Re: [xmca] déjatel’nost’

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Mon Sep 01 2008 - 19:39:24 PDT

Sorry, Andy!
I don't think Goethe took the idea of the UoA from Vico. I think Goethe got the idea that things made by human beings could be understood by human beings. It's relevant to the UoA of course; in order to understand something we have to situate it and ourselves in some larger whole instead of trying to find smaller and more elementary particles that divide us from our object of inquiry. 
I think Vico originally used this basic principle to set the social sciences (which he considered understandable) apart from the physical scences (which he considered basically unfathomable, full of Kantian objects-in-themselves manufactured by God).
Goethe then did a brilliant wrestling turn-around on Kant based on his (Goethe's) understanding of Spinoza. Thinking emerges from matter; thought and matter are really part of a larger whole. Since we are made of meat, the physical sciences are in principle no different from the social sciences; what matter made, matter can understand.   
That said, I'm with Steve on this one. I don't think UoA can BOTH have a specific meaning AND be a general method; I think that's what Professor Mahn meant when he distinguished between "unit of analysis" and "analysis into units".
If every analysis must have its own UoA, what will work perfectly well as a UoA for early childhood will not work at all in school age children (e.g. "play"). What is an element at one level (e.g. play, which can be decomposed into imaginary situations and rules) can be a unit at another level of analysis (e.g. rule based games can be decomposed into roles and abstract rules).
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Mon, 9/1/08, Andy Blunden <> wrote:

From: Andy Blunden <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] déjatel’nost’
Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Date: Monday, September 1, 2008, 7:20 PM

Others may chine in on this. I am in the midst of writing
stuff on the topic, but a few basics:

"Unit of analysis" is the simplest component of something
which exhibits all the properties of the whole. It
originates from Goethe who called it the *Urphanomenon*, and
David tells me that Goethe got it from Vico, though I
haven't been able to confirm that myself. Goethe insisted
that the UoA had to be itself a "phenomenon" rather than a
hypothesis or principle or mechanism lying behind and beyond
appearances, like an *embryo* or *germ-cell*. Hegel took
over the idea and he called it the *Notion* (Begriff), and
it is the key idea in his logic and his theory of science.
Marx applied the idea to political economy and came up with
the *Commodity*, as the simplest relation of bourgeois
society and the simplest unit of capital. Vygotsky took up
the idea and his study of Pavlov's work on the *conditioned
reflex* was his first idea for a UoA for psychology, and
then of course the famous *word meaning* as a UoA for the
study of intelligent speech. ANL then (it seems) took it
further with the idea of *(an) activity* as the UoA for the
social life of humans.

It is important that the UoA contains nothing outside within
itself (preconditions, axioms, etc.), and is in that sense
absolutely simple, and that it _is itself_ "an example" of
what it is the simplest component of, for example the
*molecule* for chemistry and the *particle* for physics.
Hegel took *right* (which he took as private property) for
the UoA for the study of modern society.

Hegel explained that a science must begin from the *Concept*
(is UoA) of its subject matter, and then while studying the
field of phenomena to guide perception, unfold out of the
conception, logically so to speak, everything that is
contained within it. Davydov and Elkonin's method of
teaching the science of number actually takes that
conception of science as a research program and applies it
to teaching and learning, with *external comparison* as the
UoA for mathematics.

Hope that helps,

Steve Gabosch wrote:
> On your last comment, Andy, I for sure have much to learn about the
> concept "unit of analysis". I like the way Dot speaks of a
"system" of
> units, levels, methodology, etc. A very quick read of the AA Leontiev
> article on "Units" that Dot refers us to reveals that it will
take some
> serious study for me to absorb - in a way, it is a summary of many key
> themes over the history of activity theory, a history I most certainly
> have much to learn about. I know that one thing I do as I am learning a
> new concept is try to find ways to use it, to apply its terms, to
> incorporate it wherever I can, including into everyday situations if
> possible; in short, play with it - and sometimes I will stretch it too
> far from its intended meaning, throw it around too loosely, as you put
> it, and I will need to get reined in, which appears to be what you are
> graciously doing.
> So would you, or anyone, help me out: what is the "precise
meaning" of
> "unit of analysis"?
> - Steve
> On Sep 1, 2008, at 4:46 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>> This is a bog topic, Steve. Marx's own views were hindered by the
>> non-existence of workers' states and substantial welfare states,
so he
>> took quite an extreme position in relation to "the public
sector". But
>> obviously I am saying that *labour which has been subsumed under
>> Capital* - the expression Marx uses in the "unpublished sixth
>> of Capital" - has the object only of expanding capital. Most
>> refer to house work as the production of labour power for sale.
>> Although over the yearws, capital subsumes a greater and greater
>> proportion of the social labour, it has not yet subsumed all. That is
>> obvious.
>> I am mixing two sligtly different genres here, marxist political
>> economy and soviet cultural-historical activity theory, but I'd be

