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[Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Отв: Re: Unit of Analysis

Dear Sasha

Thank you for your bilingual text! And thank you for sparing me the "academic courtesy" :)

Again I agree with most but not all of your email, and again the disagreement is where you touch on Vygotsky.

> Do we have even the slightest reason to believe that Vygotsky managed
> to realize such an understanding of Spinoza and Spinozism not in
> general theoretical declarations about the harmfulness of Cartesian
> dualism and the preference of Spinoza's monism, but in his own
> psychological theory?
> We believe that no... For Vygotsky did not deduce a "sign" from the
> object oriented sensual activities of the material entity, as would
> have to try to do Spinozist, but comes from the fact that the sign in
> all its ideality is able to convert real, sensuous activity of the
> subject, its behavior. In other words, Vygotsky in his theory
> (contrary to his sincere intentions and declarations) appears not as
> a materialist (Marxist), but like the typical idealist.

I don't think Vygotsky completed this project, perhaps he only started it off, to be continued by Leontiev, Ilyenkov and others. My defensive position is merely that he was not barking up the wrong tree.

As I've said, I think his treatment of the child's socialisation is fully Spinozan and materialist.  e.g., the way the activity of the social environment is transmitted to the child.  Surely word meaning is treated here (e.g. in Thinking and Speech) as a reflection of activity.  The activity of the social environment (including its verbal behaviour) is adopted by the child.

Vygotsky was an experimental psychologist and his experiments, and his critique of Piaget's & others' experiments, aim to show the practical ways that word meaning is created and transmitted.

The problem of the Ideal --- how Thinking and Extension relate --- is there in Spinoza.  For all his undoubted Monism and materialism this problem is smudged over in his definition of the Attributes in E1d4:

> By attribute, I mean that which *the intellect* perceives
> as constituting the essence of substance.

Which intellect?

Vygotksy's psychology might have shown the way forward for a psychology (& even a philosophy of mind) that does without Thinking (in Spinoza's sense, of a distinct Attribute of Substance) altogether, and has only Extension and "imaginatio" (as in E2p17).

Best wishes


On 15/09/2017 00:06, Alexander Surmava wrote:
Dear Sasha

I like this summary ... until the bit where you linkVygotsky with Rousseau and Kant.

To my eye, Vygotsky's writing has the influence ofSpinoza stamped all over it.  The development of the child is a storyof the smaller, relatively passive body (i.e. the child) becoming aligned with,sharing in the life of, the larger, relatively active body (i.e. the socialenvironment).

This is not a story of pre-existing entities coming toan agreement or a social contract.

Do you think Kant's influence on Vygotsky is strongerthan Spinoza's?

Best wishes


|  Дорогой Иван!

   |  Dear Ivan!

|  Я рад, что Вам понравился мой текст :-) .

   |  I'm glad You liked my text :-) .

|  Но, должен сказать, что мысль о роли философии Просвещения в мировоззрении Выготского является для меня наиболее важной. Поэтому, если Вы не согласны именно с ней, ты не согласны с моим текстом полностью, en bloc :-) .

   |  But I must emphasize that the idea of the role of philosophy of the Enlightenment in Vygotsky’s worldview is the most important for me. Therefore, if You do not agree with it, you don't agree with my text text as a whole, en bloc :-) .

|  Поэтому оставим пока в стороне академическую вежливость и обсудим содержание моего высказывания.

   |  So let's leave aside academic courtesy and discuss the content of my statements.

|  Я, скажем так, догадываюсь, что мой текст звучит парадоксально, особенно в кругу людей, являющихся поклонниками идей Выготского. Но так обычно и выглядит любая новая мысль, ибо любая новизна противоречит старым идеям.

   |  I guess that my text sounds paradoxical, especially in the circle of researchers who are fans of Vygotsky. But any new idea usually looks as something strange and paradoxica, because any novelty contradicts old ideas.

|  Я знаю, что Выготского принято считать спинозистом. Но я считаю это суждение ошибочным. Если конечно не отождествлять желание быть спинозистом или марксистом со спинозизмом или марксизмом как таковым. Так я пламенно желаю быть балетным танцором. Но, те, кто видят, как я танцую вежливо отводят глаза в сторону :-) .

   |  I know that Vygotsky considered to be spinozist. But I believe this judgment is erroneous. Unless, of course, you identify the desire to be a Spinozist or Marxist with Spinozism or Marxism as such. So I passionately want to be a ballet dancer. But, those who see how I dance politely look away :-).

|  Спиноза жил в XVII веке - поэтому и его идеи, и его язык не могут не нести на себе печать этого обстоятельства. Поэтому в его текстах, наряду с великими прозрениями и открытиями наверняка можно найти множество устаревших положений. Пример, лежащий на поверхности – его «геометрический метод» изложения. Поэтому, любить тексты Спинозы, и адекватно их понимать, различать в них непреходящие теоретическое ядро и устаревшую оболочку – далеко не одно и то же.

