Re: [xmca] Considering ARL's view of Romantic Science

From: JAG (
Date: Wed Mar 29 2006 - 23:04:20 PST

Are you telling us that Lenin was Aristotle? The doctrine of the 4
causes laid out in the Metaphysica talks about material and efficient
causes (on the one hand) - of what is it made? Who made it? and Final
and Formal causes on the other (what's it for?; What is it's
design/function/form?). Aristotle used this to both accept and reject
Plato at the same time "All men by nature desire to know - witness
thereof is the delight they take in their senses" (opening lines of M)
This is the most direct philosophical challenge in the language of the
idealists. He formulated the first "developmental" theory - where, in
opposition to everything being there to begin with and only having to
be remembered (anamnesis) it became there by a developmental proceess
- epigenesis - where material and efficient causes were in some way
guided by, constrained by, ultimately fated to end up as formal and
final causes.

Very deep developmental theory would recognize this as a fundamental
issue that is taken with Piaget by Vygotsky(ians) among others. It is
no less than a call to link activity to form and structure.

I've been pedantic enough for tonight. Be well and god bless us every
one. And if she doesn't let's not have Christmas, Passover or Kwanza
this year (Ramadan is excepted on grounds of not wanting to stir up
already agitated nests.

I think that the general notion here is that great ideas are great
ideas no matter who gets attribution for them.

Ernst Cassirer in his Philsophy of the Enlightenment (I think that's
the title) does a great job on showing the consequences of the split
between material and efficient on the one had and final and formal
causeson the other in social theory. Mike has already pointed this in
other contexts.

And, if you can't step in the same river twice, what's the point of
having a river, a foot or a canoe?

On 3/28/06, Mike Cole <> wrote:
> As a followup on Peter and Dot's contributions, let me single out the
> following part of Luria's document.
> I have always admired Lenin's observation that a glass, as an object of
> science, can be understood only when it is viewed from many perspectives.
> With respect to the material of which it is made, it becomes an object of
> physics; with respect to its value, an object of economics; and with respect
> to its form, an object of aesthetics. The more we single out important
> relations during
> 177 . . .
> *. . . The Making **of **Mind*
> * *
> our description, the closer we come to the essence of the object, to an
> understanding of its qualities and the rules of its existence. And the more
> we preserve the whole wealth of its qualities, the closer we come to the
> inner laws that determine its existence. It was this perspective which led
> Karl Marx to describe the process of scientific description with the
> strange‑sounding expression, "ascending to the concrete."
> The observation and description of psychological facts should follow the
> same process. Clinical and psychological observations have nothing in common
> with the reductionism of the classicist. The clinical analysis of my early
> research is a case in point. Such an analysis seeks out the most important
> traits or primary basic factors that have immediate consequences and then
> seeks the secondary or "systemic" consequences of these basic underlying
> factors. Only after these basic factors and their consequences have been
> identified can the entire picture become clear. The object of observation is
> thus to ascertain a net‑work of important relations. When done properly,
> observation accomplishes the classical aim of explaining facts, while not
> losing sight of the romantic aim of preserving the manifold richness of the
> subject.
> By my reading, Luria rejects the antimonies of classical and romantic and
> goes for a hybrid approach that uses all the classical info it can get and
> then
> "rises to the concrete:" of individual cases. Its as if he were reversing
> the Piagetian idea that little kids cannot say which is more, the brown
> beads on the beads,
> and saying instead, of brown and white, there a beads and they vary in such
> a such a way, not just as brown and white, but as each individual. Not
> reductionism,
> some form of diversity in unity.
> mike
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