RE: [xmca] Molar, Molecular and Additive behaviour

From: Michael Glassman <MGlassman who-is-at>
Date: Fri Aug 29 2008 - 07:11:14 PDT

This is just my perspective, but I still believe Activity Theory goes back to roots in work done by Stanislavsky - in particular "On Being an Actor" and his book on character development. I think the argument that Stanislavsky makes is that you should never consider each scene individually, as encapsulated and whole, I guess you could say there should be no reification of a scene. You have to consider a scene, and the actions of a character, not only in terms of the entire play, but in terms of what has come before and what comes after - that activity is part of an ongoing process. Stanislavsky was working off the new form of playwrights such as Ibsen, Strindberg and especially Chekhov of course. To give an example, when Nora walks out on Torvald and her father at the end of "A Doll's House" the scene makes little sense in an of itself, and if you think of the scenes of the play as simply being additive you are shocked. But if you consider it as part of a moral activity, with a building motivation that leads to a choice of action it is extraordinarily complelling.
Anyway, that's my two cents.


From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
Sent: Fri 8/29/2008 9:53 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] Molar, Molecular and Additive behaviour

Can anyone help me out here. Leontyev says:

"But human practice is not just a series or a sum of
actions. In other words, 'activity is a molar, not an
additive unit'."

OED says:

Molar, Psychol. Designating a large-scale unit of behaviour,
esp. an integrated set of responses serving to bring about a
common goal, as distinguished from an elementary unit of
behaviour such as a physiological response (cf. MOLECULAR
adj. 5); of or relating to (the study of) such behaviour.

1932 E. C. TOLMAN Purposive Behavior "On the one hand,
Watson has defined behavior in terms of its strict physical
and physiological details, i.e., in terms of
receptor-process, conductor-process, and effector-process
per se. We shall designate this as the molecular definition
of behavior. And on the other hand, he has come to recognize
that behavior is more than and different from the sum of its
physiological parts. Behavior has descriptive and defining
properties of its own. And we shall designate this latter as
the molar definition of behavior."

Am I missing something. By "not additive" does Leontyev
simply mean that there's more to it than S -> R ?


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Received on Fri Aug 29 07:12 PDT 2008

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