Re: [xmca] " other "

From: Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei who-is-at>
Date: Tue Oct 21 2008 - 14:09:33 PDT

Dear Steve,
As to " other " and therefrom to " communication " , " culturology " etc. , there have been and are very many who transcend it up to a point of non-transgression . I'm , like you , just interested in figuring out what the priority and precedence is . The following might be of interest in this respect :
Quote by Lazarev from Davydov :
{In the course of many years of experimental and theoretical study of the
problems of activity in the framework of Vygotsky’s scientific school,
we arrived at the following conclusions. First, the origin of activity in
the individual cannot be understood without uncovering its *primordial* --my emphasis--
connections with communication and with semiotic-symbolic systems.
Consequently, activity, communication, dialogue, and semiotic-symbolic
systems need to be studied together. Second, such study requires a
multidisciplinary approach, the combined efforts of various specialists.
Third, investigation of the development of activity in ontogenesis can
lead to positive results only in parallel with study of its development in
*the history of culture*--my emphasis-- . One or another kind of activity cannot be studied
outside of its cultural-historical context. [5, pp. 505–6]
These propositions point to a radical reconstruction of the foundations
of the psychological theory of activity.}
V.V.Davydov was a great theoretician as well as a practitioner ; yet I don't know if one is allowed to ask such a question : " Were they to communicate because of the needs (activity) or were they to go for the needs because of their requirement of communication ? "
Now , from A.N.Leontiev's A,C,P  :

[Such a description of the process of perception appears to be incomplete, however. In order for this process to take place, the object must appear before a man precisely as registering the psychic content of activity, that is, its theoretical side. Isolated activity, however, cannot be understood apart from social ties or from the contacts that inevitably bind those participating in work. Entering into contact with each other, people also formulate a language that serves to represent the objects, the means, and the very process of work itself. The acts of signifying are in essence nothing but acts of isolating the theoretical side of objects, and the acquisition by individuals of language is the acquisition of their signification in the form of perception. “Language,” note Marx and Engels, “is practical, existing for other people as well as for me alone, a real consciousness. ...”
This position, however, can by no means be interpreted as meaning that consciousness has its origin in language. Language is not its demiurge, but a form of its existence. Moreover, words, the language signs, are not simply replacements for things, their conditional substitutes. Behind philological meanings is hidden social practice, activity transformed and crystallized in them; only in the process of this activity is objective reality revealed to man.
Of course, the development of consciousness in every individual does not repeat the social- historical process of the formation of consciousness. Neither does a conscious reflection of the world spring up in the individual as a result of a direct projection on his brain of the ideas and concepts worked out by preceding generations. His consciousness too is a product of his activity in an object world. In this activity, mediated by contact with other people, is realized the process of the individual’s acquisition (Aneignung) of the spiritual riches accumulated by the human race (Menschenguttung) and embodied in an objective, sensible form. Thus, the objective existence of human activity itself (Marx says industry, explaining that up to this time work - that is, industry - was the whole of human activity) appears as “human psychology appearing sensually before us ”
Thus, this discovery of Marx, radical for psychological theory, consists in the idea that consciousness is not a manifestation of some kind of mystical capability of the human brain to generate a “light of consciousness” under the influence of things impinging on it - stimuli - but a product of those special - that is, social - relations into which people enter and which are realized only by means of their brains, their organs of feeling, and their organs of action. The processes evoked by these relations also lead to the acceptance of objects in the form of their subjective images in the head of man, in the form of consciousness.]

[Marxism especially emphasizes the primordial tie of thought with practical activity. “The production of ideas,” we read in German Ideology, “originally was directly incorporated into material activity and into material contacts of people in the language of real life. The formation of ideas, thought and spiritual contacts of people appear here still as a direct result of material relationships of people.” Engels expressed this in a more general way he wrote, “A more real and closer basis for human thought appears to be the way man changes nature, and not nature alone as such. ...”
These positions have a fundamental significance not only for the theory of cognition but also for the psychology of thought. They not only destroy the naive, naturalistic, and idealistic views of thought that were entertained in the old psychology but formulate a basis for adequate consideration of the numerous scientific facts and concepts that appeared as a result of the psychological study of thought processes in the last decades.]

