Re: [xmca] déjatel¹ nost¹

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Thu Sep 04 2008 - 08:51:04 PDT

We've been getting vision of the RNC here too Eric. A blink
of eye and I feel I could have been watching a Nuremberg
rally. I had never seen Guiliani in action before, what a
slime bag! And this new gal! But of course the Republicans
can have anyone as President; it's the backroom guys who
make all the decisions, and they can put any idiot up as
figurehead, SFAICS.


I launched this discussion on Activity Eric because I
believe that the foundations of Activity Theory are unsound.
I have no problem with the method of double stimulation, and
the psychology altogether. My interest is in utilising
activity theory beyond the bounds of psychology, as an
"interdisciplinary" concept. And for that some work needs to
be done.

Andy wrote:
> unit (cell, germ) of analysis
> simplest form of the whole
> commodity
> relational units
> value
> concepts
> relational constructs
> concept formation
> developmental activities
> mediational activities
> spontaneous constructs
> scientific constructs
> what a list of ideas that have been discussed and amplified; deconstructed
> and analyzed, to what end? As best I can ascertain it is for the purpose
> of an agreed upon methodology for CHAT. But I was under the impression
> that there is an agreed upon methodology that involves the analysis of
> activities that are imbedded within cultural and historical frameworks.
> Simple; yet complex. As a scientific tool I still hold out that the
> funcitonal method of double stimulation is the beginning of a specific set
> of circumstances that will help to focus a lens upon this analysis. Yes
> the blocks are cool but isn't it time we move beyond the blocks and see how
> this method can be utilized in real world situations? Luria called it the
> combined motor method and utilized it in his romantic science. am i naive
> to think the answer has been staring at us all along?
> I also can't help but think that Latour's constructivism holds a piece of
> this puzzle as well.
> thoughts on a cold day in the bleak history of the RNC in St. Paul. . .
> what a mess it has been
> eric
> "Michael
> Glassman" To: <>, "eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity"
> <MGlassman@ehe.o <>
>> cc:
> Sent by: Subject: RE: [xmca] déjatel¹ nost¹
> xmca-bounces@web
> 09/03/2008 10:34
> AM
> Please respond
> to "eXtended
> Mind, Culture,
> Activity"
> I wonder if the word commodity, even though Marx obviously uses it, is too
> narrow a term for the larger theory, especially when considering the
> current discussion. I have always thought Engels On the Part Played by
> Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man (Part of the Dialectics of Nature)
> had a rather large influence on Activity Theory. This piece of work might
> suggest that it is social relations in the production of some desired and
> necessary material good necessary for development/survival, rather than
> simple commodity relations. How this sort of fits in to the Activity
> Action issue is that selling a bottle of Coke in order to get money to buy
> food can be viewed as an Activity. Or finding a Coke bottle to return to
> five cents in order to buy food can be seen as an Activity. But actually
> buying a Coke is really only an action, or even an ideologically based
> operation (we buy a Coke based on the commercial telling us that Coke is
> the real thing).
> Michael
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 9:57 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] déjatel¹ nost¹
> I agree with Michael's response. For Goethe, who founded the
> science of morphology as well as the idea of a "unit of
> analysis", "cell" was the Urphanomenon, and Hegel frequently
> referred to der Begriff as "the cell" or "germ." Marx only
> repeated what his teachers had said.
> I think the main problem with what you are saying Martin is
> that you are accepting the reification of the commodity
> relation as a kind of "thing." Marx began with the
> phenomenon, that is, a "mass of commodities" but he
> discloses the fact that the commodity is "really" (in
> essence) a relation between human beings.
> So the coke bottle cannot be a commodity when taken out of a
> market economy, but it can cease to be a commodity even
> within a market economy if there is a glut on the market and
> it can't be sold, or the producer decides that they like it
> so much they're going to keep for themselves.
> So the cell of bourgeois society and its "unit of analysis"
> is *not* a commodity, but the commodity relation.
> Andy
> Martin Packer wrote:
>> Yes, that's true. But isn't it the simplest form of the whole only
> because
>> it is part of the whole? A bottle of coke isn't a commodity if it is
> removed
>> from the economy of which it is a part. (The Gods Must Be Crazy was a
