Re: [xmca] Helena on Negotiating Knowledge

From: Geoff <geoffrey.binder who-is-at>
Date: Fri Dec 19 2008 - 13:06:05 PST

At the risk of bringing in the discussion from another topic... I
don't find the explanation within Helena's paper of motive useful. (!)

I dare say that if the word motive was replaced with use, the paper
would read just as well, and we'd not be searching for 'motivation'.

I find the Leont'ev example telling:
'the same behavior (lifting a tool) could produce a successful or
unsuccessful therapy depending on what motivated it. An exercise
performed merely as exercise (gymnastics) would be ineffective; the
same exercise performed for a purpose that made sense (carpentry)
would be effective.'

I'd suggest that the 'motive' in this example is actually derived from
different understandings (furnished by the therapist?) as to what use
the activity has. As such, motivation is a second order phenomenon, a
necessary by-product of activity, not its source.


2008/12/19 Andy Blunden <>:
> Paul,
> I will not think of responding to the questions about Helena's paper, but
> just briefly in relation to "need." I just saw for the first time, ANL's
> footnote to AC&P:
> "Such restricted understanding of motive as that object (material or ideal)
> that evokes and directs activity toward itself differs from the generally
> accepted understanding; but this is not the place to enter into polemics on
> the question."
> Yes, of course. I have tended to try to interpret the "object" as a state of
> affairs or the resolution of a problem. All of which is fine, but I still
> think it is insufficient.
> I presume that Leontyev's ideas can be traced back to Marx's comments about
> human needs, as in the 1844 Manuscripts particularly, though the
> observations that you quote as well. Also, Engstrom did resolve some of the
> difficulties in ANL's thinking that I am criticising. What I want to do
> though is to appropriate Hegel more directly for Activity Theory.
> Andy
> Paul Dillon wrote:
>> Andy,
>> Could you explain to me the difference between "producing knowledge" as
>> the object of an activity system, and "learning" as the transformation of
>> an activity system (Engestrom's interp. as I understand it). I have been
>> trying figure that out in relation to Helena's paper.
>> This is also related to the following: What is the difference between
>> Fig. 2 and Fig. 3? Where are the contradictions in the activity system,
>> i.e., lev 1 or 2 in terms of Engestrom's model that produce the "need",
>> generate the double bindf, etc.? I've laid them out side by side and can't
>> find them.
>> This goes to the motive/project discussion about "need". As I understand
>> it, a need is the awareness of a problem that "needs to be resolved" with
>> respect to some activity. Marx's discussion of photography (writing in
>> 1860) as the generator of new needs or how thieves are productive workers
>> because they generate a need for locks, cops, etc. are important.
>> Paul
>> Paul
>> --- On *Thu, 12/18/08, Andy Blunden /<>/* wrote:
>> From: Andy Blunden <>
>> Subject: [xmca] Helena on Negotiating Knowledge
>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
>> Date: Thursday, December 18, 2008, 8:51 PM
>> I think we can't delay any longer bringing into our discussions Helena
>> Worthen's article on using activity theory to study the development and
>> use
>> of Negotiating Knowledge in the world of
>> work.
>> So I have just scanned my copy of the article and it is attached for
>> you all.
>> Steve, with all your time in the labor movement, you'll like this one!!
>> as
>> I'm sure others
>> will.
>> Andy
>> --
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 Skype
>> andy.blunden
>> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
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Geoffrey Binder
BA (SS) La Trobe, BArch (Hons) RMIT
PhD Candidate
Global Studies, Social Sciences and Planning RMIT
Ph B. 9925 9951
M. 0422 968 567
xmca mailing list
Received on Fri Dec 19 13:06:31 2008

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