Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwin and Bohr

From: David Preiss <davidpreiss who-is-at>
Date: Mon Jun 25 2007 - 16:10:21 PDT

What a beautiful quote!

On Jun 25, 2007, at 6:58 PM, Eirik Knutsson wrote:

> There are, of course, several humanisms:
> “... the civic humanism of the quattrocento Italian city-states,
> the Protestant
> humanism of sixteenth-century northern Europe, the rationalistic
> humanism that
> attended at the revolutions of enlightened modernity, and the
> romantic and
> positivistic humanisms through which the European bourgeoisies
> established
> their hegemony over it, the revolutionary humanism that shook the
> world and the
> liberal humanism that sought to tame it, the humanism of the Nazis
> and the
> humanism of their victims and opponents, the antihumanist humanism
> of Heidegger
> and the humanist antihumanism of Foucault and Althusser – are not
> reducible to
> one, or even to a single line or pattern. Each has its distinctive
> historical
> curve, its particular discursive poetics, its own problematic
> scansion of the
> human. Each seeks, as all discourses must, to impose its own answer
> to the
> question of ‘which is to be master’.”
> (Davies, Tony. Humanism. Florence, KY, USA: Routledge, 1996:130-131).
> E.
> On 2007-06-25, at 20:25, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:
>> Rieber and Wollock's Prologue to Vol. 3 of Vygotsky's Collected Works
>> provides some interesting insights on Darwin and a Cultural-
>> historical
>> perspective. They say:
>> "Marxism . . . is a radically humanist philosophy; radical in that
>> it not
>> only emphasizes the human, but by removing God from the
>> traditional God/man
>> and social struggle, is a radically humanist philosphy; radical in
>> that it
>> not only emphasizes the human, but by removing God from the
>> traditional
>> God/man nexus inevitably throws all emphasis on the human" (p. ix,
>> 1997).
>> As I understand it, then, the atheism of Marxism allowed for a
>> clearer look
>> at psychological development, unencumbered by the hand of the
>> Almighty. I
>> probably can't quite appreciate how radical a move this was 80 or
>> so years
>> ago, but I suspect that an atheistic perspective was necessary in
>> order to
>> attempt the sort of comprehensive psychology that Vygotsky aimed
>> for. This
>> helps explain for me the appeal of Darwin for the project founded by
>> Vygotsky.
>> As a footnote, I have gotten bogged down in writing obligations,
>> so can't
>> offer much on the promise of my initial intention to read
>> extensively in
>> Vygotsky this summer--or to read much else, I'm afraid to say.
>> Peter Smagorinsky
>> The University of Georgia
>> Department of Language and Literacy Education
>> 125 Aderhold Hall
>> Athens, GA 30602-7123
>> /fax:706-542-4509/phone:706-542-4507/
>> _____
>> From: [mailto:xmca-
>>] On
>> Behalf Of Michael Glassman
>> Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 11:25 AM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: RE: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwin and Bohr
>> David and Erik,
>> This won't be a long message because basically none of my messages
>> ever seem
>> to get through. But while it is true the communitarian aspects of
>> the
>> evolving Russian society (I think very much influenced by Tolstoy's
>> philosophy - at least among intellectuals), along with the types
>> of large,
>> barren landscapes many Russian naturalists worked within, affected
>> the
>> Russian view of Darwin, I would argue with the idea that there was
>> not that
>> much understanding of Darwin's mechanisms. If you read Petr
>> Kropotkin's
>> book on Mutual Aid I think he had a really good understanding of
>> Darwin -
>> Kropotkin was just looking to emphasize different issues,
>> adaptation over
>> natural selection, and natural selection when it existed at the cross
>> species level rather than within species level.
>> While Darwin was certainly influenced by Malthus, his ideas on
>> adaptation
>> took his theory off in another direction. so it seems to me you
>> have two
>> major Darwinian points, natural selection and adaptation. Which
>> should be
>> emphasized was a tremendous argument over the late 19th century
>> played out
>> in the pages of the journal 20th century. In England Darwin's
>> theory took
>> a distinct Malthusian turn, it is true. But I think much of that
>> has to do
>> with the belief system of Huxley, "Darwin's bulldog" who was the
>> actual
>> person pushing evolutionary ideas in to mainstream society. There
>> was also
>> the need of Darwinism to provide a parallel idea to religion's
>> "Divine Right
>> of Kings" if it was going to have any success against religion.
>> The role
>> Darwin played in this emphasis is I think up for some debate. (I
>> remember
>> in an article I wrote about Kropotkin I said that Darwin my not
>> have been
>> responsible for the strong Malthusian emphasis of his theory, and
>> a reviewer
>> became upset saying everybody wants to protect "Saint Darwin).
>> As far as survival of the fittest, I think accordning to Gould at
>> least
>> Darwin really didn't like it. He did use it a few times near the
>> end of his
>> career, but that may have been because everybody was using it, or the
>> influence of Huxley, or both.
>> Anyway, Kropotkin was an extraordinary thinker - also a leading
