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[Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Object oriented activity and communication

Dear David,All major participants know about this and many other instances. Just I don't know why we should level so much accusation against Vygotsky on both sides of the matter. What Vygotsky says here is to see THE WORD AND BEHIND THE WORD and that's perfectly crystal clear. Many others including Leontiev and Ilyenko and Marx also refer to this point on numerous occasions. 

 Until recently, a major impediment to the study of conceptshas been a lack of experimental methods that would allow the investigation oftheir formation and theirpsychological nature.Traditional methods for studying concepts fall into twobasic groups. The first istypified by what is called the method of definition. Thismethod involves the study offully developed and fully formed concepts through the use ofverbal definitions. Despite its wide acceptance, this method suffers from twofundamental inadequacies thatmake it unreliable for any realistic investigation ofconcept formation.
1. This method deals with the results of the completedprocess of concept formation, with the ready-made product of that process. Whenwe use this approach, we arenot looking at the dynamics of the process itself, at itsdevelopment, its course, its beginning and its end. This method is aninvestigation of the product not of the processthat leads to its formation. Consequently, in studyingdefinitions of developed concepts, we are frequently dealing less with thechild's thinking than with his reproduction of fully formed knowledge anddefinitions. Thus, when we study the child's definitions of a particularconcept, we are studying his knowledge or experience and thelevel of his verbal development more than we are studyinghis thinking in the truesense of the word.

2. The method of definition depends almost exclusively onthe word. It overlooks the fact that, for the child in particular, the conceptis linked with *sensual material*, the perception and transformation of which*gives rise* to the concept itself. Thissensual material and the word are *both necessary* for theconcept's development. Divorced from this material, the word transfers theprocess involved in the concept'sdefinition *to a purely verbal plane*, a plane that is notcharacteristic of the child. Whenthis method is used, we therefore rarely succeed inidentifying the relationship thatexists between the meaning the child attributes to the wordin a purely verbal definition and *the word's real meaning* in the process of *itsliving relationship to the objective reality it designates*.When this method is used, that which is most essential tothe concept (i.e., its relationship to reality) remains unexplored. When we attemptto approach the meaningof the word through other words in this way, what wediscover would better be attributed to the relationships among word familiesthat have already been learned ormastered than to a true reflection of the nature of thechild's concepts.***The second group of methods used in the study of conceptsattempts to overcomethe inadequacies of the purely verbal approach of the methodof definition by focusingon the mental functions and processes that underlie theformation of concepts. Thesemethods are concerned with the functions and processes thatunderlie the transformation of the concrete experience from which the conceptis born. Here, the child is presented with the task of isolating some generalfeature from several concrete impressions, of isolating or abstracting thisfeature from others that are perceptually intertwined with it. The child ispresented with the task of generalizing or abstracting thisfeature.
The inadequacy of this second group of methods is that theyreplace a complexsynthetic process with an elementary one that constitutesonly one part of the whole.*The role of the word or sign in the process of conceptformation is ignored*. The resultis that the process of abstraction is radicallyoversimplified. It is torn away from itsrelationship with the word. This relationship, however, isfundamental to the processof concept formation. It is, indeed, the determining featureof that process.Thus, both of these traditional methods for studyingconcepts divorce the wordfrom objective material. One begins by isolating the wordfrom the objective material.The other begins by isolating the objective material fromthe word.
The development of an experimental method that couldadequately reflect theprocess of concept formation by including both features ofthe process, by includingthe material on the basis of which the concept is worked outand the word throughwhich it arises, represented an important step forward inthe study of concepts.
We will not dwell on the complex history of this new method.We will only notethat its introduction opened up an entirely new plane forthe researcher. This methodcreated the potential for studying the process of conceptformation rather than merelystudying the fully developed concept.

To say when a culture is established , there will be no need to repeatedly turning one's attention to the PROCESS rather than the product , is also naivte. Science cannot routinely take steps or get involved in taking leaps 'limping on ONE'.

      From: "WEBSTER, DAVID S." <d.s.webster@durham.ac.uk>
 To: 'Alexander Surmava' <alexander.surmava@yahoo.com>; "'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu> 
 Sent: Thursday, 26 October 2017, 10:45:38
 Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Object oriented activity and communication
Xmca seems to have a workerist tendency operating - for myself I have always found that the work of generalising (in Vygotsky's sense) is a labour of object-oriented activity. But that's just me

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Alexander Surmava
Sent: 26 October 2017 00:13
To: Alfredo Jornet Gil; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; Mike Cole; ivan-dgf; Martin John Packer; ‪Haydi ‪Zulfei‬‬
Subject: [Xmca-l] Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Object oriented activity and communication

