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[Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history
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- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history
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- Thread-topic: [Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history
Mike, your paraphrased is very clearly ststed in Vygotsky's essay, The Socialist Alteration of Man, especially in the second through fifth paragraphs. I think this may be the source of the phrase you are looking for, though clearly Vygotsky is riffing on Engels.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] on behalf of Andy Blunden [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 9:23 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: Mikhail Munipov
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history
Actually, I think that "the more that human beings become removed from
animals in the narrower sense of the word, the more they make their own
history consciously" is near as dammit what you are looking for.
Engels of course lacked good information. Even in his day Vygotsky had
poor information. In "Ape, Primitive Man and Child", "primitive" is
taken to mean "non-literate", as it was for Luria in his Central Asian
expedition, and a great deal of emphasis is put on the origins and
development of *writing*. But writing only appears in Egypt c. 2,000 BCE
I think, in any case, in evolutionary time scales 5 minutes ago. The
development of writing is nothing to do with evolution of the species.
Vygotsky defines primitive man as follows:
“This term is commonly used, admittedly as a conventional label, to
designate certain peoples of the uncivilized world, situated at the
lower levels of cultural development. It is not entirely right to
call these peoples primitive, as a greater or lesser degree of
civilization can unquestionably be observed in all of them. All of
them have already emerged from the prehistoric phase of human
existence. Some of them have very ancient traditions. Some of them
have been influenced by remote and powerful cultures, while the
cultural development of others has become degraded.
“/Primitive man, in the true sense of the term, does not exist
anywhere at the present time, /and the human type, as represented
among these primeval peoples, can only be called “relatively
primitive.” Primitiveness in this sense is a lower level, and the
starting point for the historical development of human behaviour.
Material for the psychology of primitive man is provided by data
concerning prehistoric man, the peoples situated at the lower levels
of cultural development and the comparative psychology of peoples of
different cultures.”(Preface, 1930, Italics in the original)
And from the start, this chapter is framed as "cultural development" as
distinct from "evolutionary development." Chapter 1 on primates focuses
on the limited use of tools possible for apes, with the implication that
the cultural development around the emergence of labour, i.e., the
production of tools, was part of evolutionary development, prior and
leading up to the formation of homo sapiens sapiens. There is no chapter
covering the period between 2 million years ago and say `00,000 years
ago, where cultural and biological formation are interacting.
According to Engels and others including Dewey, speech emerges
simultaneously with tools. Dewey makes the point that a tool is not a
tool until its use is institutionalised, linking social, symbolic and
tool-using activity together.
mike cole wrote:
> So perhaps its just my bad memory, Andy. the issues remain central.
> THANKS for the appropriate links!
> On Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 4:51 PM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com
> <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:
> There can only be two sources of this idea: Engels' "Part Played
> by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man" (1876)
> and the Introduction to "Dialectics of Nature" (1883)
> In the latter work, after explaining how freeing the hands by
> adopting an erect gait, led to the use of tools, meaning labour,
> and this led to the expansion of the brain, language and sundry
> other changes, and thus eventualy the emergence of human beings as
> a species. Then he says:
> "With men we enter /history/."
> In the earlier document, he says: "Labour begins with the making
> of tools" which Engels claims happened before the formation of
> modern homo sapiens, contributing to that formation rather than
> being a product of the formation of modern humans, and he narrates
> a story which continues from this point up to socialist revolution
> as if it were one continuous story, blurring over the distinction
> between evolution of the species and historical development of
> The nerest we come to your quote is: "the more that human beings
> become removed from animals in the narrower sense of the word, the
> more they make their own history consciously." The "narrower
> sense" I presume means biological differentiation. So this could
> count for what you are looking for, Mike.
> *Andy Blunden*
> mike cole wrote:
> Dear Colleagues--
> I seem to recall reading an idea, that I recall being
> attributed to Engels,
> that (rooughly) "more and more the laws of evolution are being
> replaced by
> the laws of history."
> Can anyone enlighten me either as to the source of this
> "quotation" or as
> to the source of my own confusion in this regard?
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science as an
> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.