   |  Spinoza lived in the seventeenth century - and therefore his ideas, and his language cannot fail to bear the stamp of this circumstance. Therefore, in his texts, along with great insights and discoveries, one can surely find many obsolete ideas. Lying on the surface example is his so called "geometrical method" of presentation. Therefore, to love Spinoza’s texts, and understand them adequately, to discern an        immortal theoretical kernel from the perishable shell are far not one and the same.

|  В чем сущность спинозизма с точки зрения Гегеля? В его монизме, в том, что мир Спинозы состоит не из  бесконечного числа никак друг с другом не связанных «атомарных фактов» в стиле Витгенштейна и легиона позитивистов всех мастей. Мир в представлении Спинозы есть конкретное целое, все явления которого являются модусами единого всеобщего основания – мировой субстанции. Марксу, Энгельсу и Ильенкову сверх этого Спиноза дорог прежде всего тем, что он не просто монист, но монист-материалист. Согласно Спинозе, единой, порождающей весь мир субстанцией является материальная природа. Что же касается мышления (идеального), то согласно Спинозе оно не ВНЕШНИМ образом противостоит косной, мертвой материи в качестве второй, магической, интеллигибельной субстанции Платона-Декарта, но является неотъемлемо присущий самой природе свойством самой материальной Природы, способом движения, действия природных, материальных тел.

   |  What is the essence of the Spinozism from the point of view of Hegel? In its monism, in the fact that Spinoza’s world is not composed of an infinite number of isolated "atomic facts" in the style of Wittgenstein and of the Legion of positivists of of every stripe and color. The world in the representation of Spinoza is a concrete whole, all of whose phenomena are the modes of a single universal basis - the world substance. Besides Marx, Engels and Ilyenkov appreciate Spinoza primarily for the fact that he's not just the monist, but monist-materialist. Spinoza's substance is a material substance, Nature in General. As for thinking (ideal), according to Spinoza, it is not externally opposed to inert, dead matter as the second, magic, the intelligible substance of Plato-Descartes, but is inherent to the Nature, is a property of the very material Nature, is a way of motion, of action of  natural, material bodies.

|  Есть ли у нас хотя бы малейшие основания полагать, что Выготскому удалось реализовать подобное понимание Спинозы и спинозизма не в общетеоретических декларациях о пагубности картезианского дуализма и предпочтительности спинозовского монизма, но в своей собственной психологической теории?

   |  Do we have even the slightest reason to believe that Vygotsky managed to realize such an understanding of Spinoza and Spinozism not in general theoretical declarations about the harmfulness of Cartesian dualism and the preference of Spinoza's monism, but in his own psychological theory?

|  Мы полагаем, что нет… Ибо Выготский не дедуцирует свой «знак» из предметно-чувственной деятельности материального субъекта, как должен был бы пытаться поступить спинозист, но исходит из того, что именно знак во всей его идеальности способен преобразовать реальную, чувственную деятельность субъекта, его поведение. Иначе говоря, Выготский в своей теории (в противоположность своим искренним намерениям и декларациям) выступает не как материалист (марксист), а как типичный идеалист.

   |  We believe that no... For Vygotsky did not deduce a "sign" from the object oriented sensual activities of the material entity, as would have to try to do Spinozist, but comes from the fact that the sign in all its ideality is able to convert real, sensuous activity of the subject, its behavior. In other words, Vygotsky in his theory (contrary to his sincere intentions and declarations) appears not as a materialist (Marxist), but like the typical idealist.

|  (Слава Богу, что мы ведем эту дискуссию не в СССР, так что никто не упрекнет меня за эту объективную констатацию в каких-то неприличиях. :-) ).

   |  ( Thank God that we are not conducting this discussion in the USSR, so that no one will dare to reproach me for this objective statement of the theoretical facts that I am doing something indecent. :-) )

|  В истории философии существует две противоположные традиции в понимании того, как возникает (деятельный) субъект, а, значит, как возникает свобода.

   |  There are two opposing traditions in understanding how an active subject arises, and, hence, how freedom arises in the history of philosophy.

|  Первая традиция восходит к Декарту, философам Просвещения и Канту.

   |  The first tradition arises to Descartes, philosophers of the Enlightenment and Kant.

|  Вторая – к Спинозе, Гегелю, Марксу и в огромной мере, хотя и не без противоречий, к Ильенкову.

   |  The second – to Spinoza, Hegel, Marx and in enormous extent, although not without controversy, to Ilienkov.

|  Для Декарта – телесный мир, включая растения, животных и живые человеческие тела, не субъектен, а значит не свободен. Все живые существа, не исключая и человека (в пределах его элементарных психических или лучше сказать поведенческих функций), суть не свободные субъекты, но несвободные от внешней причинности механические автоматы. Вход в мир субъектности и свободы осуществляется посредством магического акта соединения механического тела с бестелесной душой. Опосредствующим механизмом такого соединения выступает пресловутая шишковидная железа.

