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Re: [xmca] Re: xmca Digest, Vol 45, Issue 47: Ilyenkov on ideality and social relations

Martin Packer wrote:
Clearly he [Ilyenkov]
understands that it is a complete mistake to draw the line between the ideal
and the material so that the mind is on one side and the world on the other.
But he evidently still wants to draw the line. My interpretation is that he
wants to draw it between those social artifacts that become ideal and those
that do not.

I don't think this is right Martin, though Ilyenkov focusses so much on Marx's treatment of money, one wonders ... If there is to be a line, then it would be between artificial and natural, (i.e., part of a labour process or not part of a labour process) or between the mental and the material (see the commentary on Kant's idea about the real talers in his pocket). But even then there could be no actual thing which was wholly ideal or natural. Both the ideal and the natural can be material and can be reflected in consciousness. Ideal things are ideal from the beginning to the end of their perception by an individual, that's the point I think.

Looking at any given artefact, there are things about it which are incidental with respect to any labour process and other things which can be understood only in relation to their meaning in some labour process. Every artefact is (as I read it) both natural and ideal.

I take the materiality of a thing to be its existence outside of consciousness and its connection with every other material thing in hte universe. Materiality is therefore a property of an ideal such as a coin as much as it is a property of the other side of the moon. Hegel of course "mistakenly" thought that ideality existed in Nature.

In his book about Lenin, Ilyenkov says:

‘Consciousness’ – let us take this term as Lenin did – is the most general concept which can only be defined by clearly contrasting it with the most general concept of ‘matter’, moreover as something secondary, produced and derived.

You've raised some interesting issues in this email Martin. I need to think some more about it ...


I think, in fact, that the interpretation you are offering is attributed by
Ilyenkov to Hegel. For Hegel, he says (along with other idealists such as
Popper and Plato):

"what begins to figure under the designation of the ³real world² is an
already ³idealised² world, a world already assimilated by people, a world
already shaped by their activity, the world as people know it, as it is
presented in the existing forms of their culture."

This is your position too, isn't it - that the social world is made up of
ideal objects?

Ilyenkov argues that Marx used the term 'ideal' in the same way as Hegel,
but applied it to a completely different "range of phenomena":
"In Capital Marx quite consciously uses the term ³ideal² in this formal
meaning that it was given by Hegel... although the philosophical-theoretical
interpretation of the range of phenomena which in both cases is similarly
designated ³ideal² is diametrically opposed to its Hegelian interpretation."


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Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:

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