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[Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities
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- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2013 00:48:13 +1000
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I think your example and your way of explaining is perfect, Peg, for the
purposes of psychology and education. The "socio-cultural
motive/activity is ready." It is just this objectivist stance in
relation to the societal activities which has always been my main
problem with Leontyev. I know, of course, that you and Mike and the
others involved in 5thD designed activities which were well aligned to
widely held aims for the children's development, but where did they come
from? Speaking generally, what is the dynamic of the activities we see
around us? When surveying social and cultural life in general it is
obviously not sufficient to say "Mike and Peg designed these activities"
any more than it was sufficient to say that the Politburo decided the
targets for social production.
So it seems to me that Greg's main problem remains unsolved in your
approach, Peg. What do we mean by the "motive" of the activity? *Whose*
Peg Griffin wrote:
I like the idea of a "well-motivated argument" as used in classical
and contemporary logic. So I say stick to motivated.
It works so nicely with the distinction between "merely understood"
and "really effective" -- and the transition as merely understood
motive becomes really effective. The subject may engage in the
actions that are motivated by two different activity systems with two
different motives -- but say the second is merely understood by the
subject and the first is really effective for the subject. When the
human conflict-ing (Luria) mash-up happens and the person lapses into
a mosaically related but contradictory action -- poof -- the merely
understood is now the motive!
So the child you and Leontyev describe doing homework is first really
effectively motivated by play with adult rules of priority/timing etc.
but when that child scrunches up his homework paper and throws it in
the waste basket and starts all over -- poof-- the really effective
motive/activity falls apart and the merely understood socio-cultural
motive/activity is ready and willing and takes up the slack. Having
alluded to both Luria and Leontyev, I now bring in the Beatles -- it's
a long and winding road. Not a one-time enlightenment! But praxis
When we at LCHC, ages ago, were running the after-school school we
called "Field College" (pun and polysemy intended), a funding program
officer (Marge Martus) commented that she hadn't seen a single child
off task in two hours. And believe me they were not school or adult
governed children! It was because Field College was strewn with
motives that virtually begged for children to engage but also to
transition from really effective to merely understood and hence to
"grow" into a new activity. It would be, I told Marge, like being in
a rainstorm and trying to avoid the raindrops if a child were
off-all-the available operating tasks!
We had "center table" rituals and "fifth dimension" constitutions that
exposed the merely understood motives. And we had participant
structures, tasks, procedures, a lot of bells and whistles that fit in
dual activity systems/motives, some combonation of which elicited the
child's voluntary engagement in a really effective way.
*From:* Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
*To:* "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
*Sent:* Monday, August 19, 2013 10:44 PM
*Subject:* [Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities
perhaps we could try some alternative words to "motivation"?
What about "ideal" or "concept"? The ideal or concept of a project
defines the norms which characterise the activity, and give us the
best go at making sense of the "motivation of an activity". I say "the
best go" because "motivation" seems to me to be a word which is
applicable only to individual persons. Leontyev used the word "motive"
for what defined an activity in a way that is ambiguous. It can be, as
in Manfred Holodynski's interpretation, the end which is being served
by the immediate goals of the actions making up the activity, in the
subjective sense that a person is going to the window (goal) because
they want give a speech (motive), but also in the objective sense, for
example, that an arms factory is producing guns because the community
needs guns. In this latter sense, the motive of "producing guns for
the community" is an "only understood motive," and what motivates the
factory worker (sets her in motion) is the need to earn a wage to
raise their family - that is the "really effective motive." But the
concept of "arms production" does not rely on the questionable idea of
"corporate motivation", just the norms of participation in "arms
Does that assist at all in your issue, Greg?
Greg Thompson wrote:
> p.s. ... I think Larry described nicely
> what I am trying to achieve - a notion of activity that does not have at
> its center a sovereign subject. My post questioning the merging of
> phenomenology with activity theory speaks to the central intellectual
> concern and the "for what" of what I'm hoping to do in my work.
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/