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[Xmca-l] Re: identity expressed or formed by action?
- To: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: identity expressed or formed by action?
- From: Wolff-Michael Roth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2017 07:18:57 -0800
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Andy, I don't think that there is a drive to identity. I think this view is
typical of a constructivist mentalist approach. In my view, Marx was closer
to the point, and therefore Vygotsky and Leont'ev who use the category of
personality rather than identity. Marx/Engels say something pertinent in
the German Ideology:
|p. 5| This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the
reproduction of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a
definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of
expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. *As*
individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore,
coincides with their production, both with what they produce and
― 32 ―
*with how they produce*. *Hence what individuals are depends on the
material conditions of their production*.
(This is from vol. 5 of the International Publishers edition)
Wolff-Michael Roth, Lansdowne Professor
Applied Cognitive Science
MacLaurin Building A567
University of Victoria
Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2
New book: *The Mathematics of Mathematics
On Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 6:52 AM, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Thank you for the reference, Michael, but can't you tell me in a sentence
> or two whether there is any such thing as a drive to express one's
> self-identity in activity which is prior to the activity in which identity
> is formed?
> Andy Blunden
> On 16/02/2017 1:46 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:
>> I have worked out some of the issues in an article available online
>> Roth, W.-M. (2009). Identity and community: Differences at heart and
>> futures-to-come. Éducation et Didactique, 3, 99-118. (
>> where "I present a way to realize the Hegel–Marx–Vygotsky–Leont’ev program
>> of understanding the subject of activity and, correlatively, of
>> understanding the (the culture of the) community with which individuals
>> stand in an irreducible, because mutually constitutive relationship"
>> Wolff-Michael Roth, Lansdowne Professor
>> Applied Cognitive Science
>> MacLaurin Building A567
>> University of Victoria
>> Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2
>> http://web.uvic.ca/~mroth <http://education2.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/>
>> New book: *The Mathematics of Mathematics
>> On Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 6:17 AM, <email@example.com> wrote:
>>> So, in the way ‘she becomes a pollutant as waste’ can a person become ‘an
>>> expressive identity’ as a formation of a particular cultural imaginary?
>>> Not a ‘pollutant’ or ‘an expressive identity’ to start with, but becoming
>>> a pollutant or an expressive identity.
>>> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
>>> From: R.J.S.Parsons
>>> Sent: February 15, 2017 3:26 AM
>>> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: identity expressed or formed by action?
>>> The idea of waste leads me to Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger. (One of
>>> the books that made me grow up.) She discusses what dirt is - matter out
>>> of place. Then she discusses all sorts of implications. She doesnt'
>>> discuss the issue of expression vs formation as such, but much of what
>>> she does discuss bears on it. Menstruation comes to mind. In some
>>> societies, women having their periods are perceived as dirty, and they
>>> are seen as untouchable by men. So the way a woman is treated forms in
>>> her the idea that she is a pollutant, or a carrier. She was not one to
>>> start with.
>>> On 15/02/2017 10:21, Laure Kloetzer wrote:
>>>> Dear Andy,
>>>> Interestingly, I had a very similar discussion with some colleagues
>>>> recently not on identity but on... waste. The perspective of one of our
>>>> students was that investigating what waste is can be done via
>>>> in order to understand how we decide what to through away. I was arguing
>>>> that waste is not fully defined before action, but that waste is what we
>>>> through away. The action of throwing away is formative of what count as
>>>> I thought it might help to step back for one second from the tricky
>>>> question of self-identity and considering more concrete, everyday
>>>> activities before coming back to it...
>>>> 2017-02-15 8:30 GMT+01:00 Andy Blunden <email@example.com>:
>>>> I would be interested in any helpful comments (other than suggestions
>>>> more books to read) from my xmca psychologist friends on this problem.
>>>>> In discussion with a friend, who is very au fait with contemporary
>>>> philosophy, but knows nothing of CHAT, suggested to me a number of ideas
>>>>> intended to be explanatory (rather than descriptive) of current social
>>>> political trends. He talks about the rise of "expressive authenticity"
>>>>> since the 1970s and "collective action as a means to express selfhood."
>>>> response, I questioned whether there is any such thing as a drive to
>>>>> *express* one's identity, and that rather, collective action (and there
>>>> fundamentally no other kind of action) in pursuit of needs of all kinds
>>>>> (spiritual, social and material) is *formative* of identity.
>>>>> A classic case for analysis is the well-known observation that nowadays
>>>>> people purchase (clothes, cars, food, ...) as a means of expressing
>>>> identity. I question this, because it presumes that there is the innate
>>>>> drive to express one's identity, which I see no evidence for. I think
>>>>> people adopt dress styles in much the same way that people carry flags
>>>> - to
>>>> promote a movement they think positive and to gain social acceptance in
>>>> Identity-formation is a *result* not a cause of this.
>>>>> So, am I wrong? Is identity formation a result or a cause of activity?
>>>>> Andy Blunden