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[Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history

Oh to jump in with both feet first!
I've been following the discussion as best I can in a time of total administrative change, but I read a persuasive discussion, or I heard it very recently about memo taking. Administrative purposes can refer to commercial, how many bales of cotton, barrels of olive oil, how many heifers, or personal administration, like took pills before breakfast, temperature rose, and so on, the fever chart to show to the doctor.

But then there is the cache like a library, to save time, because you remember everything, but you have priorities, so you put stuff in a written cache to be available, like putting the acorns in a hole for later use. That could also be seen as administrative.

But that means that we are translating into a metaphor taken from a verb which comes from somewhere, but Latin governmental functionaries and servants and attendants loom large.
Vandy Wilkinson

On 2015/01/15 13:24, Andy Blunden wrote:
Peg, does my remark that writing was invented "for administrative
purposes" stand up?
*Andy Blunden*

Peg Griffin wrote:
About writing origins, Henry: There's some accessible and reliable info
through that U of Chicago Oriental Institute museum web-site I mentioned.
You can download the catalog for free - over 200 pages of good essays and

2.pdf The first chapter has a good discussion about writing and other
graphic representations from art and administrative functions.  It has a
reasonable bibliography.  Subsequent specialized chapters also carry good
documentation.  It's certainly a good start if you want to follow this

Peg Griffin, Ph. D.
Washington, DC 20003

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
[mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of HENRY SHONERD
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 7:18 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history

Yes, thank you, Helen
I have a couple of questions:
1)The movie Cave of Forgotten Dreams focuses on cave drawings of Southern
France that date back 32,000 years. Writing may date back only about 5
thousand years, but I understand that writing systems begin with
pictographs, like in the caves of southern France. Is that relevant to
2) Does oral history count as history?

I have a question
On Jan 14, 2015, at 2:30 PM, Peg Griffin <Peg.Griffin@att.net> wrote:

Thanks, Helena!  It is lovely.  A while ago I had skimmed it but
misplaced ways to get to it for deep reading and use of it.
Besides just liking this sort of thing, I've had some luck getting
teacher ed students to see contemporary cultural and language
diversity a little differently when they get a chance to see history
they might have missed out on in their prior education.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
[mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Helena Worthen
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 2:06 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: 'Mikhail Munipov'
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history

And there's this:


This is a gorgeous exhibit, if it comes near you. For the text about
2000-1500 BCE, scroll about half way down. The exhibit has stones,
set side by side, with different ancient scripts.

Helena Worthen

On Jan 13, 2015, at 7:16 PM, Peg Griffin wrote:

Here's a little side track:  There's a web trace of a 2010 well-curated
museum exhibit on writing from the U of Chicago Oriental Institute.

And here are a few little outtakes:
        "four instances and places in human history when writing was
invented from scratch - in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Mesoamerica
- without previous exposure to or knowledge of writing. It appears
likely that all other writing systems evolved from the four systems
we have in our exhibition."
        "the earliest cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia (today's
Iraq), dating to about 3200 BC,"
        " early Egyptian writing that includes tags and labels from
the tombs of the first kings (about 3320 BC) as well as hieroglyphic
writing and other scripts from the Nile Valley."
        " Chinese writing, which emerged about 1200 BC, will be
shown on oracle bones"
        " Mayan hieroglyphs from the 7th century AD will show how
early Mesoamericans wrote."
        " Long believed to have been invented in Phoenicia in about
1000 BC, the earliest alphabetic texts are now those found in the Sinai.
This earliest alphabet was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs as early as
1800 BC, well over five hundred years earlier than had been known."
There are some lovely little animations about the development of
and one animation about a hieroglyph changing and eventually
appropriated for a Greek letter.
I love this little site and fear the day I try to open it and find U
of Chicago has abandoned it. Peg

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu
[mailto:xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 9:24 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.
*Andy Blunden*

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 <ablunden@mira.net
<mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> 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.