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[Xmca-l] Re: Hegel on Action

This insight that Hegel  anticipated  social processes through logical analysis while Marx focused on making intelligible  reconstructed phenomena on the basis of already observed social processes,  seems to be radically different starting places.
 Anticipation and reconstruction generating profound relational reflections.

>From these two differing starting places (two different historical presents)  your reflection that both share a deep affinity by arriving at the same realization:
(history is intelligible) 

Opens up this approach to historicity for our learning community. 

Sent from my Windows 10 phone

From: Andy Blunden
Sent: July 18, 2017 7:16 PM
To: David Kellogg; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Hegel on Action

So far as I can see there are two references to the aphorism 
in Marx/Engels. Firstly in the famous 1873 Afterword to 
Capital by Marx and then echoed by Engels in his 1886 
"Ludwig Feuerbach." As I said, in so far as a metaphor like 
this can be right or wrong, I would say it is correct. My 
problem is that in many many discussions I have had with 
people identifying themselves as Marxists, this aphorism has 
functioned as a *barrier *to understanding Hegel and his 
relation to Marx, something I have had to fight my through 
before being able to have a fruitful discussion about the 
issue. Because people are generally locked in to a dichotomy 
between concepts and the material world (notwithstanding 
declarations to the contrary), the aphorism is interpreted 
to mean that Hegel thought that thought determines being and 
Marx thought that being determines thought, just as you 
observe, David. Again, it is not that this aphorism is 
wrong, and really thought determines being. Of course not. 
The problem is, I think, that it pushes a natural scientific 
point of view in which the social world goes about its 
business according to Laws of History and ideas simply 
reflect that process. A corollary of this is that people are 
passive expressions of their social conditions and have no 
responsibility for their thoughts. In the words of "Theses 
on Feuerbach" - "The materialist doctrine that men are 
products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, 
therefore, changed men are products of changed circumstances 
and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who change 
circumstances and that the educator must himself be 
educated. Hence this doctrine is bound to divide society 
into two parts, one of which is superior to society."

Altogether, I prefer to start an interpretation of Hegel 
either with a blank sheet or from reading Hegel himself, not 

Here are some things I could say about the Hegel-Marx 
relation which may lend weight to the aphorism:

    * Hegel wrote at a time when there was no reason to
    believe (and no-one did believe) that the working class
    was an agent in history, capable of leading social
    reform. Indeed in early 19th century the working class
    did not exist as a class at all. Marx wrote in the wake
    of huge social movements of the working class which, 
    during his youth, had overthrown the French government.
    He had every reason to believe that the working class
    would make history, not (as Hegel and Owen had thought)
    the educated elite.

    * Hegel wrote philosophy and worked in a university;
    Marx wrote in fairly accessible language on politics and
    social issues, intended for mostly self-educated workers.

    * Hegel believed that he could anticipate social
    processes by logical analysis; Marx understood that the
    logical critique could be reconstructed only on the
    basis of already-observed social processes, making what
    was already happening intelligible. But both end up at
    the same point, namely that history is intelligible.

But at a philosophical level, the two writers came to *very 
similar conclusions*, not opposite conclusions. Politically, 
they were as different as the philosophy professor and the 
communist agitator. They lived in different times.


