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

Just a couple more quotes from Vygotsky which shed some light on Mike's question. These come from the last paragraphs of Chapter 1 of "Ape, Primitive Man and Child."

   "Once symbols enabling man to control his own behavioral processes
   had been invented and were in use, the history of the development of
   behavior became transformed, to a large extent, into the history of
   the development of those auxiliary artificial "means of behavior",
   and the history of man's control over his own behavior."

So it is essentially sign-use which characterises cultural development, not tool-use, and going to the question of whether there are two temporally distinct phases of development:

   "This of course does not mean that, left to itself, the development
   of the hand, that fundamental organ, and of the intellect came to an
   end as soon as man's historical development began. Quite the
   contrary: the hand and the brain, as natural organs, probably never
   developed so rapidly, and at such a gigantic pace, as during the
period of historical development."
*Andy Blunden*

Andy Blunden wrote:
Jessica refers to:

   "Indeed, the struggle for existence and natural selection, the two
   driving forces of biological evolution within the animal world, lose
   their decisive importance as soon as we pass on to the historical
   development of man. New laws, which regulate the course of human
   history and which cover the entire process of the material and
   mental development of human society, now take their place."

PS, I am not the translator, Jessica, just the transcriber. René van der Veer and Jaan Valsiner did all the work, and I just scanned it to HTML.

*Andy Blunden*

Kindred, Jessica Dr. wrote:
Mike, your paraphrased is very clearly ststed in Vygotsky's essay, The Socialist Alteration of Man, especially in the second through fifth paragraphs. I think this may be the source of the phrase you are looking for, though clearly Vygotsky is riffing on Engels. ________________________________________ From: xmca-l-bounces+jkindred=cnr.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces+jkindred=cnr.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] on behalf of Andy Blunden [ablunden@mira.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 9:23 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: Mikhail Munipov
Subject: [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.