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[Xmca-l] Re: Ilyenkov, Marx, & Spinoza

Re Buridan's ass: didn't Vygotsky suggest a human would toss a coin? i.e. provide themself with an extra stimulus that would differentiate the options.


festina lente

> On 4 Aug 2017, at 01:21, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> I think that Sasha, on p. 37 of "Ilyenkov and the Revolution in
> Psychology", slips one by us. He quotes Davydov, who says that Ilyenkov
> provided the logical-philosophical basis for cultural-historical theory and
> for Vygotsky's theory of instruction based on development. He then says
> that Davydov is wrong on both counts: neither Ilyenkov nor Vygotsky would
> have considered cultural-historical theory truly scientific, and Ilyenkov
> hardly ever mentions Vygotsky. Before we can ask what Sasha means by the
> first, he is off trying to explain why Ilyenkov doesn't mention Vygotsky
> much. There are lots of reasons not to mention Vygotsky when you are doing
> philosophy. I am more interested in Sasha's notion that Vygotsky would not
> have considered Davydov's version of the theory scientific.
> Sasha calls Ilyenkov, Vygotsky, and Marx anti-naturalists. He says it is
> because of their recognition of the social, cultural-historical nature of
> the human psyche. But in all three cases, that social, cultural-historical
> "nature" really is natural at its base: it depends on a "thinking body" in
> the case of Ilyenkov (something Descartes would not have rejected!), it
> depends on the domestication of the human body and mind in the case of
> Vygotsky, and of course it depends on the transformation of use values into
> exchange values in Marx. So I am not at all sure in what sense they are
> "anti-naturalist". If we take the Spinozan view, to be anti-naturalist is
> to be anti-substance, anti-thought, anti-extension. I don't think that
> applies to Marx, Vygotsky, or even Ilyenkov.
> I'm reading the Pedology of the Adolescent, and I find Vygotsky to be much
> more methodologically eclectic than Sasha suggests with phrases like "sole
> correct scientific method" and "whose theoretical analysis alone" (38). In
> my reading, Vygotsky doesn't think of methods like that: methods are only
> appropriate or inappropriate to problems of study. When you are studying
> behaviour, psychology may be the appropriate method, but when you are
> studying anatomy, try physiology. It is clear that Vygotsky has a
> preference for his own "functional method of dual stimulation", but that is
> precisely because it is appropriate to the goal of diagnosing the "next",
> or proximal, zone of development. I think that even the psychotherapist's
> couch, which as Sasha points out was artificially constructed out of
> Freud's overwheening self-interest, had a place in Vygotsky's "science of a
> natural whole": the only method he really does reject with disgust is the
> practice of imagining what it is like to be a child and then pretending
> that you have real scientific data. In the HDHMF, Vygotsky has a good deal
> to say about Wundt and Titchener, not all of it critical (Chapters 3,4,5,
> where "Titchener's Piano" is the empirical basis of his experiments with
> choice). In contrast, Vygotsky has nothing to say about Socrates and Plato.
> I think that, rather like the "aphorisms" Sasha cites on 39, Sasha's paper
> just touches on the problem that has always puzzled me: how Vygotsky
> reconciles the explanans of Spinoza with his chosen explanandum of choice
> and free will. It seems to me that they are reconcilable, but only through
> the path that Sasha refuses to take, that is, the path of the semiotic,
> semantic, systemic structure of the "thinking body". Vygotsky says that he
> wants to know what a real human does in the Buridan situation, tethered
> like the donkey between two equidistant and apparently equal piles of hay.
> Buridan himself would say that such a situation does not exist: piles of
> hay are never equidistant and never exactly equal, and the universe is
> really constructed like a chess game, where in any conceivable situation,
> there is one and only one perfectly rational move, even if it is quite
> beyond the power of man, beast, or even supercomputer to ever know what it
> is. That was, I gather, Spinoza's solution as well, except that Spinoza
> drew the logical conclusion that when you do not know which choice is
> better, you must necessarily defer until you do. In the meantime, the
> proliferation of choice, like the proliferation of method, is a positive
> good, the closest we miserable slaves can get to freedom.
> 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 31, 2017 at 5:23 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> I did my best to follow the thread on Ilyenkov, Marx, & Spinoza and I
>> probably did not read it as closely as I could have, nor did I read the
>> originating article, that is, the one Mike attached as the knot to this
>> thread, but I shall.
>> Of course being a big fan of Spinoza I had to eye-wig in and see what was
>> to be seen on this here persistent thread.
