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[Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history

Actually, I think that "the more that human beings become removed from animals in the narrower sense of the word, the more they make their own history consciously" is near as dammit what you are looking for.

Engels of course lacked good information. Even in his day Vygotsky had poor information. In "Ape, Primitive Man and Child", "primitive" is taken to mean "non-literate", as it was for Luria in his Central Asian expedition, and a great deal of emphasis is put on the origins and development of *writing*. But writing only appears in Egypt c. 2,000 BCE I think, in any case, in evolutionary time scales 5 minutes ago. The development of writing is nothing to do with evolution of the species. Vygotsky defines primitive man as follows:

   “This term is commonly used, admittedly as a conventional label, to
   designate certain peoples of the uncivilized world, situated at the
   lower levels of cultural development. It is not entirely right to
   call these peoples primitive, as a greater or lesser degree of
   civilization can unquestionably be observed in all of them. All of
   them have already emerged from the prehistoric phase of human
   existence. Some of them have very ancient traditions. Some of them
   have been influenced by remote and powerful cultures, while the
   cultural development of others has become degraded.
   “/Primitive man, in the true sense of the term, does not exist
   anywhere at the present time, /and the human type, as represented
   among these primeval peoples, can only be called “relatively
   primitive.” Primitiveness in this sense is a lower level, and the
   starting point for the historical development of human behaviour.
   Material for the psychology of primitive man is provided by data
   concerning prehistoric man, the peoples situated at the lower levels
   of cultural development and the comparative psychology of peoples of
   different cultures.”(Preface, 1930, Italics in the original)

And from the start, this chapter is framed as "cultural development" as distinct from "evolutionary development." Chapter 1 on primates focuses on the limited use of tools possible for apes, with the implication that the cultural development around the emergence of labour, i.e., the production of tools, was part of evolutionary development, prior and leading up to the formation of homo sapiens sapiens. There is no chapter covering the period between 2 million years ago and say `00,000 years ago, where cultural and biological formation are interacting.

According to Engels and others including Dewey, speech emerges simultaneously with tools. Dewey makes the point that a tool is not a tool until its use is institutionalised, linking social, symbolic and tool-using activity together.

*Andy Blunden*

mike cole wrote:
So perhaps its just my bad memory, Andy. the issues remain central. THANKS for the appropriate links!

On Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 4:51 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    There can only be two sources of this idea: Engels' "Part Played
    by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man" (1876)
    and the Introduction to "Dialectics of Nature" (1883)

    In the latter work, after explaining how freeing the hands by
    adopting an erect gait, led to the use of tools, meaning labour,
    and this led to the expansion of the brain, language and sundry
    other changes, and thus eventualy the emergence of human beings as
    a species. Then he says:

       "With men we enter /history/."

    In the earlier document, he says: "Labour begins with the making
    of tools" which Engels claims happened before the formation of
    modern homo sapiens, contributing to that formation rather than
    being a product of the formation of modern humans, and he narrates
    a story which continues from this point up to socialist revolution
    as if it were one continuous story, blurring over the distinction
    between evolution of the species and historical development of
    The nerest we come to your quote is: "the more that human beings
    become removed from animals in the narrower sense of the word, the
    more they make their own history consciously." The "narrower
    sense" I presume means biological differentiation. So this could
    count for what you are looking for, Mike.


    *Andy Blunden*

    mike cole wrote:

        Dear Colleagues--

        I seem to recall reading an idea, that I recall being
        attributed to Engels,
        that (rooughly) "more and more the laws of evolution are being
        replaced by
        the laws of history."

        Can anyone enlighten me either as to the source of this
        "quotation" or as
        to the source of my own confusion in this regard?


It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science as an object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.