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

From: Peter Smagorinsky (
Date: Thu Mar 30 2006 - 03:30:40 PST

It was Luria who made the Lenin remark (see the chapter that Mike attached
recently). p

At 02:04 AM 3/30/2006 -0500, you wrote:
>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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