This was taken directly from the translation of the article in MIA:
Problems of Dialectical Materialism, 1977
The Concept of the Ideal Written: 1977; Source: Problems of Dialectical Materialism; Publisher: Progress Publishers, 1977; Transcribed: Andy Blunden; HTML Markup: Andy Blunden.
----- Original Message ----- From: "Eugene Matusov" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Sunday, May 02, 2004 10:14 PM Subject: RE: Does no one read [between] Vygotsky's words?: reposting Victor's post
> Dear everybody- > > As far as I know, the article "The Concept of the Ideal" was written by > El'enkov in the early 60s or even the late 50s for the Philosophical > Encyclopedia that was published in the early 60s (1964?). I'm not aware of > 1977 (re?)publication of this paper. Does anybody know anything about 1977 > publication? Is it the same article? > > Also, > > Ilyenkov in "The Concept of the Ideal." describe the > > object as representing the ideational "image of the object" presumably in > > the mind of the observer. > > This does not fit my memory of Il'enkov's argument about object. Does > anybody have a direct quote? > > Eugene > > > > -----Original Message----- > > From: Steve Gabosch [mailto:email@example.com] > > Sent: Sunday, May 02, 2004 12:32 PM > > To: firstname.lastname@example.org > > Subject: Re: Does no one read [between] Vygotsky's words?: reposting > Victor's post > > > > I happen to have it handy, here is Victor's post again. > > - Steve > > > > > > Mike, > > These ideas are still in a somewhat formative state, but I'll give it a > try. > > > > > -----------------------------------Background----------------------------- -- > > Just a bit of background: about three months ago, P. Jones asked if I had > > written something on Ilyenkov's concepts of Ideality, i.e. those he > > presented in his 1977 article "The Concept of the Ideal." After reading > the > > article about 8-9 times and finding it no less clear at the 8th reading > than > > it was at the first reading I went through the corpus of Ilyenkov's works > > (those translated into English that is) and reviewed all available > > interpretations of EVI's works by D. Bakhurst's and of P. Jones. My > general > > impression was that the subjective idealist implications of the article of > > 1977 (I basically agree with Bakhurst here) were a striking anomaly when > > compared to the rest of EVI's writings, both those preceding and following > > the publication of the 1977 article (here I take exception to Bakhurst's > > efforts to regard "The Concepts..." as an integral part of Ilyenkov's life > > work). This raised the interesting question; how did EVI - one of the > > sharpest critics of Logical Positivism of the last century - come to write > > up what is in essence a subjective idealist theory of the ideal?! "The > > Concept of the Ideal" was part of a collection of articles including > Leont' > > ev's important "Activity and consciousness" published as,(1977) Philosophy > > in the USSR: Problems of dialectical materialism. I just finished > > reading/rereading the available writings of Leontiev (reread his, (1978) > > Activity Consciousness and Personality, and read and reread his, (1977) > > "Activity and Consciousness," several times) and a respectable number of > > links between "The Concept...," and "Activity and Consciousness," suggests > > that the anomalies of "The Concept of the Ideal" might well be the > > consequence of a theoretical expansion of Leont'ev's Activity theory. > > > > -----------------------------On the Issues-------------------------------- > > > > As I wrote earlier Vygotsky's work is one of the most accomplished > > adaptation of materialist dialectics to new issues. I can't say the same > for > > Leontiev. Leont'ev's theorizing represents a reversion to subjective > > idealism; interesting because he succeeds in doing this without appearing > to > > reject official dialectical materialism. He manages to do this mainly by > > refraining from writing about the general philosophic implications of his > > ideas. It appears to me that Ilyenkov in his article of 1977 presents a > > broad philosophical foundation for Leont'ev's Action Theory and collides > > head on with the subjective idealism implicit to Leont'evs basic ideas. > Our > > differential evaluation of Vygotsky's work - especially his theories on > the > > production of language - from the Action model of Leont'ev is mostly based > > on several basic features of material logic and its . > > > > First, a definition of terms: the abstract and the concrete; the > > universal, the particular and the singular > > (You can skip this if you're acquainted with these terms). > > 1. Abstract and Concrete: Materialist logic (and here my main reference is > > Ilyenkov's 1960 work The *Dialectics of the Abstract & the Concrete in > Marx' > > s Capital* particularly Chapter 2 - The Unity of the Abstract & the > Concrete > > as a Law of Thought and Chapter 3 - Ascent from the Abstract to the > > Concrete) regards abstract and concrete concepts as being equally linked > to > > the material world and distinguishes between them only in terms of their > > relatedness to other concepts regarding that world. For example, > primitive > > exchange or barter represents the most elementary form of commodification > > and can be regarded as both historically abstract and as a fairly abstract > > feature of Capitalist economy. It is historically abstract because as a > > pre-capitalist form of exchange it plays a rather minimal role, i.e. it is > a > > fairly isolated form of activity, in the general mode of production by > which > > men produced the conditions that perpetuate the life of their households > > etc. It is abstract within the context of modern Capitalism because it is > > only the basic cell of the whole system of the Capitalist mode of > > production. To arrive at the latter, a great many other abstractions; > > theory of surplus value, money, and so on must be added to the basic > > abstraction of primitive exchange. > > 2. Universal, particular and singular (individual): The logical categories > > of general, particular and singular (individual) are generally, though not > > universally related to the distinction between the abstract and the > > concrete. The Materialist version of universality (here I also rely > > considerably on Ilyenkov's (1974) *Dialectical Logic* Chapter 11: Problem > > of the General in Dialectics) is essentially one of shared origin rather > > than one of shared properties (as it is in the case of formal logical > > reasoning). Take, for example, the principle of exchange of commodities > as > > a universal feature of Capitalism. The contradictions implicit to > commodity > > exchange that so characterize the whole of the Capitalist mode of > production > > are as fundamental as primitive exchange itself, yet primitive exchange