[xmca] Re: Kant and the Strange Situation

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at duq.edu>
Date: Sat Oct 25 2008 - 10:37:56 PDT


That's helpful. Marx doesn't use reflection much, and like you I can't find
it in Kant. But it's in the English translations of Vygotsky, Leontiev, and
Lenin - who I suspect may have been the source of the problem. Or perhaps
it's being used in the sense of bringing to expression, as you suggest. Can
someone help us by comparing the Leontiev passges I cited with the original?
When I have some more time I'll track down examples in Vygotsky too.


Hi Martin,

Marx does indeed use the term "widerspiegeln" in the sentence you cite.

Das Gehirn der
Privatproduzenten spiegelt diesen doppelten gesellschaftlichen
Charakter ihrer Privatarbeiten nur wider in den Formen, welche im
praktischen Verkehr, im Produktenaustausch erscheinen - den
nützlichen Charakter ihrer Privatarbeiten also in
der Form, daß das Arbeitsprodukt nützlich sein muß, und zwar für
andre - den gesellschaftlichen Charakter der Gleichheit der
Arbeiten in der Form des gemeinsamen Wertcharakters
dieser materiell verschiednen Dinge, der Arbeitsprodukte.

But the Duden, the reference work of German language says that there
are 2 different senses. One is reflection as in a mirror, the other
one that something brings to expression. In this context, I do not
see Marx draw on the mirror idea.

For those who have trouble, perhaps the analogy with mathematical
functions. In German, what a mathematical function does is
"abbilden," which is, provide a projection of, or reflection, or
whatever. You have the word Bild, image, picture in the verb. But
when you look at functions, only y = f(x) = x, or -x gives you what
you would get in the mirror analogy. You get very different things
when you use different functions, log functions, etc. Then the
relationship between the points on a line no longer is the same in
the "image", that is, the target domain.

We sometimes see the word "refraction" in the works of Russian
psychologists, which may be better than reflection. It allows you to
think of looking at the world through a kaleidoscope, and you get all
sorts of things, none of which look like "the real thing."


On 25-Oct-08, at 9:01 AM, Martin Packer wrote:


Here's one example from Marx, and several from Leontiev, if we can
get into
the Russian too.

"The twofold social character of the labour of the individual appears to
him, when *reflected* in his brain, only under those forms which are
impressed upon that labour in every-day practice by the exchange of
products." Marx, Capital, Chapter 1, section 4.

" Activity is a non-additive unit of the corporeal, material life of the
material subject. In the narrower sense, i.e., on the psychological
it is a unit of life, mediated by mental *reflection*, by an *image,*
real function is to orientate the subject in the objective world."
Activity & Consciousness.

" The circular nature of the processes effecting the interaction of the
organism with the environment has been generally acknowledged. But
the main
thing is not this circular structure as such, but the fact that the
*reflection* of the objective world is not directly generated by the
external influences themselves, but by the processes through which the
subject comes into practical contact with the objective world, and which
therefore necessarily obey its independent properties, connections, and
relations." ibid

" Thus, individual consciousness as a specifically human form of the
subjective *reflection* of objective reality may be understood only
as the
product of those relations and mediacies that arise in the course of the
establishment and development of society." ibid

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