RE: [xmca] Historical Development

From: Michael Glassman <MGlassman who-is-at>
Date: Tue Feb 19 2008 - 16:39:46 PST

I guess my question is, in both these quotes, are they talking about freedom from, or freedom to, In other words are they talking about freedom from tyranny, of both the ecology and the oppressors, or free will, where they actually have free will within their society. Of course you can make the argument that in a Marxist utopia there really is no reason for free will. Maybe an example from another utopian worldview might be worthwhile. In Walden II and to an extent beyond Freedom and Dignity B.F. Skinner makes the argument I think that if we can engineer society so each individual is performing their functions for the society, then humanity frees itself from the shackles of an oppressive ecology which pits human against human.
Was Engels, with his utopian vision (and I actually think Engels was more of a romantic utopian than Marx) saying the same thing in a differet way? If we can master the tools presented to us by our ecology, in an objective manner, what all humans understand the tools and their meaning in the same way, it frees them from the oppressors and the ecology. In many ways Vygotsky's new man is symmetrical with the new type of human Skinner described, argued for in Walden II. And for Engels wasn't this a continuous development, starting with the first tool use, breaking humans away from the necessities of nature that all other animals are subject to. Wasn't this his point in his work "The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man" which may have been really influential (at least I think so) for Vygotsky and later Leontiev.
I would argue that this is the spirit that Vygotsky was writing in earlier in his career (I wonder is he soured on this utopian vision later). When he is talking about mastery, he is talking about mastery of tool use, but perhaps mastery of tool use in the objective sense. In the early development of labor perhaps it is mastery of the use of the hammer. But the more advanced tools, those that serve as the basis of scientific concepts come later, but also take us further away from the vagaries of nature and those who would control. A peasant who is able to control a pick axe has more freedom from necessity than an ape, but far less than the new man who knows geometry, and physics, and the Marxist analysis of the role of labor in commerce. Once this peasant has this knowledge he can start a union, call a strike, overthrow the overseer. But you must have this mastery first, or you are too fearful or too confused.
But I wonder if, as with Skinner, if the idea of free will and creativity is limited in this scenario. We still only have the tools that our society limits us to. And new tools and dependent on the social moment within our society - we must have evolved to that point, or Vygotsky I think wants to make the argument education in these scientific tools brought in by interlocutors representing those societies, or those elements of society that have achieved this level of conceptual thought - hence the need for formal education.


From: on behalf of Martin Packer
Sent: Tue 2/19/2008 6:28 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Historical Development

To quote V:

> "in the new society our science will take a central place in life. 'The leap
> from the
> kingdom of necessity into the kingdom of freedom' inevitably puts the question
> of the mastery of
> our own being, of its subjection to the self, on the agenda. . . . It will
> indeed be the last science in
> the historical or prehistorical period of mankind. The new society will create
> the new man."

...who was citing Engels:

"It is only from this point that men, with full consciousness, will fashion
their own
history; it only from this point that the social causes set in motion by men
will have, predominantly
and in constantly increasing measure, the effects willed by men. It is
humanityıs leap from the
realm of necessity into the realm of freedom."

On 2/19/08 3:32 PM, "Michael Glassman" <> wrote:

> I'm still trying to get my head around how you get from mastery to free will,
> or will that leads to freedom.

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Received on Tue Feb 19 16:41 PST 2008

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