Dear Alfredo,

thank you for your very accurate reaction. You definitely noticed the main thing. Today, in the era of globalization and developed technologies, the class antagonism between exploited people and their exploiters, between capital and wage labor, assumes the appearance of the opposite between different ethnic groups and cultures. Capital itself has always been a global phenomenon, and a class of capitalists - a cosmopolitan class. Putting military overcoats on workers and sending them to fight and to kill each other under nationalist slogans, they continued to cooperate with their exploitation colleagues, somehow continuing to receive dividends from their enterprises located on the territory of their "enemy." Today Putin's friends and henchmen who curse the "insidious West" take their capitals to this West, buy property there, send their children to study there and go there themselves to rest and be treated. And today Mr. Poroshenko - the president of the country that was subjected to the aggression of the neighboring state, owns chocolate factories located on the territory of this country.
In Russia, and in Western Europe, and in the United States, the policy of the ruling classes is based today on inciting against each other the working people of different ethnic groups and confessions, on their juxtaposition of each other as superior and second-class creatures.
And as an ideological justification of the enmity incited by the ruling class towards working people of a different skin color, working people speaking a different language and praying to other gods, public consciousness is infected with totally false ideas constructed allegedly on a scientific basis. All this is not new. One hundred years ago, the dominant ideology rested on undisguised racism. Today, the same task is being solved by more sophisticated means, appealing to so-called "cultural" differences. Although the old ideology appealing to biological differences has not disappeared. Only today it is covered by a new, molecular-genetic argumentation, an appeal not only to livestock farming, but also to the "psychology of culture".
It is possible to unmask this bourgeois lie, not only in words but also in deeds, if we can understand that human development is not the ability of individuals to experience (perejivat’) the meaning of words, but to be genuine subjects of object-oriented activity, the subjects of labor.
If we stay on Vygotsky's theoretical positions, which believed that the human psyche begins with acts of sensation that thinking is just a verbal "generalization" of the material that our senses deliver to us, then any wretched ideologist, with a well-suspended language, will seem to us the owner of perfect wisdom, whereas a worker or a peasant doing his own work, but not possessing the skill of ideological verbosity, will look something inferior.
If someone is shocked by such an evaluation of Vygotsky's theory, open his "Thinking and speach" and reread this key paragraph.

"It has been said that the dialectical leap is not only a transition from matter that is incapable of sensation to matter that is capable of sensation, but a transition from sensation to thought. This implies that reality is reflected in consciousness in a qualitatively different way in thinking than it is in immediate sensation. This qualitative difference is primarily a function of a generalized reflection of reality. Therefore, generalization in word meaning is an act of thinking in the true sense of the word. At the same time, however, meaning is an inseparable part of the word; it belongs not only to the domain of thought but to the domain of speech. A word without meaning is not a word, but an empty sound. A word without meaning no longer belongs to the domain of speech. One cannot say of word meaning what we said earlier of the elements of the word taken separately. Is word meaning speech or is it thought? It is both at one and the same time; it is a unit of verbal thinking. It is obvious, then, that our method must be that of semantic analysis. Our method must rely on the analysts of the meaningful aspect of speech; it must be a method for studying verbal meaning.

We can reasonably anticipate that this method will produce answers to our questions concerning the relationship between thinking and speech because this relationship is already contained in the unit of analysis. In studying the function, structure, and development of this unit, we will come to understand a great deal that is of direct relevance to the problem of the relationship of thinking to speech and to the nature of verbal thinking."

Obviously, such an "understanding" of thinking has not the slightest relation to either Spinozism or Marxism. It is a naive attempt to combine eclectically the old ideas of empirical psychology with the school textbook of formal logic.
(Of course, I understand that this paragraph needs more detailed theoretical analysis. And I will not slow down this analysis in the very near future. In the meantime, I only note that Vygotsky's assertion that "generalization is a verbal act of thought" is a maximally aphoristic expression of his idealistic position. For us, as for the materialists, the generalization is a practical act and its instrument is the instrument of labor. And the initial and universal instrument of generalization is not a sign, but an instrument of labor. So the ax is a means of generalizing the properties of wood. The ax is, in the same time, a means of analyzing all the same wood. All this is obvious, looking through the optics of Spinoza-Ilyenkov, that is, simply a Marxist definition of ideality.) Theoretical conclusions made by Vygotsky from the results of Luria's trip to Uzbekistan logically follow from the above. The Uzbek illiterate peasant, not from school textbooks, but from his own labor experience knowing how the earth, aryk, water, hoe and melon are connected, and therefore refusing to produce meaningless formal logical operations with words denoting these things, is declared a primitive thinking by "complexes". Simultaneously, any school crap who knows how to pronounce definitions from his textbook and familiar with the melon only when it is bought, washed and cut by his mommy, is declared the bearer of scientific consciousness.

Only in this way can we, as psychologists and teachers, come to the value of instruments of labor, not only for the distribution of material wealth, but also for the distribution of the spiritual wealth, for the distribution of the ability to think, for the distribution of culture. Only in this way can we approach the Marxist definition of culture as the totality of the means of its object-oriented activity accumulated by humankind the means of its labor. Only on the path of such based on idea of object-oriented activity understanding of man we will be able to get out of the deadlock of the semiotic, with its symbolic arbitrariness.
Vygotsky's merit is that he was the first who seriously set the task of creating a Marxist psychology and his merit can be considered that the first real step in this direction was made by his friend and student AN Leontiev.Our task is to continue their mission.