>> interested in reactions. The Soviets always intended to be faithful to

>> Marx and political economy after all.
>> Andy
>> PS, Steve please revise the meaning of "unit of analysis".
It has a
>> precise meaning and IMHO should not be thrown around so loosely."
>> Steve Gabosch wrote:
>>> Andy wrote:
>>>> One could go on, but if one were to ask what object is served
>>>> work then the answer is "expansion of capital". I
caould give 1000
>>>> examples of Marx making ths claim. The idea that the object of
>>>> labour is profit is always problemtatic for people that work
in the
>>>> public sector, especially in education or health, but if you
were in
>>>> the USSR where the state is paying the wages, it would seem
>>>> indeed. The idea that one's work is part of the
reproduction of the
>>>> community in a division of labour seems far more appealing.
But that
>>>> turned out to be a passing episode in twentieth century
>>> Perhaps you didn't mean this, but it sounds like you are
saying that
>>> all work serves the accumulation or expansion of capital. But as
>>> know, there are many kinds of work that don't. Here are three

>>> examples, as I see it:
>>> 1) House work (cleaning your own house) does not produce surplus
>>> 2) Cuban workers today don't contribute to the accumulation of

>>> capital, except in some small businesses and enterprises (such as
>>> some restaurants, farms), where how much gets accumulated is
>>> restricted. There is no capitalist class of any significance in
>>> today.
>>> 3) Public sector workers in the US are not producing surplus
>>> The health and education sectors especially are examples of
>>> and other oppressed layers demanding and fighting for social
>>> that enhance their quality of life, forcing the capitalists to
>>> a small percentage of the surplus value they accumulate to such
>>> programs - which have been under attack for some years now by the
>>> capitalists and political forces that support them precisely
>>> these programs do not produce surplus value - they consume it.
>>> When one begins to look at economies, blocks of capital, wages,
>>> government, public service workers, workers states, classes, and
>>> other such issues, many of the core features of activity theory
>>> appear on a new level of analysis: historical materialism. There

>>> are of course other world views, but this is the one Vygotsky
>>> Vygotsky said he was applying historical materialism to
>>> which he explained would require the discovery of new laws of
>>> development and a new basic unit of analysis.
>>> Andy and I had some conversation about class and activity offline
>>> recently and I said that "class" is a unit of analysis
in Marxism, as
>>> in "class analysis" and "the history of all
hitherto existing society
>>> is the history of class struggle" (Communist Manifesto).
>>> But on further thought, that is incorrect. Marx and Engels say it

>>> right in that quote - they say **class struggle**, not
>>> Thinking about this, a common error in sociology is to use class
>>> the unit of analysis. Classes are only elements of class
>>> Class is an analytical unit, but not a basic unit of analysis.
>>> Relating this to CHAT, as I see it, classes are to class struggles
>>> actions are to activity. Class struggle is a unit of analysis in
>>> historical materialism in the way that activity is seen as a unit
>>> analysis in cultural historical psychology.
>>> But is activity really the **basic** unit of human existence? As
>>> David was saying, there is a difference between units of analysis
>>> analytical units. Is activity an analytical unit, but not the
>>> unit of analysis? This would not overturn any work CHAT has done,

