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[Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities

Perhaps some confusion also stems from the fact that there exists "human
activity" in a general sense and specific "human activities".

   Secondly, Marx discusses the materialist premisses of human activity
from a "needs"-perspective in the German Ideology (History: Fundamental
Conditions), but immediately emphasizes that these "vital", primary needs
in turn create secondary and tertiary needs. Although we can discern
certain "vital" needs for the biological reproduction of our species, our
activity as social creatures cannot be reduced to these needs. There are
needs which are external and a priori to the existence of a collaborative
project that is constituted to satisfy these needs (a teleological
motivation), but from the (development of) the activity of collaboration
itself emerge new needs, goals, and motivations that push the rationale of
the project beyond its original scope and meaning (an immanent


Quoting Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>:
Well Huw, I didn't mean to introduce a diversion by taking computers as an example. I could have taken a stone tool just as well. It seems, Huw, that in responding to my challenge you have made a start at developing a theory of human needs. Viz., that there are certain "vital" needs, and all other "needs" are merely means to meet these vital needs. I don't imagine that I am going to be able to refute the claims for a theory of human needs in a single message, it is after simply the claim for the existence of human nature - a concept with a very long history! (Aristotle built his theory of biology on the basis of a theory of needs.) But "vital" human needs are very elastic and other than in very general terms are quite indefinable. But as we change our world, what you need to live in that world are very real and very specific, and those needs arise directly out of participation in that life-world. Which of the thousand different ways that there are to meet the "vital" need of, say, nutrition, becomes a real need for a person, is determined by the cultural context of a person's life and their activity.

So I prefer Activity Theory, in which needs are the product of activity, while, as conceived in any given activity, they provide the motive for that activity.


Huw Lloyd wrote: > On 9 August 2013 14:57, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

I don't have any doubt that needs are produced. 25 years ago no-one needed
    a computer. Now it seems that everyone needs them. I don't see you r
    objection to this, Huw?

Well, if you consider needs as primal (vital) such things as computers and
   the languages people speak are simply ways to meet such needs.

From a Marxian social perspective computing is interesting in this respect
   in that the needs met by the first generation workers is qualitatively
   different to the management saturated situation we have now.  i.e. on the
   cusp of technological practice workers are more free from the tyranny of