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Re: [xmca] Re: Engstrom and Habermas (and Unification and "Freedom")

I thought you said that Engstrom didn't talk much about Habermas, so I was just pointing to one place he did. Of course, he's very critical. Caustic in places.
It seems to me that most of Learning by Expanding is methodological. Engstrom DOES start out with a fairly specific problem which APPEARS to be narrowly restricted to education (the futility of learning, given the unpredictability of change). But true to form he expands the learning problem so that it's no longer narrowly restricted to the field of education and it's now devoted to "clearing the ground" for all the other things you name: inquiries into psychology and social sciences more generally, literature and human sciences universally.  I guess I would call it meta-disciplinary. 
So is his methodology similar to that of Habermas? On the one hand, Engestrom says "My way of processing categories out of data (....) has certain affinities with Bateson and with Habermas"(p. 12). But that turns out to mean only that Engestrom treats theories as "live discussion partners"; i.e. he uses the method of immanent critique (which is why Andy calls Habermas a Kantian). Immanent critique is immanent, and it makes a big difference what theories you are treating as discussion partners. Habermas, for example, discusses a lot with Piaget and with Weber. Marx and Hegel not so much and of course Vygotsky not at all.
Engstrom, of course, engages Habermas himself. What I thought was most perplexing about Learning Through Expanding and especially about Engestrom's later work was that he sometimes appears to criticize Habermas from the right rather than the more radical direction one would expect from somebody like Engstrom. On p. 15 he says: "Here I disagree with Habermas who seems to see hope (?) only outside the system of production and administration." (p. 15). 
But when we read Learning Through Expanding carefully we surmise that he's really just laying siege to academic do-nothingism. He writes that the "naive optimism" of Bateson "has a deeper historical truth in it than the wordy roundabouts of Habermas". Those are fine words; I subscribe to them. The only thing I would add is that when we embrace this view the main enemy becomes naivete, and it seems to me that some of what Engstrom says about the "emancipatory dynamics within the world of wage labor" might fall under that heading.
I have one other thing to correct. Yesterday I said that Habermas took a typical liberal position on Korean unification, when he was here in 1996, and that is broadly true: he shook the example of German unification in front of our noses and warned us not to go too quickly, worrying about the state of our fragile democracy and our newborn civil society. In fact, Korean democracy is not so frail; our delicate working class has ripped a military dictatorship from power with little more than its bare hands three times in living memory.  
But a lot of what Habermas then said about German unification was very critical; I don't think he would have wanted to move the Berlin Wall to the west, but he certainly poured cold water on the "emancipatory dynamics" engendered by the privatization of the Treuhand. 
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education
My point was that Habermas WAS a discussion partner; Engestrom

--- On Wed, 11/11/09, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Engstrom and Habermas (and Unification and "Freedom")
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 5:23 AM

I didn't fully grasp what you were saying before I think 
Jonna. Personally, I think to claim that Engestrom is 
"Habermasiam" is absurd. David was reminding you of LbE I 
guess because Engestrom *criticized* Habermas in that book.

I would say, on reflection, if there is any short way to 
characterize Habermas then I'd say he is Kantian.

I think it would be very helpful for the list if you could 
spell out what is the real issue behind these statements. 
What is behind the charge lf "Habermasian"?


Jonna Kangasoja wrote:
> Thank you David,
> I have actually had a chance to look at LbE in detail (in graduate
> school). But as you know, there is a good growd of other people in
> there too, used in various ways in construcitng the line of argument
> of the book.
> My stance in the 'debate' with my collagues on whether Engeström is
> 'Habermasian' (in his theoretical position on society) - without a
> very sophisticated knowledge on what does it imply to be a
> 'Habermasian' - is that I doubt that this is a correct interpretation,
> or at least I think that the role of Habermas is not in any way very
> central in the theory of expansive learning. But how can we
> chareterize that theory? It is a challenging task as the argument of
> the book is drawn from so many sources, and it aims to answer many
> theoretical (and methodological) questions at once. The theory of
> expansive learning doesn't seem to boil bown to a (psychological)
> learning theory, nor a theory of society, nor a systems theory...how
> would you characterize it?
> best, Jonna
> 2009/11/11 David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>:
>> Jonna:
>> There's quite a bit on Habermas in Engstrom's book "Learning by Expanding". Take a look at:
>> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Engestrom/expanding/toc.htm
>> Start around page 11 in the intro.
>> Habermas came to Korea a lot to discuss the unification issue; he took a typical liberal position, and in so doing ignored what we in Korea are far more acutely aware of: there are really two very different issues at stake, and neither one has anything to do with "freedom".
