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

Thanks Martin. You know, I don't think anyone with any sense at all, could sit down to write about mind-matter duality, without some trepidation. It is so hard to make these distinctions correctly and consistently and leave no room for misunderstanding or error!

I appreciate all the quotes you have given. That Ilyenkov one you give is one of my favourites. I recently finished proofing Meshcheryakov's book


and for the sake of time you could just read the beginning and end chapters to get the theory. In between he takes you step by painful step through the making of "a" mind, i.e., the "awakening" of consciousness in a child or young person (provided there is no brain damage). This step by step practical experience of *creating* mind is actually a fantastic clarification.

The interesting thing about the use of the word "image" in this context is that they have not only no sight, but no visual sense at all, inner or outer. M. uses "see" and "talk" etc in inverted commas, because these people do get to gain all the functions of hearing/sighted people through the sense of touch alone! But "image" must be understood very differently! And it takes deliberate intervention to create the capacity to form an image. Amongst those with normal sense organs, it happens unnoticed; it's "natural".

If a human organism lacks all the sense organs which facilitate participation in human practice and perception of the artefacts used in these practices, M. reprots that they do not have a consciousness at all: it has to be constructed.

This of course would be senseless if mind was simply "outside" because there is nothing wrong with the outside; it is simply that there is no connection between "inside" and "outside". So the child never gets involved in collective social practice, which opens up for them *meaning*. After a decade or so at M's school they get to be fully functioning and participating human beings.

How, Martin, would you talk about the process of humanising these individuals? of "awakening" them? The classic case study is learning to eat from a spoon, often the first instance in which the child gets to actively *use* an artefact and thereby go from either suffering of the acts of others, or immediate satisfaction of a biological drive (to eat) to participation in a social practice, according to the norms embedded in the spoon, at first together with a carer who holds and manipulates the spoon, and then later holding the spoon themselves.

The inclination and ability to manipulate the spoon themselves when they hold it, forms an image of eating in a human way, of a human need to eat, eating as a social, human practice, as opposed to the immediate satisfaction of a biological drive.

It's "in" the spoon, and "in" the practice of the carer who provides and holds the spoon with food on it, but it is only *existant* when the child can do it themselves. How do you describe that third part of it?


Martin Packer wrote:

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.


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Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:

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