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Re: [xmca] Consciousness: Ilyenkov Epistemology Quiz


What you write does seem at fist glance a very reasonable way of thinking about 'idealizations.' But it is not, in my view, what Ilyenkov proposes. In his account, it is possible for us to use an axe or a shovel in practical activity only because collective social practice has *made* them 'an axe' or 'a shovel,' and so they have an ideal character (and material too, of course). The ideality here has nothing to do with planning or blueprints or design; and all to do with the way society confronts the individual as a second nature, as an objectivity, as what has been called an equipmental totality, as normative modes of behavior and the artifacts by means of which that behavior is conducted. Even simply hacking a hole in the ground is an action that is necessarily shaped by the labor of prior generations, for these have produced both the tool and its user.


On Sep 28, 2009, at 5:53 AM, Victor wrote:

If we are designing a spade or axe, discussing which tool to use for a particular practical objective, or using them as metaphors in a literary product, then they are certainly idealizations. That is to say they are abstractions (not necessarily the same abstractions as this depends on the focus of the plan, practical objective, or metaphor) represented by discrete symbolical forms such as pictorial icons, spoken words and sentences, or graphically represented speech, the significance of which is a function of their formation and use by the community of users that depends upon them for effective transmission of information. On the other hand, the axe and spade used respectively to cut up firewood and to hack a hole in the ground are in large part material, sensable objects the sensing and handling of which are concrete and continuous involving constant adjustments of bodily activity to realize the object of their use.

True, as Steve, citing EVI, reminds us, the object and formation of the instruments of labour are in part the products of ideation, the conventions for the production and use of the means of production, but these are practically meaningless in the absence of concrete productive activity.

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