Fw: Re: [xmca] motive/project

From: Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Dec 17 2008 - 12:57:57 PST

--- On Wed, 12/17/08, Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] motive/project
To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 8:24 PM

Dear Andy,
I'll be delivering the second part in hours ; maybe in a couple of days .
Now my response which seems inevitable :

--- On Tue, 12/16/08, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Subject: Re: [xmca] motive/project
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Tuesday, December 16, 2008, 11:53 PM

Thank you for that collection of excerpts Haydi. As I read them, they confirm
what I said, that for ANL, a "system of activity" is defined by
directly or indirectly meeting a human need.*yes , Andy .* ANL does say that production
produces not only objects, but also produces new needs,*Yes , those same objects , when produced , themselves produce new needs . This our daily observation .* but this does not
resolve the matter in my view.*What matter , Andy ? * *That needs give rise to activity/activities ?* Then you don't have a problem with the general idea that *activity* exists . You have the problem with the cause or origin ? **Then , first of all , you should tell us what the cause might be in your opinion ? * Unless you accept that society is either planned
and adaministered by the central committee to meet human needs, or naturally
evolved to both meet and produce human needs*Now we see you don't even have a problem with the existence of needs either . You have a problem with the *either,or* .*Yes , I accept because individuals live in a society , that society should both be planned and administered by an [ yet unidentified here in this discussion ] administration to meet those human needs ; animals/apes don't need such an administration ; the reason is Leontiev believes strongly that needs do not boil up automatically out of the very depths of the existence of the individual individuals .*What problem , then ? This is what all administration have done to this day ; are doing now .or naturally evolved to both meet and produce human needs*Andy ! This looks to be funny .. Nature/Society ? Natural/Soial ? Maybe your mind , dear Andy
 , regressed , without your knowing , to the *natural needs* rather than to remain with the same *human* needs ? * then
 this cannot be believed.*What exactly cannot be believed , Andy ? * What I cannot believe is the latter case : (society naturally evolved ; it's tautology)*

The latter interpretation sounds plausible enough [ Maybe I'm confused . I don't understand . It's not just plausible ; yet ... ], in fact it's a truism ,
but I don't see that it helps [ In my view , it destroys everything ]. For example, take war. If we set out from the
idea that war is an activity meeting a human need, where does that leave us?*That takes us to Leontiev's interpretation of *Personal Sense* . Good place to get the meaning of Personal Sense or shortly Sense . I have given the example of a piece of *straw* with two distinct meanings : one the general meaning we all know and get even a drowning person at sea during the moments she goes under water , rises up , goes beneath again , say , is saved by that peiece . As an after-thought she might get the meaning of *life saver* for it not forgetting this Personal Meaning up to the end of her life . It's the same with *war* . Andy ! You've always taught us many things . Why , here , you go abtract ?See :might be Personal Senses of war :--war is a liberating struggle --war is
 genocide--war is fire in a harvest --war is horror--war is our dignity --war veterans are our honors--war is our whole existence (this nation's,say)etc.etc.etc. I wouldn't like to go to politics here . But don't you think everybody now knows a need/motive was/was behind the Iraq War . You want to argue it did not respond to a human social need ? Why then so many soldiers here and there ? By *human* we don't always mean good things ; there's the bad side of it , too . Our Personal Senses also come from our social relations ; Let's devise activities using our agency within our specific social relations , if possible , so that Personal Senses of the kind and texture you wish/we wish according to
 which neither our intellectuals nor our laymen nor our soldiers refuse to enter any kind of war . To that day !! Needs exist ; a question now ! Why doesn't this need get realized/satisfied ? It has not yet hit its proper objective object ; It's not been converted into a *motive* giving rise to the global activity you/we wish and die for .*how
does it help us with psychology?*If there were just one Personal Sense for it [the abstract generic negative one you thought of] , in no way ? * Take anything - the Church, MacDonald's,
News Limited, domestic violence, ... all we are going to end up with is a crass

I don't deny at all that a psychology can be built on this foundation, but
it cannot, in my view, be taken seriously as a sociology.
*We are just trying to go with some explications concerning what we read in Leontiev's book . As about interdisciplinary endeavours , Leontiev says it's very useful but it cannot beat around Psychology's main bush . idiom , odd ?? Forgive , then .My responses are in red , rejected by xmca filter ?I won't forget the required etiquette , Andy . And many thanks for the very initial enforcement into these discussions !! Indebted really !!BestHaydi

