Re: [xmca] déjatel’nost’

From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch who-is-at>
Date: Mon Sep 01 2008 - 20:03:04 PDT

That is very helpful, Andy. The problem to solve, of course, is
determining the "simplest" component of a whole, without entering into
the realm of "elements," as Vygotsky would warn against in his example
of water, which is not flammable, whereas its elements hydrogen and
oxygen are. Your history of the concept is a very useful place to
start and is appreciated. I got from Ilyenkov's writings, btw, that
he thought "value" was the basic unit of analysis of commodities,
money, capital, etc. and that Marx chose the simplest manifestation of
value - the commodity - to build his case on what capital is and how
it works. But that does not take anything away from the central
points you are making.

Here are some more questions, for you, anyone. Ilyenkov also speaks
of the concrete universal. How does the "concrete universal" concept
fit in with the "unit of analysis" concept? Also, what is the
distinction between unit of analysis, basic unit of analysis, and
analytical units? And to just make sure there is no confusion, what
is the difference between a "unit" and an "element"?

- Steve

On Sep 1, 2008, at 7:20 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:

> 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,
> Andy
> 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 chapter of Capital" - has the object only of
>>> expanding capital. Most people 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 by
>>>>> work then the answer is "expansion of capital". I caould give
>>>>> 1000 examples of Marx making ths claim. The idea that the object
>>>>> of one's 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 strange 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 history.
>>>> 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 you 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
>>>> value.
>>>> 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
>>>> highly restricted. There is no capitalist class of any
>>>> significance in Cuba today.
>>>> 3) Public sector workers in the US are not producing surplus
>>>> value. The health and education sectors especially are examples
>>>> of workers and other oppressed layers demanding and fighting for
>>>> social programs that enhance their quality of life, forcing the
>>>> capitalists to devote 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 because 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 used. Vygotsky said he was applying historical
>>>> materialism to psychology, 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
>>>> "class". Thinking about this, a common error in sociology is to
>>>> use class as the unit of analysis. Classes are only elements of
>>>> class struggles. 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 as actions are to activity. Class struggle is a unit
>>>> of analysis in historical materialism in the way that activity is
>>>> seen as a unit of 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
>>>> and analytical units. Is activity an analytical unit, but not
>>>> the basic unit of analysis? This would not overturn any work
>>>> CHAT has done, just shift its attention to a different basic unit
>>>> of analysis, and "demote" activity to an analytical unit, albeit
>>>> a very useful and powerful one.
>>>> Mohammed Elhammoumi argues in a paper he will present at ISCAR
>>>> that the unit of analysis is the social relations of production.
>>>> If that is the case - I find this idea thought provoking - then
>>>> activity would be an element in that larger entity - activities
>>>> are carved out of the existing social relations and artifacts
>>>> (artifacts include nature insofar as humans directly interact
>>>> with it). Activity could be understood as mutually constitutive
>>>> with the aggregate social relations in a particular society, in
>>>> the way that Michael describes actions and activity as mutually
>>>> constitutive. Interesting to think about.
>>>> Steve
>>>> On Aug 31, 2008, at 7:57 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>> Thanks for all that Michael. I actually hardly slept last night
>>>>> 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 ANL now. Thank you.
>>>>> But the questions about word meanings here are still outstanding:
>>>>> (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
>>>>> person's actual life in the objective world by which he is
>>>>> surrounded, his social being in all the richness and variety of
>>>>> its forms. In other words, these processes are his activity."
>>>>> - is not a unit of analysis, but a presupposition, whilst "an
>>>>> 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, not
>>>>> dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be
>>>>> made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their
>>>>> activity and 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 not
>>>>> 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 bases 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
>>>>> drive to valorize itself, to create surplus value, to make its
>>>>> constant part, the means of production, absorb the greatest
>>>>> possible amount of surplus labour. Capital is dead labour which,
>>>>> vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the
>>>>> more, the more labour it sucks." - Capital, p.342
>>>>> One could go on, but if one were to ask what object is served by
>>>>> work then the answer is "expansion of capital". I caould give
>>>>> 1000 examples of Marx making ths claim. The idea that the object
>>>>> of one's 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 strange 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 history.
>>>>> 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 own
>>>>>> 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
>>>>>> concrete analysis of value, its one-sided expressions in use-
>>>>>> value and exchange-value, and how these concretized themselves
>>>>>> in possible 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 Leontyev and others have done with these ideas is not
>>>>>> perfectly good, valid science. But there *are* problems, there
>>>>>> *are* limts to the 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 and
>>>>>>>>> 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 wrote:
>>>>>>>>>> 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) define 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 wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> 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 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 Vicuña 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
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> <>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> <
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> winmail
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> .dat>_______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 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 Skype
> andy.blunden
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

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Received on Mon Sep 1 20:08 PDT 2008

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