Re: [xmca] seminal CHAT books

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Mon Sep 01 2008 - 08:22:22 PDT

When our Russian colleagues arrive at ISCAR we can ask about books published
by Progress and what happened to their ownership. I do not anticipate a
answer, but lets see.

In case of US books (WErtsch's edited volume on AT) EITHER Jim, who is cc'ed
on this note can try to get copyright and find a way to publish (or to get
else to publish) OR we can make PDF's and post.

The advantage of electronic copies is that they are accessible, more or
internationally for the cost of internet access and/or paper to print them

There is probably some amazon/google entrepreneurial solution as well.

On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 5:54 AM, Steve Gabosch <> wrote:

> While on this topic, I really need a copy of Leontyev's "Problems of the
> Development of Mind" (1981, 1982). I looked in Alibri, AbeBooks,
> Bookfinder, but to no avail. It is available in some college libraries, so
> it is not impossible to get and photocopy. This is another book that needs
> to be in print, in my opinion. Same with Wertsch's 1979 "The problem of
> activity in psychology", which I also would really like to have a copy of.
> - Steve
> On Sep 1, 2008, at 5:42 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
> Obviously I am brushing up on activity theory. One of the little hurdles I
>> have had to overcome is that seminal books in this topic - AN Leontyev's
>> "Activity, Consciousness and Personality" and Y Engstrom's "Lerning by
>> Expanding" - are only available in electronic copies via MIA or LCHC
>> respectively. Why is it so? Aren't we poor enough to consider the income
>> these books would bring let alone the pedagogical value?
>> Andy
>> bella kotik wrote:
>>> Packing for the trip to San Diego I will address only the linguistic part
>>> of your question (from point of view of a Russian speaker who was lucky to
>>> be a student in Leontjev's course of general psychology), Andy without
>>> entering your highly interesting discussion of the last day.
>>> Dejatelnost' is really hard to translate because in Russian there is word
>>> aktivnost, which is different from dejatelnost and this makes one of
>>> possible problems.
>>> Definitely "activity" is correct, not "an activity". In the triad- the
>>> last word is dejatelnost.
>>> Dejatelnost may be translated as work only in a very specific context,
>>> say "his dejatelnost was very productive", but not in Leontjev general
>>> psychological texts. So in the context of TA it is not work. Work is one of
>>> types of dejatelnost'. Other examples may be uchebnaja d.
>>> (learning activity) etc.
>>> On 8/31/08, *Andy Blunden* < <>>
>>> wrote:
>>> I wonder if our Russian speakers could indulge me again with a point
>>> of clarification. d√©jatel'nost' (or –ī–Ķ—Ź—ā–Ķ–Ľ—Ć–Ĺ–ĺ—Ā—ā—Ć) is the Russian
>>> word for "activity".
>>> 1. I understand that in Russian the use of definite and indefeinite
>>> partcles (a and the) is rare, so in the title to AN Leontyev's
>>> famous book, does déjatel'nost' mean "an activity" or "activity" -
>>> with the connotation of substance that a word has in English if used
>>> without a or the. When we have "act, action and activity," is that
>>> third category the same word, déjatel'nost'?
>>> 2. déjatel'nost' can also be translated as "work". How strong is the
>>> connection between "work" and "activity" in the Russian mind when
>>> talking of "activity theory"? Does that sound like "work theory"? Or
>>> is this just like any ambiguous word. I mean, English speakers would
>>> not think that in this context "activity" referred to autonomous
>>> physiological processes, which can also be called "Activity". When
>>> "Theses on Feuerbach" is translated into Russian, can Russian
>>> readers see the diffrence between "work" and "activity"?
>>> Andy
>>> Andy Blunden wrote:
>>> Fascinating response, Robert. So let's see if I understand you
>>> right. A mass of interconnected actions can be understood as
>>> some *whole* (and not just an arbitrary collection of individual
>>> things) if we can perceive some kind of *constraint*, operating
>>> over the domain, which limits the domain of possible
>>> configurations? Is that it?
>>> Andy
>>> Robert Bracewell wrote:
>>> Hi Andy and all,
>>> I agree with Michael that the relationship between activity
>>> and action is a
>>> constitutive one, but I think this points to a big
>>> theoretical gap in CHAT
>>> generally. If actions are the constituents of activity, then
>>> the issue
>>> arises as to how the constituents are arranged in order to
>>> constitute
>>> activity (and there may be other types of constituents in
>>> activity also). As
>>> Leont¬Ļev said, this arrangement cannot be serial (e.g.,
>>> chains of s-r
>>> pairs), nor additive in the sense of accumulative (as
>>> contrasted with the
>>> mathematical sense). So how are we to theorize the
>>> arrangement? The issue of
>>> arranging constituents to achieve higher order structures
>>> has been treated
>>> by both linguistics and artificial intelligence. The general
>>> approach is to
>>> constrain the possible relationships between
>>> constituents--in linguistics
>>> this usually done via a grammar, in AI via a program. For
>>> CHAT I think our
>>> task may be to build on Leont¬Ļev and figure out these
>>> constraints.
>>> Regards,
>>> --Bob Bracewell
>>> On 8/29/08 1:24 PM, "Wolff-Michael Roth" <
>>> <>> wrote:
>>> Hi Andy,
>>> I think he expresses the constitutive relation between
>>> actions and
>>> activity. Activity is not just the sum of actions, it
>>> presupposes
>>> them but is itself presupposed by the actions that
>>> constitute it. I
>>> am pasting the definition from OED, which appears to be
>>> consistent
>>> with this (my) reading of Leont'ev. Leont'ev and
>>> Vygotsky want to do
>>> unit analysis, not element/al analysis. That is, even if
>>> you can
>>> identify structures within activity, these cannot stand
>>> on their own
>>> like elements. What they are is dependent on all the
>>> other structures
>>> that can be identified, with which they stand in a
>>> constitutive unit,
>>> and which are subordinate to activity. :-)
>>> molar, adj.3
>>> 2. 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.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Michael
>>> On 29-Aug-08, at 7:11 AM, Michael Glassman wrote:
>>> Andy,
>>> 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.
>>> Michael
>>> ________________________________
>>> 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 ?
>>> Andy
>>> David Preiss wrote:
>>> based on the work made by max plank and run by san
>>> francisco's
>>> exploratorium
>>> David Preiss, Ph.D.
>>> Subdirector de Extensión y Comunicaciones
>>> Escuela de Psicología
>>> Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
>>> Av Vicu√Īa Mackenna - 4860
>>> 7820436 Macul
>>> Santiago, Chile
>>> Fono: 3544605
>>> Fax: 3544844
>>> e-mail: <>
>>> web personal:
>>> web institucional:
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> <>
>>> --
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Andy Blunden<>+61 3 9380 9435
>>> Skype andy.blunden
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> <>
>>> <winmail.dat>_______________________________________________
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>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> --
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Andy Blunden<>+61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>>> andy.blunden
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> <>
>>> --
>>> Sincerely yours Bella Kotik-Friedgut
>> --
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Andy Blunden <>+61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
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Received on Mon Sep 1 08:23 PDT 2008

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