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Re: [xmca] Classical German Philosophy(Ideal/practice)

Interesting shrapnel of the original thread!

During the practice there is indeed the "truth" of the activity, there is 
no disputing this.  But measuring the "truth" is a different matter.  In 
my mind what is the point of talking about social activity leading 
development if there aren't measurements?  I believe the answer to this 
goes back to LSV's "concept" that instruction/teaching & 
appropriation/learning have two different measures.

what do others think?

Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth@uvic.ca>
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
03/08/2010 09:19 AM
Please respond to "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"

        To:     lchcmike@gmail.com
        cc:     "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
        Subject:        Re: [xmca] Classical German Philosophy

Heidegger does so in Being and Time, in the section on the tool, and in 
the section on the way signs function. In these pages, Heidegger also 
points out that for the person using tools and producing something, the 
ultimate product and its use are important mediating moments in the 
awareness/consciousness of the producer. This is precisely what we later 
find in Leont'ev, and in the right-hand part of Yrjö's triangle, where you 
go from obect --> outcome, and the latter is going to be taken up again in 
this or another activity system. So perhaps Heidegger goes even further in 
not limiting himself to the orientation toward the outcome but goes right 
to the way in which future users incorporate this material thing (which 
could also be a written text) in their activity.

What matters to Heidegger is not how a tool, object. . . whatever looks to 
the detached theoretician, including a Hegelian, but to someone caught up 
in praxis, coping (this is H. Dreyfus' word in his reading of Being and 
Time, at least, he read the first half). 

For many on this list who find Heidegger hard to read, H. Dreyfus' reading 
Being-in-the-World: A Commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time is probably 
a very good introduction. Phil Agre in his early work at least bases a lot 
on his reading of Heidegger (via Dreyfus, I believe) (Agre, Computation 
and Human Experience) And I think David Chapman, too, was doing 
"Heideggerian AI"


On 2010-03-07, at 5:48 PM, mike cole wrote:

Right, mutual constitution. But the problem of saying everything about 
everything remains. Its kind of like Kenneth Burke who has a pentad as a 
basic unit of analysis for human activity (approximately), but carries out 
his analyses in terms of various

Can you give us references to the parts of Heidegger and Holtzkamp in 
English so that us non-German readers can get connected with what have 
written? The Leontiev reference was very helpful. There is so much to 

On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 9:57 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth@uvic.ca> 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 

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 

((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) 
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 
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), 
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 
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> wrote:

> If anyone is interested in exploring the German Idealists, and the roots 
> 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 ...
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