[In addition, the expression in language of what is initially an external object form of cognitive activity formulates a condition that allows a subsequent carrying out of its separate processes on the plane of speech alone. Inasmuch as speech loses its communicative function here and fulfills only a function of cognition, then its pronouncing, sound facet is gradually reduced and corresponding processes take on all the more a character of internal processes carried out for themselves “in the mind.” Between the initial conditions and the practical carrying out of the action, there is now an ever longer and longer chain of internal processes of thought, comparison, analysis, etc., which finally assume relative independence and the capacity to be separated from practical activity.
Such separation of thought from practical activity takes place historically, however, not through itself and not only through the force of its own logic of development, but is engendered by a division of labor that results in mental activity and practical, material activity being assigned to different people. When private ownership of means of production develops and society is differentiated into antagonistic social classes, the activity of thought is tom from physical work and contrasted with practical activity. It now seems completely independent from the latter, which has a different source and a different nature. Such representations of thought activity are also found in the idealistic theory of thought.]
If only Andy Blunden helped us with a full copy of L's " Problem of the Development of the Mind "
Appologies if this reaches you scrambled .

--- On Fri, 10/17/08, Steve Gabosch <> wrote:

From: Steve Gabosch <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] PoTAYto and PoTAHto
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Date: Friday, October 17, 2008, 11:50 AM

Michael, I certainly agree with your latter point about individualism,
which is indeed more entrenched in the US than anywhere. And I agree
that there is a distrust of socialist and and similar collectivist-
oriented ideologies especially by those who subscribe to an
individualist outlook.

But I am guessing about your first points. Here are some of the terms
and phrases you use that I don't think I understand as you mean them:

radical passivity
absolutely active
absolutely passive
the Other
radically passive elements that come with language, with
understanding, etc.

Your help would be appreciated!
- Steve

On Oct 14, 2008, at 7:22 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

> Steve,
> it is not just that we strive but that we are part of worldly and
> world-generating events that we have no control over; but this is
> only the effect of the radical passivity that characterizes our
> experience----even if David does not want to admit to it. In the
> very process of writing these words, I am absolutely active writing
> the sentence to become what it will be and absolutely passive with
> respect to the language I realize in writing, for it is a language
> that has come to me from the other, which I use for the other, and
> which therefore returns to the other (pace Derrida). With respect to
> the functioning of the language, the meaning that straddles the
> writer of these lines with the Other more generally, and many other
> things are totally out of my control while they are within. We
> cannot think agency, the fact of writing, without also attending to
> the radically passive elements that come with language, with
> understanding, etc.
> "I . . . I . . . I" there is an ideology that I can do all, that
> I want I can lift the earth, become a creator of myself . . .. It is
> an ideology (in the positive sense of the word) that is especially
> characteristic of the US (where any hint of assisting the collective
> is stamped and branded as "socialism")
> Michael
> On 14-Oct-08, at 6:13 AM, Steve Gabosch wrote:
> The solution in my mind is that we need to strive to be collective
> in our approach - while individually we sway, in groups we stand a
> better chance against the winds and storms that buffet us in all
> directions. One of course needs to choose the right group that
> corresponds to their core sense of the world, and the right group
> for one's group to work within, perhaps ultimately entailing
> numerous nested groups, (not all of our choice) and then changing
> groups as needed (when possible), but even within such complex
> situations, we still need to rely on others to help us guide
> ourselves. This means needing to cultivate a strong sense of
> cooperation and teamwork that is mixed with straightforward (while
> hopefully tactful) criticism, with the goal of mutual growth and
> empowerment. (That sounds a bit starry-eyed, I admit, but what the
> hell - cynicism is too easy).

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