Haydi Zulfei wrote:
> Dear all,
> We are being asked "What is *an* activity/*a* motive?"
> I thought some of us at least need more reading than interpretation .
> I had to once more go from beginning to end of *A,C,P* and collect
whatever might more or less be related to these questions .
> Half the job being done now .
> Delete if you don't want to share . No way but to put it in an
attachment . Hope David kellog will have time to have a glance at it without
adding to my previously-loaded task.
> Best
> Haydi
> --- On Mon, 12/15/08, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> From: Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] motive/project
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
> Date: Monday, December 15, 2008, 10:25 PM
> I think, Monica, you hit the nail on the head here, from the psychological
> of view. On the sociological side, the problem, as I see it, with
> explanation is that not only does the pupil not know the motive of
> but nor does the teacher or the sociologist!
> In a world where people know about agency and structure and such terms,
does it
> make any sense to ascribe a 'motive' to an institution, outside of
> managed society like the USSR in which Leontyev lived?
> But on the other side, Michael, I think you are right as against David,
> "sleeping" is not Tätigkeit in the sense in which Leonytev
means it.
> He explicitly means "purpose actvity", or "doing" or
> "practice," as I read it. Not just physiological movement. The
> activity of an individual is *participation* is *a* (social) activity. But
> is *an* activity, and how can it have a "motive," as Monica
> separately from the motives of individuals.
> Andy
> Monica Hansen wrote:
>> ...
>> Using the term 'motive' for the objective, goal, or aim of
> schooling as
>> cultural reproduction (or transmission) is misplaced here. Motivation
>> something to do with individual agency, doesn't it? It cannot be
> forced from
>> the outside with 100% effectiveness. When trying to get an idea of
>> motivates the individual to engage in or become a participant in an
> activity
>> that will change the level of his or her conceptual thinking we have
>> understand the individual's motivation.
>> Mandating the goal of learning from the outside as in defining the
> objective
>> of schooling and trying to force participation gives us mixed results,
> does
>> it not? Can you really force conceptual development? Isn't that
> problem?
>> We can only use external motivations so far in pushing intellectual
>> development?
>> Monica
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
>> Behalf Of Wolff-Michael Roth
>> Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 8:08 AM
>> To: vaughndogblack@yahoo.com; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Cc: mcole@weber.ucsd.edu
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] motive/project
>> HI David and others,
>> I have repeatedly emphasized in my writings that the problem lies in
> in the English term 'activity', which collapses the German
> and Aktivität into one, unfortunately, because it also gives rise to
> with motives. I think if you think about what children do as
> and that these tasks are completed as part of the activity
> which has as motive the reproduction (transmission...) of collective
> then you are getting closer.
>> But children often don't even know the goals, in fact, because of
> 'learning paradox', cannot know the goals of the task. This is no
> clear than in the frequent student question, 'teacher, am I write so
> far?' Students CANNOT intend the very thing that they are asked to,
> learn a concept. To be able to orient themselves intentionally to the
> they need to know it, but if they already know it, they don't have to
> orient toward learning it.
>> Holzkamp has a lot to say about this, and he describes those things
> "Lernen: Subkjektwissenschaftliche Grundlegung" (Frankfurt:
>> If anyone has implemented Leont'ev's program, it certainly is
> Holzkamp.
>> By the way, further to motive, the German edition of Activity,
> Consciousness, Personality has an additional chapter where Leont'ev
explicitly addresses questions of learning in schools, motives, etc.
>> Cheers,
>> Michael
>> On 15-Dec-08, at 7:32 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
>> Mike, Steve:
>> Like you, I am thoroughly befuddled by the word "motive",
> I've decided that applied to children in general and to child play in
particular it is anachronistic; children do not yet have "motives" in
the sense that Leontiev is talking about here. Last week we had thesis
> defenses, and I took mild exception to a thesis which tried to ascertain
> changes in "motives" for learning English in children by the
use of
> Likert-style questionnaires. (My mild exception to these theses is really
> pro-forma, and a matter of tradition in our department; nobody ever fails
as a
> result.)
>> I notice that LSV (at the beginnning of Chapter Seven of Mind in
> which I don't have with me just now) talks about the child's
"needs" and "desires". These he defines "broadly"
> as "whatever induces the child to act". If he were going to
> to construct a Leontiev-like tristratal theory of activity, this would
lead to something circular: a motive is what drives the child to act, and
action is
> defined by its motive.
>> Let me first take a look at Leontiev, A.N. (1979, 1981). The problem
> activity in psychology. In Wertsch, J.V. (ed.) The concept of activity in
> Soviet psychology. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
>> On p. 48, ANL's got this:
>> "The basic characteristic of activity is its object orientation.
> expression 'nonobjective activity' is devoid of sense. Activity
