Re: [xmca] déjatel¹ nost¹

From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch who-is-at>
Date: Tue Sep 02 2008 - 06:09:45 PDT

Yes, exactly, Mike, that is just what I was thinking. This very
useful quote you offer may be Marx's most succinct statement of
historical materialism. It is from the preface to the 1959 "A
Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy."

The following sentences after your quote are interesting to examine
closely. I have a couple questions about them.

Here is the first sentence. When he refers to "this conflict" he is
speaking of the conflict between the material productive forces of
society with the existing relations of production.

"In studying such transformations it is always necessary to
distinguish between the material transformation of the economic
conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision
of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or
philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become
conscious of this conflict and fight it out."

In the second sentence, he explains that one cannot explain
revolutionary transformations in terms of consciousness, but rather,
the consciousness of those times must be explained from the
conflict ..."

"Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about
himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its
consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be
explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict
existing between the social forces of production and the relations of

Consider this modification of the second part of the above sentence,
which attempts to generalize the above to the highest level to all
historical periods, and not just during revolutionary transformations:

**All** "consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of
material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of
production and the relations of production."

Do you think this modification might be true? What would it take to
demonstrate or negate it?

I ask because if this statement is arguably true, it might contain a
clue regarding this unit of analysis/analytical units/concrete
universal discussion we are having.

Brainstorming a little, a possible form this contradictory conditions
approach could take at the psychological level might be an
individual's "social situation," as in Vygotsky's "social situation of
development." The researcher would be tasked, according to this line
of reasoning, with methodically analyzing where a person "sits" and
develops within and with the world of contradictions around them,
especially tensions between the social forces of production and the
relations of production - and perhaps also the class struggle - even
if these aspects of society appear remote or hidden at the level of
the individual, using currently available tools of observation and

Finding ways to understand how these very large, cultural-historical
processes psychologically impact each individual in very specific ways
would be a major problem to solve. Perhaps new or modified tools and
methods are needed. Knowing the analytical units, especially the
basic unit of analysis or the concrete universal, (if I am using these
words correctly), would of course be essential.

But first, one would need to look at the veracity of the above broad
statement about consciousness before proceeding with this line of

- Steve

On Sep 1, 2008, at 10:48 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Steve -- As in
> In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into
> definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely
> relations of
> production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their
> material
> forces of production. The totality of these relations of production
> constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation,
> on which
> arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond
> definite
> forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life
> conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual
> life.
> It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence,
> but
> their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a
> certain
> stage of development, the material productive forces of society come
> into
> conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely
> expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property
> relations within
> the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of
> development of the productive forces these relations turn into their
> fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the
> economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of
> the whole
> immense superstructure.
> e.g. the always dynamic relations between modes and relations of
> production
> is the core contradiction that is the engine of change.
> On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 10:30 AM, Steve Gabosch
> <> wrote:
>> I think you are onto something very important, Wayne. Perhaps social
>> relations of production does not capture the dynamic contradiction
>> you point
>> out - by itself, it is still just an element, albeit an important
>> analytical
>> unit, like class in relation to class struggle. Vygotsky's unit of
>> analysis, word meaning, is about the contradiction between speech and
>> thought, originally separate processes that converge and transform,
>> creating
>> something ontogenetically new in each child, word meaning. This
>> idea of
>> converging lines of development might be helpful to think about in
>> this
>> discussion. I think something more general than just capitalism is
>> needed,
>> as I think you were thinking, although I like the one you bring up
>> because
>> it is a good example of the kind of contradiction you are
>> suggesting. A
>> more general one might be the contradiction between the forces of
>> production
>> and the relations of production. How does that contradiction
>> manifest
>> itself in concrete entities? Now I'm puzzling over that ...
>> - Steve
>> On Sep 1, 2008, at 10:10 AM, Wayne Au wrote:
>> Steve,
>>> Great, thought provoking idea here. It makes me want to go one
>>> more step
>>> "back" - so to speak. Assuming we're operating within a Marxist,
>>> dialectical
>>> materialist framework, then perhaps we should consider identifying a
>>> particular process, one driven by contradiction, as our unit of
>>> analysis.
>>> This is another turn on what you said about Marx and Engels
>>> talking about
>>> "class struggle" as the unit of analysis.
>>> So, working from that platform, then we might be able to say that
>>> class
>>> struggle is an expression of the contradiction between social
>>> production
>>> and
>>> private accumulation that is inherent within the production of
>>> capital (in
>>> our given system at least). Can we then consider that a
>>> contradiction/process constitutes our unit of analysis? That,
>>> playing with
>>> your words, "Activity could be understood as mutually
>>> constitutive" of the
>>> process/contradiction that produces "the aggregate social
>>> relations in a
>>> particular society"?
>>> Just a thought.
>>> Wayne
>>> On 9/1/08 9:43 AM, "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
>>> --
>>> Wayne Au
>>> Assistant Professor
>>> Department of Secondary Education
>>> CSU Fullerton
>>> P.O. Box 6868
>>> Fullerton, CA 92834
>>> Office: 714.278.5481
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Received on Tue Sep 2 06:15 PDT 2008

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