   |  For Descartes - the corporeal world, including plants, animals and living human bodies, is not subjective, and therefore not free. All living beings, not excluding man (within his elementary mental or better to say behavioral functions), are not free subjects, but not free from external causality mechanical automata. Entrance to the world of subjectness and freedom is carried out by means of a magical act of uniting a mechanical body with an incorporeal soul. The notorious pineal gland plays a role of mediator of this magical act.

|  Спиноза блистательно решил эту задачу предложив философию, последовательно понимающую мышление (психику) как деятельность. Но философия Спинозы оказалась настолько революционной, настолько бесконечно опередила свое время, что его главная идея так и не была понята ни его современниками, ни философией Просвещения.  Более века спустя после смерти Спинозы некоторые философы, и прежде всего Гёте и Гегель догадывались о величайшем значении идей Спинозы, но по-настоящему идеи старого нидерландского шлифовальщика линз оказались освоены лишь марксистской теоретической мыслью. Впрочем, идея деятельности опять, теперь уже в марксовском изложении оказалась слишком твердым орешком для современников теперь уже самого Маркса, так что идею пришлось заново переоткрывать еще сто лет спустя Э.В.Ильенкову и А.Н. Леонтьеву.  Чтобы вновь, как 300 и 100 лет назад не быть понятой и оцененной современники.

   |  Spinoza brilliantly solved this problem by proposing a philosophy which consistently understands the thinking (psyche) as an object oriented activity. But the philosophy of Spinoza has been so revolutionary, so infinitely ahead of his time, that his main idea was not understood neither by his contemporaries nor by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. More than a century after the death of Spinoza, a number of philosophers, especially Hegel and Goethe knew about the great significance of Spinozism, but really the ideas of the Old  Dutch grinder of lenses were mastered only by a Marxist theoretical thought. However, the idea of activities again, now in the Marxian narrative turned out to be too hard nut for the contemporaries now of Marx himself, so the idea had to be re-reinvent a hundred years later by E. V. Ilyenkov and A. N. Leontiev. To reappear, like 300 and 100 years ago, not to be understood and appreciated by contemporaries.

|  А вот философы Просвещения, не стали особенно задерживаться на вопросе о том, как бестелесный дух свободы, он же душа или психика, он же человеческое сознание способен превратить до того несвободное животное в свободного гражданина, но усмотрели возможность такого перехода в «Общественном договоре», в социальности как таковой, в отношениях между людьми. В каком-то смысле они поступили вполне разумно, не дожидаясь того, пока наука и философия решат вопрос о том как свобода в принципе возможна, ибо острые социальные проблемы, которые потрясали Европу в Новое время, ставя мыслителей лицом к лицу пред неотложными вопросами, не спрашивая их, готовы ли они к тому, чтобы дать на них до конца рациональный ответ. Иначе говоря, он принимали способность человека понимать и действовать в соответствии со своим пониманием, то есть, факт возможности человеческой свободы, за нечто реальное , оставив вопрос о том, как такая реальность в принципе возможна теоретикам будущего. В этом была их сила, ибо они немедленно приступили к размышлениям над социальной проблематикой. Но в этом же была и их слабость, ибо, не осилив спи
нозизм, они в понимании человеческой истории обрекли себя на произвольные фантазии – на идею конвенционализма (=на семиотическую логику), на идею так называемого "Общественного договора".

   |  But the Enlightenment philosophers, did not particularly dwell on the question of how a disembodied spirit of freedom, aka the soul or psyche, aka a human consciousness is able to turn unfree and enslaved to affects and passions animal into free citizen, but saw the possibility of such a transition in the "Social contract", in sociality as such, in the relations between people. In a sense, they did the sensible thing. They did not wait until science and philosophy will solve the question - how freedom is possible in principle. Sharp class battles shook Europe in modern times, placing thinkers face to face with the most difficult and urgency issues, not interested in whether they are ready to give to them is entirely rational answers. In other words, they took the person's ability to understand and act in accordance with his understanding, that is, the fact of the possibility of human freedom, for something real, leaving the question of how such a reality is possible in principle, for the theorists of the future. This was their strength, for they immediately began to reflect on pressing social issues. But this was also their weakness, because, not to get Spinozism, they doomed themselves in the understanding of human history to an arbitrary imagination – the idea of conventionalism (=semiotic logic), the idea of the so-called "Social contract".

|  Классики политический экономии сделали первый шаг к тому, чтобы выводить природу человеческого общества не из произвольных знаков и соглашений, но из способа, каким человек производит свою материальную жизнь, из его чувственно-предметной деятельности. Но окончательно это направление мысли завершил Маркс, сомкнув спинозизм с пониманием общества, пониманием истории. В работах Маркса и Энгельса впервые после Анаксагора и Спинозы мышление перестало быть неким волшебным качеством бестелесного духа, а на самом деле, социальной привилегией правящих, имущих классов и их чиновничье-профессорской обслуги, но атрибутом реальной, практической деятельности, труда. Впервые человеку в пропахшей потом рабочей спецовке был выписан пропуск в стерильно чистый храм мышления, впервые не идеологов, то есть специалистов по оболваниванию масс в интересах правящих классов, а людей труда признали мыслящими существами.

