[xmca] Help needed proofreading Leontyev

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at mira.net>
Date: Sun Dec 14 2008 - 04:34:24 PST

Is there anyone who actually owns a copy of Leontyev's 1978
book who would be prepared to proofread this PDF of it for me?


This actually include the shorter 1977 version as a kind of
introduction as well.


Steve Gabosch wrote:
> Thank you, Haydi. For me, your warm sentiments about seeking truth and
> looking for it far and wide apply to everyone on xmca, each of us doing
> so in our own way. These are among the things that keep me coming back
> - the serious seeking, and the many ways.
> Highest regards,
> - Steve
> ps I found all the places that your Leontiev quotes appear in Activity,
> Consciousness and Personality in your second section, 2., but I am not
> as sure from where you are referencing the first quotes in the first
> section, 1. Are the quotes in 1. all from Zaporozhets Pavlov’s
> Clinical Environments [Pavlovskie klinicheskie sredy], 1954, vol. 1, p.
> 275?]
> On Dec 13, 2008, at 9:32 AM, Haydi Zulfei wrote:
>> Dear Steve,
>> Days off the list , I didn't learn about your kind words . There are
>> many points to discuss . I see you are one of the rarest who try to
>> seek truth no matter where and from which side it comes from ,
>> Vygotksy , Leontiev , Luria , Uznadze , the Kharkov School , Engestrom
>> , Van Der Veer , Valsiner , the once Soviet Times of the Heavy Hands ,
>> Orient , Occident , Marx , Trotsky , Lenin , Bourdieu , Parsons ,
>> whatever and wherever , Of course , truth seems to be a variable
>> rather than a constant ; however , fanatically condeming anyone to be
>> a dogmatist is itself a Dogma . I wouldn't like to ignore etiquette ;
>> however , this filterization of the Plain Text of the xmca is my
>> greatest obstacle when I want to quote from the read materials . Hence
>> my deepest apologies for the attachment . It's in support of Leontiev
>> being non-reductionist .
>> Best
>> Haydi
>> --- On Fri, 12/12/08, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com> wrote:
>> From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko
>> article: whose sociology???
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>> Date: Friday, December 12, 2008, 1:31 AM
>> Followed you perfectly fine until the very end of your post, David.
>> Three
>> questions. When you get a chance.
>> One, why do the blocks count as only one stimulus? The blocks have a
>> number of
>> characteristics that could serve as the solution parameters. These
>> multiple
>> possibilities are what make the blocks a puzzle and tricky even for an
>> adult to
>> solve. (Although, in theory, a person who understands the solution
>> principle
>> could, without looking at a single of the nonsense words, correctly
>> divide the
>> blocks into the four solution, and then select one block in each group to
>> determine the corresponding name. In my opinion, this puzzle is an
>> offbeat IQ
>> test-style puzzle that sort of measures how quickly a very specific
>> school-style
>> kind of training required to solve the puzzle kicks in.)
>> Two, how are the definite geometric shapes, bright, clear colors,
>> definite
>> relative sizes, and definite heights of the blocks (not to mention other
>> possible characteristics) not "signs"? We accept coloring, shape,
>> size etc. as sign-designations for many other kinds of objects (for
>> example,
>> money, poker chips). Why not these blocks?
>> Three, why do you say Leontiev's approach in Problems of the
>> Development of
>> Mind is "reductionist"? He very clearly does not reduce human
>> activity to animal activity, for example, in Part II. But I've only read
>> Part II, so I'm not in too good a position to defend Part I or Part III.
>> Perhaps you have seen a problem with reductionism in this volume that
>> you could
>> share.
>> - Steve
>> On Dec 11, 2008, at 3:14 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
>>> Thinking and Speech Chapter Five, which Paula and I have been re-reading
>> and re-rereading with such enjoyment, is really the size of a small
>> book, and
>> LSV organizes it that way. In his usual style, he tells us there are
>> two ways to
>> study concepts, and neither one works.
