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[xmca] Ideality and Nature

I think that this business of referring to ideal and natural
properties of things has cracked the issue for me. Can I
list some opposites for the purpose of shared

material = outside individual consciousness, not mental
mental = in individual consciousness

natural = outside of the human labouring process
ideal   = part of a labour process

material vs mental is an "obvious" common sense distinction
that doesn't explain very much.

natural vs ideal refers to properties of things. All
artefacts are material but any artefact has both ideal and
natural properties. Even a star whose physical properties
bear no mark of human labour at all, have ideal properties,
and *in that sense alone* are "artefacts" - a claim that has
always troubled me.


Andy Blunden wrote:
> I think I need to start saying things like 'ideal aspect' or
> referring to 'ideality'. (Almost) everything made by human
> labour has 'significance' or 'meaning' and this does not
> exclude the fact that many properties of a thing may be
> natural rather than ideal. The provenance of a coin
> incorporates it within a country's money system, but none of
> the physical properties of it establish that provenance,
> because coutnerfeiters are clever. But the tarnishing of
> silver coins is not an artefact, that is a natural of all
> silver coins. I think 'ideality' is a property of certain
> things which is quite distinct from any physical property.
> How do you describe what sort of property is ideality?
> Thinking about why Marx's analysis of money is so central
> (for Ilyenkov for example) to a solution of the problem of
> the ideal, and not just the nature of capitalism. I think
> money is a kind of 'microcosm' (to link this to the
> discussion with Nicolai).
> People can say words are just made up, conventional symbols,
> but words are just like money, and people think that money
> is just a conventional symbol, too. The way money emerged
> from thousands of years of human practice demonstrated how
> the ideal emerges out of the practice of bringing things
> into elation with one another in labour processes. I want to
> think about this some more, MArtin, and thank you for your
> continual challenges!
> Andy
> Martin Packer wrote:
>> Andy,
>> Once again you're pointing out what is material for Ilyenkov. I didn't
>> bother to emphasize what things are material, because Ilyenkov is a
>> materialist. Everything in his ontology is material. He is a monist!
>> But he still wants to draw distinctions. I should probably have been clearer
>> that when Ilyenkov writes that it is the task of philosophy to clarify
>> "the distinction between the 'ideal' and the 'real' ('material')," what he
>> must mean is the distinction between what is ideal (and also material) and
>> what is material (but not also ideal). I presume that this distinction must
>> be drawn by humans (even philosophers are human!), using social practices.
>> If everything within social practice becomes ideal (if, as you put it,
>> "every artifact is... ideal"), how could this task ever be completed? I can
>> only infer that for Ilyenkov there are things within social practice that
>> are material (of course) but not ideal. And then it follows that only
>> certain material things within social practice are (also) ideal.
>> What are these ideal (yet material) things? Images, monuments, money,
>> drawings, models, and "such symbolic objects" as banners, coats of arms....
>> Martin 
>> On 2/22/09 12:36 AM, "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>>> 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 ...
>>> Andy
>>>> 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."
>>>> Martin
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Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435
Skype andy.blunden
Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:

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