>>> just shift its attention to a different basic unit of analysis,
>>> "demote" activity to an analytical unit, albeit a very
useful and
>>> powerful one.
>>> Mohammed Elhammoumi argues in a paper he will present at ISCAR
>>> the unit of analysis is the social relations of production. If
>>> is the case - I find this idea thought provoking - then activity
>>> would be an element in that larger entity - activities are carved
>>> of the existing social relations and artifacts (artifacts include
>>> nature insofar as humans directly interact with it). Activity
>>> be understood as mutually constitutive with the aggregate social
>>> relations in a particular society, in the way that Michael
>>> actions and activity as mutually constitutive. Interesting to
>>> about.
>>> Steve
>>> On Aug 31, 2008, at 7:57 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>> Thanks for all that Michael. I actually hardly slept last
>>>> going over in my mind the points you made. I think I can see
my way
>>>> through this now, and that "(a system of) activity"
or "an activity"
>>>> is indeed a very good candidate for a "unit of
analysis". You will
>>>> doubtless get something from me on your editor's desk in a
couple of
>>>> months on the topic. But altogether I feel much better about
>>>> now. Thank you.
>>>> But the questions about word meanings here are still
>>>> (1) "activity" - as used in Hegel and Marx and
Leontyev when he says:
>>>> "[The processes that mediate the influences of the
objective world
>>>> reflected in the human brain] are those that realise a
>>>> actual life in the objective world by which he is surrounded,
>>>> social being in all the richness and variety of its forms. In
>>>> words, these processes are his activity."
>>>> - is not a unit of analysis, but a presupposition, whilst
>>>> activity" or "system of activity", you have
convinced me, is a good
>>>> "unit of analysis" for the study of the social life
of human beings.
>>>> As when Marx says:
>>>> "The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones,
>>>> dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be
made in
>>>> the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity
>>>> the material conditions under which they live, both those
which they
>>>> find already existing and those produced by their
activity." (The
>>>> German Ideology, 1a, 1845)
>>>> My concern is that we use the same word and I suspect the
>>>> observation that we have here two qute distinct concepts is
>>>> something which is widely recognised.
>>>> (2) "activity" and "work" - I am going to
spend some time revising
>>>> how ANL takes labour as the prototype of an activity and the
>>>> on which "an activity" and "a type of
activity" are delineated or
>>>> developed. This is my major concern.
>>>> But look. Marx, Capital Vol 1:
>>>> "As a capitalist, he is only capital personified. His
soul is the
>>>> soul of capital. But capital has one sole driving force, the
>>>> to valorize itself, to create surplus value, to make its
>>>> part, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible
>>>> of surplus labour. Capital is dead labour which, vampire-like,
>>>> only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more
>>>> it sucks." - Capital, p.342
>>>> One could go on, but if one were to ask what object is served
>>>> work then the answer is "expansion of capital". I
caould give 1000
>>>> examples of Marx making ths claim. The idea that the object of
>>>> labour is profit is always problemtatic for people that work
in the
>>>> public sector, especially in education or health, but if you
were in
>>>> the USSR where the state is paying the wages, it would seem
>>>> indeed. The idea that one's work is part of the
reproduction of the
>>>> community in a division of labour seems far more appealing.
But that
>>>> turned out to be a passing episode in twentieth century
>>>> I.e., the most important "activity" today is
"capital." That seems
>>>> to have been lost somewhere, at least to some extent.
>>>> Andy
>>>> Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>> Hi Andy,
>>>>> I am not trying to give you advice. I am talking about my
>>>>> experiences of having struggled.
>>>>> One of the things Marx criticized his contemporaries for
is that
>>>>> they looked at value abstractly. He wrote Das Kapital as a
>>>>> analysis of value, its one-sided expressions in use-value
>>>>> exchange-value, and how these concretized themselves in
>>>>> cases. Any time I want to think about activity abstractly,
I get
>>>>> into trouble, which resolve themselves when I take
concrete cases
>>>>> of activity and work them through, culturally and
historically. I
>>>>> then realize that activity concretizes itself very
differently, the
>>>>> activity of schooling is very different in U.S. suburbia
then it is
>>>>> in inner-city neighborhood schools in Philadelphia. Not
when I do
>>>>> an abstract analysis, but when I go concretely into the
>>>>> nitty-gritty details of everyday life in the schools.
>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>> Michael
>>>>> On 31-Aug-08, at 8:07 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>> Oh Gosh, Micahel I thought we were going to have a good
ol' flame!
>>>>> :) and I was just getting started.
>>>>> OK. As I said, I will study those quotes, and their
contexts, where
>>>>> I can, and think some more about it, but I really
don't think I
>>>>> want to shift to "concrete cases" to clarify a
concept if the
>>>>> concept isn't clear at the start. That's just not
my style, if you
>>>>> know what I mean. I am not anywhere saying that the work
>>>>> and others have done with these ideas is not perfectly
good, valid
>>>>> science. But there *are* problems, there *are* limts to
>>>>> applicability of these ideas, and I am exploring them.
>>>>> More later, and thanks heaps for laying hold of those
quote and
>>>>> your explanations so speedily!
>>>>> Andy
>>>>> Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>>> Hi Andy, After I sent off the mail I thought you might

