Re: [xmca] Subject: Verb, Object

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Sun Dec 30 2007 - 16:34:20 PST

I think David and Peg's messages were out of sync., yes?

This all raises that most difficult of questions for a social psychology
that wants to deal with the tasks I am asking it to deal with, how do you
deal with the knock-on effect of an action, which is predictable from
on-high, but unknown to the actors themselves? We rely on the basic insight
that what goes on in the head first went on between people - whether in the
form given to it by Fichte, Hegel, Marx, CS Peirce or Vygotsky. What is
Hegel's Logic about? About the underlying "logic of events", how this or
that policy or statement or whatever ultimately leads to this or that
problem which was at first invisible. Life experience will tell you this,
but if you don't have life experience, it will happen according to the
logic of events anyways and you should learn. Basically, I think we can
only make sense of this if we get right away from the idea of the
"individual-as-subject" but remember that no subject exists other than in
and through individual human beings.

With the ANL example of the child and the father, I have always had trouble
with "examples" and methods which presuppose a leader or a father or a
facilitator, a person who knows what the experimental subject or student or
self-help group really needs to do, and organises things accordingly. Of
course, I understand that all you teachers and teacher-trainers, child
psychologists, etc., work and have a responsibility to work in precisely
that circumstance. But I do not think this is the paradigmatic
relationship. The father can only do his bit in "leading" the child into an
activity where its "best interests" will be served if the father can act as
a kind of transmitter of life experience, and kind of short-cut the process
for the child. So it is not the father's technique which is the paradigm,
but the bitter life experience which the child may or may not have as a
result of choosing to do this or that.


At 07:54 AM 30/12/2007 -0800, you wrote:
>Dear Andy and Peg:
> Here's some stuff from my notes; I happen to know that Andy can't get
> ahold of a copy of ANL's Problems of the Development of the Mind. I hope
> I don't get those funny marks that always show up when I paste in...
> p. 402 ANL points out how 'only understandable' motives for homework
> such as wanting to get a good mark can be replaced by 'really effective'
> motives such as doing it so you can go out to play. However, after some
> weeks of really effective motives, it is also possible that the child
> will find that the only understandable motives become really effective,
> e.g. the child will leave off doing homework because it¡¯s untidy and the
> child is now afraid of getting a bad mark.
> p. 403: ANL writes: 'It is a matter of an action¡¯s result being more
> significant in certain conditions than the motive that actually induces
> it. The child begins doing its homework conscientiously because it wants
> to go out quickly and play. In the end this leads to much more not simply
> that it will get the chance to go and play but also that it will get a
> good mark. A new "objectivation" of its needs come about which means they
> are understood at a higher level.'
> 'The transition to a new leading activity differs from the process
> described simply in the really effective motives becoming in the case of
> a change of leading activity, those understandable motives that exist in
> the sphere of relations characterizing the place the child can occupy
> only in the next higher stage of development rather than in the sphere of
> relations in which it still actually is. The preparation of these
> transitions therefore takes a long time because it is necessary for the
> child to become quite fully aware of a sphere of relations that are new
> for it.¡±
> ANL compares a child¡¯s performance in a school play with the child¡¯s
> learning of study as an independent activity. The child begins the school
> play as an assignment, and later continues for the approbation the child
> receives during a successful performance. As with learning to study for a
> good mark instead of just studying for the opportunity to go out and
> play, a ¡°merely understandable¡± motive has now become ¡°really
> effective¡± and a new activity is established.
> But only in the case of independent study (according to ANL) is the new
> activity developmentally significant (¡°objectively¡±) because the child
> is not going to become a professional dramatist (if the child were, then
> the performance in the play would be study). Thus only in the latter case
> can we say there is a new leading activity.
> Here's what I make of this:
> a) ANL really does NOT interrogate the subject as to the object
> orientation of the activity: the object (study, the completed play) is
> indeed given in advance. As far as ANL is concerned, ONLY Chaiklin's
> "objective" ZPD exists, and there is NO subjective ZPD. But Andy's idea
> of "immanent critique" is NOT an objective critique; it has to do with
> following up (just like Sarah's) the subject's way of seeing things and
> seeing where it leads.
> b) In the development discussion (San Diego-Helsinki) Dr. Olga Vasquez
> raised the question of whether "leading activity" is the same as
> "neoformation", and Dr. Pentti Harakarainnen really did not answer it and
> instead talked about Dr. Engestrom's even more general concept of
> activity. But here we can see that "leading activity" and "neoformation"
> are quite different: LSV used "neoformation" to talk about transitional
> structures during crisis periods that COMPLETELY disappear (for example,
> the child's autonomous speech at one and the child's "negativism" at
> three) as well as neoformations which become the leading activity during
> normal growth. Only the latter is a "leading activity" for ANL.
> c) There is still a STRONG behaviorist streak in ANL's reasoning: the
> difference between the "really effective" and "merely understood"
> reasoning can very easily be described, in ALL of ANL's examples, as a
> simple lengthening of the time distance between the behavior and the
> positive reinforcement. Bruner, in a quote that I have long since lost,
> suggests that development can be described this way, but I don't think
> LSV ever would have done so: for LSV the key thing about humans is that
> they are dogs that can ring their own bells.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Sun Dec 30 16:37 PST 2007

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