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[Xmca-l] Re: Leontyev's activities

The reservations you mention are precisely the issues. That is why I look to concepts or ideals from which one can deduce norms of belief, action and meaning, rather than just relying on intentional pursuit of an externally existing aim.


Greg Thompson wrote:
I think that this notion of "motive" gets a lot closer to where I'm trying to get to. If we want to speak of motivations, then we need to speak of them as distributed between people. This articulation of "motive" does it very nicely. (I'm not thrilled with the distinction between "only understood motives" vs. "really effective motives") The one place where I might still suggest some tweaking is in the sense in which a motivation appears as a highly intentional thing - as if it is something that is reflected upon and then undertaken. I think most activity does not have this quality - we too often find ourselves doing things that we didn't necessarily plan to do. Or to put this another way, we are often captured by moods such that it is only in retrospect that we construct a "motivation". And, of course, there are habitual actions that we engage in all the time, but which lack any sense of reflection. But this is not to say that there aren't many instances of intentional reflection upon one's motivations.

On Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 8:44 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    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
        concern and the "for what" of what I'm hoping to do in my work.

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

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