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Re: [xmca] Classical German Philosophy

Actually, Andy, Leont'ev doesn't have triangles. I haven't found them. Also, Leont'ev is concerned with the object/motive and how emotion is a marker and regulator, and all of this is NOT picked up in Yrjö's work, but it is in the work of Klaus Holzkamp. The triangles are systemic---third-person perspectives on activity----whereas Leont'ev is about consciousness (check his book title), and the relation between individual and collective consciousness, and this is precisely the aspect that the Berlin Critical Psychologists around Holzkamp made their main issue. Ole Dreier and Morten Nissen in Denmark have been close to that group, too, as has Thomas Teo (York U, Toronto), who was a postdoc. I guess all of them could help out.
Cheers, Michael

On 2010-03-07, at 8:11 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:

I can't answer most of these questions Mike, but the "root model" is not a unit-of-analysis and no Urphaenomen. It simply doesn't qualify; it is an open-ended totality that is not given to the senses and is a compound of 11 concepts. It is the foundation for an abstract empirical research project with some marxist terminology thrown in.

I presume that Yrjo realised this at the time he wrote Expanding, because just when he's completed his review of units-of-analysis, he drops the term and introduces his "root model" and the "terms and conditions" he specifies for the "root model" have some characteristics of unit-of-analysis but mostly they are inventions of his own.

I repeat: I think it is a great book. A classic, but I would say, in a nutshell:

A N Leontyev was right in determining that Vygotsky had a problem in that he omitted from his unit of analysis the motivation for action. It remained "over the horizon" for Vygotsky. ANL was right in determining that an Activity Theory, and a concept of "an activity" (singular) was needed, but failed in extending LSV's methodology to solve this problem. So ANL left us a functionalist solution to the shortfalls in Vygotsky's theory. Yrjo (in my opinion) addressed a lot of the problems in ANL's theory, but continued his methodology. That's how I see it. I think most of the researchers on this list in one way or another seek to compensate for the limitations of LSV's unit; if they don't follow ANL, they usually use modern ideas like discourse theory, poststructuralism, etc.


mike cole wrote:
> Now darn, I thought the "root model" was a paraphrase of the idea of
> "genetically primary example" which I had (probably mistakenly!) associated with the idea of urphenomenon, from, well, maybe, some once upon a time German or other.
> All of this may be related to the question of what the term, development,
> refers to.
> For myself, I have been wondering a lot about the relationship between the terms learning and development in Yrjo's writing. Sometimes they seem to be different, sometimes the same. By contrast, its difficult to see how to make the distinction at all in a variety of approaches that go under the banner of "socio-cultural".
> Gets puzzlinger and puzzlinger, the further I go. Probably some vicious circle, sans spiral, despite time in the unit of analysis.
> :-(
> mike
> On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 6:25 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>    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."
>    Andy
>    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
>        Hegel!
>        mike
>        On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 4:23 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
>        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net> <mailto: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
>           known.
>           (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.
>           Andy
>           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.
>               Cheers,
>               Michael
>               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
>               activity"
>               (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?
>               mike
>               On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 2:50 AM, Andy Blunden
>        <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
>               <mailto: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 :
>                   http://www.marxists.org/subject/philosophy/german.htm
>                   where you can browse as you wish ...
>               _______________________________________________
>               xmca mailing list
>               xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>        <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>               http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>           --            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>           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>
>        <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>
>           http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>    --     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>    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>
>    http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca

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

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