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Re: [xmca] Consciousness"only a part of the material quality of the man-sign"
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Consciousness"only a part of the material quality of the man-sign"
- From: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sun, 27 Sep 2009 11:45:28 +1000
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Good observations about "inner" and "outer," Vera. As an
approach to some of these issues, I say "the human body is
an artefact like any other."
You say "The categorical distinction between Cs and matter
baffles me." Understood. Hegel (or maybe Fichte) was the
first person in modern times to realize that this dichotomy
is not a good place to start from to resolve the problem of
the human condition, or build a system, etc., etc. He simply
side-stepped the whole problem with which everyone from
Descartes to Kant had been obsessed (including Spinoza). He
left this dichotomy to the side and never ever talked about
it. His "Ontology" is the first book of the Logic: he
reduced Ontology to a critique of the concept of Being. That
was a brilliant step. And it was also our first response to
the problem of defining consciousness: "Why bother?"
But the problem and the dichotomy is there nonetheless and
from time to time it comes up, especially in Psychology,
such as when we have people saying "consciousness is
material" and we have to deal with it. We have to get
clarity. But the consciousness-matter dichotomy is not a
good starting point for science.
What to do then? The first answer was Monism. e.g.
"everything is matter, even consciousness." Or
"consciousness is a property of matter" etc. This does not
sidestep the problem but denies it. As I repeatedly said to
Martin, if everything is matter, everything you say about
matter is a motherhood statement. There is a distinction.
What Fichte, Hegel, Marx, Vygotsky, Leontyev and Peirce all
did, each in their own inimitable fashion, was to move away
from the binary to a three-part ontology. In general they
have "activity" as the mediating element. For Hegel it is
"Particular." But the three "moments" can never ever exist
separately, they are always moments of one and the same
entity. So Cs is always correlated in some way(s) with
matter *in and through activity*. There is no Cs without
So our writers rarely talk about this hateful dichotomy, but
that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It cannot be abolished
by a monism which simply denies it. Mediation not Monism.
Does that resolve the issues?
Vera Steiner wrote:
I always wondered why "inside" in its strictest interpretation, that of
the brain/mind that is not accessible to unmediated eye sight should be
such a pervasive metaphor. Now, the "inner" is becoming more accessible
with CAT scans, X-ray, imaging, etc, should it still be called "inside?"
Theories are not immune to technological change, and this which is so
loaded an issue, we are stuck in an old dichotomy. Why is stone the best
example for matter? Why not blood that also changes with environmental,
physiological and pathological variables? It changes as does the
brain/mind through action, through aging, through education, through the
increasing, sophisticated understanding of meanings. All of these
changes take place with people, or by and through their uses of signs
and symbols, which are the consequences of their prior, collective
actions? Is material only that which we can touch, but not what we
create, including our minds which we create in.interaction with others?
The categorical distinction between Cs and matter baffles me, The
discussion is still governed, I believe on both sides, by the old
difference between in here, that voice in my head, or those images,
which are no longer inaccessible, no longer "inner" in the old sense of
the word when approached with material tools and the grass outside.
But, it seems we cannot help but be snared by its pervasive, metaphoric
----- Original Message ----- From: "Martin Packer" <email@example.com>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, September 26, 2009 6:40 AM
Subject: Re: [xmca] Consciousness"only a part of the material quality of
You're misrepresenting what I wrote, and why I wrote it. I am indeed
arguing that all representational systems are material. Yet I find
myself dealing constantly with colleagues who believe that psychology
must study non-material representational systems. That to understand
children's development, for example, requires studying their
'internal,' 'mental' representations. I was citing Donald's work as
an example that does a good job of explaining human cognitive
development (historical rather than ontogenetic, but that's not an
important difference in this context) with reference only to
representational systems that are material. Plus brain functioning,
construed in non- representational ways. No tautology here, and no
On Sep 26, 2009, at 7:54 AM, Andy Blunden wrote:
Martin referred to a series of "representational systems" being all
"material"; I pointed out that Martin had already said that
*everything*, even consciousness, was material so the statement that
these representational systems were material was a "motherhood
statement", i.e., a tautology.
So I responded "show me a representational system which is *not*
material" which is a problem for Martin because he says that
everything is material.
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Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea
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