>>> The first way is the use of definitions, something like this:
>>> Uncle David: What’s a cyborg?
>>> Luc (eleven years old): Well, it’s like the Terminator.
>>> Andre (thirteen): It’s like a man who is part machine.
>>> Uncle David: Oh, if I have an artificial heart and an artificial
>>> lung, am
>> I a cyborg?
>>> Andre: Well, it has to be like an arm or a leg or something like that.
>>> Uncle David: If I have an artificial toe am I a cyborg?
>>> Andre: Yes.
>>> Luc: No.
>>> Uncle David: What about an artificial tooth?
>>> (from a conversation I had last summer)
>>> The second way is the use of practical activity, the
>> "synthetic-genetic" method of Ach and Rimat. Here's some data from
>> a "model lesson" I just observed which I think illustrate this
>> approach pretty well:
>>> Teacher: Here’s a HOUSE. Here’s a FARM. What’s this?
>>> Ss: Dog!
>>> Teacher: Good. Shall we put it in the house or in the farm?
>>> Ss: House!
>>> (Teacher continues with pig, horse, goldfish, cat, chicken)
>>> Teacher: Now, why do these go in the house and those go in the farm?
>>> S1: These are clean and those are dirty.
>>> S2: These are cute and those are ugly.
>>> S3 (in Korean): These are money-eating animals and those are
>>> money-making
>> animals.
>>> Then, in his usual style, LSV presents what at first glance appears
>>> to be
>> a synthesis: the method of Ach (Nazi psychologist who thought that
>> fealty to the
>> Fuhrer was intrinsic to the German mind).
>>> The method of Ach uses BOTH the word (the method of definition) AND
>> practical activity (the genetic-synthetic method). The subjects are
>> taught
>> words, and then they use them in different tasks (I imagine these to be
>> something like those of Tomasello, e.g. "put the gatsun on top of the
>> fal")
>>> But remember, this is Vygotsky! He presents two wrong methods, then
>>> (drum
>> roll!) he produces a synthesis...and shows that we have merely
>> combined the
>> weaknesses of BOTH methods!
>>> When I FIRST read this, I thought he was just saying that Ach had it (if
>> you'll pardon my Vygotskyism) ass backwards. Instead of beginning with
>> the
>> word (at least, the sound of teh word if not the meaning) and ending
>> with the
>> child handling sensuous material (well, blocks, actually), we need to
>> begin with
>> the child handling blocks and end up with word meanings.
>>> But actually his criticism's a lot deeper than that. He sees that Ach
>> has just added practical activity in the form of various tasks onto a
>> method
>> that is, at bottom, nothing more than the old method of definitions.
>> AND he
>> takes Ach and Rimat to task for their use of "determining tendency" to
>> define an activity.
>>> Here LSV's criticism is identical to Andy's. To say that human
>> labor is reducible, without remainder, to the human desire to obtain
>> objects is
>> an absurd simplification; it leaves out the whole way in which this
>> process is
>> transformed by tools, signs, and other people until the original
>> desires are
>> practically unrecognizeable.
>>> This makes MUCH more sense to me. First of all, it explains why LSV
>>> is not
>> satisfied with just turning Ach's method around, so that it resembles the
>> SECOND wrong method instead of resemblign the first. Secondly, it
>> explains why,
>> right there in Chapter Five, LSV insists on something called the
>> functional
>> method of double stimulation.
>>> Why functional? Because the whole experiment is determined not by any
>> imagined desire, but by the exercise of a particular function, the
>> function of
>> discriminating, generalizing, conceptualizing. Why double?
>> Because...there are
>> two types of "stimuli" and they are absolutely different.
>>> How different? Well, one is a sign (the words "cev",
>> "mur", "bik" and "lag") and one is a tool (the
>> blocks). This alone shows that there is a key difference, for
>> Vygotsky, between
>> tool-based object related activity and sign-based signifying activity.
>> This by
>> itself shows that Leontiev's reductionist approach in "Problems of the
>> Development of Mind" is a wrong turn.
