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Re: [xmca] Classical German Philosophy

Engestrom's original book is a great book. I really enjoyed the critique of Mead, Popper and so on, and his stuff about mediation is just like the pre-Phenomenology Hegel (1803-5). And this is no accident because these triangles were passed down the line to us via Marx and Vygotsky.

The difference comes when you get to the Concept. Engestrom abandons "unit of analysis" in favour of "root model," though he certainly doesn't make any big fanfare about this departure. But it is faithfully recorded in "Expanding."

The Individual-Universal-Particular moments of a concept is a completely different thing from (for example) Norms, Tools and Division-of-Labour. Each of Norms, Tools and DoL can exist separately. It is true of course that a tool is not a tool until it is used in labour and there are many other such "mutual constitutions" going on in Engestrom's "root model," but in the end the root model is a collection of 11 different concepts. Hegel's is just one concept, a.k.a. "Unit of analysis." It is just impossible to think a concept without a word or artefact of some kind which is the focal point of the thought, instantiated in an individual and involved in some social practice (eg speaking and hearing, or reading and writing). This is more than "mutual constitution."


mike cole wrote:
Hell, Andy, I know nothing, so to speak of Hegel. But after Michael helps us focus in on what he finds valuable in Heidegger, we will be better educated. Note, re
"triangles within triangles"

You have to consider the expanded triangle, "genetically" in terms of its origins, and as a mutually constituted whole. Sounds a lot like your characterization of

On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 4:23 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Although many others played a role, it was Hegel who taught us how
    to finally overcome dichotomies and conceive things as a whole. In
    his anatomy of Mind, Hegel has two cross-cutting triangles, not just
    the usual series of triangles-within-triangles that are more widely

    (1) Hegel makes the concept the unit of a social formation, not the
    individual person, and expends a lot of heat and lots of
    triads-within-triads tracing how the forms of practice and their
    representation emerge, independently of the will and awareness of
    individuals. First create your concept, then people can think it.

    (2) The subject itself (still not an individual mind) has three
    "moments" Individual, Universal and Particular. The Universal is
    what we call "artefact" (well not necessarily a token, but what it
    is that makes the artefact what it is, the whole class of things).
    The Particular are the social practices (forms of practice,
    institutions and their instantiation) in which the Universal is (as
    Michael says) *constituted*. The Individual is an actual existent
    thing or person which implements the actvity. As CEOs like to say
    "an organisation is only as good as it people."

    Hegel knew, like everyone else knows, that only individual human
    beings, with skulls, think. There is no such thing (except
    metaphorically) as "collective consciousness" - only shared
    artefacts and social practices/activities and a lot of individuals
    thinking and acting in concert.

    So I make no apology for talking about individuals, or asserting
    that without individual people and material tokens of artefacts and
    practices, there would be no mind.


    PS. I know nothing of Heidegger.

    Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

        Hi Mike,
        the issue I want to highlight is the mutual constitution. It
        makes no sense to talk about tools as if they could be isolated
        and talked about independent of the concrete practical
        object/motive oriented activity. You cannot talk about
        subjectivity/identity independent of activity, and yet people do
        it all of the time. Take, for example, all those scholars who
        use interviews to get at "identity," and do not make thematic
        the fact that the interview is the activity, and its
        object/motive is the production of the interview/text. Whether
        the text has anything to do with the activity of a teacher at
        school, or a student at school, never (hardly every) is asked.

        The same, we observe scholars who are looking for and writing
        about the tools, as if the nature of the tool could be
        identified independent of the activity---

        This is precisely the point Heidegger makes, and – sorry Andy,
        you are NOT right on this point in your commentary – Heidegger
        says precisely in many instances what Leont'ev also says, and
        Heidegger did it a few years before Leont'ev.

        ((And again, sorry Andy, Heidegger works out precisely the issue
        of consciousness in activity, and the relation of the subject to
        the tool, which is at the heart of Leont'ev))

        Mike, what we are getting to, then, is cognition separate from
        life, cognition that makes no sense because it is not connected
        to the senses in sensual practical activity.
        Precisely when we substantialize the things that are part of the
        activity --- for Leont'ev, only those things are relevant that
        are relevant to the subject, and this point is brought out by
        Klaus Holzkamp ---- not the kind of stuff outside researchers
        bring to the situation when they take the triangle as the grid
        through which they look at situations, at activities. For the
        subject it is totally irrelevant what the researcher sees and
        thinks, and this is another form of breaking things out of an
        integrated and dynamic whole.


        On 2010-03-07, at 8:28 AM, mike cole wrote:

        Thanks Andy, and Michael for the section ref to Leontiev.

        Could I repeat a second part of my question which appears to
        have gotten
        lost in the multiple threads?

        Michael wrote: "you have been breaking out individual
        (constitutive) moments
        of activity and treated them as elements, much like others take
        the YE
        triangle and then break out the object, the subject, the
        division of labor,
        the tools..."

        I asked about how one talks about how one breaks out "moments of
        (that is how I phrase the matter when I am thoughtful enough to
        do so), and,
        having highlighted them, given the impression that they are
        elements in a static sense. What sort of language does one use
        to be able,
        for example, to talk about a particular division of labor,
        without at least
        deep backgrounding, say, the tools being used or the web of
        social rules
        that are recruited in this instance?

        Even to say that "everything is connected to everything else"
        implies some
        notion of "things/processes" that are connected. How to avoid
        misunderstanding and distinguish it from disagreement?

        On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 2:50 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

            If anyone is interested in exploring the German Idealists,
            and the roots of
            Activity Theory and Cultural Psychology in their writings, I
            have put
            together a page :
            where you can browse as you wish ...

        xmca mailing list
        xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
    Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
    Ilyenkov $20 ea

    xmca mailing list
    xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea

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