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[Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities

Huw, Leontyev is quite specific that needs are the product of activity. One of the distinctions he makes between human life and non-human life is that human beings produce their own needs, historically, as a community, whereas for an animal its needs are given. So we have a kind of duplicated world: needs and the means of their satisfaction (labour). Like stimulus and response: which comes first? or do we need a new
concept which avoids this duplication of the world.

There are different interpretations of Leontyev; as I read him, the motive (let's use this word rather than "need") is objective for a person, that is the motive of the activity, as opposed to the actions of an individual person who participates in the activity, who may have other motives. Even though the motive of the activity is produced culturally and historically, it is in the world, objective. It has always been a problem for me what on Earth can be an objective need (other than those elusive "vital" needs). Like, you work in a gun factory; your motive is to earn a wage so as to look after your family. But you know the motive of the work is to produce guns. But why does the community need guns? Where did that come from? And does the factory owner really care whether he is selling guns or toys, so long as he makes a profit. Others may do better justice to Leontyev's argument
here, but I have trouble with this.

Peg: yes, Leontyev starts off with single-cell creatures and works his way up. There *is* a big leap though, with tasks that are completed by multiple actions, potentially by different individuals, and most imporantly, the production of tools, means which become themselves needs. Tracing mind from its origins in non-human life is OK, but I have trouble with ANL's concept of "subject", which could be a microbe
equally as a human.


Huw Lloyd wrote:

On 10 August 2013 15:12, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    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.

'fraid not.  Simply asking the question.
    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.

But these "real needs" are known needs. Which Leontyev calls motives, does he not?
    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.

So it seems that we do not know whether needs are produced, or whether they are exposed. Did Leontyev make such a distinction?



    Huw Lloyd wrote:

        On 9 August 2013 14:57, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
        <mailto: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
        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

*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts