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


Isn't a sign equivalent to a tool, that language itself is a tool?

Or are there different transformations in the brain going on depending upon which sense it enters? Ears, touch, eyes, smell, taste? 

Don't these all function similarly in the way they transform mind through perception? I don't know what is gained by separating them since we don't experience our senses as separate functions; they are connected to one another through the body.

Kind regards,


From: xmca-l-bounces+annalisa=unm.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces+annalisa=unm.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 6:46 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [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."
> Andy
> 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
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> 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
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>> mike cole wrote:
>>> So perhaps its just my bad memory, Andy. the issues remain central.
>>> THANKS for the appropriate links!
>>> mike
>>> 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)
>>> http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1876/part-played-labour/index.htm
>>>     and the Introduction to "Dialectics of Nature" (1883)
>>>     http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1883/don/ch01.htm
>>>     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
>>>     culture.
>>>     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
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>     *Andy Blunden*
>>>     http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>>     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?
>>>         mike
>>> --
>>> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science as an
>>> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch.