Re: [xmca] Re: déjatel¹ nost¹

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at duq.edu>
Date: Fri Sep 05 2008 - 06:24:55 PDT

Let's continue the discussion in San Diego

Martin

On 9/4/08 9:03 PM, "Steve Gabosch" <stevegabosch@mac.com> wrote:

> Hi Martin,
>
> You bring up extremely important points, which interest me a lot. I
> really appreciate your perspective. Let's take this up in a few weeks
> once we are settled down after San Diego.
>
> Best,
> - Steve
>
>
>
> On Sep 4, 2008, at 4:45 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>
>> -------- Original Message --------
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] déjatel’ nost’
>> Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008 15:27:28 -0400
>> From: Martin Packer <mpacker885@gmail.com>
>> To: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
>>
>> Andy, I'm having technical problem sending email. Any possibility
>> you could forward this to XMCA? thanks!
>>
>> Steve,
>>
>> I'll admit I have some problems with Ilyenkov's reading of Marx.
>> Consider, for example, the following excerpt. Is he saying we
>> should study the hydrogen atom? Is this the "elementary
>> manifestation" that is analogous to the the commodity in Capital?
>> Yes, hydrogen is the simplest element, and its analysis can enable
>> us to understand the properties of more complex elements. (The
>> Schrodinger wave equation, for example, can be solved for a hydrogen
>> atom but is unsolvable for more complex atoms, if I remember my
>> college chemistry).
>>
>>>> Hydrogen appears in this
>>>> case as the elementary structure in the decomposition of which
>>>> chemical properties of matter disappear in general, whether the
>>>> analytical decomposition is performed in an actual experiment or
>> only
>>>> mentally. Hydrogen is therefore a concrete universal element of
>>>> chemism.
>>
>> But not all the properties of hydrogen show up (appear) in a single
>> atom. Hydrogen atoms bond to form H2 molecules, and at low
>> temperature and pressure show a more exotic bonding form (the Bose-
>> Einstein condensate). A single atom doesn't go through phase changes
>> (solid, liquid, gas). So, yes, "the concrete universal concept
>> registers a real objective elementary form of the existence of the
>> entire system rather
>> than an empty abstraction." But not in isolation.
>>
>> Ilyenkov claims that with the "single form" of direct exchange alone
>> Marx was able to identity all the phenomena and categories of
>> advanced capitalism, "without exception." I just don't think this is
>> true. Marx traced the commodity form back to these simple origins,
>> but he analysed the contemporary version of the form as well. So
>> where Ilyenkov says that to understand life we ought to study "the
>> elementary protein body" (I think this should be "protean" body),
>> which I take to mean unicellular organisms, yes of course this is
>> important, but surely we also need to study modern complex multi-
>> cellular organisms?
>>
>> If it really were the case that Marx could come up with "all
>> phenomena and categories of advanced capitalism" from studying only
>> "direct exchange of one commodity for another" this would amount to
>> be being able to predict, or perhaps logically deduce, the direction
>> and outcome of cultural evolution. It would be like studying a
>> single-celled organism and accurately predicting its evolution into
>> ammals and then humans. This might be possible if there were a
>> "universal dialectical law" unfolding everywhere. Ilyenkov appears
>> to believe that there is, and this is one way of reading Marx. But
>> it is not the way I read Marx, and I don't believe that there is an
>> "objectively universal" dialectical
>> logic that can be identified even in the simplest of forms.
>>
>> Martin
>>
>>
>>
>> On 9/3/08 10:05 AM, "Steve Gabosch" <stevegabosch@mac.com
>> <mailto:stevegabosch@mac.com>> wrote:
>>
>>> You raise really good points, Martin. What are you thoughts on the
>>> distinction between an "analytical unit" versus a "basic unit of
>>> analysis", and where do you see the "concrete universal" fitting in?
>>> - Steve
>>>
>>>
>>> On Sep 3, 2008, at 6:16 AM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>>
>>>> Andy, Steve,
>>>>
>>>> I like the idea of exploring further the way Marx's analysis of the
>>>> commodity gives us a concrete (!) example of methodology. A good
>>>> place to
>>>> start is with the fact that the commodity is the unit of analysis
>> in
>>>> Capital, in the sense that Andy defines, that it is the smallest
>>>> component
>>>> that shows the properties of the whole: in this case, it shows the
>>>> contradiction between use value and exchange value that
>> characterizes
>>>> capital as a whole.
