Re: Summer Study Group on Ilyenkov's Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete

From: Steven Thorne (
Date: Wed Jun 01 2005 - 20:13:42 PDT

Mike, Steve, and all -- i like the idea of an Ilyenkov course -- this
would tie in nicely with my growing interest in language and the
materiality/ideality question. Ilyenkov seems to be the key here.
i've got quite a bit out of David Bakhurst and Peter Jones work but
could use some proleption.

i'm not sure what Phil or others have in mind for a language/CHAT
focused discussion -- there was a brief flurry of interest in early
april but i haven't heard/read anything since (save for Peg's recent


>Thanks for the initiative. We are awaiting new of whether the
>language and activity
>group will get active now, and how long they.we are assumed to be
>active. I do not
>know. Those who do know should speak up.
>Any discussion of Ilyenkov has to be relevant to xmca so I am happy
>to see the discussion
>here, but if it is on yahoo, some way of posting summaries back to
>xmca would be very
>helpful. He is one of those thinkers who most people know through
>secondary sources,
>which is a shame. But our individual bandwidths are, quite evidently
>(speaking for myself!)
>are finite.
>On 6/1/05, Steve Gabosch
><<>> wrote:
>King Beach's mention of Ilyenkov's Dialectics of the Abstract and the
>Concrete is a perfect introduction to announcing an on-line study group
>that Peter Moxhay, Kristen Clark and I are planning for this summer on that
>very book. We actually began planning it last summer, but kept postponing
>doing it for the usual "too busy" reasons.
>Peter will be our discussion facilitator (some may remember the terrific
>job he did facilitating the section on Davydov in the 2003 xmca
>webcourse). We want to discuss the final chapter, Chapter 5, in some
>depth, but at a friendly pace. Any xmca list member is welcome to
>participate, listen in, etc. The book is available on-line at
>courtesy of the Marxist Internet Archive site. We will be publishing an
>informal syllabus to keep everyone on the same page as the discussion
>proceeds. We will announce the start date soon. We will probably start
>around the end of June or the beginning of July.
>We have a Yahoo discussion list set up for this (just like Anna set up for
>the CH-SIG workshop at Montreal) but there has also been some talk about
>doing it right here on xmca. Either will work. Each approach has pros and
>Doing it on the Yahoo discussion list has the advantage of not dominating
>xmca bandwidth and disrupting its discussions on things like articles from
>the MCA journal every quarter - articles such as the current Jurow article
>that Mike is coaxing us to discuss more, which King took up - or this
>intriguing epi-discussion about a CHAT theory of language that Anna is now
>tantalizing us with :-)) . Keeping an in-depth book discussion separate
>from xmca seems to make a lot of sense.
>People will be able to get and send all posts to the Yahoo site sent
>through their regular e-mail, but they will have to have a (free) Yahoo ID
>(e-mail account) to do so. We will post more details about all this
>soon. If anyone has a definite opinion on whether to do this on a Yahoo
>site, or on xmca - or has other ideas on how to proceed with this book
>discussion group idea - this is the time to speak up.
>- Steve
>At 07:53 PM 5/31/2005 -0700, King Beach wrote:
>>Mike and others,
>>I am going to dip my oar in the water here from New Delhi where we
>>are working with organizations trying to help street and working kids
>>build connections (not necessarily similarities) between their lives
>>in slums and the government schools--certainly involving
>>generalization is a broader sense. However, two points flow from the
>>juxtaposition of our current work with this conversation.
> >
>>One is our tendency to look for a single overarching characterization
>>of generalization, e.g. as ascending from the abstract to the
>>concrete or the expansion of local discursive practices. Those of us
>>who are psychologists by training might recognize this as our
>>discipline's historical desire for single process explanations such
>>as learning transfer. Davydov's concept of substantive
>>generalization, for example, makes far more sense to me in the
>>context of teaching and in science than it does where there are not
>>clearly generative "germ concepts." Trying to makes sense of the
>>transitions that primary-aged kids make between school and home/work
>>involves so many levels of generalization as to make single
>>process/single principle constructs problematic.
>>The other is a tendency with generalization to focus on that which
>>develops with some degree of commonality across social space and time
>>rather than on the production of disjunctions and contradictions as
>>well. Like Michael Roth here I do find Hegel and Ilyenkov (partic.
>>Dialectics of Abstract and Concrete) helpful in thinking about
>>generalization more broadly than the production of similarity. The
>>contradictions and disjunctions between what the kids must do here in
>>their daily lives and what they do in the school classrooms have far
>>greater developmental potential than do any hoped for highly
>>"abstracted" set off commonalities between studying in school and
>>working on the streets (or well-intentioned but misguided attempts to
>>"smooth" the daily transitions that these kids make between the
>>streets and the school by making "word problems" out of their
>>experiences working with their families).

Steven L. Thorne
Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Communication Arts and Sciences
Associate Director, Center for Language Acquisition
Associate Director, Center for Advanced Language Proficiency 
Education and Research
The Pennsylvania State University
Interact > 814.863.7036 | | | IM: avkrook

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