Re: EVI's Concept of the Ideal - mirrors

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Sat May 15 2004 - 17:22:23 PDT

Quoting Steve Gabosch <>:
> his simple materialist idea about reflection in his Philosophical Notebooks
> (I believe)

"Materialism and Empirio-criticism" 1908. The Phil/NB were 1914/1915 and were
just annotations on what he was reading.
> Your point, Andy, about a three-sided process of human activity, rather
> than just a two-sided one, seems crucial. Marx, Engels, Lenin et. al. were
> certainly correct in distinguishing between the objective and subjective,

I always work on the assumption that Hegel is "implicit" in Marx. Marx's
critique of Hegel (at the level of epistemology) is really rather subtle. I
think many Marxists would be surprised how far Marx is anticipated in Hegel.
Lenin on the other hand only actually read Hegel for the first time in 1914.

> considered, as you put it, a "third" side. It is objective. But it is
> also a very special form of subjectivity - a collective subjectivity that
> is independent of individuals, although mediated by each and every one of
> them. The reflection metaphor does not capture this dynamic "third" side
> of human reality - in fact, it seems to outright deny it.

Yes, but in emphasising the "third" (i.e., cultural artefacts etc) do not
minimise the other two - the Individual who introduces all the will, need,
feeling, strength, etc., the truly *active* one, and the Particular, i.e., the
specific forms of activity, organisation, etc.

The "thing-in-itself" is a kind of "boundary" restraining the forms of human
practice, as I see it, it is not any one of these three, but is reflected in
the relation between all of them.


To the extent
> Lenin, or for that matter, Marx and Engels and others, held on to the idea
> that this "third" side, the realm of cultural meaning (the ideal), is
> "purely" subjective and not objective, and it is "merely" a linear
> reflection of social reality in the consciousness of individuals, to that
> extent we need to put aside these objectivist misunderstandings adopted
> from an earlier era of social science - as we develop something much more
> dialectical and true.
> - Steve
> At 11:36 PM 5/15/2004 +1000, you wrote:
> >I think that both Vygotsky and Ilyenkov really loved Lenin, and this
> >mirror metaphor caused them some problem because Lenin had committed
> >himself to it so decisively in 1908. Nevertheless, I think Vygotsky is
> not
> >being true to himself in repeating it. Perhaps it was not politically
> >possible to criticise it, but surely he didn't have to repeat, don't
> you think?
> >
> >For me, it is the fact that the mirror is passive, whereas a human
> being
> >is active. (see good old Theses on Feuerbach again). Lenin points out
> >(correctly I think) that reflection is a capacity of *all matter* (e.g.
> a
> >footprint) and one can even impute an element of "interpretation" in
> >nature. But what is lacking is the 3-sided process of human activity
> which
> >includes an *ideal*.
> >
> >What do you think?
> >Andy

Andy Blunden

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