Re: [xmca] social memory

From: Tony Whitson <twhitson who-is-at UDel.Edu>
Date: Tue Jan 01 2008 - 16:13:44 PST

I think you're right, Andy, except that what you're talking about seems to
be not methodology, but its antithesis.

On Wed, 2 Jan 2008, Andy Blunden wrote:

> Yes Tony I realised later. I had always thought it was Genesis for some
> reason.
> Although Paul is correct in noting that no-one was there "in the beginning",
> in the Marxist tradition, this quotation has always been in my opinion about
> *methodological* primacy, although it is presented in a manner of causal
> primacy.
> Marx: Capital
> To the owner of a commodity, every other commodity is, in regard to his own,
> a particular equivalent, and consequently his own commodity is the universal
> equivalent for all the others. But since this applies to every owner, there
> is, in fact, no commodity acting as universal equivalent, and the relative
> value of commodities possesses no general form under which they can be
> equated as values and have the magnitude of their values compared. So far,
> therefore, they do not confront each other as commodities, but only as
> products or use-values. In their difficulties our commodity owners think like
> Faust: Im Anfang war die Tat. They therefore acted and transacted before they
> thought. Instinctively they conform to the laws imposed by the nature of
> commodities. They cannot bring their commodities into relation as values, and
> therefore as commodities, except by comparing them with some one other
> commodity as the universal equivalent.
> ---------------------------------
> Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific 1880
> Again, our agnostic admits that all our knowledge is based upon the
> information imparted to us by our senses. But, he adds, how do we know that
> our senses give us correct representations of the objects we perceive through
> them? And he proceeds to inform us that, whenever we speak of objects, or
> their qualities, of which he cannot know anything for certain, but merely the
> impressions which they have produced on his senses. Now, this line of
> reasoning seems undoubtedly hard to beat by mere argumentation. But before
> there was argumentation, there was action. Im Anfang war die That. And human
> action had solved the difficulty long before human ingenuity invented it. The
> proof of the pudding is in the eating. From the moment we turn to our own use
> these objects, according to the qualities we perceive in them, we put to an
> infallible test the correctness or otherwise of our sense-perception. If
> these perceptions have been wrong, then our estimate of the use to which an
> object can be turned must also be wrong, and our attempt must fail.
> --------------------------
> BTW, another favourite Goethe quote, which is counterposed to Hegel's "All
> that is real is rational, All that is rational is real" is "All that exists
> deserves to perish." also from Faust:
> Universal suffrage seems to have survived only for the moment, so that with
> its own hand it may make its last will and testament before the eyes of all
> the world and declare in the name of the people itself: "All that exists
> deserves to perish."
> At 06:01 PM 1/01/2008 -0500, you wrote:
>> In case it matters, the translated line is not from Genesis, but from the
>> Gospel of St. John, where the word in the original is "logos" (which was
>> then translated into Latin as "verbum").
>> On Tue, 1 Jan 2008, Paul Dillon wrote:
>>> Andy, Michael,
>>> I personally don't remember the beginning since I wasn't there and I
>>> don't believe anyone who wants to tell me what it was since one thing I
>>> do know is that they weren't there either. Also it seems to me that
>>> the stories about what the beginning was all about change over time.
>>> Paul
>>> Andy Blunden <> wrote:
>>> I presume everyone talking about "Vygotsky's quote" knows that it all
>>> comes
>>> from Goethe? Apart form the Book of Gensis.
>>> 'Tis writ, "In the beginning was the Word!"
>>> I paused, perlex'd, Who now will help afford?
>>> I cannot the Word so highly prize;
>>> I must translate it otherwise,
>>> If by the spirit guided as I read.
>>> "In the beginning was the Sense"!" Take heed,
>>> The import of this primal sentence weigh,
>>> Lest thy too hasty pen be led astray!
>>> Is force creative then of Sense the dower?
>>> "In the beginning was the Power!"
>>> Thus should it stand: yet while the line I trace,
>>> A something warns me. once more to efface,
>>> The spirit aids! from anxious scruples freed,
>>> I write, "In the beginning was the Deed!"
>>> Translation from the Dover edition (Im Anfang war der Tat") Marx and
>>> Engels
>>> also take up the theme, Bruno Bauer I think?? and even Bukharin and
>>> Trotsky
>>> has their own twist on at more or less the same time as Vygotsky was
>>> writing.
>>> Andy
>>> At 01:01 AM 1/01/2008 -0500, you wrote:
>>>> Michael
>>>> Thanks for this. Let me do some tasting. I hope you don't mind if I
