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

From: Tony Whitson <twhitson who-is-at UDel.Edu>
Date: Wed Oct 24 2007 - 18:31:32 PDT

maybe something like this?:

"If the world was really just as it appears to us, there would be no need
for science." Karl Marx

That's my paraphrase, from memory, and I think I'm remembering a Marx
quotation that I read somewhere in Mao's writing (possibly in Chinese).

So, I don't have the exact quote, and I don't know the precise source.

Does anybody recognize this?

On Wed, 24 Oct 2007, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

> Hi all,
> I think we can find similar kind of thinking in a number of works and
> traditions. For example, with respect to CHAT, Klaus Holzkamp distinguishes
> between the world as available to people everyday, and other aspects only
> available through critique of ideology, structural analysis.
> Similarly, Dorothy Smith (sociologist) writes about the world as available to
> us, and determinations that are not apparent. If I use a concept such as
> Standard North American Family or Single Parent, I am generally not aware of
> the political work that has gone on behind the scenes--from my current
> perspective---and I am importing into my lifeworld ideologies. Only critical
> analysis (ethnography, sociology, critical cultural studies) will allow me to
> make these hidden structures/determinations apparent.
> From a consciousness perspective, only those things mediate my decisions that
> are apparent to me; but from an analytic perspective, there are structural
> determinations or mediations.
> Michael
> On 24-Oct-07, at 3:57 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
> Gordon--
> A position in Michael's paper that seems crucial to me is that between
> functional and structural
> perspectives with respect to mediation of CONSCIOUSNESS (not necessarily
> behavior, although
> sometimes I get confused on this score).
> So, while I may be unconcious of the fact that a gear box/stick etc are
> mediating my interaction with the world
> while driving, e.g., functionally for consciousness the operation of gear
> shifting is unediated, structurally, the
> operation IS mediated.
> This is sort of like Don Norman's "first person" versus "system" view of
> mediated human action and the use of
> artifacts in action.
> Not sure how we can zero in and be more precise, lets see what michael says.
> mike
> On 10/24/07, Gordon Wells <> wrote:
>> Michael,
>> 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 operations.
>> 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?
>> Gordon
>>> 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
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
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>>> xmca mailing list
>> --
>> Gordon Wells
>> Department of Education
>> University of California, Santa Cruz
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Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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Received on Wed Oct 24 18:41 PDT 2007

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