>>>>
>>>> But at the same time, it is a constituted unit, no? Or, better put,
>>>> it is at
>>>> the same time a process, which can be analytically decomposed into
>>>> cycles of
>>>> production and exchange. Ilyenkov apparently focuses on Marx's
>>>> analysis of
>>>> the historical development of the commodity, from unmediated
>> exchange
>>>> through to complex money forms. But there is a synchronic
>> dimension of
>>>> analysis too, and Marx explores how the process of exchanging
>>>> commodities is
>>>> the basis for the abstraction in which they come to have common
>>>> measure.
>>>> Equally the labor of producing commodities becomes abstract, and
>> what
>>>> remains in each case is value.
>>>>
>>>> So we learn little by looking at a unit in isolation. "We may twist
>>>> and turn
>>>> a single commodity as we wish; it remains impossible to grasp it as
>>>> a thing
>>>> possessing value... [its objective character as value] can only
>>>> appear in
>>>> the social relation between commodity and commodity" (Marx). We
>> need
>>>> to
>>>> 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.
>>>>
>>>> More specifically still, we need to study the unit in the processes
>>>> of which
>>>> it is the product. So Chapter 2 of Capital considers "The Process
>> of
>>>> Exchange" in which "in order that these objects may enter into
>>>> relation with
>>>> each other as commodities, their guardians must place themselves in
>>>> relation
>>>> to one another as persons whose will resides in these objects." Our
>>>> analysis
>>>> only *begins* with an examination of the unit, the commodity. It
>> must
>>>> proceed to an examination of the relations among units, and then to
>>>> the
>>>> relations among people which bring the units into relation.
>>>>
>>>> Here of course the famous passage, "a commodity appears at first
>>>> sight an
>>>> extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that
>>>> it is a
>>>> very strange thing, abounding in metapysical subtleties and
>>>> theological
>>>> niceties." "The mysterious character" of the commodity "reflects
>> the
>>>> social
>>>> characteristics of men's own labour."
>>>>
>>>> My reading of this is that the analysis of a unit cannot replace
>> the
>>>> analysis of the whole, even though the unit "reflects" the whole.
>> We
>>>> must
>>>> analyze the unit *in* the whole which constitutes it, for it is
>> *we*
>>>> who
>>>> make the commodity what it is, "without being aware of it."
>> Analysis
>>>> is a
>>>> process in which we "try to decipher the hieroglyphic, to get
>> behind
>>>> the
>>>> secret of [our] own social product." This analysis has an
>> emancipatory
>>>> character because it enables us to see the contingent, historical
>>>> genesis of
>>>> forms which had come to seem natural, immutable, and finished.
>> Marx is
>>>> interested in the commodity. But one might argue that he is *more*
>>>> interested in the festishism with which we generally understand
>>>> commodities,
>>>> the alienation which quantitative exchange of commodities gives
>> rise
>>>> to, and
>>>> the "metamorphosis" of commodities into money which is the basis
>> for
>>>> the
>>>> exploitation of labor (so Chapter 3 analyzes "The Circulation of
>>>> Commodities" now as a process that becomes mediated by money). None
>>>> of this
>>>> is exactly "in" the commodity, but only if we begin our analysis
>>>> with the
>>>> commodity will we be able to understand the other phenomena.
>>>>
>>>> Does this all get played out in Vygotsky's analyses?
>>>>
>>>> Martin
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On 9/2/08 8:19 AM, "Steve Gabosch" <stevegabosch@mac.com
>> <mailto:stevegabosch@mac.com>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Andy, I am still absorbing your last message. While doing that I
>>>>> wanted to look at Ilyenkov's 1960 book The Dialectics of the
>> Abstract
>>>>> & the Concrete in Marx's Capital, which deals with many things we
>>>>> are
>>>>> talking about in this thread.
>>>>>
>>>>> ****************
>>>>>
>>>>> The lengthy passage below is a helpful description of the concrete
>>>>> universal by Ilyenkov. After pointing out how Marx uses value
>> as the
>>>>> concrete universal in the development of the capitalist economy,
>>>>> Ilyenkov gives helpful examples of concrete universals in
>> chemistry
>>>>> and life in general.
>>>>>
>>>>> Btw, this transcription on Marxist Internet Archive is by Andy.