>>>>>> misunderstand. I do understand and know your
background. I meant
>>>>>> to say rather than discussing activity in the general,
take a
>>>>>> concrete one and talk about it. I meant discuss
concrete cases. I
>>>>>> think if you were to have taken a concrete case of
activity from
>>>>>> your experience and discussed activity in this
situation some of
>>>>>> the problems that appear when you discuss it in the
abstract would
>>>>>> not show up.
>>>>>> Sorry for having written a message that could have
been and was
>>>>>> mistaken in its intention.
>>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>> On 31-Aug-08, at 7:41 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>>> C'mon Michael. I spent 30 years as a union
activist transforming
>>>>>> activity and thinking about what I was doing. At 62 I
am now
>>>>>> reflecting on that work. I don't need to be told
to "go out" and
>>>>>> put someone under my microscope and observe them.
>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>> Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>>>> Hi Andy, it is and is not a system of actions.
Actions and
>>>>>>> activity stand in a constitutive relationship.
There are no
>>>>>>> actions independent of activity and no activity
independent of
>>>>>>> action. One of the problems that can arise is
because---as we
>>>>>>> have done today----we talk about activity in the
abstract, and
>>>>>>> this is what Marx didn't like about Hegel, we
talk about ideal
>>>>>>> things, not about concrete sensual activity, which
you only get
>>>>>>> when you analyze real activity rather than the
idea of activity.
>>>>>>> I see you struggle with the idea, when what you
should be doing
>>>>>>> is go out and study concrete activity. What you
need to do is
>>>>>>> study concrete everyday activity, that is, actual
cases where an
>>>>>>> activity realizes itself. And here you will find
that people act
>>>>>>> but in the process concretize the activity in THIS
rather than
>>>>>>> other possible ways. Their actions are not JUST
actions, they are
>>>>>>> oriented toward the activity, which only comes
about in and
>>>>>>> through the actions; yet the actions presuppose
the activity that
>>>>>>> they realize.
>>>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>>> On 31-Aug-08, at 7:25 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>>>> Apologies. I sent two mails just to Michael
instead of the list
>>>>>>> by mistake!
>>>>>>> I will think about this some more.
"Activity" here means a system
>>>>>>> of actions which have a common
societally-determined object, like
>>>>>>> the collective hunt in his famous example. But it
seems to me
>>>>>>> that the idea of "activity" (in this
sense) as a "unit of
>>>>>>> analysis" poses some problems.
>>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>>> Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>>>>> Hi Andy, you can always identify structure,
the question is
>>>>>>>> whether you can understand it own its own or
only in its
>>>>>>>> relation to other structures. I think it is
the latter. So even
>>>>>>>> within the unit you can identify all sorts of
things, but they
>>>>>>>> are not independent and constitute each other.
That is why
>>>>>>>> Yrjö's website is a bit deceiving,
because he talks about
>>>>>>>> elements----I think the word appears 6
times----when Vygotsky
>>>>>>>> and Leont'ev always talk about doing unit
analysis. So there is
>>>>>>>> structure, just that it cannot be understood
independently of
>>>>>>>> other structures, each of which is a one-sided
expression of the
>>>>>>>> unit, which is activity. Or so I read it.
>>>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>>>> On 31-Aug-08, at 6:55 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>>>>> Well spotted, Michael.
>>>>>>>> In that same paragraph he says: "activity
is ... a system that
>>>>>>>> has structure" so he is here referring to
what might be called
>>>>>>>> the "*system of* activity", as
opposed to acts or operations,
>>>>>>>> and actions - this entity that Robert
explained to me is
>>>>>>>> constituted as an entity by means of
system-theoretic means.
>>>>>>>> Is that right?