>> anarchist
>> philosopher (I never really knew what anarchism was, or how it
>> played in to
>> evolution before I read him), and a great magician.
>> Michael
>> _____
>> From: on behalf of Eirik Knutsson
>> Sent: Mon 6/25/2007 9:43 AM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwin and Bohr
>> Thanks David K,
>> Maybe there simply was no good reason (in 19th century Russia) to be
>> offended
>> by the (Darwinistic) dethronement of Western anthropocentrism? Just a
>> thought.
>> History, according to Berdyaev, is the story of man's
>> dehumanization, the
>> story
>> of how man came to lose that spirit that makes him uniquely man.
>> E.
>> On 2007-06-24, at 03:03, David Kellogg wrote:
>>> Dear Erik and Mike:
>>> Erik makes the main point I wanted to make far better than my own
>> maunderings did. It was precisely that the grandiose
>> epistemological and
>> philosophical and even political meanings that we often attach to
>> particular
>> scientific breakthroughs tend to reflect our own ontological
>> predispositions
>> and philosophical predilections rather than any thorough
>> assimilation of the
>> technological breakthrough at hand.
>>> The Russian affinity for Darwinism reflects, as Erik says, the
>> atmosphere
>> of anticipation in late 19th Century Russia rather than any deep
>> understanding
>> of the precise mechanism that Darwin was proposing. But of course
>> the same
>> could be said of the Western distaste for Darwin.
>>> In fact, we can even say the same for Darwin's own phrase "natural
>> selection". Janet pointed out that this particular expression was
>> anthropomorphic, and it was for that reason that Darwin, via
>> Wallace, began
>> to
>> use the phrase "survival of the fittest" (and of course this has
>> been found
>> to
>> be tautological by people who do not differentiate between species,
>> organisms,
>> phenotypes and genotypes). Darwin's own understanding of his
>> theory is
>> deeply
>> colored by Malthus and political economy, and this was one of the
>> reasons
>> why
>> it could be so easily picked up by Spencer (who actually coined the
>> phrase "survival of the fittest").
>>> I don't mean to change the subject, but I think that another
>>> weakness of
>> the "toolforthoughts" approach is that it at least potentially
>> constricts
>> LSV's
>> concept of mediation to intellectual concepts. Mediation was also
>> part of
>> LSV's
>> vision of emotional development, as Gunilla Lindqvist's article
>> (2000) makes
>> very clear.
>>> "Tools" are not artworks. LSV (2004, based on a previous
>>> discussion in
>> Ribot) divides creativity into four basic types:
>>> a) combinatorial (the creation of unicorns, manticores, dragons,
>> imaginary
>> friends, huts on chicken legs). Here the child is simply
>> juxtaposing actual
>> aspects of experience in new ways.
>>> b) reconstructive (the way children conceptualize experiences
>>> they have
>> NEVER had, such as the children in Thinking and Speech Chapter
>> Five who
>> imagined that serf-owners lived in ten story houses with
>> electricity). Here
>> there is a "reality check" function that makes the child's creativity
>> socially
>> shareable with adults.
>>> c) emotional (the way children use creativity to control their
>>> emotions
>> and
>> even create new ones, such as the child who uses Harry Potter or
>> Tom Sawyer
>> to
>> imagine a world without parents and make it bearable).
>>> d) innovative (the way children use creativity to bring into
>>> being the
>> kind
>> of objects that Popper associates with "World Three", music,
>> drawing, drama,
>> etc.
>>> I see perfectly well how "tools" can mediate the kind of
>>> creativity we
>> see
>> in a), b), and even d). But it's much less clear to me how tools
>> (as opposed
>> to
>> symbols) mediate the kind of creativity we see in c). In fact, I
>> would argue
>> that in many ways the kinds of instant gratification we see
>> developing in
>> computer based role-play games (and Hollywood movies such as
>> "Pirates of the
>> Carribean") are INIMICAL to the development of higher emotions
>> such as
>> justice
>> out of rage, caution out of fear, empathy out of pain.
>>> There is always an interaction between a particular tool and its
>> content,
>> and I do not think it is accidental that books evolved into
>> novels, while
>> web-
>> based games are evolving into long but only very narrowly interactive
>> shopping
>> lists of monsters to kill, cars to hijack, prisoners to torture,
>> women to
>> abuse.
>>> So I'm inclined to impute the starry-eyed anticipation of
>>> people who
>> believe that web-based games will replace literacy altogether to
>> the kind of
>> wildly innaccurate (because asocial) foresight which, twenty or
>> thirty years
>> ago, imagined a world twenty or thirty years hence where people
>> commute
>> using
>> individual rocket belts.
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Seoul National University of Education
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David Preiss, Ph.D.
Subdirector de Extensión y Comunicaciones
Escuela de Psicología
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Av Vicuña Mackenna 4860
Macul, Santiago

Fono: 3544605
Fax: 3544844
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Received on Mon Jun 25 16:13 PDT 2007

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