Re: sign/tools in interacting levls and forms of operation

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Thu Jun 16 2005 - 19:52:52 PDT

Hi Wolff-Michael,
Your last sentence "the mediating relationship in the activity system,
or for action, *cannot* be the same as that in the operation case" is
very intriguing. I have often thought about the differences in mediation
processes on different levels of organization of the activity systems.
But I don't know what is it concretely. Could you give some examples?
What would count as mediating relationships in an activity systems? What
for action and what in the case of an operation?
The whole discussion so far looks a little bit like the 8 blind men
describing an elephant (in an ancient fable, each man grabs a different
part of an elephant and relates his experience: Elephant is like a thin
rope, Elephant is like a large flat sheet, elephant is like a sturdy
tree, elephant is like a hose, etc. ). It seems to me that different
points about mediation through tools and signs/symbols are invoked, but
they are just different parts or aspects of the issue(s) that we are
To return to the differences and similarities between tools and signs, I
would like to ask one more question: can you elaborate on Buber's
distinction between I-You and I-It and its relevance to the sign - tool
relation. Or, what are the different kinds of language, or aspects of
language relative to the I-You and to the I-It? And where is the place
of the third relation You-It (like in persuasion)?

Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

> but perhaps i don't understand what you mean (or maybe we
> disagree?). habituation to an artifact, whether as an extension of
> the body (Bateson's cane for example) or otherwise, mediates
> consciousness whether it is at the level of operation in a
> smoothly functioning process-ontology or migrates up to an action
> should a challenge present itself.
> This is exactly where you are not taking into account Heidegger's
> analysis (Being and Time, pp. 76-83) of the sign, or Derrida's
> analysis of language. You are also not consistent with Buber's
> distinction between I-You and I-It, both of which involve language,
> but of different kind.
> the same holds for language of course. this is why, in many
> (though not all) ways, "native" or expert users, struggling with a
> complex social-emotional, information, or cognitive situation
> exhibit behaviors on a continuum with those of a second or foreign
> language learner. in an effort to regain self-regulation, the
> expert speaker regresses to earlier stages of development.
> This is a very in-the-head-kind of analysis. . . so that we really
> differ in the unit of analysis, which, in your case, cannot be
> activity but the brain case. This, too, is something I wanted to
> dispel in my *Talking Science*.
> Back to the above point, the mediating relationship in the activity
> system, or for action, *cannot* be the same as that in the operation
> case, and this is exactly the point Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Buber and
> others seem to make in my view.
> Michael

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jul 01 2005 - 01:00:07 PDT