Re: [xmca] Molar, Molecular and Additive behaviour

From: Robert Bracewell <robert.bracewell who-is-at mcgill.ca>
Date: Mon Sep 01 2008 - 10:48:03 PDT

Hi Andy,

Very succinctly put. A major constraint, or at least condition, that such
configuration constraints must meet is that it allow for novel
configurations that are characteristic of creativity in activity.

--Bob Bracewell

On 8/29/08 11:31 PM, "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net> 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
>> Leontev 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 Leontev and figure out these constraints.
>>
>> Regards,
>>
>> --Bob Bracewell
>>
>>
>>
>> On 8/29/08 1:24 PM, "Wolff-Michael Roth" <mroth@uvic.ca> 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: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu 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
>>>> http://www.exploratorium.edu/evidence/
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> David Preiss, Ph.D.
>>>> Subdirector de Extensin y Comunicaciones
>>>> Escuela de Psicologa
>>>> Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
>>>> Av Vicua Mackenna - 4860
>>>> 7820436 Macul
>>>> Santiago, Chile
>>>>
>>>> Fono: 3544605
>>>> Fax: 3544844
>>>> e-mail: davidpreiss@uc.cl
>>>> web personal: http://web.mac.com/ddpreiss/
>>>> web institucional: http://www.epuc.cl/profesores/dpreiss
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> --
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435
>>> Skype andy.blunden
>>>
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Received on Mon Sep 1 10:46 PDT 2008

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