Re: [xmca] social memory

From: Tony Whitson <twhitson who-is-at UDel.Edu>
Date: Tue Jan 01 2008 - 16:53:35 PST


I think I'm not understanding what you mean by "methodology."
Usually, I think it means there's a method that guides conduct. I take
your point (with Marx and Engles) to be that conduct precedes a post-hoc
rationalization of its "method." "Im Anfang war die Tat."

On Wed, 2 Jan 2008, Andy Blunden wrote:

> I think you're just being provocative Tony, either that or you are guilty of
> a kind of ahistoricism. In the middle- to late-19th century, there was a
> great battle over materialism vs idealism and Peirce, Mead & Co. are just as
> much beneficiaries of that struggle as Vygotsky, Leontyev and Luria. Sure, by
> the mid-20th century, science had moved on to deeper contradictions, but at
> the time when Capital was written people still believed in a "life force"
> which entered the flesh and was responsible for vitality and a soul which
> entered the body, responsible for consciousness, just as historians existed
> who thought history was shaped by "great men" and economists who believed
> that "value is in the eye of the beholder".
> But perhaps I misunderstood you??
> Andy
> At 07:13 PM 1/01/2008 -0500, you wrote:
>> 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
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> 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
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

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 17:02 PST 2008

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