classics ofMarxism in the 1970s was considered something rather indecent.


The end of the discussion between supporters of"activity" and supporters of "communication" is alsocharacteristic. Lomov won a purely bureaucratic victory, convincing theideological authorities that, by organizing the international Vygotskyconference, Davydov was dragging through dangerous Zionist ideas. Davydov wasexpelled from the party and dismissed from the post of director of theInstitute of Psychology, and the dean of Leontief's psychology department wasappointed a well-known adherent of "communication" LeningraderBodalev. Thus, "communication" with the useful people in theideological department of the Central Committee of CPSU won a pure victory overthe supporters of scientific "activity." This concludes all meaningfuldiscussions in Soviet / Russian psychology. To the leadership of the Faculty ofPsychology were no longer allowed  supporters of any kind of controversialscientific ideas. Davydov's short-term return to the Institute of Psychology ofRAE could not reverse the situation too.


Let us return, however, to our sheep, that is,to "communication" and "activity."

If we want to make our choice of the initialcategory, without looking back at the academic fashion, then for us as for thematerialists the choice is obvious. We will choose the one of the twocategories from which one can derive the entire diversity of human life,including another, the opposite category. And it is obvious that such aninitial category can only be object-oriented activity, for it is easy to deducecommunication from the object oriented activity, which is an attribute property of life. But fromcommunication, "addressness", love, empathy and other such spiritually upliftingplots, we will never get life or object oriented activity even with the greatestdiligence.


And this is not an unsubstantiated assertion,but a fact realized in a theory called the "Theory of ReflexiveActivity", which demonstrates how inner reflexivity and the entireaffective sphere associated with it is first generated by objective activity atthe most basic level, in the evolution of life itself. Then a complex dialecticof the relation of activity and reflexivity in the course of the evolution ofmulticellular organisms is traced. And, finally, it demonstrates how theexternal reflexivity, that is, the relations of individuals, together andpractically producing their own lives, assumes a specifically human character,being a reflexivity, mediating the joint-tool activity of man.


We emphasize that in the "Theory ofReflexive Activity" communication and the affective side of life are takennot as initial and independent concepts, of the origin of which no materialistcan say anything meaningful, but as necessarily inherent to object orientedactivity it’s REFLEXIVE side.


The concept of reflexivity was introduced in my diploma thesis in 1988 and, it seems to me, it is a Marxist theoreticalsolution to the question of the relation of objective activity and"communication". In the same time, reflexive object oriented activity,that is, the active relation of the subject to the object and to itself, is theonly possible "germ cell" of the human, as, indeed, any other,psychology.

The format of the Internet chat is not the mostsuitable place for introducing such fundamental concepts, therefore, those whowant to understand the problem of the notorious "germ cell" shouldlook into not too large English text https://www.academia.edu/33954148/LIFE_PSYCHE_CONSCIOUSNESS and read it to the end :-).


The full Russian text: ORIGIN OF LIFE,PSYCHE AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS.docx In Russian Принципы теории рефлексивной деятельности


Finally short Russian text which corresponds to short English one https://www.avramus.com/app/download/5446025763/%D0%9A%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%86+%D0%BF%D1%81%D0%B8%D1%85%D0%BE%D1%84%D0%B8%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B9+%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B1%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BC%D1%8B.doc?t=1486819527.


Sasha