      От: Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
 Кому: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>; Mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>; ivan-dgf <ivan-dgf@migmail.ru>; Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>; ‪Haydi ‪Zulfei‬‬ <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com>; Alexander Surmava <alexander.surmava@yahoo.com>
 Отправлено: среда, 25 октября 2017 15:03
 Тема: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Object oriented activity and communication
#yiv0081188988 #yiv0081188988 -- P {margin-top:0px;margin-bottom:0px;}#yiv0081188988 Dear Sasha, all, 

apologies for late response, as we've had some health issues at home that fortunately are now dissipating but which have limited participation anywhere else than home life. 

The real need of democratic pedagogy. That sounds like a concrete aspect to begin moving on to what we had hoped at the beginning of this conversation: how is this all gonna be of practical (real) relevance to us and not only armchair discussion. So, in what sense is this 'real,' and is this a 'need'? (I am not addressing Sasha alone, I am addressing any and everyone) 

From: Alexander Surmava <alexander.surmava@yahoo.com>
Sent: 21 October 2017 13:36
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; Mike Cole; Alfredo Jornet Gil; ivan-dgf; Martin John Packer; ‪Haydi ‪Zulfei‬‬
Subject: Отв: [Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Object oriented activity and communication Dear Martin,I think that if we're going to discuss the method of Marx, then it is better to do it discussing his most mature work. That is evidently "Das Kapital" and Ilyenkov's monograph "Dialectics of the abstract and concrete in theoretical thinking". I am aware that there is a point of view that the position of Marx as a humanist was adequately presented in Gründrisse, whereas the humanistic core of Marx's theory was allegedly lost in “Das Kapital”. Accordingly, Marxism is better to study with the help of Gründrisse, and not with the help of “Das Kapital”. Along with Ilyenkov I do not share this view.I'm afraid that the discussion of this topic would take us too far from our psychological themes. I think that we should not get stuck in discussing the order of "steps", but immediately put our foot on the first "step" so that after that try to rise from it to the second, and so on ... Taking into account my not young age, it seems to me that at least for me, it's time to move on from the discussion of the method to the discussion of the subject, from the preparation to thinking, to the thinking as such. Especially because the Method can not be studied before and regardless of the study of the very subject. Perhaps this seems paradoxical, but it is a paradox only for those who are not familiar with the dialectic of Spinoza and Marx. Meanwhile, instead of discussing the question - what is activity, or what is the psyche - we continue to carry water in a sieve, discussing the singular or plural of the term activity. Without a doubt, this topic is very useful for translators from Russian (or German) language to English, but theoretically it is not very informative. And besides, we are convinced that Andy Blunden completely exhausted this topic a few years ago. Much more interesting would be to discuss the question: what is the justification to declare Vygotsky the founder of activity theory. Where, in any 
of his works, Vygotsky introduces the concept of activity, not just uses the term «activity» in the theoretical contexts in which it is used habitually by idealistic psychology. “The activity (or activities) of consciousness”, “the activity (or activities) of mental functions”, “speech activity (or activities)”, the concrete activities of the personality”- all this has nothing to do with object-oriented activity, with Spinoza and Marx. It seems to me that our main mistake is that we are discussing the subtleties of understanding the categories of activity by Vygotsky and Leontyev, whereas we need something different. It is necessary to try to formulate OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING of the activity, proceeding from THE REAL NEED OF THE PRACTICE OF DEMOCRATIC PEDAGOGY.It is impossible to understand activity based on Vygotsky's ideas, because there was no such theoretical category in his theoretical system of views. AN Leontiev introduces a category of object-oriented activity into psychology, but his theory is of little use for solving practical problems too, for saying “A”, Leontyev never said “B”. Having proposed the principle of activity as the universal basis of the psychological theory, its germ cell AN Leontiev did not go further failing to concretize this correctly chosen abstract category.Once again, from thehobby group of lovers of Vygotsky, with his "Сultural-Рistorical Psychology" and AN Leontyev with his "Psychological Theory of Activity" we all have to become community of researchers developing fundamentally new approaches to education, based on dialectical, revolutionary method of Marx.For the realization of this dream, it is necessary to begin not so much - to learn to listen to each other... :-)Sincerely,Sasha

От: Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
Кому: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Отправлено: пятница, 20 октября 2017 3:08
Тема: [Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Object oriented activity and communication

Right, Marx was himself well aware of this difference. My point is that we have begin to talk about “the start” of Marx’s analysis, and about its “stages,” but these should not be equated with the order of the treatment in Capital.


On Oct 19, 2017, at 5:40 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net<mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:


  Of course the method of presentation must differ in form
  from that of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate the
  material in detail, to analyse its different forms of
  development, to trace out their inner connexion. Only
  after this work is done, can the actual movement be
  adequately described. If this is done successfully, if
  the life of the subject-matter is ideally reflected as
  in a mirror, then it may appear as if we had before us a
  mere a priori construction.


Andy Blunden
On 20/10/2017 3:23 AM, Martin John Packer wrote:
Seems to me that if we’re going to talk about the details of Marx’s analysis we need to look not at Capital but at the Grundrisse. The two have virtually opposite organizations; it’s clear that the order of presentation in Capital was not the order of analysis.