   |  Classics of political economy have taken the first step to deduce the nature of human society not from the arbitrary signs and agreements, but from the way people produce their material life, from their sensual object-oriented activity. But finally this direction of thought was completed by Marx, combining Spinozism with the understanding of society, understanding of history. In the works of Marx and Engels for the first time since Anaxagoras and Spinoza thinking has ceased to be a kind of magic of a disembodied spirit, being in reality, the social privilege of the ruling, propertied classes and their bureaucratic-professorial staff, but an attribute of the real, practical activities, of labor and laborers. For the first time man in sweaty overalls working was issued a pass into the sterile clean temple of thinking, for the first time, not ideologues, that is, specialists in the fooling of the masses in the interests of the ruling classes but the working people recognized as thinking beings.


End of the third portion :-)

To be continued...


     четверг, 14 сентября 2017 20:17 mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> писал(а):
  There is a great deal packed into your messages, Sasha. I believe you need to make a set of files of them and collect them into a book of some sort. It would be an interesting use of XMCA as a medium of collective activity.
I had a thought on one of the many things you wrote:
In other words, it is not enough to point out the most abstract category, it is necessary to show how to move from it to the level of the most developed, concrete.

I believe that the methodological value of the formative experiments that in the US are called "Designed Experiments" are an example of what you write. They are "putting theory into practice" so that practice becomes the ongoing testing/theorizing about what's next.
In this sense, Davydov's work seems to be a positive example. Or are you criticizing it for something it leaves out?

On Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 7:43 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no> wrote:

Alexander, we do not want you to sleep less than required, but we (at least myself) are expectant to get the third volume of the series. This (the delivery by chapters) is an interesting genre within xmca :) I think many of us will in a better position to comment, add or respond when you mark some conclusion point. I am sure many have already felt they had more than one thing to add or respond so far.

______________________________ __________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd. edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd. edu> on behalf of Alexander Surmava <alexander.surmava@yahoo.com>
Sent: 13 September 2017 03:03
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Отв:  Re: Отв: Re: Unit of Analysis

For those XMCA-ers who read Russian -  I put into the FB’s group of Cultural and Historical Psychology a Russian copy (sometimes the original,sometimes my translation into Russian from English). https://www.facebook.com/ groups/564569043580624/ permalink/1437218002982386/So Icontinue: It seems tome that the completely sincere attempt of Vygotsky to bring Marxism intopsychology, ended in total failure, unless, of course, the fact that he leftus a scientific school, or probably better to say scientific collective withinthe framework of which the task of elaboration of true scientific (=Мarxist) materialistic psychology wascontinued by A.N.Leontiev and indirectly by E.V.Ilyenkov, who advanced insolving this problem much further. As forVygotsky, he left us with many profound methodological speculations and ... failedin realization of the most of them. Thus, he seduced us with the absolutelycorrect reasoning about the need to ascend from the abstract to the concrete,from the germ cell to the developed organic whole, but at the same time he failedin the search of such germ cell.  With enthusiasmhe tried to talk about the so-called higher mental functions, about the sensesand perezhivaniyah, and at the same time he did not notice that he forgot togive a theoretical definition of the most abstract level of his theory - thedefinition of lower or elementary mental functions. For a person who put psychologists to thetask of creating their own psychological “Das Kapital”, this was a mistake of acosmic scale. To admit it is like trying to determine the nature of surplusvalue and profit, forgetting to first give the definition and detailed analysisof goods and value as such, or accidentally forget to write the first volume of“Das Kapital” and start research right from the second and the third one. Suchforgetfulness can give as its inevitable result only a vulgar theory. Let'ssay, as Proudhon's "theory", which explained the capitalistexploitation ... by theft. Indiscussions about the "germ" of the human psyche, t
ons of
  paper werewritten (or many PC keyboards were broken :-) ) and many theorists call this orthat psychological phenomenon as such an embryo. Meanwhile, to point out thisor that phenomenon as a germ cell of human consciousness, means to do less thana half of the matter. It is necessary to analyze it in its contradictorydefinitions and show how all higher forms of human activity are born out of themovement of these contradictions. In other words, it is not enough to point outthe most abstract category, it is necessary to show how to move from it to thelevel of the most developed, concrete. Andbesides, if we want to build a Marxist psychology and not the next ideologicalfake, candidature for the role of "germ cells" must be real,practical relation, not something only subjectively experienced, not somethingjust imaginary. Thus so called perezhivanie is obviously not suited for thisrole just for this reason. It is obvious that the perezhivanie as apsychological phenomenon is something much more developed, much more concretethan what can be seen as the most abstract, the most elementary brick in thebuilding of psychological “Das Kapital”. The huge step in the right direction with his attemptto identify and analyze the elementary psychological relation was made byAlexey Leontiev in his "Problems of development of psyche". In fact, he tried tocorrect Vygotsky's gross error - his attempt to start from the end, from the analysis not of the most abstract, but of the most concrete, directly fromhigher mental functions.

