Re: [xmca] a materialist psychology

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Tue May 13 2008 - 17:44:02 PDT

You press the round button, then it will go to the first
slide with a "dingle" sound and a couple of seconds later I
start talking. Otherwise try

I can't imagine how it would not work on a Mac or otherwise.


Martin Packer wrote:
> It downloads without the soundtrack, at least to my Mac, Andy.
> On 5/13/08 6:43 PM, "Andy Blunden" <> wrote:
>> He, he. I guess it's almost self-evident that I think that
>> Hegel is absolute central to both Vygotsky's program and
>> even more important for its furher development. I just think
>> that explanation of the human species in terms of biological
>> evolution is peripheral if interesting to both projects.
>> Basically work like Merlinm Donald's (which I support
>> enthusiastically) are specualting on the basis of what we
>> know fairly well about what we know almost nothing about. I
>> am sure that if Hegel had had the benefit of reading "Origin
>> of Species" he would have radically revised his theory of
>> nature.
>> A summary of my view of Hegel's contribution is at
>> Andy
>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>> Andy,
>>> Given the points you make about Hegel, which strike me as cogent and
>>> important, what is your view of the contribution Hegel made to Vygotsky's
>>> program for a general psychology, and the contribution our understanding of
>>> Hegel today could make for our efforts to continue such a program?
>>> Martin
>>> On 5/12/08 7:18 PM, "Andy Blunden" <> wrote:
>>>> Both the points you make are valid enough Martin, I am just
>>>> being a bit pedantically precise, but I think it's worth it.
>>>> For example, as I came to realise how firmly opposed, not
>>>> just unaware of biological evolution Hegel was, it really
>>>> focussed my attention on how he gets development out of
>>>> consciousness and human activity. Interestingly, despite the
>>>> oportunity for a radically "non-essentialist" philosophy
>>>> here, Hegel made gender and race differences something given
>>>> by Nature and introduced horrific sexism and racism into his
>>>> philosophy. But feminists and postcolonialists have not been
>>>> put off using Hegel for their own purposes.
>>>> Likewise, his declaration in the Philosophy of Right that he
>>>> was not here concerned with the history of Right, only what
>>>> right is, forces one to think very deeply about the place of
>>>> historicism in science. So even though we have to amend
>>>> Hegel in places - I certainly do - it is well worthwhile
>>>> keeping in mind what is Hegel and what is interpretation.
>>>> Re appearance and reality: what is "reality", what kind of
>>>> thought-form is it? Presumably you mean it as something
>>>> outside thought?? Or is it potential thought? Is it of a
>>>> different substance than appearance? ... Reality is I think
>>>> synonymous with Actuality for Hegel, a category which is
>>>> part of the Doctrine of Essence. I really don't think you
>>>> can sustain the concept of Reality in the sense of the
>>>> ultimate object of knowledge.
>>>> Andy
>>>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>> Andy,
>>>>> Yes, I don't want to anachronistically read Darwin back into Hegel. Right
>>>>> now my Hegel scholarship is restricted to Marcuse's book since all my other
>>>>> books are out of reach, and Marcuse emphasizes the dynamic character of
>>>>> Hegel's conception of - well, of everything. If one considers Hegel's
>>>>> position that the World makes progress towards knowledge and truth, through
>>>>> the means of human subjectivity, one could read this as a particular
>>>>> version
>>>>> of evolutionism - and as you know Lenin saw Darwin as a truly dialectical
>>>>> thinker.
>>>>> On moving from appearance to reality- I'm drawing here in part from the
>>>>> work
>>>>> of a colleague at Duquesne, Tom Rockmore, who's an excellent Hegel scholar.
>>>>> In a recent book Rockmore emphasizes that for Hegel the distinction between
>>>>> appearance and reality occurs within our experience. For Kant, in contrast,
>>>>> all we can ever experience is appearance. It is for Kant that there is "a
>>>>> reality hidden behind appearances." For Hegel, human knowledge is fallible
>>>>> but gradually progresses to more and more adequate knowledge of reality.
>>>>> But
>>>>> what I think needs to be added is that (as I understand it) Hegel saw this
>>>>> progress not as simply a result of humans knowing the world better, but
>>>>> also
>>>>> as a result of humans transforming the world to make it suit our needs,
>>>>> interests, and ideals. But that takes us into Mike's latest message...
>>>>> Martin
>>>>> On 5/11/08 8:54 PM, "Andy Blunden" <> wrote:
>>>>>> Martin,
>>>>>> I agree with your main conclusion about LSV, that it was a
>>>>>> *materialist* psychology that he aspired to, but could I
>>>>>> offer some pretty small change "corrections" to your
>>>>>> observations?
>>>>>> Hegel's ideas about the origins of human life are
>>>>>> surprisingly inconsistent with a modern reading of him. He