>> a) National unification. This was expressed very eloquently by the domino which read "Ein volk!" in Berlin. There is nothing progressive about German national reunification: it is an extremely costly experiment, less than two hundred years old, that has already brought disaster to the European continent four times, most recently when the "reunited" Germany brought ethnic cleansing and genocide (sorry, I mean "freedom") to Yugoslavia. Korean unification, on the other hand, is several thousand years old, and the division of Korea, an experiment that has cost millions of lives, occurred only six decades ago.
>> b) Brain drain. I think people forget that the original purpose of the wall was neither as a particularly fetching piece of Stalinist architecture nor a nice place for Reagan to attempt performance art. It was built in order to prevent a catastrophic "flight of quality" that risked rendering East Germany, already a qualitatively less educated place than it had been before the extermination of the Jews, a country without any intellectual infrastructure.
>> My university, Seoul National University of Education, provides low cost education to young people who need it and have nothing to give in return except years of service to still younger people. Most of the kids think that it's an exchange worth making but there are always some exceptions, and I guess if we suffered the kind of "flight to quality (???)" that East Berlin suffered we would probably have enforceable contracts for our students (and we DID have them in the seventies).
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul National University of Education
>> --- On Mon, 11/9/09, Jonna Kangasoja <jonnakatariina@gmail.com> wrote:
>> From: Jonna Kangasoja <jonnakatariina@gmail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Arne Raeithel's "genealogy"
>> To: ablunden@mira.net, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Date: Monday, November 9, 2009, 2:00 AM
>> Dear all,
>> I would be especially interested if someone could say something
>> (anything) about the influence/role of Habermas in the picture. I am
>> working nowadyas with (urban) planning theorists, to whom Habermas is
>> a very central, although contested figure. Most of my colleagues have
>> never heard of Activity Theory, and the one's who have, regard present
>> day Activity Theorists as 'Habermasian' - I am not sure if this is
>> quite the way to put it, or at least I never thought Habermas to be
>> very central in e.g. Engestöm's theory - does anyone have any comments
>> on this?
>> best, Jonna
>> 2009/11/9 Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>:
>>> I've been thinking ... What these diagrams lack is any information about why
>>> a writer is included and what they contributed to CHAT. Would anyone on the
>>> list like to put their hand up to write a paragraph (max 100 words probably)
>>> on a writer on the diagram explaining their contribution to CHAT and their
>>> sources? I would be happy to collate them and fix the essays to hyperlinks
>>> on the names of each writer? ... if others do most of the writing ... then
>>> the diagram might be genuinely useful.
>>> Andy
>>> Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>> Mmmmm. I didn't sign up for an intellecual map of the universe here! The
>>>> French Revolution produced a mass of political theory of course, but also,
>>>> it is widely regarded as the inspiration for Classical German Philosophy,
>>>> which is one of our sources.
>>>> World War One?  I don't know, but I have thought in the past that what
>>>> Vygotsky called "The Crisis in Psychology", viz., the myriad of conflicting
>>>> currents in psychology suddenly contesting each other after WW1, was some
>>>> kind of reaction to WW1 and the Russian Revolution.
>>>> The Reformation and the Industrial Revolution deserve mention somewhere
>>>> too, in the atlas of ideas. ...
>>>> Andy
>>>> mike cole wrote:
>>>>> Hmmmmm, like the French revolution or world war I for example?
>>>>> :-)
>>>>> mike
>>>>> On Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 4:18 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>>>>> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>>>>>    Both Arne's and mine are listed on
>>>>>    http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Paper/index.html and both are in that
>>>>>    directory. I too would be interested in seeing some other versions.
>>>>>    Something might emerge out of the crowd.
>>>>>    It is interesting isn't that it is a quite small number of ... what
>>>>>    do you say? ... millieux? events? movements? which produced the main
>>>>>    ideas, via a whole mass of individual writers.
>>>>>    Andy
>>>>>    mike cole wrote:
>>>>>        I think your pictured genealogy is interesting, Andy. I thought
>>>>>        Arne's was too, and I a sure others can make interesting
>>>>>        modifications. If anyone could do this in three D it could get
>>>>>        really fascinating.
>>>>>        Part of what makes for the partiality of any such attempt is the
>>>>>        position of the creator. Arne was a radical cultural historical
>>>>>        cognitive scientist of the
>>>>>        70's-90's (roughly), an importatant odd hybrid and unusually
>>>>>        nice guy.