Andy Blunden

On 19/07/2017 8:50 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
> Well, I'm a little bit torn. On the one hand, my heart is 
> with Haydi; it really does seem to me that the "aphorism" 
> is useful in understanding that marginal note of Lenin's. 
> And that marginal note of Lenin's appears in Chapter Two 
> of Thinking and Speech, so it's useful in understanding 
> Chapter Two of Thinking and Speech. Chapter SEVEN of 
> Thinking and Speech is really an empirical elaboration of 
> Vygotsky's critique of Piagetian neo-Kantianism in Chapter 
> Two, and so it's useful there too. I think Andy more or 
> less acknowledges this when he says that the quote is a 
> one off.
> I also agree with the general tenor of Haydi's jeremiad 
> against an aristocracy of philosophers who are perfectly 
> willing to recognize their own contribution to the 
> dialectic between theory and practice but who howl about 
> empiricism when it comes to recognizing the immense 
> contributions made by practitioners. This seems to me a 
> violation of both the spirit and the letter of the 
> dialectic, and sociogenetically it seems to me to turn the 
> relationship between philosophy and social practices 
> entirely on its head.
> That said, I think Andy has a point. I'm at a workshop 
> now, and don't have the library handy, but if I remember 
> correctly then Marx didn't actually create the aphorism 
> about standing Hegel on his head. The right-Hegelian 
> critics of Marx did. What Marx said, responding to the 
> criticism, was that he had FOUND Hegel standing on his 
> head, and put him on his feet again. The problem is that 
> this apposite remark, made in a polemical context, has 
> been conflated with the famous quotation from Economic and 
> Political Manuscripts to the effect that it is not 
> mankind's consciousness which determines his being, but 
> rather his social being that determines his consciousness. 
> If we assume that this is directed against Hegel, we get 
> Hegel entirely wrong: it is precisely with the 
> phylogenesis and ontogenesis of consciousness that we find 
> Hegel and Marx on exactly the same page.
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
> "The Great Globe and All Who It Inherit:
> Narrative and Dialogue in Story-telling with
> Vygotsky, Halliday, and Shakespeare"
> Free Chapters Downloadable at:
> https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/2096-the-great-globe-and-all-who-it-inherit.pdf
> Recent Article: Thinking of feeling: Hasan, Vygotsky, and 
> Some Ruminations on the Development of Narrative in Korean 
> Children
> Free E-print Downloadable at:
> http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/8Vaq4HpJMi55DzsAyFCf/full
> On Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 10:26 AM, Andy Blunden 
> <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
>     That remark by Lenin is his only comment on a passage
>     of a hundred pages or so of the Science of Logic, the
>     passage where in his own idealistic way Hegel is
>     discussing effectively the Party question. It is
>     extremely obscure and I gather it went over Lenin's
>     head. Nonetheless, Lenin's notes were where I got
>     started on Hegel and marked the beginning of the
>     return of Marxists to a study of Hegel in the 20th
>     century. Not Lukacs, not Korsch or Horkheimer, but Lenin.
>     As to Marx's remark in the Afterword to Capital and
>     Engels reference to it in "Ludwig Feuerbach" I always
>     liked it and repeated it to others, too. But it did
>     function as a kind of explanation of why I didn't
>     study Hegel and believed that it was good enough to
>     just read Marx. Once I got started reading Hegel I did
>     not find the aphorism useful. It was kind of obvious
>     that I had to penetrate the hard shell of logical
>     rigmarole to get what I wanted. But how?? The idea of
>     standing it on its head gave me no guidance at all. So
>     I try to dissuade people who might want to tackle
>     Hegel to not use this aphorism as a guide.
>     Andy
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     On 17/07/2017 7:18 AM, David Kellogg wrote:
>         In the Philosophical Notebooks, Lenin notes that
>         the Aristotelian syllogism still has a whiff of
>         Platonism about it.
>         Precious metals don't rust.
>         Gold is a precious metal.
>         Therefore gold doesn't rust.
>         I gather that what he means is that in the
>         syllogism it is concrete, sensuous experience with
>         a particular metal which comes dead last. But when
>         we look at human experience as historical
>         activity, we notice that it comes first: that it
>         is thousands of years of experience with a
>         particular metal, from the ancient Egyptians and
>         their obsession with uncorruptibility onward,
>         which leads to the valuation of gold and its
>         exaptation as money, and then generalization to
>         silver.  Lenin says that in its idealist form the
>         syllogism is a game: it is this which must be
>         "turned on its head" to see how the concept arises.
>         ....
>         If Marx's remark to that effect was not helpful or
>         clarifying, why do you think Vygotsky and Luria
>         (not to mention Lenin) were so taken with it?
>         David Kellogg
>         Macquarie University
>         On Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 12:01 AM, Andy Blunden
>         <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
>         <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
>         <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:
>             I meant specifically that the aphorism about Hegel
>             having to be turned on his head is not useful.
>             Andy
>         ------------------------------------------------------------
>             Andy Blunden
>         http://home.mira.net/~andy
>         <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>
>         <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>
>         http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>         <http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making>
>         <http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>         <http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making>>
> --