Re: [xmca] On Roth's "On Mediation"

From: Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth who-is-at>
Date: Wed Oct 24 2007 - 17:58:17 PDT

there is no how to use the scoop for the fish culturist. S/he just
grabs it and throws the feed. There is not an instant that they think
about it (consciously). When I drive my stick shift (I guess this is
a rarity in the US), I NEVER think about how to shift, where to
shift, which gear I am in. Over 40 years of driving, including
trucks, I have come to the point where using the stick shift has
totally disappeared from consciousness. (In the army, we had this
game of shifting without using clutch---which has to be pushed twice
in non-synchronized gears---just on feel. When you got it right, no
sound is heard as in regular shifting. When you get it wrong---most
people and newcomers generally, there is a lot of noise)

When I think about these issues, I generally / latently have the
double nature of AT: consciousness + material, which exists not only
for object but for everything else. (This co-presence of the two
dimensions also is central in modern philosophical work inspired both
by dialectics and phenomenology, as in Jean-Luc Nancy, who is an
superb Hegel exegete (he's got 2 books interpreting the dialectical


On 24-Oct-07, at 3:28 PM, Gordon Wells wrote:


I too had some difficulty with the non-mediating operation issue. I
agree with your analysis of speaking and Mike Cole's explanation of
Leontiev's example, but I still think that the operation (of gear-
shifting or fish feeding with the scoop) act as mediational means in
the action in focus. Using Mike's explanation, it would seem that
having to attend to gear-shifting - or to how to use the scoop -
means that those are actions - or probably sub-actions - rather than

Taking this general discussion a little further, wouldn't it also be
necessary to recognize that, just as there are sub-actions, so there
are sub-operations that are even further from conscious awareness?


> Hi Eric,
> thanks for your note.
>> How does the immediacy of operations develop into the mediated
>> actions of a goal directed activity?
> Operations do not "Develop" into mediated actions, they are
> produced in response to current conditions, which include the
> present state of the action. I am thinking about talking in
> everyday situations as a paradigm. We don't go and search for
> words, they seem to appear in our mouths. The type of words is a
> function of the current state, including what we have produced thus
> far, and we stop not BECAUSE of grammatical rules but because of a
> stop order (remember, most people and especially children don't
> know formal grammar and yet produce grammatical sentences), which
> tells us that what we have produced is somehow complete. We can
> make salient operations, which usually happens when something goes
> wrong, and the reverse happens as we become familiar with actions
> that they disappear from our consciousness. When this happens
> precisely normally is not available to consciousness, because it
> precisely involves the disappearance of being conscious of the
> action. (I once studied it when I was teaching in Newfoundland,
> taking also a course, and doing a study of tying shoe laces with a
> child that had trisomy 21. What are operations to us had to be made
> explicit, involving something like 18 steps in my case. With time,
> 2 actions combined, leading to the disappearance [becoming
> operations] of its predecessors)
> Michael
> On 24-Oct-07, at 9:25 AM, wrote:
> Woff-Michael:
> Firstoff: great read! I so enjoy an article that places a "real-
> world"
> context for the reader to negotiate the scholarly "words". The
> real-world
> context being the fish hatchery. Also, for once I believe I have a
> firm
> grasp on how Leontiev was negotiating the avenue of activities,
> actions and
> operations. Your examples clearly indicate the differences and I
> am able
> to better understand the history and development of Cultural-
> Historical
> theory as a result of your article. Thank you. Here is my
> difficulty.
> Perhaps it is in the paper and I am not deciphering it correctly,
> perhaps
> not. How does the immediacy of operations develop into the mediated
> actions of a goal directed activity? Where is the explanation of the
> process that allows actions to become operations? Vygotsky viewed the
> transition of speaking aloud to problem solving to inner speech for
> problem
> solving as the process. Valsiner similar but more intricate in his
> explanations. The difference obviously being that Valsiner has
> enjoyed
> much more time in the research arena. Using your example of
> learning how
> to feed the fish could you possibly walk me through your thoughts
> on how
> you transitioned from using the scoop as a mediating device to the
> point
> where feeding the fish was an operation and you were able to move
> into an
> 'everydayness' of feeding fish.
> eric
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Gordon Wells
Department of Education
University of California, Santa Cruz
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Received on Wed Oct 24 18:04 PDT 2007

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