>>>>>
>>>>> http://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/abstract/abstra5a.htm
>>>>>
>>>>> Ilyenkov
>>>>> The dialectics of the Abstract & the Concrete in Marx's Capital
>>>>>
>>>>> from Chapter 5 – The Method of Ascent from the Abstract to the
>>>>> Concrete in Marx's Capital
>>>>>
>>>>> the beginning of the section Concrete fullness of Abstraction and
>>>>> Analysis as a Condition of Theoretical Synthesis
>>>>>
>>>>> We shall now turn to a consideration of the logical structure of
>>>>> Capital, comparing it both with the logic of Ricardian thought and
>>>>> the
>>>>> theoretical views of Marx's predecessors in the field of logic;
>>>>> this
>>>>> discussion should reveal Marx's logic in its actual practical
>>>>> application to the analysis of facts, to the analysis of empirical
>>>>> data.
>>>>>
>>>>> Our task is that of singling out the universal logical elements of
>>>>> Marx's treatment of economic materials, the logical forms that are
>>>>> applicable, due to their universality, to any other theoretical
>>>>> discipline.
>>>>>
>>>>> Capital, as is well known, begins with a most thorough and
>> detailed
>>>>> analysis of the category of value, i.e., of the real form of
>> economic
>>>>> relations that is the universal and elementary form of the being
>> of
>>>>> capital. In this analysis, Marx's field of vision encompasses a
>>>>> single and, as we have already noted, extremely rare, in developed
>>>>> capitalism, factual relation between men – direct exchange of
>> one
>>>>> commodity for another. At this stage of his inquiry into the
>>>>> capitalist system, Marx intentionally leaves out of account any
>> other
>>>>> forms – money or profit or wages. All of these things are as yet
>>>>> believed to be non-existent.
>>>>>
>>>>> Nevertheless, analysis of this single form of economic relations
>>>>> yields, as its result, a theoretical expression of the objectively
>>>>> universal form of all phenomena and categories of developed
>>>>> capitalism
>>>>> without exception, an expression of a developed concreteness, a
>>>>> theoretical expression of value as such, of the universal form of
>>>>> value.
>>>>>
>>>>> The elementary type of the existence of value coincides with
>> value in
>>>>> general, and the real actually traceable development of this
>> form of
>>>>> value into other forms constitutes the objective content of the
>>>>> deduction of the categories of Capital. Deduction in this
>> conception,
>>>>> unlike the Ricardian one, loses its formal character: here it
>>>>> directly
>>>>> expresses the real content of some forms of economic interaction
>> from
>>>>> others.
>>>>>
>>>>> That is precisely the point missing in the systems of Ricardo
>> and of
>>>>> his followers from the bourgeois camp.
>>>>>
>>>>> The conception of a universal concept underlying the entire
>> system of
>>>>> the categories of science, applied here by Marx, cannot be
>> explained
>>>>> by the specificity of the subject-matter of political economy. It
>>>>> reflects the universal dialectical law of the unfolding of any
>>>>> objective concreteness – natural, socio-historical, or
>> spiritual.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> This conception is of great significance for any modern science.
>> To
>>>>> give a concrete theoretical definition of life as the basic
>> category
>>>>> of biology, to answer the question of what is life in general,
>> life
>>>>> as
>>>>> such, one ought to act in the same way as Marx acted with value in
>>>>> general, that is, one should undertake a concrete analysis of the
>>>>> composition and mode of existence of an elementary manifestation
>> of
>>>>> life – the elementary protein body. That is the only way of
>>>>> obtaining
>>>>> a real definition and of revealing the essence of the matter.
>>>>>
>>>>> Only in this way, and not at all by abstraction of the general
>>>>> features of all phenomena of life without exception, can one
>> attain a
>>>>> really scientific and materialist conception of life, creating the
>>>>> concept of life as such.
>>>>>
>>>>> The situation is the same in chemistry. The concept of chemical
>>>>> element as such, of chemical element in general, cannot be
>> worked out
>>>>> through abstraction of the general and identical features that
>> helium
>>>>> has in common with uranium or silicon with nitrogen, or the common
>>>>> features of all the elements of the periodic table. The concept of
>>>>> chemical element may be formed by detailed consideration of the
>>>>> simplest element of the system – hydrogen. Hydrogen appears in
>> this
>>>>> case as the elementary structure in the decomposition of which
>>>>> chemical properties of matter disappear in general, whether the
>>>>> analytical decomposition is performed in an actual experiment or
>> only
>>>>> mentally. Hydrogen is therefore a concrete universal element of
>>>>> chemism. The universal necessary laws that emerge and disappear
>> with
>>>>> it, are the simplest laws of the existence of the chemical
>> element in
>>>>> general. As elementary and universal laws they will occur in
>> uranium,
>>>>> gold, silicon, and so on. And any of these wore complex elements
>> may
>>>>> in principle be reduced to hydrogen, which, by the way, happens
>> both
>>>>> in nature and in experiments with nuclear processes.