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>> --- On Thu, 12/11/08, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com> wrote:
>>> From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] more questions about Sawchuk and Stetsenko article:
>> whose sociology???
>>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>> <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>> Date: Thursday, December 11, 2008, 3:23 AM
>>> Andy, this is a good question you ask - what did ANL think was
>> "an"
>>> activity. I am not suggesting we keep up this inquiry into Leontiev for
>> now,
>>> but hopefully these questions about his work and what he meant will come
>> up on
>>> xmca again, and we can continue.
>>> In the meantime, the section linked below, "3.5. The General
>> Structure of
>>> Activity" of AC&P seems helpful toward grasping what ANL would
>> see as
>>> "an" activity. I quote one passage here, there are numerous
>> others.
>>> In this passage, ANL is saying that a given process can be viewed as
>> either an
>>> "activity" or as a "chain of actions," the former as
>> viewed
>>> in relation to motive, the second in relation to purpose. So, according
>> to ANL,
>>> "an" activity is, in part, a purposeful chain of events. The
>> whole
>>> section seems helpful.
>>> - Steve
>>> http://www.marxists.org/archive/leontev/works/1978/ch3.htm
>>> quote is from
>>> 3.5. The General Structure of Activity
>>> "Correspondingly, actions are not special “units” that are
>> included in
>>> the structure of activity. Human activity does not exist except in the
>> form of
>>> action or a chain of actions. For example, work activity exists in work
>> actions,
>>> school activity in school actions, social activity in actions (acts) of
>> society,
>>> etc. If the actions that constitute activity are mentally subtracted
>>> from
>> it,
>>> then absolutely nothing will be left of activity. This can be
>>> expressed in
>>> another way: When a concrete process is taking place before us, external
>> or
>>> internal, then from the point of view of its relation to motive, it
>> appears as
>>> human activity, but when it is subordinated to purpose, then it
>>> appears as
>> an
>>> action or accumulation of a chain of actions."
>>> <end>
>>> On Dec 11, 2008, at 2:05 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>> Steve, ANL never spells out what would be *an* activity, i.e., the
>> unit of
>>> analysis of activity, but this one from AC&P comes close:
>>>> “A basic or, as is sometimes said, a constituting characteristic of
>>> activity is its objectivity. Properly, the concept of its object is
>> already
>>> implicitly contained in the very concept of activity. The expression
>>> ‘objectless activity’ is devoid of any meaning. Activity may seem
>>> objectless, but scientific investigation of activity necessarily
>>> requires
>>> discovering its object. Thus, the object of activity is twofold:
>>> first, in
>> its
>>> independent existence as subordinating to itself and transforming the
>> activity
>>> of the subject; second, as an image of the object, as a product of its
>> property
>>> of psychological reflection that is realized as an activity of the
>>> subject
>> and
>>> cannot exist otherwise.”
>>>> As I understand it, ANL is using the word "subject" in the
>>> Kantian sense, i.e., an individual organism, so activities are objective
>> with
>>> respect to the individual. He seems to say that the activity has a
>>> double
>>> existence, both the objective existence in which it is *given* to the
>>> individual, and in the form of the image by which the individual
>>> organism
>>> orients its actions, i.e., as its motive.
>>>> But prior to that, every activity has its object, the object is the
>>> defining characteristic of "an" activity. So if we want to know
>> about
>>> the Mafia, MiraMax, MacDonald's or the NBL we have to begin by asking
>>> "what's if for?" or "what is the object of this
>>> activity?"
>>>> Now, this would make perfect since in the USSR of the Stalin era,
>> every
>>> branch of the administered society is "for" something. Perhaps
>> ANL did
>>> not mean for us to interpret "an activity" this way. He actually
>> never
>>> clarifies what "an" activity is, and specifically rejects the
>> idea of
>>> a "unit of analysis."