And on this I will again stop today, for on the clock is already 4 o'clock inthe morning :-)

     вторник, 12 сентября 2017 3:27 Alexander Surmava <alexander.surmava@yahoo.com> писал(а):

Some reflections on the category of activity

Theoretical understanding of the category of activity (deyatelnosti) in the philosophy of the Modern Era goes back to Spinoza. The one whose cause of action belongs to himself is active. Active is the one who acts (according the form of it's object). It is not the one who moves according to an external impulse or program of a trajectory. Conversely, the one whose movement or conditions are determined by any external cause, external influence or stimulus is passive. By the way, the concept of the Subject as it is is inseparable from the concept of activity. There where is no object oriented activity, there is no subject, no psychy, no life.The Stimulus-Reaction relationship is entirely passive, at least from the reacting side. Therefore, the S->R relationship is an attribute of the mechanism and is incompatible with living subjectivity. Thus, a computer responsive to clicks of a mouse or keyboard in accordance with its program is not a subject, but an entirely mechanical automaton, a passive obedient to our will object of OUR activity, our subjectivity. The same can be said about the Cartesian animals and the primitive, non-cultured man in the representation of the old philosophy (and to a large extent of Vygotsky and paradoxically even Ilyenkov).The question arises - how, according to the old philosophers, emerges a subject?Descartes' responce is - magically. Through the magical joining of the disembodied soul to the mechanical body. Through the addition of a purposeful free will to the causal mechanical stimulus-reactive automaton. Obviously, from the point of view of rational, scientific logic, Descartes' solution is a dead end.Meanwhile, the problem, in this formulation, simply has no solution. Basically.Starting from passive, simply reacting body we will never come to free subject.  (In parentheses, recall that stimulus-reactive logic in any scientific understanding of both physiology and psychology is almost the only logic up to the present day.)
The next attempt to solve the problem belongs to the philosophers of the Enlightenment. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant, who completed this line of thought, belive that the transition from the unfree, animal-like existence of people to freedom and reason take place through a social contract. In other words, according to these philosphers freedom is achieved through a specific convention, agreement. Let's notice, that over a natural question, how mechanical, in fact automatic machine is capable to make such a somersault of a mortal they did not reflect. According to their teachings, it is necessary to distinguish between the natural state of a person in which he is similar to an animal, and his cultural state in which he becomes above his unfree natural affects and bodily impulses and gains freedom. You probably noticed that actually this is the formulation of the so-called cultural-historical theory of Vygotsky and this logic is equally far from both the real culture, and from real history, and from Marxism.Although, it can not be denied that Vygotsky had good philosophical grounds for his theory. Rousseau and Kant are the greatest thinkers in the history of culture.
Let me finish this now, for it's already 3:00 a.m. in Moscow :-)If the topic seems interesting, I'll continue it tomorrow.Sasha

        понедельник, 11 сентября 2017 23:38 Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no> писал(а):

  Just to add some precedents, Dewey had taken the transactional view more or less at the same time as Vygotsky was lecturing on perezhivanie, when he formulated the notion of 'an experience' as unity of doing and undergoing, in his Art as Experience (1932-1934), and explicitly names his approach as *transactional* (vs self-factional and interactional) in Dewey and Bentley's Knowing and the Known, 1949.

Marx and Engels too speak to the 'passible' nature of 'real experience', in their "The Holy Family", when critiquing "Critical Criticism" and speculative construction for going against "everything living, everything which is immediate, every sensuous experience, any and every *real* experience, the 'Whence' and 'Whither' of which one never *knows* beforehand".


______________________________ __________
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd. edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd. edu> on behalf of mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu>
Sent: 11 September 2017 21:14
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Отв: Re: Unit of Analysis


your comment about everything being relative and the citation from Spinoza
seem to fit pretty well with what Michael commented upon.

For those of us trained as experimental psychologists, Spinoza was not a
central feature of the curriculum (a well known cognitive psychologist
colleague of mind outspokenly banned philosophy from consideration similar
to Pavlov's ban on use of psychological vocabulary to talk about
conditional reflexes in dogs.

Consequently, your remarks are very valuable in helping to understand the
issues at stake at stake among the cognoscenti vis a vis the particular
topic at hand.


On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 12:08 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

I agree with your suggestions. I also consider actions to be transactions
and happy to open the way to "feelings" instead of "sensations," which in
English would accomplish the job.

But its a terrible problem that we live life forward and understand it
backwards. Leads to all sorts of tangles in the tread of life.


On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 11:40 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth <
wolffmichael.roth@gmail.com> wrote:

if you add, "the capacity to be affected," then you open up theoretical
possibilities for affect (emotion).

I have recently suggested to think not in terms of actions but
transactions. So, for example, listening to someone else requires (a)
actively attending and (b) receiving what you (in most cases) not already
know. That is, while actively attending to someone else speak, you do not
know (grasp) what is affecting you until you realize that you are hurt
(insulted etc).

