Re: [xmca] motive/project

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Sat Dec 13 2008 - 18:10:12 PST

Mike, I think that my claim is a modest corrective rather
than a radical change. In fact, it is not that I wish to
substitute "project" (which also has an interesting entry in
OED too) for "motive". I agree that "an" activity must
supply the motive for actions. The question is only how to
conceive of "an" actvity which supplies to the individual
her motive. It seems to me that Leontyev holds that being a
motive is a sufficient definition for "an" activity. This is
my problem.

On the side, so far as I can see, "project" is not any
special category for Heidegger. In so far as it is for
Sartre, I suspect it has its origins, via Kojeve and
Hyppolite, in Hegel. And Hegel is where I take my concept of
project from, and as you know, I see Hegel as the first
cultural psychologist. So in that respect "project" has
common origins for CHAT and Existentialism. But let's leave
the Existentialists out of it, eh?

Marx is quite insistent that being a living thing is to have
one's object outside of oneself. OK, so far so good. But the
point is surely that human actions are not motivated by
essential, biological drives, but are culturally constructed
and historically articulated activity. With the word
"project" I am trying to convey that aspect of what
motivates a person. As Steve correctly picked up, I am
looking for what is human here, not just biological.

Somewhere, is it in Ilyenkov? or maybe Leontyev or
Lektorsky? it is pointed out that a human *need* is an
"ideal". True. But "ideal" and "need" do not immediately
present the same meaning to us, do they? A "project" is
easily understood to be in pursuit of some "ideal", ordinary
human "needs" as well as developed needs.

I do not think that "motive" is mentalist as such. I think
it is a category of subjectivity, even though it points
outside the self, to an object. So even though an activity
generates a motive, I don't believe "motive" can define "an"

If a person does some action (walking to point A) and is
asked why they do it, they will say "In order to head off
the prey's escape" perhaps. I.e., the hunt provides the
person's motive for making being at A their purpose. Is that
right? I think that a primordial hunt is insufficient to
capture the nature of social life. Lions hunt in packs too.
Human beings work for capitalist enterprises, write novels,
pursue national independence, ... What I call projects, and
what are in my opinion overtly social activities which are
culturally and historically produced.

Does that explain anything?


Mike Cole wrote:
> Andy--
> Among all the issues on the table, could I inquire more about
> motive/project/activity?
> (This query could some help from our native Russian speakers as well as
> German
> scholars because I figure issues of translation are involved).
> The question concerns the term, motive. You want to move away from it with
> relation to
> activity because (in part? ) because of its internal/mentalistic
> connotations (or maybe
> denotation?). Project is the preferred alternative. I'll let that one lie
> for now, but it, too
> is worth coming back to because of links (least!) to Sartre and Heidegger
> which I do not
> well understand).
> But concerning motive. A long time ago, when LCHC was first busily trying to
> understand
> Leontiev we had a lot of discussion about motive. It is a term with a long
> and varied history
> in English. Waiting for someone to drop off more exams for me to read, I
> snuck over to
> the OED and read under "motive." If there is interest, I could post the
> whole, long entry.
> But it really IS complicated, and far from all its uses are internal mental,
> although that is
> where the entry starts. I pulled just the first several such definitions,
> sans examples. They
> are:
> 1. Senses relating to inner impulses and mental activities.
> 2. A matter or issue moved or brought forward, *esp.* a question
> requiring an answer; a motion, a proposition. Freq. in *to move *(also*make
> *)* a motive*
> 3. Chiefly *Sc.* An inward prompting or impulse. Chiefly in *of
> *(also*by, from
> *)* one's own *(*proper*)* motive*
> 4. *a.* A circumstance or external factor inducing a person to act in a
> certain way; a desire, emotion, reason, argument, etc., influencing or
> tending to influence a person's volition. Also: a contemplated end the
> desire for which influences or tends to influence a person's actions.
> *b. *More generally: the reason or cause behind something. *Obs.*
> 5.* *Proof, justification; an argument or consideration offered as grounds
> for believing something to be true; a piece of evidence intended to
> convince or produce assent. *Obs.*
> Note that as we move down this list, internal starts to be joined with
> external. My colleague Peg Griffin particularly
> liked a version of #5, as in "a well motivated decision" where motive means
> based on prior evidence, experience, etc.
> It is clear which of these various senses Leontiev was using??
> mike
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Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 
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Received on Sat Dec 13 18:10:57 2008

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