Re: [xmca] a materialist psychology

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Tue May 13 2008 - 19:23:41 PDT

OK, if you can't open PPT with your non-MicroSoft browser,
you *can* enter the URL into the File ... Open ... box of
your MicroSoft PowerPoint.

So copy
and paste it into the File Open box.


Martin Packer wrote:
> Andy,
> I get the dingle, then silence on the 2nd slide, downloaded from either
> site. If I try to run it in KeyNote instead of PowerPoint I get a message
> saying the mp3 files are missing. But it's a large file (1.6M) so I suspect
> they're in there somewhere.
> Martin
> On 5/13/08 7:47 PM, "Andy Blunden" <> wrote:
>> Oh! and before that, when you are asked to Open or Save, of
>> course you *open* it!
>> Andy
>> Andy Blunden wrote:
>>> 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
>>> t.ppt
>>> I can't imagine how it would not work on a Mac or otherwise.
>>> Andy
>>> 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
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Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 
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Received on Tue May 13 19:24 PDT 2008

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