>>>>>> emphatically rejected the idea that humans originated from
>>>>>> animals or that any animal originated out of another animal.
>>>>>> He was familiar with Lamarck and rejected this theory out of
>>>>>> hand. He believed that Spirit was created, as in the Book of
>>>>>> Genesis, all at once. This doesn't stop us "interpreting"
>>>>>> him in a materialist spirit, in the light of Darwinism.
>>>>>> However, Hegel did believe that consciousness originated in
>>>>>> labour, child-rearing and speech. But not out of "matter",
>>>>>> whatever that would mean. The idea of matter having the
>>>>>> potential for thinking is not a Hegelian idea. Matter is an
>>>>>> abstraction of thought, for Hegel.
>>>>>> Also, I think that to talk of how "knowledge can ... move
>>>>>> beyond appearance to reality" is dubious. This retains the
>>>>>> idea of a reality hidden behind appearances. If there are
>>>>>> two kinds of knowledge then I think "appearance" and
>>>>>> "reality" are not the right names for them. If "appearance"
>>>>>> and "reality" are meant to be categorically different
>>>>>> things, then I think Lenin had it right in denying this.
>>>>>> Andy
>>>>>> Martin Packer wrote:
>>>>>>> Mike,
>>>>>>> The more I think about this (and I have been thinking on it some in the
>>>>>>> interim), the more comfortable I am that Vygotsky indeed insisted on
>>>>>>> lopping
>>>>>>> off the idealist side of psychology's dualism. The notion that the stuff
>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>> the universe is solely material, and that there is no separate, distinct
>>>>>>> 'mental stuff' or 'spiritual stuff' has a long and distiguished history,
>>>>>>> as
>>>>>>> the BBC program makes clear. A materialist psychology would have been
>>>>>>> fully
>>>>>>> in line with Marx's materialism. And even Hegel, despite being labelled
>>>>>>> an
>>>>>>> idealist and despite Marx's claim to have turned him on his head,
>>>>>>> recognized
>>>>>>> that humans evolved from simpler stuff which must have had its origins in
>>>>>>> matter. The capacity for thinking, Hegel reasoned, is a potential which
>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>> inherent in matter, and develops over time, rather than having its source
>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>> some other, etherial, transcendental or platonic realm.
>>>>>>> Vygotsky's materialist psychology avoids equating the mental with the
>>>>>>> subjective, or consciousness with appearance as representation. It
>>>>>>> follows
>>>>>>> that the study of consciousness is not the study of appearances that are
>>>>>>> entirely distinct from reality (Kant's vision). It is not the study of
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> way a person constructs mental representations of a world that exists
>>>>>>> outside them. For Vygotsky, like Hegel, Marx & Feuerbach, our knowledge
>>>>>>> can
>>>>>>> progress, and move beyond appearance to reality. If we accept this, we
>>>>>>> need
>>>>>>> to have a different conception of the way humans live in the world.
>>>>>>> Vygotsky
>>>>>>> wanted to study the "material, sensory acts" in which a person knows
>>>>>>> their
>>>>>>> world. He wanted to study the mind, but not as a mental subject, or
>>>>>>> subjectivity, related to external objects. This is the way mind appears
>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>> itself in introspection, but in action mind is not divided in this way.
>>>>>>> Mind, and consciousness, are real and objective processes because they
>>>>>>> exist
>>>>>>> in the interactions between bodies and material objects. And these can be
>>>>>>> studied empirically.
>>>>>>> Martin
>>>>>>> On 5/11/08 1:29 PM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:
>>>>>>>> What is your current take on this issue, Martin? Perhaps a followup in
>>>>>>>> MCA
>>>>>>>> is warranted?
>>>>>>>> mike
>>>>>>>> On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 6:08 PM, Martin Packer <> wrote:
>>>>>>>>> In the article published in MCA that was discussed here recently I
>>>>>>>>> pointed
>>>>>>>>> out that in Crisis Vygotsky declared the need to end the dualism in
>>>>>>>>> psychology by eliminating the idealist pole and developing a thoroughly
>>>>>>>>> materialist psychology. Some of the history of materialism, both in its
>>>>>>>>> reductionist and non-reductionist versions (V¹s being the latter) can
>>>>>>>>> be
>>>>>>>>> heard at the link below, in the BBC Radio program In Our Time. At the
>>>>>>>>> end
>>>>>>>>> we
>>>>>>>>> learn that they ran out of time to discuss Hegel and Marx, which is
>>>>>>>>> rather
>>>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>>>> shame. (This is the same program which a year or so ago ran a poll in
>>>>>>>>> which
>>>>>>>>> Marx was voted the most important philosopher of all time, much to host
>>>>>>>>> Melvyn Bragg¹s surprise and dismay.)
>>>>>>>>> <>
>>>>>>>>> Martin
>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 
Skype andy.blunden
xmca mailing list
Received on Tue May 13 17:45 PDT 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Jun 01 2008 - 00:30:04 PDT