Re: Motives and goals: Leont'ev, Axel and Bakhtin

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Thu Feb 05 2004 - 03:18:44 PST

This discussion and the reading by Axel has been most illuminating to
me. Having found the time to read the paper by Axel through, I found
his discussion of emotions of paramount importance to my initial
scribbled thoughts of a few days ago. Axel claims that "emotions are
the most crucial for a social conception of the individual...Emotions
function as an evaluation of the environmental conditions based on the
meanings for action as they appear to the individual. The emotional
evaluations are performed immediately and not consciously. They give
direction to the actions of the individual" (Pp. 15-16). As Eugene
posits, motives are discursive and communal, and I wonder whether a
particular part of Bakhtin's (early) theory that I have found useful to
keep in mind helps here - that every "act" carries with it something
new that the individual contributes...something of particular personal
relevance. In "Toward a Philosophy of the Act", Bakhtin writes,
"Emotional-volitional tone opens up the locked-in, self-sufficient
potential content of a thought, attaches it to a unified and singular
being-event. Every generally signifying value becomes truly signifying
only in an individual context" (Pp. 108-9).

I'm not sure how this fits in with pre-determined motives that specify
what is to be maximised in an activity setting, but I will certainly
give it some serious thought. I'd certainly appreciate some help, for I
am still fuzzy on how we might remove the relativism inherent in a
discussion of motives.

Not drowning; waving!


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