# Re: [xmca] Is the Ideal factual

Andy, I have a question about what you say here about the ideal, using the example of a protractor. I think you are saying that when we use a protractor to construct a right angle, we are realizing the *ideal* property of the *protractor* to control our activity. That is what you mean, yes? But isn't it just the opposite - aren't we using the *material* properties of the protractor to represent the *ideal* of a right angle? When I come by your desk and ask if I can borrow your protractor, I am at that point appealing to its ideal aspects, which are expressed in conventional terms and words. We both know what a "protractor" is. If you ask "what are you going to use it for, Steve?" and I say "I need to draw a right angle," we are now discussing the *right angle* as an ideal object. But when I go sit down at my desk to draw that right angle, the protractor now becomes a material tool with special material properties, which if I use skillfully enough, will help me transform that ideal right angle into a new material object - a material sketch on paper that physically approximates the ideal of a right angle. And so goes the intricate and dialectical relationship between ideality and materiality in human activity. Are we on the same page on this - or am I looking at this from the wrong angle?
```
- Steve

On Mar 4, 2010, at 4:29 PM, mike cole wrote:

```
Neat discussion of ideal and material. Thanks all who contributed. Something
```to
"re-admire" as Friere would have put it.
mike

```
On Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 4:16 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
```
```
No, when we use a protractor to construct a right angle, thus realizing the ideal property of the property to control our activity, the ideal property (of being a protractor) is realized. If someone else looks at the resulting drawing and says (EG): "What a nice equilateral triangle," thus proving that
```we also realized the required ideal in our drawing, the circle of
objectification - perception - objectification is complete.

```
Ideal and material are in a sense opposites, but they are not mutually
```exclusive existences.

Andy

ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:

```
```Hello Steve:

```
You have summed it up within the context of Marx's "Thesis on Feurebach" and indeed I cannot refute what has been displayed within the sensuousness
```of human activity.

Dualism aside however, there still remains the sensuousness of this
```
activity. If I am to believe Marx's thesis than a 90 degree angle is never truely 90 degrees because of it's finite aspect and therefore the concept of
```the Ideal is unobtainable.

```
The logic of the Ideal is factual, yet the activity of the Ideal falls
```short.
eric

Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com>
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
03/04/2010 09:24 AM
Please respond to "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"

```
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu >
```      cc:         Subject:        Re: [xmca] Is the Ideal factual

```
Eric, since I was re-reading some Ilyenkov on this very question just last
```night, I will venture an answer.

```
I think that Ilyenkov would probably say "yes, the ideal is factual." Or more precisely, I think he would say the ideal is an objective fact, an
```objective factor, of human life.

```
Ilyenkov said the ideal was something that each individual is objectively confronted with in the form of culture, language, artifacts, writing, stories, works of art, institutions, beliefs, rules, laws, conventions, etc. Humans are confronted by the ideal in the multitude of forms in which
```ideality expresses itself in the course of human labor and activity.
```
Roughly speaking, the ideal, in this view, is the collection of socialized meanings and representations that accompany material human activity and
```labor.

```
This is the basis of the common CHAT metaphor that artifacts "contain" both materiality and ideality, although Ilyenkov would emphasize that the ideal aspect emerges only in the actual human activity process itself, and not at all "in" any material artifact (as Mike also explains in Cultural
```Psychology).

```
The simplest 'rough and dirty' description I know of for ideality is to equate it with meaning and contrast it with materiality. Looking at it this way, we can say that meaning and meaning-making are objective facts of human life. Hence, the ideal is an objective fact of human life, just as is the
```material.

```
As for the importance of the concept of the ideal, Ilyenkov emphasizes that one of the great challenges for philosophy, and many aspects of social science, is learning how to distinguish between the ideal and the material, which are often conflated in everyday life and in many academic approaches.
```
```
Ilyenkov further explained that the basis of idealism (ideal-'ism' as a philosophy) is actually a *correct* recognition of the ideal as being something objective, as being a fact of human life. For example, Ilyenkov
```explains how the ideal, as an objective fact or condition of human
existence, was understood by Plato, Hegel, and other great idealist
thinkers.

```
But on such questions, dualism soon intervenes, and we come to a well-
```trodden fork in the ideological road.  Dualism holds that the ideal
originates from and is probably composed in some way of some kind of
```
non-material, non-natural substance such as God or Spirit. Dualists tend to
```believe that the universe is fundamentally composed of two kinds of
```
unrelated, non-mediating substances (although this paradigm causes them constant problems when they try to explain how humans can act on the world and themselves as they do). Idealist-dualists thus tend to argue that the ideal is in some way connected to something non- human or extra- human, even though they can only assert its existence on "faith". (And they will also try to cleverly argue that any non- dualist point of view must ultimately,
```in the same way, be *equally* based on faith!  Sound familiar?)

The cultural-historical activity research tradition, in contrast to
dualism, at least in the thread Ilyenkov reflects, tends to take a
```
monist-activity approach to the ideal, viewing the origin and composition of the ideal in terms of it being an objective product of, and playing a necessary part in, human activity. Hence, the ideal is not only "factual,"
```but is a completely (and uniquely) human creation.