>>>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>>>> Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>>>>>> Hi Andy,
>>>>>>>>> I think he does say something that is at
least very close to
>>>>>>>>> naming it unit analysis on p.50:
>>>>>>>> Activity is a molar, not an additive unit of
the life of the
>>>>>>>> physical, material subject. In a narrower
sense, that is, at the
>>>>>>>> psychological level, it is a unit of
>>>>>>>> life, mediated by psychic reflection, the real
function of which
>>>>>>>> is that it orients the subject in the
objective world. In other
>>>>>>>> words, activity is
>>>>>>>> not a reaction and not a totality of reactions
but a system that
>>>>>>>> has structure, its own internal transitions
>>>>>>>> transformations, its own development.
>>>>>>>>> Where I would accentuate as follows:
>>>>>>>>> Activity is "a *unit of life*",
"a system that has structure,
>>>>>>>>> *its own* internal transitions and
transformations, *its own
>>>>>>>>> *development."
>>>>>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>>>>> On 31-Aug-08, at 6:27 AM, Andy Blunden
>>>>>>>>> OK, thanks for that Michael. I understand
Tätigkeit, so that
>>>>>>>>> settles some questions, though not all.
>>>>>>>>> I have another question about Activity to
add to these.
>>>>>>>>> Vygotsky, Davydov, Engstrom (to take just
three) all talk about
>>>>>>>>> "unit of analysis",
"germ-cell" or single instance (as in
>>>>>>>>> Pavolv's study of the reflex), but in
the works of AN Leontyev
>>>>>>>>> that I have access to (on he
makes no reference
>>>>>>>>> to any of these terms. This seems not
accidental to me
>>>>>>>>> actually. Can anyone clarify this?
>>>>>>>>> Did Leonteyv (a) think that
"activity" passes as a "unit of
>>>>>>>>> analaysis", (b) disagree with the
idea that a science should
>>>>>>>>> begin from a Unit of analysis, or (c)
>>>>>>>>> subject-activity-object as the "unit
of analysis somewhere?
>>>>>>>>> And I need citation, I'm afraid.
>>>>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>>>>> Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>>>>>>>>>> Hi Andy,
>>>>>>>>>> it's not just the Russian. In
German there is the parallel
>>>>>>>>>> distinction between
"Tätigkeit" (deiatel'nost') and Aktivität
>>>>>>>>>> (aktivnost'). In the former there
is an orientation----toward
>>>>>>>>>> object/motive, which is not in the
latter, and the former is
>>>>>>>>>> oriented toward and a result of
society (Gesellschaft),
>>>>>>>>>> whereas the latter is not
(necessarily). When Leont'ev is
>>>>>>>>>> translated into German, you find the
words Tätigkeit and the
>>>>>>>>>> adjective "gesellschaftlich"
(societal) whereas in English
>>>>>>>>>> there is activity and social----and
that has made all the
>>>>>>>>>> difference, to quote Robert Frost.
>>>>>>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>>>>>> On 31-Aug-08, at 4:18 AM, Andy Blunden
>>>>>>>>>> I wonder if our Russian speakers could
indulge me again with a
>>>>>>>>>> point of clarification.
déjatel'nost' (or деятельность) 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
>>>>>>>>>>>> Leont¹ev 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
Leont¹ev 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
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>>>>>>>>> From:
<> on behalf of Andy Blunden
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Sent: Fri 8/29/2008 9:53
>>>>>>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>>>>>> 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 Vicuña Mackenna -
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>> Andy Blunden
+61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>>>>>>>>> andy.blunden
>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>> --
>>>> Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 Skype

>>>> andy.blunden
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> xmca mailing list
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> --
>> Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>> andy.blunden
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list

Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 
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Received on Mon Sep 1 19:41 PDT 2008

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