>>>> For the purposes od psychology, I think this is al fine, but for
>>> sociology, ... if we put this approach alongside Parsons, I'd say they
>> are
>>> both varieties of Functionalism, but Parsons looks more
>>> sophisticated. Let
>> alone
>>> Foucault, or Giddens, Weber, Bourdieu, ... Engstrom of course deals with
>> this
>>> because of the process of repeated mediation produces activities
>>> which are
>>> connected only remotely with human needs.
>>>> BTW, Hegel (1800s) and Thomas Carlyle (1830s) has both worked out the
>> idea
>>> of production of "tools" as the root of human culture, but these
>>> writers wrote before the publication of "Origins of Species"
>> (1859).
>>> Engels' "Ape to Man" (1876) was published a mere 17 years
>> after
>>> Darwin's book. Remarkable. But that was 100 years before ANL's
>> A,C&P
>>> (1878).
>>>> Andy
>>>> Steve Gabosch wrote:
>>>>> Andy wrote:
>>>>>> The idea of the individual simply chasing after the object of
>>> their desires and activities being a manifestation of a human need, is
>> laughably
>>> uncritical and simplistic. That's why I say it can't be taken
>> seriously
>>> by sociologists.
>>>>> Andy, as time goes on, if you run across any passages where
>> Leontiev
>>> actually argues along these lines, please point them out if you can.
>>>>> As for finding Leontiev in print, all that I have ever seen myself
>> is
>>> what is on MIA (some of which is copied on LCHC), plus a picture .pdf of
>> the
>>> middle part of Problems of the Development of Mind, about a 150 pages
>> worth,
>>> that we used in an xmca class a few years ago.
>>>>> Haydi has stressed that we need to get Problems of the Development
>> of
>>> Mind online, and I totally agree. All Leontiev should be in print, in
>> English,
>>> and on line. And maybe with new translations if possible.
>>>>> In my opinion, Problems of the Development of Mind, more than
>> anything
>>> else of Leontiev's that I have seen, is foundational for CHAT. It not
>> only
>>> offers an in depth analysis of the evolution of activity from its
>>> earliest
>>> animal origins, but it also deals at a high level on what is new and
>> different
>>> about human activity, which ushers in an entirely new dimension and new
>> kind of
>>> activity, social production. Activity becomes an entirely new entity
>>> that
>> is
>>> now no longer a product of biological evolution, but a product of social
>>> evolution. This transformation from biological activity to social
>> activity is
>>> rivaled, in my opinion, only by the transformation of the inorganic
>>> to the
>>> organic, the origin of life itself.
>>>>> The main point I am making here is that understanding the animal
>>> aspects, origins, and evolution of activity is necessary to fully
>> understand the
>>> human and social content of human activity, and how human activity
>>> itself
>> has
>>> evolved (which makes it an important question for sociology and not just
>>> psychology). Leontiev to my knowledge was the first to seriously
>>> explore
>> how
>>> the structure, function and evolution of activity in animals laid the
>> basis for
>>> human activity. As the passages I sent demonstrate, Leontiev's work
>> on
>>> activity doesn't make full sense without taking into account his
>> approach to
>>> theorizing animal activity - that activity itself is what all animals
>>> must
>> do
>>> to survive - and which humans do a very special and unique way.
>>>>> The main theme in Part II of PDM is his tracing of animal psychic
>>> evolution from the pre-psychic (simple stimulus and response,
>> irritability), to
>>> the sensory (detecting properties of objects, e.g. insects), the
>> perceptual
>>> (detecting objects, e.g. amphibians), the relational (detecting
>>> relations
>>> between objects, higher mammals) and the meaningful (detecting the
>>> social
>>> meanings of properties, objects and relations). I think his application
>> of the
>>> concept of **meaning** in this line of development is extremely
>>> important,
>> very
>>> Vygotskian, and possibly one of Leontiev's most important insights
>> into the
>>> nature of human activity.
>>>>> Losing sight his work on the evolutionary side of activity and its
>>> origins in animal biology could be a step toward losing sight of the
>>> specifically human aspects of human activity. That could be a
>>> consequence
>> of
>>> folding together and not distinguishing the biological from the social
>> side,
>>> thereby "compressing" the biological into the social.