>>>> use my brand of ketchup :-) .
>>>> Okay all of this seems to be in response to a question I asked Paul
>>>> (and, by the way, Paul I am fine if you remember me as somehow looking
>>>> over your shoulder :-) ). So let me try to get a very simplistic grip
>>>> on
>>>> the phenomena. Paul and I were in conversation. Due to some words he
>>>> had
>>>> written, I had responded in writing. Due to the words in my response,
>>>> you
>>>> had responded to my writing. And so forth. Given all this Vygotsky is
>>>> clearly wrong. Neither the word or the deed is in the beginning. As
>>>> James
>>>> says it is turtles all the way down.
>>>> Hmmm. Let me make a hermeneutic move. Perhaps I have misinterpreted
>>>> all this. You quote Vygotsky as saying "In the beginning was the
>>>> deed."
>>>> This may be a purposeful 'misquote' of John's
>>>> I. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
>>>> Word
>>>> was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All thus were
>>>> made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been
>>>> made.
>>>> So perhaps a place to start is a taking seriously of this 'misquoting'
>>>> by
>>>> better understanding the original. Beginning in the English, Word
>>>> seems to
>>>> designate a 'him' on which, in a sense, the very existence of the
>>>> world
>>>> rests and a 'him' that is different from God, but so close to be God.
>>>> In a
>>>> sense, thinking about some things David Kellog has written (thanks
>>>> David),
>>>> perhaps the ultimate, in a sense, interaction. How does this reading
>>>> stand
>>>> up in the Greek (please note, for me, a reading and a translation are,
>>>> in
>>>> a sense, different). The first sentence is "En arch n ho logos, kai
>>>> ho
>>>> logos n pros ton theon, kai theos n ho logos" which roughly reads
>>>> 'From
>>>> the very first was the Wisdom-in-action of God.'
>>>> So, perhaps, Vygotsky has nicely made the point here-contrary to the
>>>> usual translation-that it is not that the word-as-rules (I am using
>>>> David's wording here) is first. I would like to think that he might
>>>> say
>>>> that it is also not action-as-rules that is first, but the
>>>> word-as-action
>>>> (David's interaction seems, in a sense, to work here. Notice I have
>>>> interchanged wisdom or word; however, I mean wisdom). This seems to
>>>> fit
>>>> into how I often read Vygotsky (and, for me, reading and quoting are,
>>>> in
>>>> a sense, different).
>>>> This seems to begin to address the phenomena a bit better. My words to
>>>> Paul aren't (pause here and take a breath) without my action with the
>>>> send key. Pressing the send key without any words doesn't solve the
>>>> problem. Somehow word-as-action creates the interaction. However, l
>>>> disagree with both Vygotsky and myself as I make yet another
>>>> hermeneutic
>>>> move. I'll put it this way, 'In the beginning was.' Being in the
>>>> world,
>>>> existing in the world - wasing - is the beginning of development.
>>>> Action
>>>> and words seem to be derivative. Seems trivial doesn't it? Don't
>>>> believe
>>>> it. Of course, I could be wrong (and that's another hermeneutical move
>>>> :-) ).
>>>> What would Vygotsky say to all this. I like to think he would say,
>>>> 'Interesting point. Have you thought about ..?' However, such
>>>> speculations are, of course. not quoting. On the other hand, I am
>>>> rather
>>>> sure he would say, "Writing this stuff on New Year's Eve? Get a life."
>>>> Ed
>>>>> Hi Ed,
>>>>> here is what Vygotsky (1986, p. 255) says:
>>>>> "In the beginning was the deed. The words was not the
>>>>> beginning-action
>>>>> was there first; it is the end of development, crowning the deed."
>>>>> Just some "food for thought."
>>>>> Michael
>>>>> On 30-Dec-07, at 12:52 PM, Ed Wall wrote:
>>>>> Michael
>>>>> Do you mean the correct order is: "Thank you in advance", why do
>>>>> people write? :-)
>>>>> Ed
>>>>>> On 30-Dec-07, at 12:21 PM, Ed Wall wrote:
>>>>>> A general question for you: Why do people write "Thank you in
>>>>>> advance."?
>>>>>> Ed,
>>>>>> you are reversing the question of praxis and theory, the former
>>>>>> generally emerging prior to the latter. We may do things to
>>>>>> achieve
>>>>>> purposes, and then find reasons for doing them. Or this is how
>>>>>> Marx saw it.
>>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>> Michael
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>> mobile 0409 358 651
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>> Tony Whitson
>> UD School of Education
>> NEWARK DE 19716
>> _______________________________
>> "those who fail to reread
>> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
>> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, mobile
> 0409 358 651
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Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

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Received on Tue Jan 1 16:22 PST 2008

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