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Re: [xmca] activity (was concepts)

On 19 April 2011 17:00, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> Huw et al --
> I am getting really confused by the course of this conversation. I am
> sitting here typing, experiencing, reflecting, feeling my aching back, the
> murmer of the crowd
> on the street outside.
> These are all activities a la the present conversation? Are we crossing
> everyday and technical/scientific/discourse-specific concepts?
Hi Mike,

The response I provided was to the question "How do I conceive of activity"
and, indirectly, "what on earth is your conception of epistemology?"

As noted, cybernetics comes with baggage.  "Systems theory" is perhaps more
harmonious, although potentially less rigorous once it slides into systems
thinking etc.

The main point is self-regulating systems and activity as this
regulation/prediction etc.  Variety is also appropriate to social modelling
too, I believe.  I personally see plenty of overlap between Vygotskian
theory, the text given below "*it mediates, regulates, and controls
relations*", and other forms holistic thinking.  There's plenty of other
good aspects about it, though I'm more interested in other viable approaches
than defending a point of view etc.

Was there anything else that I may have missed in the context of your
original question, Mike?


> In the glossary that Martin sent yesterday Tolman offered the following
> defintion of activity (within a philosophical/scientific tradition that
> calls itself activity theory ..........).
> *-------------------
> *
> *Activity (German: Tätigkeit; Russian deyatel'nost')
> *
> *"Activity is a concept connoting the function of the individual in his
> interaction with the surroundings. Psychic activity is a specific relation
> of a living body to its environment; it mediates, regulates, and controls
> relations between the organism and the environment. Psychic activity is
> impelled by need, aimed at the object which can satisfy this need, and
> effected by the system of actions. It presumes that the body has psyche, but
> at the same time constitutes the basic cause of its development. The
> elementary form of psychic activity should be distinguished from its highest
> form. The former is typical of animals and consists in the instinctive
> adaptation of the body to its environment. The latter, which stems from the
> former and transforms it, is exclusively an attribute of man. The
> specifically distinctive feature of the highest form of activity is man's
> deliberate effort to transform his environment. The activity of man has a
> social complexion and is determined by the social conditions of life.
> Psychic activity of man may be external or internal. The former consists of
> specifically human operations with existing objects effected by the movement
> of arms, hands, fingers, and legs. The latter proceeds in the mind, by means
> of 'mental actions' wherein man operates not with existing objects and not
> through physical movements, but with their dynamic images. Internal activity
> plans external activity and realises itself through it. Division of labour
> causes a differentiation between theoretical and practical forms of activity
> of man. According to the range of man's and society's needs, there also
> arises the range of concrete types of activity, each of which usually
> embraces elements of external and internal, practical and theoretical
> activity" (Frolov, 1984: 8).*
> ----------------
> I am not quoting this to endorse the statement, made  by a Soviet
> philosopher almost three decades ago in a different world, and for sure I
> think the ideas of Bateson and others mentioned are interesting, relevant,
> and important. But to
> equate experience and activity, to get into arguments about cybernetics and
> closed/open systems and so on seems either a great example of Vygotskian
> chaining or perilously close to it.
> mike
> On Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 5:20 AM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>wrote:
>> > Huw--
>>> >
>>> > What notion of activity are you using when you write below:
>>> >
>>> > "The omission I'm noticing here is that knowing and experiencing is an
>>> > activity" ?
>>> >
>>> > (I include the immediately preceeding paragraph for context)
>>> > mike
>>> Mental activity.  Experiencing is not passive, it is met half way and is
>>> actively interpreted (when I get round to it, Husserl is the place to go for
>>> this, I believe).
>>> [...]
>> For clarity, with respect to further interpretations lifted from the other
>> thread, I am conceiving of this activity cybernetically, i.e. as part of the
>> process of self-regulation.  That is, our experience and our knowing is,
>> amongst other things, mediated by our concepts (or the semiotic units
>> derived from their employment) as part of our regulatory processes which we
>> call activity.
>> I hope that helps!
>> Huw
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