may seem to be without object orientation, but scientific investigation of it
> necessarily requires discovery of its object."
>> Already I'm in trouble. Scientific investigation is sometimes
> required to discover the object orientation of an activity (e.g. sleep,
> object orientation we still do not really understand but which will
> be discovered some day).
>> But people who do not have the training or the time or the
> can and do conceptualize activities such as sleep or language play or
> daydreaming. They conceptualize these activities as being without any
> object. Why would an expression that refers to this everyday
> conception be devoid of sense? Are non-scientific expressions devoid of
>> OK, then ANL argues that the object of an activity emerges “in two
> ways: first and foremost in its dependent existence as subordinating and
> transforming the subject’s activity, and secondly as the mental image
of the
> object, as the product of the subject’s detecting its properties. This
> detection can take place only through the subject’s activity.”
>> Presumably he's talking about the way in which scientific
> investigation determines the object orientation of an activity, and not
> everyday non-scientific detection of the object (which I think of as the
> ethnomethodological motive, the one that participants are conscious of).
> empirically both methods are the same: they take place through examining
> activity of the subject with the detectionof an object in mind.
>> On p. 49 he's got this: "All activity has a looplike
> afferentationàeffector processes, which make contact with the object
environmentàcorrection and enrichment, with the help of feedback to the
> initial afferent image."
>> This suggests to me that PERCEPTION is in some sense the archetypical
> activity. That would explain the OBJECT orientation! But it is going to
> big problems when Leontiev tries to explain play, because as LSV remarks,
> is precisely the moment when children tear their meaningful orientation
> from the perception of tangible objects. (Yes, Lewin and Lewin's
> "field of action" is a big part of this, and with respect to
> child and the stone LSV is clearly closer to Lewin than to ANL!).
>> Maybe there's a way out, though. ANL then argues that the crucial
> problem here is not the loop itself but rather that mental images are not
> produced directly but rather through practical activity in the world:
>> "This means that the 'afferent agent' that directs
> is primarily the object itself and only secondarily its image as a
> product of activity that fixes, stabilizes and assimilates its object
> In other words, a twofold transition takes place: the transition from
object to
> the process of activity and the transition from activity to subjective
> of activity. But the transition of the process into a product takes place
> just form the subject's point of view; it occurs more clearly from
> point of view of the object that is transformed by human activity."
>> Hmmm. When a child picks up a stick and decides to play horsie the
> transformation occurs more clearly from the point of view of the stick
(or from
> the point of view of the horse-play) than from the point of view of the
> This does look a little sticky.
>> On p. 50, ANL explicitly goes against LSV's portrayal of
> "needs" and "desires" as "anything that
motivates the
> child to act". He differentiates between desire as a precondition of
> activity and "desire as a factor that guides and regulates the
> concrete activity in the object environment". Only the latter is the
> object of psychology.
>> OK, now let me turn to the only text I can find where ANL really goes
> into play, which is a later chapter of his book "Problems of the
Development of Mind".
>> On p. 366 he begins with the rather startling statement that play has
> object (and thus by his previous account does not constitute an
activity). He
> says:
>> "Satisfaction of its vital needs is actually still distinct from
> results of its activity: a child’s activity does not determine and
essentially cannot determine satisfaction of its need for food warmth etc.
> Characteristic of it, therefore is a wide range of activity that
> needs which are unrelated to its objective result."
>> Curiously, he then uses "object" activity to differentiate
> from animal play!
>> "Where does the specific difference between animals’ play
> and play, the rudimentary forms of which we first observe in preschool
> children, consist in? It lies in the fact that it is not instinctive
> but it is precisely human, object activity which by constituting the
basis of
> the child’s awareness of the world of human objects, determines the
> of its play."
>> Now this is starting to look suspiciously like the thesis I mildly
> objected to last week, where the adult's attitudes are simply
> onto the child and then "detected" using Likert scales. On pp.
> 367-368, ANL develops his thesis that play is a substitute for the
handling of
> adult objects. So for example on p. 368 ANL speaks of "let me"
> "don't", the struggle between the adult who wants to
protect the
> child from himself and the child who wants to drive a car and row a boat..
> leads, on p. 369, to the idea of a leading activity which is indeed
> to a neoformation without the crisis. He then returns uncomfortably to
> nagging suspicion that that play is an activity without an object, and
> therefore not an activity at all.
>> On p. 370, he's got this: “As we have already said, play is
> characerized by its motive's lying in the process itself rather than
in the
> result of the action. For a child playing with wooden bricks, for
example, the