>>>>>
>>>>> In other words, what takes place here is the same living mutual
>>>>> transformation of the universal and the particular, of the
>> elementary
>>>>> and the complex which we observed in the categories of capital,
>> where
>>>>> profit emerges as developed value, as a developed elementary
>> form of
>>>>> commodity, to which profit is continually reduced in the real
>>>>> movement
>>>>> of the economic system and therefore in thought reproducing this
>>>>> movement. Here as everywhere else, the concrete universal concept
>>>>> registers a real objective elementary form of the existence of the
>>>>> entire system rather than an empty abstraction.
>>>>>
>>>>> <end>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On Sep 1, 2008, at 10:27 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>> Steve,
>>>>>> as I understand it, the concept of "concrete universal" is
>> closely
>>>>>> related to UoA (or notion or "abstract concept") in this way. In
>>>>>> approaching the understanding of a complex phenomenon, the
>>>>>> researcher tries to determine a notion which will reveal at least
>>>>>> the aspects of that whole she is interested in. One and the same
>>>>>> phenomenon (e.g. "the real life of people" or "personality")
>> may be
>>>>>> approached using different units of analysis (abstract notions)
>> and
>>>>>> the result will be different insights into the same phenomena.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> This is where the ascent from the abstract to the concrete
>> comes in:
>>>>>> the complex whole is to be "reconstructed" in thought, beginning
>>>>>> from this abstract concept of it, and the end result of such a
>>>>>> reconstruction is a "concrete universal". So if (for example) a
>>>>>> certain social formation is to be understood as a "concrete
>>>>>> universal", then you must begin by determining an "anstract
>> notion"
>>>>>> of it. (The tricky bit is discovery of the "abstract notion"
>> and the
>>>>>> only place to read about that process is in Hegel's Doctrine of
>>>>>> Essence in the Logic.)
>>>>>>
>>>>>> The contrary method is to begin with a thoughtlessly chosen
>> element
>>>>>> and analyse it into its properties (or "attributes" or in old
>>>>>> English "accidents"). (The subject is the sum of all the
>> predicates
>>>>>> which can be attached to it?) These attributes may then be used
>> to
>>>>>> reconstuct a whole, which would be an "abstract general". For
>>>>>> example, someone who thinks that the working class are people who
>>>>>> work for a wage, then define the working class as the set of all
>>>>>> wage earners, and include policemen and senior managers among the
>>>>>> proletariat--+, whilst ecluding housewives. The same person might
>>>>>> define a bourseois as someone with a lot of money, and decide
>> that
>>>>>> the Professor of FIne Arts is not a bourgeois, because he does
>> not
>>>>>> own capital, only culture.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Does that help?
>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Steve Gabosch wrote:
>>>>>>> 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 marxists.org
>> <http://marxists.org>) 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"
>>>>>>>>>>>> <mroth@uvic.ca <mailto:mroth@uvic.ca>
>> <mailto:mroth@uvic.ca <mailto:mroth@uvic.ca>>> 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: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
>> <mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>>>>>>>> <mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
>> <mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://www.exploratorium.edu/evidence/
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> 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: davidpreiss@uc.cl <mailto:davidpreiss@uc.cl>
>> <mailto:davidpreiss@uc.cl <mailto:davidpreiss@uc.cl>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> web personal: http://web.mac.com/ddpreiss/
>>>>>>>>>>>> web institucional: http://www.epuc.cl/profesores/dpreiss
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>>>>>> ----- Andy
>>>>>>>>>>>> Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435
>>>>>>>>>>>> Skype andy.blunden
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> <
>>>>>>>>>>>> winmail
>>>>>>>>>>>> .dat>_______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>>>>>> -----
>>>>>>>>>>>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435
>>>>>>>>>>>> Skype andy.blunden
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------->
>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>> -
>>>>>>>>>>>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435
>> Skype
>>>>>>>>>>>> andy.blunden
>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>>>
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------->
>>>>>>>>>
>> -
>>>>>>>>>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435
>> Skype
>>>>>>>>>> andy.blunden
>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>>>>>>>> andy.blunden
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>>>
>>>>>> --
>>>>>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>>>>>> andy.blunden
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
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>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>
>>
>> --
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>> andy.blunden
>> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
>> http://www.marxists.org/admin/books/index.htm
>>
>> _______________________________________________
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