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Arievitch on Arievitch on Galperin i tak dalie (reposting)
It is easy for me to copy from Word to my e-mail program (Eudora) so here
are Igor's comments as a regular message.
At 02:45 PM 7/21/2004 -0700, Mike wrote:
I am posting igor's commentaries as a an attachment to this note.
If anyone has difficulty with attachment, please let me know and
I will find a way to post it as a regular message.
Many thanks to Mike, who invited me to comment on the discussion of my
article in MCA.
I very much enjoyed the discussion and think that everyone had a point in
it. Galperin?s writings are always thought provocative, often too
sometimes quite vague, and unfortunately, in some English translations,
almost incomprehensible ? like in the fragment about attention quoted by
Bill (Of course, there is nothing like almost Freudian ?Ego? in the
original: It is the ?subject?, the individual who mentally monitors and
controls the content and the flow of the activity.)
To me, the central issue in the discussion was the one raised by
??I worry about the idea that ?"Understanding
human action in any of its guises, including "mental" or
following objective rules of the outer world,? because I am not sure of
it means. The ?outer world? is experienced as a culturally mediated
that mediation is polysemic in the extreme. So what does ?following
objective rules? mean? Presumably no one wants a copy theory.?
A very important point, but I don?t think that Galperin?s reasoning
a copy theory. I do agree, though, that there is a challenge here for
to avoid such an interpretation. My vision is very similar to
?Part of the solution may be seeing mental actions not as identical to
physical, but as emergent ?internal? realities ? following the operative
objective laws of nature and activity that spawned them ? that indeed
?appropriate? and ?think,? and then act back upon these ?external?
as the person(s) involved interprets and reacts to them.?
In fact, part of Galperin?s project was to construct something different
from a copy theory. In dissatisfaction with Janet?s, Leontiev?s and
views that the structure of mental activity copies the structure of
activity, he sought to explain the specifics of the structure of mental
activity through its function in the individual?s life. Actually, I see
whole Galperin?s stepwise model of mental actions formation as an attempt
illustrate how actions get transformed (appropriated!) and therefore
the property to guide the individual?s activity in novel
Generally, it resonated with James? functional stance (?A reasoning
can reach its ends by paths on which the light of previous experience has
never shone.?) but with the idea of cultural-historical content and
structure of the activity in mind.
It is also similar to the question posed by Bob (in relation to Mabel?s
thought that "the inner world steps forward and builds an
"ideal" (an idea
which is born in
this "inner") to pursue??):
?How indeed do we explain this "step forward"? Perhaps this
stepping forward involves an important element of creativity in the way
that we deal with the world.?
In no way am I sure that Galperin completely succeeded in resolving those
questions but I do think that the rich conceptual framework he developed
As to ?following the objective laws?, I again find myself in agreement
?In Mike?s example of thinking about his grandchildren, their father,
4th fireworks, Chicago, London, etc., his thinking is clearly
object-related. Distances between places, locations in time, certain
activities and specific people are key features of the thinking process
describes?. All thinking is object-related, and therefore,
part of the objective world and in compliance with objective laws.?
Also, I tend to think that Galperin?s reference to the ?objective laws?
not in the sense that those are constant or immutable, but more in the
in which Piaget referred to logic (in the introductory passage of ?The
Psychology of Intellect?) as being able, by contrast to physiology, to
explain why two plus two is four. To be sure, even the sun and seemingly
solid rocks are changing, and in human relations two plus two can often
five or anything else, but every human practice and culture more or less
?knows? (or thinks that it knows) how things work right now, and this
knowledge is also an ?objective reality? for an individual within that
culture (even when the individual is fantasizing about some
For a more substantive discussion of these issues, I refer those
to my article (with Van der Veer) ?The Role of Non-Automatic Processes in
Activity Regulation? in the May 2004 issue of History of Psychology.
Galperin?s ideas are presented there by comparing them with those of
Groos, Claparede, Stern, James, Dewey, Pavlov, Vygotsky, and Leontiev.
Galperin?s stepwise model itself is discussed in detail in my upcoming
article (with Haenen) ?Connecting Sociocultural Theory and Educational
Practice? in Educational Psychologist.
Igor M. Arievitch, Professor
Department of Education
The College of Staten Island, CUNY
2800 Victory Boulevard (3S-215)
Staten Island, NY 10314