is > a > > most rare and marginal form of social relation in modern Capitalism. > > Relations may and usually do develop from individual cases as singular > > phenomena, become particular forms of social activity as limited but > > recurrent events, and may as in the case of commodity exchange become > > universal features of whole social systems. > > > > The important theoretical achievement of Vygotsky is a thoroughly material > > and dialectical theory of the production of a special kind of object; the > > object produced strictly as a means for information transmission. This > kind > > of object emerges from a dialectical union of material production (in the > > case of spoken language this is the production of speech), with the > > formation of the notion or logic. No less brilliant are the means whereby > > LSV demonstrates the processes whereby this union is first achieved and > > develops. LSV's scientific research shows is that the production of > objects > > for transmission of information (let's call them semiotic objects) enables > > 1. Objectification of the notion at any and all stages of its development > > 2. The objective representation of the structures of simple and complex > > stages of the notion: syntax and logic. > > 3. Interaction between the production of semiotic objects and the > > development of more complex forms of the notion. > > Though LSV's research is realized through structured examination of > > individual activity, its aims are to determine and test general - > > universal - laws of the production of semiotic objects (see the > definitions > > of universal, particular and singular (individual) using the same > scientific > > approach as that used by Marx to determine the laws of production and > their > > manifestation in the Capitalist mode of production. > > VYGOTSKY DOES NOT PRODUCE A PSYCHOLOGY! > > > > Leont'ev's "Activity and Consciousness," makes no explicitly philosophical > > observations and appears on the surface to be what its author asserts it > to > > be; a materialist theory of personality. However, a careful reading > raises > > some pretty pointed questions concerning the materialist character of > Leont' > > ev's version of Activity Theory. For example, Leontiev in "Activity and > > consciousness", and Ilyenkov in "The Concept of the Ideal." describe the > > object as representing the ideational "image of the object" presumably in > > the mind of the observer. This is a very peculiar assertion for > > materialists and even for objective idealists. Ideation - the formation > of > > the Notion - is ideality because it involves the development of knowledge > - > > that of recurrent relation - that cannot be immediately sensed by human > > perception (by the active spirit for Hegelians). Both Idealist realism > and > > Materialism firmly assert that the object itself is immediately detectable > > by sensual means. The various forms of subjective idealism; Kantian, > > Logical Positivism and so on, do argue that perception is as ideational as > > relation and that immediate access to the material world is beyond human > > abilities. The assertion that the object represents an image of the object > > is much more consistent with how subjective idealists regard the relation > > between the mind and the world than it does either objective idealism or > > Marxist materialism. > > > > Leontiev aim; the formulation of laws of individual behaviour, is a direct > > challenge to objectivist logic. In objectivist logic; Idealist and > > Materialist there can be no laws of individual behaviour. Individuals' > > behaviours are singular manifestations of laws involving relations on the > > scale of communities, social system, humanity, and life forms in general. > > Leontiev does not even make an effort to justify the formation of a > general > > theory of personality. He just makes one, and ignores the broader > > ontological and epistemological implications. I think Ilyenkov's 1977 > > article may well have been an attempt to deal with the philosophic > problems > > posed by Leont'ev's general theory of personality. It's an interesting > but > > unconvincing effort. Bakhurst, (1991) "The Problem of the Ideal." > > Consciousness and Revolution in Soviet Philosophy: From the Bolsheviks to > > Evald Ilyenkov, makes a considerable effort to distinguish between > > Ilyenkov's concept of the ideal and the general run of subjective idealist > > philosophy; but ultimately comes to the conclusion that Ilyenkov's > writings > > on the ideal are neither clear nor decisive. No great wonder! Ilyenkov > was > > trying to find some way of reconciling a philosophical argument at least > as > > ancient as the first publication of Aristotle's logics. > > > > Enough for now. > > > > Addendum: the place of psychology as a scientific discipline. > > As I wrote above, there is a general or rough correspondence between > > development towards the concrete and the development of less general > > concepts. Simple statistics is sufficient to show that the more concrete > > the concept, the more relations are incorporated in its formation, and so > > the more likely that at least some of the relations that contribute to its > > formation will differ from other similarly concrete concepts. The > > individual case, be it a person, a movement or whatever will, by > definition > > be one that contains some or many relations or combination of relations to > > the material world that are entirely its own. Such an individual or > > singularity may serve as the subject of analysis as a manifestation of > more > > general laws governing human activity in the case of the individual, but > it > > is worthless as a basis for the formation of a general theory. For this > way > > of thinking psychology and research into individual personality is an > > important application of theory to real problems (like the engineer who > > concentrates all the general and particular knowledge about bridge > building > > to actually construct a bridge in an actual location having specific - > > unique - material conditions etc.), but it cannot form the basis for > general > > theory. > > > > > > ----- Original Message ----- > > From: "Mike Cole" <email@example.com> > > To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> > > Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 9:55 PM > > Subject: Re: Does no one read [between] Vygotsky's words? > > > > > > > Victor-- Could you elaborate on the comment about the differences > between > > > LSV and his students/colleagues? Davydov, for example, was a big > champion > > > of Ilyenkov and a critic of LSV's ideas on concepts on, I believe, > their > > > marxist foundations. Leontiev is used by a lot of current AT people as > a > > > guiding light. What differences that make a difference do you see? > > > mike >
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