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

From: <ERIC.RAMBERG who-is-at>
Date: Thu Oct 25 2007 - 06:24:28 PDT

Michael, Mike, Gordon, Tony and all:

I am in complete agreement of the immediacy that tools and signs present to
fully developed (haha a can of worms for debate) adult humans for the
purpose of "shifting" between operations and activitiy. My interest is in
the developmental stages of fetus, newborn, infant, toddle, child,
adolescent, young adult. Would it be helpful to introduce the word/term
heterochrony into the discussion at this point?

Or would that be an illegal shift ? ; ->


                      Roth To:, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
                      <> <>
                      Sent by: cc:
                      xmca-bounces@web Subject: Re: [xmca] On Roth's "On Mediation"
                      10/24/2007 07:51
                      Please respond
                      to "eXtended
                      Mind, Culture,

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

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.


On 24-Oct-07, at 3:57 PM, Mike Cole wrote:


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
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.

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
>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Gordon Wells
> Department of Education
> University of California, Santa Cruz
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