>>>>> The distinction between animalness and humanness has always been a
>>> core issue in the materialist view of human evolution, and in social
>> science as
>>> a whole. A common mistake many make is to look only to biological
>>> characteristics (such as brain size, bipedalism, hand, language
>>> capacity)
>> for
>>> the answer. Leontiev's focus on activity adds new insight not only on
>> the
>>> essential difference between humans and animals (social production), but
>> also
>>> differences and similarities between animals themselves over the eons.
>>>>> The distinction Leontiev makes between upper mammals and humans,
>> the
>>> processing of the relations between objects on one hand, versus
>>> processing
>> the
>>> meanings of objects on the other, was made by Vygotsky in one of his
>> discussions
>>> about Kohler's work with apes. This concept, born in first generation
>> CHAT,
>>> became a cornerstone of one of the most important contributions of
>>> second
>>> generation CHAT.
>>>>> Who else besides Leontiev in CHAT has written on these matters
>> over
>>> the years? I don't actually know. It seems that this is a side of
>>> that needs more development - more evaluation and critique of
>> Leontiev's
>>> work in this area, more expansion on how the evolution of animal
>>> activity
>> and
>>> psychic processes is foundational to and interwoven in human social
>> evolution
>>> and transformation, etc.
>>>>> ~ Steve
>>>>> On Dec 10, 2008, at 9:02 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>>>>> Steve Gabosch wrote:
>>>>>>> ...
>>>>>>> A central idea I think Leontiev is trying to get at here
>> is
>>> that needs do not just have a subjective content. ...
>>>>>> Of course. I found ANL useful in getting my head around this
>>> topic, but I do find all I need about the objecvtivity of needs in the
>> Young
>>> Hegel and the Young Marx, without the problems I find in ANL. ANL did
>>> not
>>> discover that needs are objective after all!
>>>>>>> ... Three, I always worry if scanned text posted on the
>>> internet is exactly correct
>>>>>> Unfortuntely these texts on MIA are the only copies of ANL
>> that I
>>> have. His books are unavailable new or secondhand in Australia and
>>> even my
>>> University library does not stock him. Any help in proofreading his
>> writings on
>>> MIA would be appreciated. Seriously!
>>>>>>> A possible problem, by the way, of substituting the
>> concept of
>>> "project" for "activity" is this could sever the
>>> zoopsychological side of activity theory. Only humans have projects,
>>> but
>> both
>>> humans and animals engage in activity. Interestingly, the zoological
>> aspects of
>>> cultural-historical activity theory rarely get discussed in third
>> generation
>>> CHAT literature. ... compressing the biological up into the social
>>> is as
>>> erroneous as reducing the social to the biological.
>>>>>> Well, for me that is the advantage not a problem. Operations
>> and
>>> actions, it seems to me, capture all that is necessary for non-human
>> psychology;
>>> it is the fact that human motives usually have their origin in
>>> cutlural-historical projects which is what needs to be understood.
>>>>>> If we have an arrow coming from the outside world into the
>>> individual organism marked: "motive < -object- > need" or
>>> something, then that's fine, but we can't leave it like that. For
>>> example, as a trade union and party organiser I will tell you that the
>> motive
>>> for people joining in an activity (party, union, strike, campaign, ...)
>> may be
>>> very diverse and is usually not the "Aims" emblazoned on the
>> union or
>>> party banner. EG people join parties for reasons of friendship, join
>> unions for
>>> narrow self-interest or for party reasons as well as for solidarity. The
>> idea of
>>> the individual simply chasing after the object of their desires and
>> activities
>>> being a manifestation of a human need, is laughably uncritical and
>> simplistic.
>>> That's why I say it can't be taken seriously by sociologists.
>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>>> andy.blunden
>>>> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
>>>> http://www.marxists.org/admin/books/index.htm
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Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 
Skype andy.blunden
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