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

And there's this:


This is a gorgeous exhibit, if it comes near you. For the text about writing 2000-1500 BCE, scroll about half way down. The exhibit has stones, set side by side, with different ancient scripts.

Helena Worthen

On Jan 13, 2015, at 7:16 PM, Peg Griffin wrote:

> Here's a little side track:  There's a web trace of a 2010 well-curated museum exhibit on writing from the U of Chicago Oriental Institute.
> http://oi.uchicago.edu/museum/special/writing/
> And here are a few little outtakes:
> 		"four instances and places in human history when writing was invented from scratch — in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Mesoamerica — without previous exposure to or knowledge of writing. It appears likely that all other writing systems evolved from the four systems we have in our exhibition."
> 		"the earliest cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia (today's Iraq), dating to about 3200 BC,"
> 		" early Egyptian writing that includes tags and labels from the tombs of the first kings (about 3320 BC) as well as hieroglyphic writing and other scripts from the Nile Valley."
> 		" Chinese writing, which emerged about 1200 BC, will be shown on oracle bones"
> 		" Mayan hieroglyphs from the 7th century AD will show how early Mesoamericans wrote."
> 		" Long believed to have been invented in Phoenicia in about 1000 BC, the earliest alphabetic texts are now those found in the Sinai. This earliest alphabet was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs as early as 1800 BC, well over five hundred years earlier than had been known."
> There are some lovely little animations about the development of cuneiform and one animation about a hieroglyph changing and eventually appropriated for a Greek letter.
> I love this little site and fear the day I try to open it and find U of Chicago has abandoned it…
> Peg
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+peg.griffin=att.net@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 9:24 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.