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Re: [xmca] Vygotsky's Plural Discourse!!


Your gloss of Ilyenkov on Meshcheryakov (copied below) has been bothering me
ever since you sent it. Far too many "inners" to my taste! I've finally
found time to read a bit more of Ilyenkov, this time "The Concept of the
Ideal." There is much to like and agree with in this text. He argues that we
should understand the ideal not as what exists in the individual mind or
brain, but as the forms that material things have as a consequence of their
involvement in the human practices of a culture. The existence of a thing in
a cultue represents, if I'm reading correctly, the form of some other thing
- and, more primordially, the form of human activity. The existence of a
coat, for example, has the form (as commodity) of the value of the cloth
from which it was made.

Ilyenkov writes that both Plato and Hegel were partially right to think that
a world of ideal forms exists independently of the individual mind, because
this plane of ideality is the product of *collective* human activity. As
such it confronts the individual as something  external and objective, a
reality which must be assimilated, must be adapted too. More than this, it
is in adapting to this plan of cultural objects that human consciousness and
will are formed. They are effects of this realm of ideality, not its origin.
(The latter is where Kant went wrong, and also everyday common sense.)

Ilyenkov is developing an account of representation here, and also of
reflection. He writes of mirrors! Sorry, David, here I go again! But I will
postpone discussion of those topics for another message. Here I want to
focus on what Ilyenkov writes about images. Images and ideas, he proposes,
become ideal when they have become *separated* from individual mental
activity. An image becomes "objectified" in social practices, in words, but
also (³and even more directly²) ³in sculptural, graphic and plastic forms
and in the form of the routine-ritual ways of dealing with things and
people, so that it is expressed not only in words, in speech and language,
but also in drawings, models and such symbolic objects as  coats of arms,
banners, dress, utensils, or as money, including gold coins and paper money,
IOUs, bonds or credit notes.²

What Ilyenkov seems to be describing when he discusses Mescheryakov's work
is not, then, a matter of children coming to carry out an "internal imaging"
or "internal feeling," but of coming to perceive an objective image that has
been formed in the material things of a culture. This objectified image is
not necessarily visual, and so it is available to the deaf-blind. I don't
know Meshcheryakov's work in detail so I can't be more concrete at the

Perhaps this is what you meant to say: you did write, indeed, that "Of
course Ilyenkov does not posit by this expression some kind of 'mental
space' which is then observed or tranversed by an internal sense." But what
is "internal feeling" is not something that occurs in an inner space?


On 2/1/09 6:54 PM, "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> With deaf-blind children, as I understand it, the key sense
> is the hand and associated motor nerves; the child feels
> with their hands and arms where things are even without
> actually touching them, internally. This sense is developed
> by using touch and motor functions (including the lips,
> legs, etc) but because the hand is the most sensitive etc.,
> the internal imaging is done by internal feeling of possible
> movements of the hands (where we would form a visual image
> of what we could touch, they do not); plasticine modelling
> is used as a practical exercise to foster this sense.
> Andy

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