Re: Discussion of EVI's Concept of the Ideal

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 02:01:32 PDT

Well, I'm a great fan of Ilyenkov. This article was a turning point for me.
While I think he is innovating in using the word "ideal," in the way he
does, I think Ilyenkov was deliberately aiming at the Stalinised version of
"historical determinism" which relegates all human agency to the Party and
its Great Helmsman. The counter-attack calling Ilyenkov an "idealist" was
just the result he would have been looking for.

That is I see his move in terms of a nod to Thesis On Feuerbach #1.

Virtually all my writing over the past few years is hinged around this
idea. I don't see Ilyenkov as dealing with an ontological problem. The
issue of subject-object is an issue of human agency not images being
reflected in a mirror. That's why I remarked in a side-discussion with Dot
Robbins (bless your heart Dot!) that I really didn't like the way Vygotsky
used the "mirror" metaphor so beloved by Lenin.

My current writing

relies heavily on Ilyenkov. Actually, I think this discussion is somewhat
like the one on Leontyev vs. Vygotsky on "activity." I think Leontyev's
notion is a better one, but I wouldn't like to counterpose it to Vygotsky.


At 01:31 AM 13/05/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>Well said, Andy.
>Have you written on this issue of the ideal?
>- Steve
>Andy Blunden wrote:
>>I think that Ilyenkov clarifies and develops what was only partially
>>developed and "hesitant" in Marx. In Chapter 3 of Capital Marx says:
>>"The price or money-form of commodities is, like their form of value
>>generally, a form quite distinct from their palpable bodily form; it is,
>>therefore, a purely ideal or mental form."
>>and he later contrasts price and value in a way that does not allow us to
>>say that Marx saw money as an objective ideal as Ilyenkov does. He uses
>>"ideal" in Capital on several occasions in the way engineers talk about
>>equations as "just ideal" in contrast to real behgaviour. I would venture
>>to say that Marx was not able to go as far as Ilyenkov at an historical
>>time when a "life force" was still being posited as the cause of body
>>temperature and the memory of Hegel's Geist was still very fresh.
>>Personally I find Ilyenkov's extension of the Marx's idea valid and
>>appropriate. Marx for example, uses the word "abstract" in just the way
>>that Ilyenkov uses it, but it does appear that he did not go so far as to
>>use the word "ideal" in quite that way.

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