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Re: [xmca] Wolves and Ilyenkov
Martin, Andy, Steve:
No, I think I noticed the word "seem". What I CERTAINLY noticed is that this passage comes at the very beginning of a long essay called the history of dialectics, and that part of the point of this essay is to make a clear distinction between the living fossil of pre-scientific philosophy (that is, philosophy which is in some sense meta-science, and therefore without any empirical or experimental method) and philosophy which is an integral part of science just as mathematics (also a pre-scientific discipline) is part of physics, and thus part of the empirical and experimental methodology of physics.
I think that is how I understood Hegel. The problem is that I am NOT sure if Ilyenkov understands him that way. If I say "the world SEEMS to be flat" and Ilyenkov answers me "That is very aptly put" it's not at all clear to me that it is "seems" and not "flat" that is aptly put . I need more data before I decide what he means.
Here's some more data, from later on in the same essay:
p. 61: "...(D)ifference is not identity, or is non-identity, while cause is not effect (is non-effect). True, both cause and effect are subsumed purely formally under one and the same category of interaction, but that only means that a higher category embracing both of them is itself subordinated to the law of identity, i.e. ignores the difference between them."
And why the law of identity (A = A) and not the law of difference (A does not equal B)? As we know from Claparede and Piaget and Carol and Paula, difference is in fact prior to identity in human will and consciousness? Well, because we are talking about something that is to be treated as independent of will and human consciousness. (Of course, we are left with the problem of asking whether the law of identity was really independent of Aristotle's will and consciousness.)
Now, this entirely independent something-or-other may well be in the conciousness of Kant only and not in that of Ilyenkov. It may well be that Ilyenkov is just giving us an entertaining intellectual history of all the fool's errands that certain German philosophers ran in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
But since this essay is called a history of dialectics and not a history of Western thinking, wouldn't it really be far more accurate to discuss, say, Buddhist doctrine or Taoism or even medieval Christianity (with its doctrine of the trinity)? Wouldn't any or all of these ideas be more relevant to real dialectics than this fatuous notion that we can have "cause" without "effect" or "randomness" without "probability" quite independently of the analytical (IMAGINATIVE) power of human consciousness and will?
A few pages later (p. 67), we've got this:
"Fichte sought and found the fundamental inconsistency in the Kantian doctrine on thought in the initial concept that Kant consciously proposed as the basis of all hiscontructions, in the concept of 'thing-in-itself'. Already, in this concept and not in categorial predicates that might be ascribed to things, there was a flagrant contradiction: the supreme fundamental principle of all analytical statements was violated, the principle of contradiction in determinations. This concept was thus inconsistent in a logically developed system-theory. In fact, in the concept"of a a thing as it exists before and outside any possible experience' there was included a bit of nonsense not noted by Kant: to say that the Ego was conscious of a thing outside consciousness was the same as to saythat there was money in one's pocket outside one's pocket."
That's ONLY true if we consider the Ego to exist independently of any one human consciousness and any single person's will. Otherwise, it's not true. I can be perfectly conscious that someone else is conscious of something without being conscious of it myself. (That is precisely how I feel about Martin, Andy, and Steve, actually.)
Even if I stick to my OWN (socially derived and therefore multifarious) consciousness, I find it quite easy to be conscious about something without actually being conscious of it, or to remember about something without actually being able to remember it, or to think about something without actually being able to think it.
Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am voluminous; I contain worlds. Of course, a moment's thought will show you that this feeling of knowing about something without actually knowing it is derived from SOCIAL experience; it is not something that Avicenna's "suspended man" every could have felt.
Seoul National University of Education
Steve, I've got a few more problems with what you wrote, and then I really will follow Martin's lead and rush off to class:
a) I think that your theory of thinking as REPRESENTATIONS of objects does not differentiate sufficiently between perception and thought. One is a lower psychological function, and the other a higher one; we know it is higher because it has the ability to remake perception in its own image (verbal perception, the microgenesis of which is essentially what Paula and Carol's paper is about).
b) I think that the key insight Vygotsky got from Marx (and NOT Hegel) was that the abstract is to be seen as an aspect of the concrete, not the other way around. That means that concepts are an emergent aspect of complexes, in much the same way that complexes are emegent aspects of heaps. So I think that moments really are "aha" moments, and not limited to the noticing of objective connections.
c) I know that you are hostile to a HISTORICAL appreciation of the relationship of Chapter Five to Chapter Six, and you think that the texts should be treated as existing outside human will and human consciousness, like the flying man. But I STILL think that one possible way of understanding how they are articulated, how they represent different moments in a nonlinear emergence is rather gritty and grim and dark and dim.
In 1931, under the pressure of the dissolution of Krupskaya's Narkompros, under RKP(B)'s sudden and arbitrary volte face against pedology in general and complexive thinking in particular, Vygotsky was forced to retrench. He began to write of the possiblity of direct INFLUENCE on the growth of complexes into concepts, that is, the direct influence of abstract thinking on concrete thinking. It was this obligatory concession to a manifestly Stakhanovite policy in education that eventually become the "next zone of development" (that is, the zoped).
That doesn't make it wrong, of course; but it does explain why the zone of proximal development sometimes seems to be a bit of a leap in the dark, a bridge too far, a flying man. It was more of an emergency than a gradual emergence.
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