>>>>>        Maturana, who is on his list, with Varela, were central figures
>>>>>        on bringing
>>>>>        dynamic systems into the discussion but you do not know about
>>>>>        him just
>>>>>        as many of us do not know some of the figures you name, and the
>>>>>        connections such as Dilthey-Wundt or Mead-Dilthey-American
>>>>>        pragmatism are poorly known altogether, but fascinating (to me!)
>>>>>        in their implications.
>>>>>        And, of course, the historical events that various of us might
>>>>>        highlight as
>>>>>        most relevant are going to vary as well.
>>>>>        Thanks for the new tool to think with. I'll try to get Arne's
>>>>>        genealogy put
>>>>>        up where yours is and perhaps others will contribute from their
>>>>>        perspectives.
>>>>>        mike
>>>>>        On Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 6:42 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>>>>>        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
>>>>>        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:
>>>>>           Well, here's my shot at it:
>>>>>             http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Genealogy-CHAT.pdf
>>>>>           I have tried to deal with your very valid point, Martin, that
>>>>>        it is
>>>>>           more the milieux than individuals, but I have also just omitted
>>>>> a
>>>>>           billion possible arrows so it is readable. It needs more than
>>>>> one
>>>>>           person to do this.
>>>>>           Andy
>>>>>           Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>>               My question about the map is what the links represent.
>>>>> After
>>>>>               all, one scientist or philosopher may accept the ideas or
>>>>>               another, or react against them, or modify them, or
>>>>>        misunderstand
>>>>>               them. Seems to me each of these is a different link. Also,
>>>>> a
>>>>>               family tree indicates two parents for every progeny, where
>>>>>               Arne's genealogy seemingly shows spontaneous generation -
>>>>> one
>>>>>               figure alone can produce another. And wouldn't we want to
>>>>>        have a
>>>>>               way to map the milieus within which people were working?
>>>>>        Perhaps
>>>>>               something along the lines of the social fields that
>>>>>        Bourdieu was
>>>>>               fond of sketching, but with an added historical dimension.
>>>>>               Martin
>>>>>               On Nov 4, 2009, at 1:44 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>>                   To tell the truth Louise, there are a couple of names I
>>>>>                   don't know and half a dozen I know so little about I
>>>>>        don't
>>>>>                   know why they're included ... or not. Two of the three
>>>>>                   "outcomes" are people who think humans are a type of
>>>>>                   computer, so I am not surpised that this genealogy is
>>>>>        odd to
>>>>>                   me. But there is sooooo much out there. So much to
>>>>>        read. :(
>>>>>                   Up till a few weeks ago I thought that starting with
>>>>>                   Descartes was not justified, but I take that back
>>>>>        now. But
>>>>>                   somehow, Rene's nemesis, Aristotle, needs to be
>>>>>        included as
>>>>>                   well.
>>>>>                   I don't know anything about Vico, but I find Locke,
>>>>>        Berkeley
>>>>>                   and Leibniz to be rather peripheral to *our* story.
>>>>>                   Kant certainly deserves an important place, but I
>>>>>        think his
>>>>>                   nemesis, Goethe, may be more important for us.
>>>>>                   Fichte is actually the inventor of Activity as a
>>>>>                   philosophical concept (I just learnt that Hegel asked
>>>>>        to be
>>>>>                   buried next to Fichte; like Goethe, very under
>>>>>        recognized in
>>>>>                   the Anglophone world).
>>>>>                   Hegel is the inventor of Cultural Psychology, so
>>>>>        agreed there.
>>>>>                   I think Stirner and Mach are total diversions from our
>>>>>                   tradition. But maybe someone can explain to me their
>>>>>        role.
>>>>>                   Wundt and Dilthey are important, though I don't know
>>>>>        them well.
>>>>>                   Feuerbach is a bit of a footnote, but if you're going
>>>>> to
>>>>>                   have Feuerbach, you've gotta have Moses Hess, author of
>>>>>                   "Philosophy of the Deed", and inspiration for "Theses
>>>>> on
>>>>>                   Feuerbach". Of course if you think Frege, Russell and
>>>>>        Turing
>>>>>                   are important to the genealogy of CHAT, then you
>>>>> wouldn't
>>>>>                   want Hess.
>>>>>                   MARX, obviously, in CAPS.
>>>>>                   And I would have lines from a whole bunch of people
>>>>>        going to
>>>>>                   Dewey, as well as Peirce and Mead, but even though
>>>>> Peirce
>>>>>                   was the elder, I don't think you can give him such
>>>>>        priority.
>>>>>                   Dewey surely was the leader. Arguable.