Anyway, you cannot reduce this to activity or passivity, because there are
two movements, a going (attending) and a coming (receiving), efferent and
afferent... So you are thinking in terms of transactions, the kind that
would get if you take seriously perezhivanie as the unity/identity of
person and environment.


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
<https://www.sensepublishers. com/catalogs/bookseries/new- dir
ections-in-mathematics-and- science-education/the- mathematics

On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 11:18 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

Aha! So we are not talking about a passive neonate. Whew.

Passibility is a new word for me, Michael. The OED's first two entries
appear to incompass both Ivan and your usage:

1. Chiefly *Theol.* The quality of being passible; capacity for
or sensation.
2. Passiveness; inaction; sloth. *Obs.* *rare*.
To me, the addition of the word sensation to suffering broadens its

Recently a Russian colleague suggested to me that Spinoza's use of the
passion would best be translated as perezhivanie. Certainly it bears a
relationship to the concept of perezhivanie as that term is used by


On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 10:49 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth <
wolffmichael.roth@gmail.com> wrote:

Ivan, the word passive has some unfortunate connotation. The term
passibility--the capacity to suffer--seems to come with a range of
affordances (e.g., see my book *Passibility*).


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
<https://www.sensepublishers. com/catalogs/bookseries/new-
directions-in-mathematics-and- science-education/the-

On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 10:37 AM, Ivan Uemlianin <ivan@llaisdy.com>
Dear Sasha

Passive as in driven by the passions. Isn't that how Spinoza would
characterise animals and infants?


festina lente

On 11 Sep 2017, at 18:05, Alexandre Sourmava <avramus@gmail.com>
Dear Ivan.

To say that "that the neo-nate is not active at all, but passive,
that therefore neo-nate behaviour is not activity" means to say that
nate is not alive creature, but mechanic agregate of dead parts.
And I
not sure that idea about passiveness of animals or neo-nate fallows
Spinoza :-).

     扭抉扶快忱快抖抆扶我抗, 11 扼快扶找攸忌把攸 2017 18:07 Andy Blunden <

Yes, I think a further elaboration of this idea would lead
to an examination of needs and activity and sensuousness in
connection with needs and their development in connection
with activity.


------------------------------ ------------------------------
Andy Blunden
http://www.ethicalpolitics. org/ablunden/index.htm
On 12/09/2017 1:01 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:

Thanks Andy, the sense of 'visceral' is much more nuanced
in your text, yes, and quite different from what one could
grasp from the previous e-mail. And I now follow your
elaboration on micro- and macro-unit much better, so
thanks for that. I was hoping, however, that the
elaboration would lead to some acknowledgement of the role
of needs, real needs, as key to what the word 'visceral'
was suggesting here. I was thinking that rather than a
'grasping', we gain more track by talking of an orienting,
which is how I read Marx and Engels, when Marx talks about
the significance of 'revolutionary', 'practical-critical'
activity, the fundamental fact of a need and its
connections to its production and satisfaction.


------------------------------ ------------------------------
*From:* Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
*Sent:* 09 September 2017 03:30
*To:* Alfredo Jornet Gil; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
*Subject:* Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis

Yes, it is tough discussing these topics by email. All the
issues you raise are treated in
http://www.ethicalpolitics. org/ablunden/pdfs/Goethe-

I am *not* dividing the world into 'immediate, bodily,
and sensuous' and 'mediated, disembodied, and a-sensuous'.
The whole point is to begin by *not* dividing. By contrast
for example, Newton explained natural processes (very
successfully!) by describing a number of "forces"; a force
is an example of something which is not visceral or
sensuous (and also not discrete so it can't be a 'unit').
The "expression" of a force can be visceral (think of the
effect of gravity) but gravity itself is an invention
needed to make a theory of physics work (like God's Will)
but has no content other than its expression. People got
by without it for millennia. This is not to say it does
not have a sound basis in material reality. But it is
abstract, in the sense that it exists only within the
framework of a theory, and cannot therefore provide a
starting point or foundation for a theory. To claim that a
force exists is to reify an abstraction from a form of
movement (constant acceleration between two bodies).
Goethe called his method "delicate empiricism" but this is
something quite different from the kind of empiricism
which uncritically accepts theory-laden perceptions,
discovers patterns in these perceptions and then reifies
these patterns in forces and such abstractions.

If you don't know about climatology then you can't guess
the unit of analysis. Marx took from 1843 to about 1858 to
determine a unit of analysis for economics. Vygotsky took
from about 1924 to 1931 to determine a unit of analysis
for intellect. And both these characters studied their
field obsessively during that interval. This is why I
insist that the unit of analysis is a *visceral concept*
unifying a series of phenomena, something which gets to
the heart of a process, and which therefore comes only
through prolonged study, not something which is generated
by some formula with a moment's reflection.

