Vygotsky explained the general idea that the fundamental character of
a science is determined by its choice of "unit of analysis." As we
know, his idea of "word meaning" as the unit of analysis for
linguistics was overtaken by A N Leontyev's proposal that the unit of
analysis of psychology should be a "system of activity."
These proposals were made specifically to overcome the problems of
psychology and linguistics in their day. As it happens, they are
parallel to Hegel's ideas more than a century earlier to overcome the
dualism of Western philosophy, the notorious "Cartesian dualism,"
which was founded on the individual as the unit of analysis,
proposing the individual as composed of two distinct substances, mind
and matter. Hegel's critique of Rousseau and Hobbes political theory
was the same. Hegel proposed to start with a whole system of activity
and trace how the distinct aspects of such systems of activity emerged
by way of differentiation out of that activity.
It is a mistake, I believe, to pose the methodological problem of
being that of the individual on one side, and society on the other.
This is a posing of the problem that has already accepted the
individual as the foundation. It sets up a binary: individual/society,
or mind/matter, which then has to be "bridged."
In fact (historically and phenotypically), the individual emerges by
way of *differentiation* from a subject (self-conscious system of
activity), that is a system of activity which always of course was a
system of activity of individuals, but not of individuals who were
conscious of themselves as individuals, "individualists" so to speak.
Understanding has to follow reality to some extent, and reconstruct
this process of differentiation.
To build a psychology by starting with Robinson Crusoes who then meet
their Fridays and establish social relations is to create a great deal
Does that help?
At 08:32 PM 31/10/2005 -0800, you wrote:
Your note below packs in a tight bundle a lot of ideas and
Could you please expand on why 1) the relevant structure of
individual makes the individual the unit of analysis; and, 2) why
is the wrong way to go to find a solution to the objectivist
ps I have not yet read your chapter on the subject. Will do so to
anticipation of your response.
----- Original Message -----
From: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, October 31, 2005 5:08 pm
Subject: Re: [xmca] subjectivity
> The problem is, IMHO, that once we define the relevant
> structure as
> inter-individual and intra-individual, we have moved away
> from the
> insights which have given the CHAT tradition its great
> strength. This
> posing of the problem makes the individual the basic unit of
> analysis and discounts the existence of mediation (i.e. the
> part of CHAT)
> at a fundamental level. Personally, I think this is the wrong
> way to
> go to find a solution to the objectivist tendencies in CHAT.
> At 08:11 PM 31/10/2005 +0000, bb wrote:
> Further, subjectivity is a continuum of inter-
> individual to
> intra-individual processes (thus allowing for in-the-head
> processes such as memory and attention, as well
> heads processes
> such as communication?), supporting the claim that "This
> approach therefore helps to ascertain the agentive
> of individual
> processes and of human subjectivity within a profoundly
> social, transactional, and object-related ontology of human
> Andy Blunden, on behalf of the Victorian Peace Network, Phone
> (+61) 03-9380 9435
> Alexander Surmava's Tour - September/October 2006
> 1. http://ethicalpolitics.org/alexander-surmava/index.htm
> 2. http://ethicalpolitics.org/alexander-surmava/index.htm
> xmca mailing list
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