>> I would like to make a contribution as a point in contrast, to what is
>> becoming more prominent in my understanding of the non-dual view of the
>> apparent world as seen through Vedanta.
>> First, and I'm sure I shall be corrected, please note, I see the Western
>> viewpoint (as springing from Descartes) as depicted as a linear rational
>> (and historical) view whereby thought and material are different entities.
>> As I understand, according to Descartes, material comes into being through
>> thought. I think first before I am first. Is this correct?
>> Spinoza, as I understand, saw that there was a historical aspect that
>> Descartes missed that we actually transform material and it transforms our
>> thought and so on, as they weaves through one another. And so on through
>> time. But how could this happen that if material and thought were of
>> different substances?  (Am I getting this right?)
>> But he also saw that we are not separate from nature, and are indeed
>> helplessly subject to it, we are nature but nature isn't us. Yet this
>> nature could not be separate from God, and thus with some lens-grinding
>> Spinoza came to see that not only is nature not separate from God, and that
>> nature is not separate from us, but God is also not separate from us
>> because we are of the same "substance" in nature, that we are indeed, as if
>> the same "material."
>> But then what of free will? Are we merely reacting like mechanical robots,
>> or chemical reactions? or is there choice?
>>> From my Vedanta studies there are similarities to the monist Sponiza
>> worldview of nature and God being one substance extending through time,
>> transforming through laws of physics and so forth. I'm not clear how
>> Spinoza saw the mind, and it seems that psychology, not having been
>> named/formed/created historically at that point in time, he had to have a
>> different word for that, which seems to have been "spirit," methinks.
>> So we are at odds at the way translations go not only from one language to
>> another but from one historical moment to another (the way words mind
>> versus spirit are used). But the actual ontology was perhaps the very
>> turtle both psychology's notion of mind and Spinoza's notion of spirit were
>> identically referencing.
>> Just thinking out loud here.
>> Now in Vedanta, the cosmology is such that the mind and the body are
>> indeed one substance, if there is a substance at all. And that the
>> perceivable world, is just a beginningless dance of names and forms,
>> whereby one thing becomes another thing, and its name changes, and so on
>> through time and space. That there is an order of consequences through
>> actions and reactions. Understanding the nature of those actions and
>> reactions helps offer choice to the person, as to what actions one hopes to
>> perform to gain a particular (desired) consequence. And such is the
>> importance of karma, to consider one's actions and the consequences that
>> will come of them. It's just science, but a science incorporating the
>> subtle forms not just the gross.
>> If all that is here is non-dual, as the ancients claimed, then it would
>> have to mean that mind and body are one substance, it seems that quantum
>> physics does show that things are not as solid as we might think, and that
>> the mind is not as unaffected by gross material as we once thought.
>> So if I am understanding the Vedic view of the mind and body being
>> material, that is, of one substance, this substance must exist in name and
>> form across a spectrum, whereby on the one side we have all that is subtle,
>> and on the other we have all that is gross, again in terms of name and form
>> of said substance.
>> A metaphor for this concept could be a consideration of the different
>> forms of water. Solid at one temperature, liquid in another, and steam in
>> yet another. If time and space are relative (i.e., Einstein), then let's
>> pretend that they are infinitely stable if seen at an instant in time (like
>> now, the present moment). Then it does seem that ice is a different
>> "material" than water, and also steam. But in reality their substance is
>> identical: H2O.
>> This is a gross simplification (pun intended), because we have one
>> substance in three forms, but never at the same time, though in the same
>> place. The change is caused by temperature, and we can only see the change
>> of form witnessed through time. But also the name changes too. So there is
>> as if an appearance of a linear change.
>> W1(ice) must pass through W2(water) to become W3(steam) and back again,
>> through time (with the help of temperature), but W occupies the same space,
>> though the volume might change a little.
>> OK, thanks for staying with me this far.
>> As I'm understanding it, there is in the Vedic worldview three gunas
>> (branches, or better "properties") of which the perceivable world consists,
>> these being sattwa (energy, purity, light), rajas (action, movement, heat),
>> and tamas (form, heaviness, inertia, darkness). And every *thing* that can
>> be a *thing* is a unique combination of sattwa, rajas, and tamas. But this
>> is relative. For example a rock as more tamas than a river, which has more
>> rajas than a rock, but the sunlight shining on the rock and the river have
>> more sattwa than either of them. In otherwords, it's all relative. There is
>> tamas and sattva in the river, and rajas and tamas in the sunlight, and
>> sattwa and rajas even in the rock, but those are in smaller ratios than the
>> other dominant properties therein.
