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[Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 00:36:08 +1000
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Cristina, The discussion about consciousness being categorically
different from matter I will leave at this point.
It is a very difficult discussion; no-one ever changes their position,
so I will leave it to Vygotsky:
You say that you agree that "my development is not the development of my
What's the problem then? Why did you say in your first email that there
is only *one* development, a statement which is simply and obviously
wrong, as you now agree. It is not necessary to make absurd
overstatements. To deny that there is only "one development" does not
mean that you and the institute are "separate." It is not a
one-or-the-other situation. It seems like dualism to me to want it
either one-only or separate.
What we are dealing with here is the absolutely ubiquitous relation
between the individual, universal and particular, a relation which is
fundamental not only to you and your institute, but to *every* concept
and every project or activity. What makes you a part of the Institute?
What is the Institute? What is a research project? The institute exists
only through the range of research projects recognised as its work;
these research projects are made up of the many actions guided by the
institute and its employees and even if all the individual actions were
carried out, they would not constitute research projects if they were
not carried out as Institute projects but just happened; all the little
actions carried out within the institute are meaningful and coherent
(and funded) only insofar as they contribute to one or other of the
institute's projects. So there is a very definite kind of relation which
connects you with the Institute and your colleagues, one of
collaboration in a number of projects. That is invisible if you simply
declare that there is only one development, a "night in which all cows
are black" - if you will excuse the classical allusion.
But, as you say, if you and your colleagues have worked out a way of
doing your research and talking about it, why should I object? Using a
shared language with your colleagues is not the same as making up words.
It may not be a language that I find pleasing or helpful, but if it
works for you, fine. I'm a multiculturalist deep down, and it is the
results which matter.
Maria Cristina Migliore wrote:
indeed I was struck by your sort of shut me up inviting me to “take a year
or two” before making up words and concepts ...
I admit that I am not an expert in the literature on dualism. The object of
my research was not that one. Yet I adopted a CHAT influenced perspective
to carry out my research and therefore my stance cannot be dualistic. So I
am interested in this debate and ready to learn more.
I read your posts – Andy – and it seems to me that your stance is that
thought has a different substance from that of the world. You write that
there is a categorical difference between our thought of the world and the
world itself. You also write that our development is not the development of
the world. From my CHAT readings so far and my interpretation of it, I have
developed a different conception of the substance of thoughts.
My interpretation of what I read so far is that thoughts are connected to
the body: for example, the child cannot do and think certain things till
her body has developed so that she can stand up. I also remind that when I
am thinking, and writing as in this precise moment, there are synapses and
peptides moving in my body, maybe according to the habits I have developed
along my life to deal with this type of situation. This is in a certain way
supported and shown by biological studies: it has been proved that the use
of tools induces plastic changes in the brain/mind (Cardinali, L., F.
Frassinetti, et al. (2009). "Tool-use induces morphological updating of the
body schema." Current Biology 19(13): 1157.).
But if you mean that if you think of rain, that is not enough that it
rains, I can understand your stance.
Yet our unit of analysis is the project or the activity, not a single
thought. This is also what Leontiev has pointed out.
Talking about development: I agree that my development is not the
development – for example - of my Institute of Research. But this is
because I am participating in (and to) many other activities. Not because
me and my Institute are two separated entities. At the same time my
Institute of Research is formed by the participation of many other
researchers who also participate in other activities. In my Institute of
Research we all mediate our actions with cultural tools that we have
internalized in other activities, and after years of collaborative work we
have now in common a certain way of doing research and talking about
research and so on. We have also developed common motives which help give a
bit of coordination to our work. Of course the discourse would be much more
complex here. But I need to make a long story short.
I would say that we – my colleagues and me - have developed
material-discursive practices (from Karen Barad who says that the atomic
physics theory has empirical evidences to support the break with the
Cartesian dualism. Her book: Meeting the universe halfway, page 138) about
research and we are parts of these latter. I could say the same about all
the other participations of mine. Indeed I can see that my personal
development along my life is very connected to what I have been doing so
Here the issue of determinism seems to emerge. I do not want to talk about
this. I just say that I think I could argue that my stance does not fall
into the determinism.
Now I want to take your example – Andy – of the soldier. I would reply to
your question by saying that the victory of the soldier’s country is the
victory of the soldier in a patriotic material-discursive practices. If the
soldier’s upbringing has occurred in this type of practices, he could feel
proud to die for his country. Of course, if he had had a pacifist
education, but were forced to be a soldier, then he might have undermined
the success of his country in that war.
In any case, I can see a single development: the pacifist soldier has to
die for his country. We are part of something which is bigger than us even
when we try to get out of it.
When I say that I need to talk to myself first using a Cartesian language,
it is because I am aware that my upbringing was through material-discursive
Cartesian practices. So I need first to talk in ‘Cartesianism’ and then try
to change slightly my language to try to render what I can see now, after
the internalization of a CHAT influenced perspective.
I prefer the word ‘dimension’ because it recalls a solid form: activity is
a solid form with its dimensions: material, collective and subjective. The
word ‘level’ points to what is up and what is down. I don’t have valid
criteria to decide what is up and what is down.
Hope this is useful to answer your questions, Andy.
Comments are welcome.
2014-08-06 15:17 GMT+02:00 Robert Lake <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
Speaking of Philip Jackson, I called him
a couple of months ago to make sure I was
clear on his particular reading of Dewey's work. In passing,
I mentioned how pleased I was to see his work on Hegel
in* Teacher's College Record.*(Speaking of Thinking:
A Beginner's Guide to Hegel's *Science of Logic*, Parts I-5).
He said that series of articles represented ten years of
research and that I was the only person that
ever mentioned anything about this work
to him. That is sad.
On Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 6:34 AM, Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com> wrote:
I read After Virtue in grad school, assigned by Philip Jackson (and it
Lortie, not Jackson, who made the apprenticeship of observation a common
term among teacher educators--someone posted earlier on this question. In
case anyone's interested, I've got a forthcoming study of apprenticeship
observation that complicates Lortie's conclusions based on interviews
a different era, and would be happy to send the pdf to anyone who's
Anyhow, on MacIntyre: I remember discussing at the time that the book
seemed like a rough draft that really would have benefitted from a
revision to cut out the meandering and make a more pointed argument.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:
email@example.com] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2014 8:55 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?
Relevant references to MacIntyre's "After Virtue" are on pp. 7-8 of
"Collaborative Projects. An Interdisciplinary Study," which I know you
a copy of, Greg. He uses the expressions "internal reward" and "external
Greg Thompson wrote:
And one more thing Andy (I realize given the hour down-under, you are
probably slumbering - hopefully not dogmatically...), could you sell
us on why we should look at MacIntyre on extrinsic and intrinsic
Your suggestion that Cristina read MacIntyre on extrinsic and
intrinsic motivation was less than convincing to me if only b.c. I
know nothing about it!
On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM, Greg Thompson
<firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>> 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
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org
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
languages 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
eliminate that without degenerating into nonsense. I must
correct something 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 together.
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 'subjective', 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 motives. Over and above the relation
between the worker's project of providing for his family (or
whatever) and the employer's project of expanding the
proportion of the social labour subsumed under his/her
capital. The relation between these two projects doubtless
seems to the boss to be the difference between the worker's
subjective, secret, self-interest, and his own "objective"
motive. But his point of view is not necessarily ours.
Have a read of Alasdair MacIntyre on extrinsic and intrinsic
That's more than enough.
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
activities 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)
development; b) dimensions
of a phenomenon instead of levels of a phenomenon
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
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
882 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
882 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602