Re: Response to Steve G on EVI and Bakhurst - The annotations

From: Oudeyis (
Date: Sun May 16 2004 - 10:57:36 PDT


Here's installment two (one more to go).

I should have done this much earlier, before reading Bakhurst.
First, from careful reading (the 10th or 11th time, I no longer can keep track) I'm beginning to develop the view that despite its terrible organization (EVI here mixes commentary on Kant and Hegel with commentary on Marx without clearly indicating that he's doing so, jumps to and from issues with the abandon I associate with the kinds of complicated discussions we used to have as grad students in Friday night sessions in the local bar, and sometimes tediously repeats previous commentary over and over while making other important points in a short simple sentence)the work is quite consistent with his prior writings and has no resemblence whatsoever to Bakhurst's so called authoritative interpretations. As I see it now Ilyenkov is certainly not an idealist: subjective or objective. He is very much a mainline Marxist-Leninist whose main contribution is to give theoretical depth to the metascience of knowledge, logic and dialectics intimated, suggested, and partially worked out by his predecessors.

Second, I should have been even more critical reading Bakhurst than I was. While it was easy to recognize that his idea that EVI was trying to find a synthesis of objectivist materialism and subjective idealism was totally without foundation, I overlooked the fact that DB accepts at face value Ilyenkov's identification of the Marxist analogue to Hegelian "spirit" as human collective activity. In fact, Ilyenkov's materialist analogue to Hegelian "spirit" is more precise: it is the collective productive and reproductive activity of man (general labour) that is the proper Marxist analogue to Hegel's spirit (though mentioned in the section I just sent this very well developed in the last 4th of the article). As EVI goes to great lengths to demonstrate in (1974) Dialectical Logic, it is Marx's reconstruction of materialist theory on the basis of man's active intervention in nature that extricates materialist theory from the subjectivism and dualism of contemplative (Feuerbachian and pre-Feuerbachian) materialism. Bakhurst's preference for the more abstract formulation of EVI's analogue to Hegelian spirit, by its implicit obliviousness to the active interaction between man and nature, revives the dualism and subjectivism of contemplative materialism without even being contemplative!

Third, Jones's argument for a distinction between material objects (tools) and ideal objects (social relations) is misdirected. There is a difference between material objects and ideal objects (much of EVI's discussion in the Concept of the Ideal is devoted to this issue) for without this difference we revert back to idealism. But, this difference is most certainly not to be found in the distinction between tools and social relations. Thought, knowledge, may be a function of labour, but perception isn't. The very fact that ideal objects are distinctive parts of our world experience implies that we experience more than the useful products of thought.
On the other hand, Jones does have a point that there are different kinds of idealities. EVI doesn't deal with this issue, but clearly there is a difference between elementary idealities (objectified notions that have been integrated into the collectively produced knowledge of mankind), more complex idealities (such as value-form that are idealities comprised of idealities) and ideal forms such as language that are in essence instruments for producing idealities.
Highest Regards,
----- Original Message -----
  From: Steve Gabosch
  Sent: Friday, May 14, 2004 10:48 PM
  Subject: Re: Response to Steve G on EVI and Bakhurst - The annotations

  Got installment one. Great material [ideality? :-)) ] to work with. Will comment after more installments, unless you want something before you go on.

  Regarding par 31 you comment: "Assimilation of social consciousness is then, as Vygotsky puts it, learning the production of meaningful objects: Idealities." This directly relate the relationship of the concept of ideality to the concept of meaningfulness (your end notes do this several times), a relationship I am more and more seeing as close to synonymous (keeping in mind these perhaps equivalent concepts originate in different knowledge domains). In making this transition from "ideality" to "meaning," we may be passing from philosophy to psychology and social science. My questions, what did Vygotsky have to say about meaning that relates to our discussion of ideality, and did he relate meaning and ideality directly?

  A side comment: I think ideality (meaningfulness) needs to be distinguished from materiality when we speak of produced objects - we produce both the material object and its meaning (its ideality). A meaningful object has both ideality and materiality. A meaningful object is not the same as ideality and ideality is not equivalent to meaningful objects.

  - Steve

  At 04:23 PM 5/14/2004 +0200, you wrote:

    I'm sending you my annotations in installments. This is the first 4th of the paper and probably the most important part.
    A few words on the annotations. The original annotations included precis and criticisms of each paragraph. Of these there are two sets, the first is black, the second (done later is dark red). Some of these still appear in the version I sent you, but not all. In response to your questions etc. I'm annotating the paper once again, this time in a lighter purple script. Instead of annotating each paragraph I've annotated some paragraphs that appear to me to be of critical significance while other annotations are relevant to groups of paragraphs. The annotations themselves are presented as end notes and you can identify the reference by traversing between commentary and text.
    This third annotating review of EVI has enabled me to clarify further my critique of EVI (see notes on paragraphs 39 through 41 and especially the 2nd paragraph of my notes for EVI's paragraph 41).
    As you should see from the annotations I am building on EVI's work rather than simply criticising it.
    Looking forward to your response,

      ----- Original Message -----

      From: Steve Gabosch


      Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 2:17 PM

      Subject: Re: Response to Steve G on EVI and Bakhurst

      Hi Victor,

      Your great response convinced me that I need to, for the moment, put aside Bakhurst, Jones, and many of the very excellent and important issues and points you raise, and work specifically on Ilyenkov's article on the concept of the ideal. I hope you will join me.

      Two posts are on their way.

      The first post has a large file attachment. I have annotated the EVI article "The Concept of the Ideal" paragraph by paragraph. Doing this has been an amazing learning experience. I think I did a pretty good job with this annotation project.

      The second post is a discussion of the EVI article, including some thoughts I have on possible implications of EVI's concept of the ideal.

      - Steve

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