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Re: [xmca] Consciousness
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Consciousness
- From: Andy Blunden <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 13:33:42 +1000
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Apologies for my time zone, Martin, aggravated by lots of
domestics this morning. Usually those in Europe and America
are blissfully unaware of the roundness of the world, so
believe me, I appreciate your frustration.
You know, I would never quote Engels or Lenin unless I had
to. As it happens Lenin is completely right on this point,
even if he did boringly spin it out to sledgehammer weight.
It was not without reason that Ilyenkov devoted a whole book
to defending MEC in the 1970s, and had great difficulty
getting it published inside or outside of the USSR.
It is most important to recognize that what Lenin is talking
about is consciousness as a *philosophical category*. Note
that *matter* is simultaneously defined in the same way, and
whatismore matter is defined as a category *derivative* of
"consciousness"! How about that for philosophical
materialism! Consciousness is what we are given immediately,
and the idea of "matter" is derived from that, i.e., the
conviction that something else exists. So we can't turn to
Hegel for an answer to this question, because for Hegel *it
is all thought*! "Being," for example, the starting point of
the Encyclopedia, is a category of thought. Again, Hegel
derives matter as a subcategory of Spirit, but only through
the Matter/Form dialectic, not the Matter/Thought dichotomy.
Nonetheless, it is absolutely ruled out that you can derive
a "science of matter" or a "science of consciousness" (i.e.
natural science or psychology) from these philosophical
categories. Hegel on the other hand, tried to derive natural
science from the concept of space, and he was wrong in that.
Likewise in 1908, a lot of scientists and Bolsheviks were
concluding that "natural science had proved that matter does
not exist," and a whole lot of other rubbish which was
causing havoc inside the Bolshevik Party suffering at the
time from a period or repression and reaction.
If you want a deconstructionist response to the question,
then ask M. Derrida or M. Foucault exactly what exists
"beyond the text" ... if anything.
Lenin had not read Hegel or Kant in 1908, but he had been
trained by Plekhanov who had read everything. Plekhanov was
his teacher in philosophy. (BTW, Plekhanov was also one of
LSV's teachers in philosophy I suspect)
You say that LSV's claim that "consciousness is material"
contradicts the claim that matter as a philosophical
category is "that which exists independently of
consciousness." The only way that I can interpret your
meaning here is that you insist on interpreting the
conceptual claim in "substantialist" terms. If you want to
insist on concepts as names for things, then obviously
clarity can never be achieved here. See Davydov.
If I make a distinction been marble and statue, does that
really prevent me from claiming that Michelangelo's David is
marble? or a million such examples. A categorical
distinction does not divide the universe into two groups of
stuff or things.
You are now claiming that Cs is material. OK, so my thought
of the dollar in my pocket has no categorical difference
from the dollar that may actually be in my pocket? Consult
your Kant. Lenin was perfectly aware of the symmetry between
his claim and Kant's and says that the difference, however,
is that the thing-in-itself is continuously passing into
appearance, rather than there being an impenetrable barrier
between appearance and thing-in-itself (not the categories
of course, but the content). Arguing here exactly along
Hegelian lines, though it is certainly possible to argue
with Lenin's philosophy on this as well as other points in
You say: "to write that material reality is what exists
independently of Cs is really misleading." (NB, not
"material reality, but matter - not the same at all) And OF
COURSE we add that "Cs does not exist independent of
material reality." This is Lenin, the philosophical
materialist remember. But you kow, you can't argue this from
God's eye view, looking down on human life from the heavens.
Descartes had a point: how does he (Descartes) know that the
material world exists? Only by means of consciousness. Now,
you can start from a truth and argue your way into
falsehood, but if you start from a falsehood - that you know
(??) that the material world exists even without
consciousness - then you cannot argue your way to truth.
It is a difficult question, and one known to often lead to
Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov $20 ea
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