>> If we consider Einstein's theory of relativity, E = mc2, then this might
>> also be seen sattwa = tamas multiplied by the speed of rajas. Put another
>> way, that tamas in its gross form is transformed into sattwa its subtle
>> form through rajas, its movement(activity) through time and space.
>> This is from the aspect of the material world, as we (humans) can
>> perceive, through physical laws. That there is only one substance here, by
>> metaphor like water, is what Spinoza (I think) was attempting to "see,"
>> through a lens of inquiry and curiosity. How might this inquiry transcend
>> the dualism as presented by Descartes?
>> But I would like to prpose right about now that the dualism as presented
>> by Descartes was "historically invented" as a means to bypass intellectual
>> persecution by the Church fathers (i.e. Galileo). It is not apparent to me
>> that Descartes even believed everything that he wrote, but that it was a
>> story crafted to gift the material world for experimentation (with
>> impunity) to the scientists (so we could really figure out what was going
>> on here in the material world) and to leave the empty carton of the
>> "spiritual" (i.e. the mind) to the Church, which was just like selling the
>> Church a bridge that leads to swampland, really. And it worked!
>> I digress. Because the mind question really is a material question, but of
>> a subtle nature, and it would have to be that if we assert non-duality,
>> which I am, but you do not have to, as that is your choice! :)
>> It ends up that much of cognitive science is showing mind as a material
>> question to be the case, for example by its examination of distributed
>> cognition, embodied thinking, and so on, and also in cultural psychology
>> (like wet water) the way culture's soup creates so much of our human
>> experience. It is all relative, which means, to be relative it must be one
>> unified substance. Mind is created through activity and culture, which also
>> creates activity and culture, as woven threads extending out through time
>> and space in all directions.
>> Substance is a difficult and slippery word, because anything that would be
>> made of this substance couldn't be perceived by us, as we are products of
>> that substance.
>> It gets a bit Escher here if we could. You know staircases collapsing upon
>> one another, or hands drawing themselves, etc. Kind of Mobius strippy.
>> But this creates a reality of turtles all the way down, of infinite
>> regression. That does not work.
>> Spinoza's insight is that there IS a oneness, and that this can be
>> experienced ("seen"), but only through spiritual pursuit of
>> self-examination and inquiry, which was a kind of purification to him. In
>> this sense there is free will, because one is choosing to do this self
>> reflection, but on the other hand there is a necessary result that comes of
>> seeing what is already there, nothing is "produced". Hence the beauty of
>> him being a lensgrinder, is a marvelous metaphor in so many aspects.
>> My intuition is that LSV was attempting to balance Spinoza's substance
>> with Marx's materialism as a way to bring the two together, with the goal
>> of illustrating that there was a predictable "physics" to the way mind
>> develops as a necessary consequence of culture moving through history (i.e.
>> meaning), and vice versa (culture and history being created in turn by
>> mind).
>> This is not a linear summation or consequence, but an intermingling of
>> three properties (in relation to one another), light, mass, and energy or
>> as the ancients called them sattwa, rajas, and tamas, and these properties
>> are always in movement and in consequence to one another, but from the
>> aspect of the perceivable world.
>>> From the aspect of itself, it is static, nothing is changing, and it
>> exists outside of time and space. This is what Spinoza would have called
>> God (or nature), or in Vedanta, "Brahman," which cannot be objectified, but
>> it can be known because it is the only "thing" here, upon which all things
>> depend for existence. Like the pot is dependent upon the clay for its
>> existence.
>> This metaphor useful here for how the clay still "sees itself" as clay
>> even if it is in the shape of the pot, or a plate, but the pot can only
>> "see itself" as a pot if the form is of a particularly named shape, but is
>> no longer one if the pot-shape is shattered, though the clay remains
>> regardless of the presence of the pot-shape or shard-shape. It is still
>> clay. Relative to the pot, the clay is not changing, outside time and
>> space, relative to the pot, which is changing inside time and space.
>> When a pot can only see its own potness, then it appears there can be no
>> unifying principle inside time and space. It is a duality. But if pot can
>> see that its true unifying substance is clay, then its clayness stands
>> outside of time and space, and it continues to exist as long as clay is
>> there, just in transformation from the aspect inside time and space, but
>> eternal from the aspect outside of time and space.
>> Thanks for reading, and thanks also for your commentary. All being food in
>> my pot. :)
>> Kind regards,
>> Annalisa
> --