>> terrible movie but at least it made that point well.) Marx was, I think,
>> using the analysis of the commodity in order to expore the *constitution*
> of
>> the commodity.
>> Vygotsky takes this up in The History of the Genesis of the Higher Mental
>> Functions, where the unit of analysis is "fossilized" forms: tossing a
> dice,
>> tying a knot, counting on fingers. Vygotsky writes that:
>> "All ties connecting these formations with the system that once generated
>> them have died off, the ground on which they appeared has vanished, the
>> background of their activity has changed, they have been torn from their
>> system and transported in a flood of historical development to a
> completely
>> different sphere."
>> He then goes on to argue that despite these problems, such fossils are an
>> appropriate unit to study. I'm not sure whether his argument is
> convincing.
>> The point I want to emphasize here is that he sees it necessary to
> attempt
>> the argument, and this would not be the case if one could study the unit
>> independent of its ties to the system.
>> Martin
>> On 9/3/08 10:16 AM, "Andy Blunden" <> wrote:
>>> What we demand of the unit of analysis (or cell) is not that
>>> it is a part of the whole, but rather that it is the
>>> simplest form *of* the whole.
>>> Andy
>>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>>> Andy,
>>>> But to pursue the cell metaphor a bit, while the cell is certainly a
> unit
>>>> that contains the life processes that animate the body, its functioning
>>>> depends on its place within the body, which Marx also calls "an organic
>>>> whole." I'm not suggesting that there are or should be two units - I
> agree
>>>> that's the wrong way to go. It seems to me more that the unit itself
> has to
>>>> be considered as an aspect of a larger whole, with which it has a
> relation
>>>> of mutual constitution. No cells, no body. No body, no cells.
>>>> It always takes me forever to read and process your excerpts from
> Hegel! But
>>>> I'll give it a try. :)
>>>> Martin
>>>> On 9/3/08 9:44 AM, "Andy Blunden" <> wrote:
>>>>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>>> examine units in relation. This seems to me to suggest that although
> a unit
>>>>>> has the characteristics of the whole, this is the case only when the
> unit
>>>>>> is
>>>>>> examined *in* the whole. We need to study a commodity *in* capitalist
>>>>>> society. ...
>>>>> Martin, this doesn't quite figure because to do as you
>>>>> suggest, we have to begin with *two* units of analysis, the
>>>>> commodity relation and "capitalist society", which of course
>>>>> presumes what is to be proved. It's a cell; it *generates*
>>>>> the whole.
>>>>> Certainly, Marx has already told us that "The prerequisites
>>>>> with which we begin are ... the actual individuals, their
>>>>> activity and the material conditions of their lives," and
>>>>> this is the necessary foundation.
>>>>> You really can't say it better than Hegel (here describing
>>>>> how the concept of "right" acts as a "unit of analysis" for
>>>>> "objective spirit":
>>>>> "The science of right is a part of philosophy. Hence it must
>>>>> develop the idea, which is the reason of an object, out of
>>>>> the conception. It is the same thing to say that it must
>>>>> regard the peculiar internal development of the thing
>>>>> itself. Since it is a part [of philosophy], it has a
>>>>> definite beginning, which is the result and truth of what
>>>>> goes before, and this, that goes before, constitutes its
>>>>> so-called proof. Hence the origin of the conception of right
>>>>> falls outside of the science of right. ...
>>>>> "In philosophic knowledge the necessity of a conception is
>>>>> the main thing, and the process, by which it, as a result,
>>>>> has come into being is the proof and deduction. After the
>>>>> content is seen to be necessary independently, the second
>>>>> point is to look about for that which corresponds to it in
>>>>> existing ideas and modes of speech." (Introduction to the
>>>>> Philosophy of Right §2)
>>>>> So what Marx is doing in rising from the abstract to the
>>>>> concrete is unfolding out of the value relation a whole
>>>>> series of concepts which flow from it. It is a kind of
>>>>> thought experiment which is constantly checked against
>>>>> historical reality. In fact of course there never has been
>>>>> and never will be a society in which the commodity relation
>>>>> is "absolute."
>>>>> Andy
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> xmca mailing list
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Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 
Skype andy.blunden
Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
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Received on Thu Sep 4 08:52 PDT 2008

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