Re: [xmca] Emotion at Work

From: Steve Gabosch <sgabosch who-is-at>
Date: Sun Aug 12 2007 - 08:08:01 PDT

A phrase you used especially jumps out at me, Mabel: "interestingly,
the “objective” needs of the activity are enacted subjectively by
individuals." Could you elaborate on that thought? Your reference
to Vygotsky is also immediately intriguing - I too found myself going
to that volume, and also volume 1, which Dot refers the reader to in
her intro to vol 6. Could you say some more about your insights from
your studies of LSV's writings that help you sort through this time-
honored problem of the subjective and the objective (unity of
intellect and affect, dualistic approaches, dialectical processes,
- Steve

On Aug 11, 2007, at 9:57 AM, Mabel Encinas wrote:

> 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 think.
> 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 start.
> 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.
> Cheers,
> Mabel
> 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
> OK,
> Michael,
> 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?
> Andy
> 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.
>> :-)
>> Cheers,
>> Michael
>> 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?
>>> Andy
>>> 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.
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Michael
>>>> 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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