Re: [xmca] Emotion at Work

From: Mabel Encinas <liliamabel who-is-at>
Date: Sat Aug 11 2007 - 06:57:21 PDT

Dear Steve and all,
The issue you rise is very important, and I think it is in the core of what
Michael R. is studying when he studies emotions, i.e. the relationship
between subjective and objective needs. This is a philosophical issue, I
On the one hand, the subjective needs of the individuals involved in the
activity happen in the context of the activity itself. For example, the
subjective need of ‘doing research’ about better environments for growing
fish, by Jack in the paper, implies the context, where growing fish is
meaningful, and research is appreciated. The emotion, frustration or anger,
that Jack feels possibly does not only give an account of Jack’s
preferences, but also of changes in the management that Michael underlines,
I think. At the end, in a very touchy note, Michael mentions Jack’s
subjective change, when he was able to pursue new research projects. The
subjective needs are context related.
On the other hand, and interestingly, the “objective” needs of the activity
are enacted subjectively by individuals, as Michael points out. The need of
caring for the fish, is enacted by the happiness associated for the fish
growing up well, expressed by Erin when measuring fish. As Michael
underlines, the thinking in this content is intertwined within “the full
vitality of life”, which is emotional, and so it is important.
Then I wonder, where could the subjective needs come from, but from the
actions, in the context of different activities that human beings realise?
For Vygotsky, it is important to consider the unit of affective and
intellectual processes. So, he invested a lot of time in Vol. 6 of The
Collected Works and in fact in several parts of them, not only Vol. 6, I was
saying in demonstrating philosophically the dualism inherent in most
psychological perspectives and then how this unity could not be broken to
Then, what I have clear so far is that the satisfaction of needs is not
opposed to the knowledge of reality, unless we have a duality. There is of
course not an identity between them, but maybe a dialectical process, I
guess. Where thinking and feeling work in the same direction, or at least
can work like that.
What do you think?
I have to think on what you say Andy.

From: Andy Blunden <>
Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Emotion at Work
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2007 10:54:02 +1000
I thought the strongest thing about your paper were the observations about
people 'buying into' collective 'emotion' (states of readiness?) and the
emotional hit tied up with collective achievement. I also find it
intuitively compelling to believe that emotional experience plays a big role
in *learning*, particularly the weakening and strengthening of social bonds,
but ...
What I do not accept is the idea of emotional pay-offs being the root
explanation for the formation of motives, goals and aims.
I am not very familiar with Holzkamp; I have only read one of his very early
books, though I think I generally approve of the critique that German
Critical Psychology has made of Leontyev, but ...
It seems to me in the quote below that Holzkamp is taking the role of
emotion in one part of the process of determining an individual's
goal-formation to implicate it in the whole. I think this is wrong. It is a
bit like the old conundrum which proves that there can never be an altruist,
because if a person likes doing good for others, then ipso facto they are
doing for their own pleasure.
What would be response to that thought, Michael?
At 08:25 AM 10/08/2007 -0700, you wrote:
>Hi Andy,
>when people engage in activities (deyatel'nost', Tätigkeit), they
>contribute to the collective control of life conditions and expand
>their individual control over life conditions, even if they don't
>farm, hunt, gather.... It is part of securing life. Holzkamp (1983)
>writes something like: "THe achievement of goals in collectivity with
>others have a certain associated levels of satisfaction (social
>control needs), so that the anticipation of the collective success
>also motivates individual engagement. Only by making such an
>assumption can the evolution of the emotional readiness for action
>to the depicted collective activities made possibly understandable on
>logico- historical grounds, and thereby also the evolutionary coming
>about of the collective activities themselves" (p. 171).
>You see how he constructs a tight link between engagement in activity
>for securing control over life conditions and emotion.
>On 10-Aug-07, at 6:35 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>Michael, perhaps you could clear this up for me. I had the feeling
>>from your paper that you thought that people acted so as to
>>maximise emotional valence. Could you clear that up for me. That
>>would be wrong, wouldn't it?
>>At 05:44 AM 10/08/2007 -0700, you wrote:
>>>This categorical analysis was done by Klaus Holzkamp (Grundlegung der
>>>Psychologie [Foundations of Psychology], 1983), I use his results to
>>>interpret the data at hand. Also, look into Jonathan Turner's work, I
>>>think he says pretty well the same thing. Holzkamp, if some have
>>>forgotten, rigorously takes Leont'ev's work a step further, really
>>>using the method outlined by Marx, the evolutionary / cultural-
>>>historical, much more so than probably Yrjö has done--I am thinking
>>>of the latter's presentation of the evolution of activity (Expansive
>>>learning, 1987) and the earlier work by Klaus Holzkamp.
>>>On 10-Aug-07, at 12:24 AM, Steve Gabosch wrote:
>>>Continuing the discussion on Michael's R's paper Emotion at Work ...
>>>I have a problem with the claims the paper makes about the
>>>relationship between emotional payoffs and valences, on one hand, and
>>>motives, on the other. It seems to me that it is vital to
>>>differentiate between the needs and motives generated objectively by
>>>an activity, and the needs and motives that are generated
>>>subjectively by a person engaged in an activity. Are the categories
>>>and relationships suggested in this paper (emotions, payoffs,
>>>valences, motivations, identity) helpful for distinguishing between
>>>objective and subjective motives? Is it indeed vital to make this
>>>kind of distinction?
>>>- Steve
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Received on Sat Aug 11 06:58 PDT 2007

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