> motive for the play does not lie in building a structure, but in the
> i.e. in the content of the action. That is true not only of the preschool
> child’s play but also of any real game in general. 'Not to win but
> play' is the general formula of the motivation of play. In
> games, therefore in which winning rather than playing becomes the inner
> the game as such ceased to be play."
>> Contrast that with LSV's observation in Chapter Seven that
> do NOT like running around without any rules or goal, and in games the
> of the game is entirely to win. Of course, we might be talking about
> children: Leontiev might be talking about pre- schoolers, and LSV is
> talking about school-age kids. But the gap is remarkable; something
> important is getting lept over.
>> OK—so then ANL says that in play there is a mismatch between
> and action, in that the operation is performed with the meaning of the
> and the action is performed with its sense. He says that this split is
> given in advance but only arises in play action and that children do not
> imagine play without actually playing. If this were true, of course, it
> be very hard to see how children are able to plan play, read about it, or
> reflect upon it, much less day-dream or indulge in language play.
>> No, this isn't going to work. And it gets worse. Look at this,
> p. 381:
>> "Games 'with rules' i.e. like hide and seek, table games,
> etc. differ sharply from such ‘role’ games as playing doctor, polar
> explorer, etc. They do not seem to be related to one another by any
genetic succession and seem to constitute different lines in the devleopment of
> children’s play, but in fact the one form develops from other (sic) by
> of a need inherent in the child’s play activity itself (?), whereby
> 'with rules' arise at a later stage."
>> So ANL explicitly denies that whole discussion (in Vygotsky's
> Leningrad lecture) about the intrinsic link between games with roles and
> with rules. (There's a pretty good account of this lecture, which I
> always seen as the starting point for his elaboration of the zone of
> development, in Chapter Seven, but it's well worth reading the
> lecture, which is at
>> http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1933/play.htm
>> ANL then has to explain why there appears to be a developmental
> linking role based play and rule-based games. For LSV this is no problem:
> ARE genetically linked and in fact the child creates rule based games
> iteratively, by varying the roles in systematic ways. But for ANL, who
> the genetic link, this is rather harder to explain:
>> “Why do games with rules only arise at a certain stage of
> and not simultaneously with the genesis of the first role games? It
depends on
> the difference in their motivation. Initially the first play actions
arise on
> the basis of the child’s growing need to master the world of human
> The motive contained in this action itself is fixed in a thing, directly
in its
> object content. The action here is the path for the child that leads it
> of all to the discovery of objective reality; the human still emerges for
> child in its objectified form. The role of the horseman, the play action
> riding, is playing at horses, the action with a block of wood that the
> 'drives' from one chair to another is playing cars.
>> And MORE:
>> "But during the development of these games the human relation
> included in their object content itself comes out ever more clearly in
> The tram driver not only 'acts with a tram' but is obliged at the
> time to enter into certain relations with other people— with the
> the passengers, and so on. Therefore, at relatively early stages of the
> development of play activity, a child finds not only man's relation
to it
> in the object but also people’s relations with one another. Group games
> become possible not only alongside one another but also together. Social
> relations already come out in these games in overt form, in the form of
> players’ relations with one another. At the same time the play
> is also altered. Its content now determines not only the child’s
actions in regard to the object but also its actions in regard to the other
players in the
> game. The latter also become content of the play activity, for which its
> is
>> fixed. Games are distinguished in which actions in regard to other
> people become the main thing."
>> OK--so the reason why there is no genetic link is that the child goes
> from focussing on material objects in role play to focussing on human
> in rule play? No, that's not right either, because:
>> p. 372: "We already know how play arises in the preschool child.
> arises from its need to act in relation not only to the object world
> accessible to itself but also to the wider world of adults."
>> Mike--it looks like we're not the only ones befuddled by
> Leontiev's "motive" applied to children; he appears to have
> thoroughly befuddled himself. Leontiev's "motive" applied
> children is a little like the clocks that keep going off in
> Julius Caesar, a thousand years before they were invented.
>> This is yet another reason for prefering Andy's term
> "project" in describing play: unlike "activity" or
> "motive", it's a real Gestalt, in that a
"project" can
> be, for the child, action/meaning, and for the adult, meaning/action,
> the possiblity of transforming, outside in, the one into the other!
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul Natoinal University of Education
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> --
> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype
> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
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