Re: [xmca] Re: the Strange Situation

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Fri Oct 24 2008 - 19:04:40 PDT

Dear Paula:
(For whatever reason, I'm afraid the label's sticking. "The Strange Situation" is, like a working class hero, something to be. Meaning, something that is to become.)
I'm going to try to use Hegel's "Logic" to make sense of the categories we find in your DVD and also in Chapter Five. But I've tried to read the Logic several times myself and failed each time.
So I'm not actually going to use the "Logic" directly, but instead take a very schematic understanding of it from an article on the logic of 19th century realist novels. (Brown, M. [1981] "The Logic of Realism: A Hegelian Approach", PMLA 96/2, 224-241). This puts me in good company; Andy says that LSV mostly gets his Hegel from other sources too (probably the Philosophical Notebooks of Lenin).
Early on in Thinking and Speech, LSV pours scorn on Piaget's declaration of independence from philosophy and says "the lack of a philosophy is itself a very definite philosophy". But Piaget's non-philosophical philosophy is not simply raw empiricism; it's a form of neo-Kantianism.
That's why LSV is careful to highlight wherever Piaget talks about "schemata", Kantian reflections of unknowable "things in themselves". It's also why he uses the image of social thinking simply "squeezing out" the egocentric thinking of the child; LSV is rejecting the neo-Kantian idea that there are separate faculties of reason and judgement. 
So what's the alternative to Kantian reflections of things in themselves? Hegel gives us three distinct stages in the unfolding of an idea: "for itself", "for others", and "for oneself". But in some ways the ways in which these stages are linked are more important than the way they are distinct.
First of all, there is "contingency", which he subtitles: "formal reality, possibility, necessity". Now, in this stage stuff has no "necessary" existence; it just appears as random things, or heaps. That's why Hegel says it has the "form" of reality, rather than its truth.
But even here, as Hegel says, "everything is through its other what it is itself". There is a contrast between the object and the environment, and that contrast is something made by the child as the child takes objects and puts them into heaps. The criterion of selection is a non-criterion; the child selects "for (the object) itself".
Now suppose the child takes this same logic, the logic of the heap, and applies it to the individual object. By this logic, the object appears as a "heap" of traits, facets, or aspects, each one utterly unconnected with the others. An object is a random heap of qualities.
But the independence of one quality from another is actually a kind of relationship, although a negative one. If a block is part of this heap, then it is not part of that one.  and if an object is yellow, then it is not blue. The point is that reality is something that is directed outwards; the reality of a heap is directed towards other heaps, the reality of an object is something directed towards other objects, and the reality of a facet is directed towards other facets.
Because the reality of a facet is directed towards other facets, it can be contrasted, and even chained, according to likeness, or according to partial similarity, or according to cause and effect. That's what creates the various types of complexes, including the chain complex.
Of course, identifying relationships (resemblance, causality, complementarity, even adversativity) is also a way of isolating them. And isolating relationships always involves not only an element of relativeness but even an element of arbitrariness. We see a lot of this in our data.
But we also see that as the relationships are isolated, the arbitrary elements and irrelevant decisions are gradually eliminated. Hegel says that in the third stage of the unfolding of the idea, all the randomness is absorbed and objects are now fully determinate.
LSV takes Piaget to task for not considering causality to be objective; for asserting that the causality of science is as egocentric and relative as that of the child. For LSV, this is really a type of complexive thinking. Thinking of "real reality", that is, the reality of groups and chains, and complexes, is not the final stage any more than thinking of heaps was.
Scientific causality is, for LSV, a higher form of causality; it corresponds to absolute necessity, where there is no longer heterogeneity or randomness in the relation or in the object. I think this is where he sees concepts--true concepts--coming into existence.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Fri Oct 24 19:05:48 2008

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