[xmca] déjatel’nost

From: Dot Robbins <drobbins72000 who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Sep 03 2008 - 14:54:07 PDT

Dear Friends,
I am writing without having thought through the implications, so in advance, I hope you will forgive me if this does not make sense.
For me personally, I view Vygotsky’s thoughts within a metacognitive framework… that is simply an intense awareness of the environment/situation in trying to solve a task/problem….the attempt is to stand aside and let intuition play a role, within a non-linear, asymmetrical framework that is not two-dimensional. Units of analysis for me are not basically concrete, but have a concrete universality. First, Vygotsky:  If we look at his explanatory principle, we are viewing an attempt to understand consciousness – personality through the modus of thought and speech….word meaning. Within this approach, for me at least, it is so interesting to see components that have different origins (thought is pre-linguistic, speech is pre-intellectual), and with “engagements” and “separations,” they intertwine developmentally. Thought focuses on the whole, and speech on the part. There are many concepts of this nature, when viewing phenomena from this
 perspective…..spontaneous concepts (whole) and scientific concepts (part). It is a fluid dance of developmental movement that we will never be able to understand.  Activity Theory takes a different mindset, for me, because it does not have an explanatory principle that I know of….please help me here. Therefore, speaking of “units of analysis” within this understanding does not have the same application. AT goes directly into various levels: activity, actions, operations, etc.  A. A. Leontiev stated that his father never defined “units” and always had parentheses around the word. A. A. wrote: “…the concept of unit has little applicability to  activity, action, or operation, since it presumes their discrete nature….In A. N. Leontiev’s conception, the only thing that can be called a “unit” in the strict sense is activity (in an activity act)…” Now, A. N. Leontiev was most interested in “consciousness” and
 “personality.” Again, A. A. Leontiev: “So it is not the element-by-element connections of “units” of consciousness with “units of activity” that is most important, but first, the system-forming role of consciousness in relation to the entirety of activities.” So, there is a reverse formulation with activity theory itself being understood as a system of units of activity. For me, within the Vygotskian framework, units are a metatheoretical prism to help focus our attention on a particular object of study, and they cannot be viewed independently…..they remain within a sea of flux – process. I believe it might be good for a few moments to loosen the grip on trying to offer a precision definition of units, apart from the fact that when they capture our awareness, as a guiding star or a firm anchor, we need to see how we can translate that theory (whatever it means to each of us) into action/methodology/praxis, etc., and not try to pin
 down the exactness of this wonderful creative concept. The key understanding of units for me is simple: I don’t think of a unit of analysis as a static term, but a moving dialectic/triadic…..within a developing relationship. Units are helpful, in my opinion, to grasp the genetic-development focus that is so difficult to comprehend and apply. Units of analysis are extremely important as an answer to associationism, just as the concept of “functional organs” is an answer to innatist thinking. And, it is very important to include another unit of analysis for Vygotsky, “experience” (see Peter Langford, 2005, p. 108). Thanks for listening……just thoughts that will change, for sure.
P.S. “A ‘unit’ (edinica), can also be referred to as a ‘cell’ (lketockaor jaceika) or arch (nacalo). It also bears an interesting relation to the idea of the ‘concrete universal’ (konkretnoe vseobšcee) as developed by Soviet philosopher such as IL’enkov who have attempted to develop Marx’s method in a way influenced by Vygotsky, see Dialektika abstraktnogo I konkretnogo v ‘Kapitale’ Marksa, (Moscow, 1960). (Translated as The Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete in Marx’s Capital (Moscow, Progress, 1982)” (Bakhurst, 1986, p.127). “Thought, speech and the genesis of meaning: on the 50th anniversary of Vygotsky’s Myšlenie I Rec.”  Studies in Soviet Thought 31: 103-129.
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Received on Wed Sep 3 14:56 PDT 2008

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