Each unit is the foundation of an entire science. But both
Marx's Capital and Vygotsky's T&S identify a micro-unit
but quickly move on to the real phenomenon of interest -
capital and concepts respectively. But capital (which
makes its appearance in chapter 4) cannot be understood
without having first identified the real substance of
value in the commodity. The rest of the book then proceeds
on the basis of this unit, capital (i.e., a unit of
capital, a firm). To ignore capital is to depict bourgeois
society as a society of simple commodity exchange among
equals - a total fiction. Likewise, Vygotsky's real aim it
to elucidate the nature and development of concepts. He
does not say it, and probably does not himself see it, but
"concept" is a macro-unit (or molar unit in ANL's term),
an aggregate of actions centred on a symbol or other
artefact. The whole point of introducing the cell into
biology was to understand the behaviour of *organisms*,
not for the sake of creating the science of cell biology,
though this was a side benefit of the discovery.


------------------------------ ------------------------------
Andy Blunden
http://www.ethicalpolitics. org/ablunden/index.htm
On 9/09/2017 5:31 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:

Andy, thanks for your clarification on the 'visceral'.
The way you describe it, though, suggests to me an
empiricist position that I know you do not ascribe to;
and so I'll take it that either I've missed the correct
reading, or that we are still developing language to talk
about this. In any case, I assume you do not mean that
whatever our object of study is, it is divided between
the visceral as the 'immediate, bodily, and sensuous' and
something else that, by implication, may have been said
to be 'mediated, disembodied, and a-sensuous' (you may as
well mean precisely this, I am not sure).

I do not know what the climatologist's unit of analysis
is when discussing hurricanes either, but I do think that
Hurricanes Irma, Jos谷, etc, are expressions of a system
in a very similar way that any psychological fact is a
expression of the society as part of which it occurs. I
was thinking that, if we assumed for a second that we
know what the unit for studying of hurricanes is (some
concrete relation between climate or environment and
hurricane), 'feeling' the hurricane could be thought of
in may ways, only some of which may be helpful to advance
our scientific understanding of human praxis. The way you
seemed to refer to this 'visceral' aspect, as 'immediate,
embodied, and sensous' would make things hard, because,
are we 'feeling' the hurricane, or the wind blowing our
roofs away? In fact, is it the wind at all, or the many
micro particles of soil and other matter that are
smashing our skin as the hurricane passes above us, too
big, too complex, to be 'felt' in any way that captures
it all? And so, if your object of study is to be 'felt',
I don't think the definition of 'immediate, embodied, and
sensuous' helps unless we mean it WITHOUT it being the
opposite to 'mediated, disembodied, and a-sensuous'.
That is, if we do not oppose the immediate to the
mediated in the sense just implied (visceral is immediate
vs. 'not-visceral' is mediated). So, I am arguing in
favour of the claim that we need to have this visceral
relation that you mention, but I do think that we require
a much more sophisticated definition of 'visceral' than
the one that the three words already mentioned allow
for. I do 'feel' that in most of his later works,
Vygotsky was very concerned on emphasising the unity of
intellect and affect as the most important problem for
psychology for precisely this reason.

I have also my reservations with the distinction that you
draw in your e-mail between micro-unit and macro-unit. If
the question is the production of awareness, of the
'experience of having a mind' that you are discussing
with Michael, then we have to find just one unit, not
two, not one micro and one macro. I am of course not
saying that one unit addresses all the problems one can
pose for psychology. But I do think that the very idea of
unit analysis implies that it constitutes your field of
inquiry for a particular problem (you've written about
this). You ask about Michael's mind, and Michael responds
that his mind is but one expression of a society.I would
add that whatever society is as a whole, it lives as
consciousness in and through each and every single one of
our consciousness; if so, the unit Vygotsky was
suggesting, the one denoting the unity of person and
situation, seems to me well suited; not a micro-unit that
is micro with respect to the macro-activity.

If you take the Spinozist position that 'a true idea must
agree with that of which it is the idea', and then agree
with Vygotsky that ideas are not intellect on the one
hand, and affect on the other, but a very special
relation (a unity) between the two, then we need a notion
of 'visceral and sensous' that is adequate to our 'idea'
or field of inquiry. We can then ask questions about the
affects of phenomena, of hurricanes, for example, as
Latour writes about the 'affects of capitalism'. And we
would do so without implying an opposition between
the feeling and the felt, but some production process
that accounts for both. Perezhivanie then, in my view, is
not so much about experience as it is about human
situations; historical events, which happen to have some
individual people having them as inherent part of their
being precisely that: historical events (a mindless or
totally unconscious event would not be historical).

I am no fun of frightening away people in the list with
too long posts like this one, but I think the issue is
complex and requires some elaboration. I hope xmca is
also appreciated for allowing going deep into questions
that otherwise seem to alway remain elusive.


------------------------------ ------------------------------
*From:* Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
*Sent:* 08 September 2017 04:11
*To:* Alfredo Jornet Gil; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
*Subject:* Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis

Alfredo, by "visceral" I mean it is something you know
through your immediate, bodily and sensuous interaction
with something. In this sense I am with Lakoff and
Johnson here (though not being American I don't see guns
as quite so fundamental to the human condition). Consider
what Marx did when began Capital not from the abstract
concept of "value" but from the action of exchanging
commodities . Commodity exchange is just one form of
value, but it is the most ancient, most visceral, most
"real" and most fundamental form of value - as Marx shows
in s. 3 of Chapter 1, v. I.

