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[Xmca-l] Re: understanding & Leontyev's activities

Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful chapter, Huw, which I hadn't read since laying it out for printing 4 years ago! I have made that chapter generally available on line here: http://www.marxists.org/archive/leontev/works/1945/childs-psyche.pdf

I think the point you make is correct enough, but the word "only" (or "merely") is omitted. As I understand it, Leontyev's point it that at a certain point the child does understand that doing the homework is necessary in order to become later a useful member of society, but he *only* "understands" it. It does not have the psychological force of, for example, just being allowed to go out and play because he has completed his homework - the "really effective motive". So this was not intended as an explanation of "understanding" but rather is about the psychological force which the real motive of the activity has for the child at that stage of their development. But I still think you are making a correct point, i.e., your "understanding" of a task is the psychological force it has for you as appropriate to your social situation. Loeontyev is then talking about how the child may make a transition from "merely understanding the reaon for doing homework, to that motive becoming the really effective motive for the child's study, i.e., they are effectively motivated to learn to become a more productive member of society by mastering the material being studied. (We would not put it that way in our times, though, I think)

Maybe Peg Griffin, who helped us a lot back in May 2011 with this same material, can help?


Huw Lloyd wrote:
It seems to me that the meanings of understanding were not quite brought to
the fore (p.366, development of mind), footnote 2.

"Does the art of upbringing and education not consist in general in
creating a proper combination of 'understandable' and 'really effective'
motives, and at the same time in knowing how, in good time, to attach
greater significance to the successful result of activity so as to ensure a
transition to a higher type of the real motives governing the individual's

Whereby, it seems to me, that to have an under-standing is, effectively, to
appreciate a situation from a social standing, whereby the symbolic
rationale starts to take effect.

Or perhaps this was a bit too plum for the translator?


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