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[Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?

Greg, See http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/crisis/psycri13.htm#p1367

Just a morsel for thought.

Karl Marx said his favourite motto was "De omnibus dubitandum" - a quote from Descates meaning "doubt everything" - that is the spirit of dualism carried forward from the Corpus Hermeticum, the Jewish Kabbalah, the alchemists and mystics, the Gnostics, John Scotus, Meister Eckhart, Nicolas of Cusa and Martin Luther and Giordano Bruno, burnt at the stake for his dualism only 30 years before Descartes wrote Discourse on Method, and opposed by the Catholic Church and the German Fascists.

I'll confess to feeling somewhat partisan on this issue.

*Andy Blunden*

Greg Thompson wrote:
Would it be asking too much to ask for more elaboration of Vygotsky's distinction between the ontological and epistemological problems in the mind/matter problem?
Feeling quite ignorant...

On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 7:06 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Descartes, along with his fellow dualists Galileo and Copernicus,
    did have some problems, which took about 200 years to sort out. (I
    don't count Spinoza as having resolved them). The main difficulty
    was that he (the others didn't get this far) tried to resolve the
    mind/matter problem *natural-scientifically* (which is what many
    of his professional critics do, despite the benefit of 380 years
    experience), rather than distinguishing between the ontological
    and epistemological problems, which is what Vygotsky advises. But
    what is quite unhelpful, in my view, is resolving the problem of
    dualism by declaring it bad and simply denying it. And as you say,
    "we Westerners" are far from alone, in believing that there is a
    categorical difference between my thought of the world and the
    world itself. Thank Christ for that! Do deny this simple
    observation is the definition of insanity. Most people simply
    don't understand the question which Descartes was trying to answer.

    *Andy Blunden*

    Greg Thompson wrote:

        I'm a bit baffled by your response to Cristina. It seems fair
        enough to try to recover Descartes as not necessarily a bad
        guy. But I didn't take that to be Cristina's point.
        It seems to me that she was arguing against Cartesian dualism
        - a particular way in which we Westerners (and we aren't the
        only ones who do this) divide up the world into various kinds
        binaries - subject/object, mind/body, nature/culture,
        emotion/reason, and so on. Are you advocating that these
        should be the governing categories of the human sciences?
        If so, then "real human language" will work just fine.
        If not, then the "real human language" called English will
        pose some significant problems for imagining things other than
        they are.

        On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 9:07 AM, Andy Blunden
        <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

            There is far too much in your message to deal with on an email
            list. What I usually do in such cases is simply pick a bit
        I think
            I can respond to and ignore the rest. OK?

            I think *real human languages* - as opposed to made up
            like Esperanto or the kind of mixture of neologs,
        hyphenated words
            and other gobbydegook fashionable in some academic circles
        - can
            be underestimated. Sure, one must use specialised jargon
            sometimes, to communicate to a specialised collaborator in a
            shared discipline, but generally that is because the
        jargon has
            itself a long track record. Don't try and make up words and
            concepts, at least, take a year or two about it if you
        have to.

            Secondly, Descartes was no fool. He was the person that first
            treated consciousness as an object of science, and the many of
            those belonging to the dualist tradition he was part of
        wound up
            being burnt at the stake for suggesting that the world was not
            necessarily identical to how it seemed. So I'd say, better to
            suffer association with Descartes than make up words and
            expressions. The Fascist campaign launched against him in the
            1930s was not meant to help us. He deserves respect.

            For example, my development is not the same the
        development some
            project makes. And no amount of playing with words can
            that without degenerating into nonsense. I must correct
            I said which was wrong in my earlier post though. I said
        that the
            relation between projects was the crucial thing in personality
            development. Not completely true. As Jean Lave has shown
        so well,
            the relation between a person and a project they are
        committed to
            is equally important, their role, so to speak. Take these two

            Motives instead of motivation is good. More definite. But
        I don't
            agree at all that Leontyev resolves this problem. For a
        start his
            dichotomy between 'objective' motives, i.e., those
        endorsed by the
            hegemonic power in the given social formation, and
            usually unacknowledged, motives, is in my view a product
        of the
            times he lived in, and not useful for us. The question is: how
            does the person form a *concept* of the object? It is the
            object-concept which is the crucial thing in talking abut
            Over and above the relation between the worker's project of
            providing for his family (or whatever) and the employer's
            of expanding the proportion of the social labour subsumed
            his/her capital. The relation between these two projects
            seems to the boss to be the difference between the worker's
            subjective, secret, self-interest, and his own "objective"
            But his point of view is not necessarily ours.

            Have a read of Alasdair MacIntyre on extrinsic and intrinsic
            motives, too.

            That's more than enough.

            *Andy Blunden*

            Maria Cristina Migliore wrote:

                Greg and Andy,

                Thank you for your comments.

                Greg, I absolutely agree with you about the
        difficulties of
                overcoming our
                western language and thoughts, so influenced by the
                Andy, I hope to be able to show a bit how I connect
                in what

                About my attempts to overcome a dualistic language: I
        tend to
                prefer to
                talk about a) single development (as suggest by Cole and
                Wertsh) instead of
                individual and activity (or context or project)
                b) dimensions
                of a phenomenon instead of levels of a phenomenon
                (micro-meso-macro); c)
                motives instead of motivation.

                However it happens that I need to swing between ‘my’ new
                language and the
                ‘standard’ one, because I am living in a still
        Cartesian world
                and I need
                to be understood by people (and even myself!) who are (am)
                made of this
                Cartesian world.

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

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