I have never studied climatology, Alfredo, to the extent
of grasping what their unit of analysis is.

In any social system, including classroom activity, the
micro-unit is an artefact-mediated action and the
macro-units are the activities. That is the basic CHAT
approach. But that is far from the whole picture isn't
it? What chronotope determines classroom activity - are
we training people to be productive workers or are we
participating in social movements or are we engaged in
transforming relations of domination in the classroom or
are we part of a centuries-old struggle to understand and
change the world? The action/activity just gives us one
range of insights, but we might analyse the classroom
from different perspectives.


------------------------------ ------------------------------
Andy Blunden
http://www.ethicalpolitics. org/ablunden/index.htm
https://andyblunden.academia. edu/research
On 8/09/2017 7:58 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil wrote:
I am very curious about what "visceral" means here (Andy), and
particularly how that relates to the 'interrelations' that David D.
mentioning, and that on the 'perspective of the researcher'.
I was thinking of the Hurricanes going on now as the
system, one that sustains category 5 hurricanes in *this*
that are called Irma, Jos谷, etc. How the 'visceral' relation may be
when the object is a physical system (a hurricane and the climate
that sustains it), and when it is a social system (e.g., a classroom
conflict and the system that sustains it).
______________________________ __________
From:xmca-l-bounces@mailman. ucsd.edu
edu>  on behalf of David Dirlam<modesofpractice@gmail. com>
Sent: 07 September 2017 19:41
To: Andy Blunden; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Unit of Analysis

The issues that have arisen in this discussion clarify the
what sort of entity a "unit" is. Both and Andy and Martin
importance of the observer. Anyone with some experience should
sense of it (Martin's point). But Andy added the notion that
basically to be able to agree reliably on examples of the unit
(worded like
the psychological researcher I am, but I'm sure Andy will
if I
missed his meaning).

We also need to address two other aspects of units--their
and the types of relations between them. What makes water not
but a compound, are the relations between the subunits (the
between the elements) as well as those with other molecules of
fast they travel relative to each other), which was David
So the analogy to activity is that it is like the molecule,
are like the elements. What is new to this discussion is that
must contain not only actions, but also relationships between
If we
move up to the biological realm, we find a great increase in
of the analogy. Bodies are made up of more than cells, and I'm
referring to entities like extracellular fluid. The
classification, and interrelations between cells and their
constituents all
help to make the unit so interesting to science. Likewise, the
of activities are more than actions. Yrjo's triangles
Also, we need to be able to identify an activity, classify
activities, and
discern the interrelations between them and their constituents.

I think that is getting us close to David Kellogg's aim of
the meaning of unit. But glad, like him, to read corrections.


On Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 10:08 PM, Andy Blunden<
Yes, but I think, Martin, that the unit of analysis we need to
aspire to
is *visceral* and sensuous. There are "everyday" concepts
abstract and saturated with ideology and received knowledge.
Marx's concept of capital is buying-in-order-to-sell, which is
"everyday" concept of capital at all, of course.


------------------------------ ------------------------------
Andy Blunden
http://www.ethicalpolitics. org/ablunden/index.htm
https://andyblunden.academia. edu/research

On 7/09/2017 8:48 AM, Martin John Packer wrote:

Isn*t a unit of analysis (a germ cell) a preliminary concept,
say an everyday concept, that permits one to grasp the
that is
to be studied in such a way that it can be elaborated, in the
course of
investigation, into an articulated and explicit scientific
just wondering


On Sep 6, 2017, at 5:15 PM, Greg Thompson<greg.a.thompson@

Not sure if others might feel this is an oversimplification
unit of
analysis, but I just came across this in Wortham and Kim's
the volume Discourse and Education and found it useful. The
of it
that the unit of analysis is the unit that "preserves the
essential features of the whole".

Here is their longer explanation:

"Marx (1867/1986) and Vygotsky (1934/1987) apply the concept
analysis" to social scientific problems. In their account,
approach to any phenomenon must find the right unit of
analysis -
preserves the essential features of the whole. In order to
water, a
scientist must not break the substance down below the level
individual H20 molecule. Water is made up of nothing but
oxygen, but studying hydrogen and oxygen separately will not
essential properties of water. Similarly, meaningful
a unit of analysis that includes aspects beyond phonology,
grammar, semantics, and mental representations. All of these
psychological factors play a role in linguistic
language use also involves social action in a context that
includes other
actors and socially significant regularities."

(entire chapter can be found on Research Gate at:

I thought that the water/H20 metaphor was a useful one for
unit of analysis.


Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
WEBSITE: greg.a.thompson.byu.edu
http://byu.academia.edu/ GregoryThompson

Ivan A. Uemlianin PhD

Ymchwil a Datblygu Technoleg Lleferydd
Speech Technology Research and Development


                        festina lente