>>>>>                   And where are the Gestaltists? Again, not for computer
>>>>>                   cognition, but there needs to be lines between Goethe
>>>>> and
>>>>>                   Kant and then to von Ehrenfels, and on to Koehler and
>>>>> Co.
>>>>>                   Russian linguists like Potebnya, but I don't know
>>>>>        where they
>>>>>                   came from.
>>>>>                   And these threads are all tied together with LS
>>>>>        Vygotsky, yes?
>>>>>                   Freud has to be mentioned (I forget his sources), with
>>>>>                   arrows to Luria. And after Vygotsky and Luria you
>>>>>        have ANL
>>>>>                   and thus to present day people,
>>>>>                   I guess, you can't leave out Piaget, and I don't know
>>>>>                   Piaget's sources.
>>>>>                   I know some people rate Merleau-Ponty, but if you're
>>>>>        going
>>>>>                   to give Merleau-Pony a seat, you have to put in
>>>>>        Lukacs and
>>>>>                   Horkheimer. I guess Habermas for discourse ethics, etc.
>>>>>                   I have no idea why Husserl and Heidegger get a
>>>>>        mention. I my
>>>>>                   humble opinion, as clever as they might be, their
>>>>>        impact on
>>>>>                   Activity Theory has only been negative.
>>>>>                   I have no idea why Bergson is mentioned: was he a
>>>>>        source for
>>>>>                   Piaget? Don't know why Nietzsche is there.
>>>>>        Interesting guy,
>>>>>                   but so are many others. Why von Uexhill?
>>>>>                   I agree that Wittgenstein rates a mention, though I
>>>>> don't
>>>>>                   know how much of a source he has been for us. He is
>>>>> some
>>>>>                   kind of version of Activity Theory.
>>>>>                   Frege, Russell and Turing are nothing to do with
>>>>>        CHAT. What
>>>>>                   about anthropologists??
>>>>>                   Never heard of Maturana.
>>>>>                   That's my reaction,
>>>>>                   Andy
>>>>>                   Louise Hawkins wrote:
>>>>>                       Andy,
>>>>>                       I remember seeing this diagram a number of years
>>>>> ago,
>>>>>                       and I found it useful as a big picture diagram to
>>>>>        get my
>>>>>                       head around the significant theorist.
>>>>>                       Regards
>>>>>                       Louise Hawkins
>>>>>                       Lecturer - School of Management & Information
>>>>> Systems
>>>>>                       Faculty Business & Informatics
>>>>>                       Building 19/Room 3.38
>>>>>                       Rockhampton Campus
>>>>>                       CQUniversity
>>>>>                       Ph: +617 4923 2768
>>>>>                       Fax: +617 4930 9729
>>>>>                        -----Original Message-----
>>>>>                       From: Andy Blunden [mailto:ablunden@mira.net
>>>>>        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
>>>>>                       <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
>>>>>        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>] Sent: Wednesday, 4 November
>>>>>                       2009 01:05 PM
>>>>>                       To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>>>                       Subject: [xmca] Arne Raeithel's "genealogy"
>>>>>  http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Paper/Theoretical%20connections.jpg
>>>>>                       I never found this map very useful to be honest.
>>>>>                       Andy
>>>>>                       mike cole wrote:
>>>>>                           Have you found Arne Raeithel's "genealogy" of
>>>>>                           cultural-historical, activity theory thinkers
>>>>>        from
>>>>>                           several years back. I am sure it is somewhere
>>>>> at
>>>>>                           lchc.ucsd.edu <http://lchc.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>        <http://lchc.ucsd.edu>
>>>>>                           <http://lchc.ucsd.edu>. Perhaps you (and Andy,
>>>>>                           and.....) could update it with
>>>>>                           more detail. Hegel generated so much that has
>>>>>        been
>>>>>                           "laundered" by subsequent "original" thinkers
>>>>> its
>>>>>                           totally amazing, and ditto Mead (whose writings
>>>>> i
>>>>>                           know far better, although very inadequately).
>>>>>                       _______________________________________________
>>>>>                       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://www.erythrospress.com/
>>>>>                   Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev,
>>>>>        Meshcheryakov,
>>>>>                   Ilyenkov $20 ea
>>>>>                   _______________________________________________
>>>>>                   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://www.erythrospress.com/
>>>>>           Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
>>>>>           Ilyenkov $20 ea
>>>>>           _______________________________________________
>>>>>           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://www.erythrospress.com/
>>>>>    Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
>>>>>    Ilyenkov $20 ea
>>> --
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
>>> Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
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Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, 
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