```
I am curious on what you make of this "concept of the ideal," Eric. What
```are your thoughts?

- Steve

On Mar 4, 2010, at 6:34 AM, ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:

Hi Andy:
```
```
I geuss now I am even more confused than before.

```
FOrget the faith part. Could you please provide a good starting point
```for
```
Ilyenkov's Ideal, I know that this has been addressed in the past but I
```still don't have a firm grasp of it.

thank you
eric

Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
03/04/2010 06:48 AM
```
```Activity"

To:
```
cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu >
```     Subject:        Re: [xmca] Is the Ideal factual

I didn't express myself clearly then, Eric. I simply meant
to list a number of concepts which (1) Are taught in a
formal setting, (2) Are true concepts, and (3) Are not
scientific. That's all. For my point, the question of Faith
doesn't come into it. Relgious concepts, for example, must
be understood in order to understand the literature, law,
etc, of religious activity, for which there is no need to
"believe" it.

Andy

ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:

```
```Hello Andy:
```
I was referring to your comment that the holy trinity is taught as being factual. IHave always viewed the holy trinity as a faith-based system
```
```
```and

```
not "factual". Part of Spinoza'a difficulty with church members was his
```logicical use of spiritual matters.  Although not a christian and

```
```therefore

```
not involved in the matters of the holy trinity it is still a sticky
```
```
```wicket

```
```when faith and fact cross paths.

So within this context I was looking for insight into the factual

```
```contents

```
```of Ilyenkov's Ideal.

thank you,
eric

To:              "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"

```
```<xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

```
```   cc:
bcc:
Subject:    [xmca] Is the Ideal factual
Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
03/03/2010 10:10 AM ZE11
Please respond to ablunden          <font size=-1></font>

Eric,
I am happy to respond, but could you contextualise your
question a little? Do you mean Ideals in general, or some
particular Ideal? I am curious, too.

Andy

ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org wrote:

```
I am curious Andy, do you believe the Ideal to be factual or is it
```
```
```based
```
```
```
```on faith?
```
```
eric

*Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>*
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu

03/02/2010 06:17 AM
```
```  Activity"

To:        Rod Parker-Rees <R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk>
cc:        "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"

```
```<xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

```
Subject: Re: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia
```

I really don't know the answer to this, Rod. I am just
exploring,  but in that spirit ...

All teachers and probably all children like it best when the
kids are just doing what they like doing, and of course they
acquire competency and confidence if they learn like this.
That's all nice and cosy. Ever since some time in the 1960s
it has been near impossible to teach any other way (in many
countries) in any case, because teachers can no longer
exercise fearful authority or even respect ...

But how does one grasp the Holy Trinity, or Saggitarian
personalities, Iconic representation or Nonalgebraic
equations, ... or any of these concepts which belong to
systems of activity and concepts which are foreign to the
day to day life of children?

And if children just quietly accept the Holy Trinity without
noticing that it is a concept based on Original Sin and the
sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is not really
factual ... is this a good thing?

Is there anything to learn at school? Or can we all just
absorb everything we need to know without really trying? Are
we all natural born masters?

I have in mind the material Chapter 5 of "Thinking and
Speech." Vygotsky seems to think that learning concepts
which are foreign to a child's day-to-day life is a
completely different process from what happens when a child
generalising from their own experience. It is only when the
two processes meet that genuine understanding is possible.
But if we shy away from teaching concepts, what is the result?

Andy

Rod Parker-Rees wrote:

```
I would be opposed to JUST teaching the rules of mathematics or art
```
```
(using the 'right' colours) AS rules before children have had a chance
```to do some groundwork on building up spontaneous concepts through
```
immersion in a cultural environment in which people do the things that
```people do with maths and art.

```
I think John Holt once argued that if we taught children to talk in
```
```
```the same way that we teach them to read we would have many more

```
```elective
```
```
```
mutes and children with speech delays. I am not thinking so much about
the later stages of education but I think it is pretty clear that in
```
```
```the
```
```
```
early years children benefit more from adults who follow and expand on
their attention than from those who try to switch their attention to desirable, high value learning (like teachers who have to turn every
```form of play towards counting, naming shapes and colours etc.).

```
```Children
```
```
```
are taught from very early on to associate learning with WORK - with
```
```
```all
```
```
```
the affective baggage that goes with that. I often hear students saying
how wonderful it is when children are learning 'without even knowing that they are learning', partly because sneaking stuff in under the radar is seen as a way of bypassing the 'work = boring and difficult'
```associations which children are assumed to have developed.

```
```I do think there is a time and a place for teaching but I am not

```
convinced that children always experience their teaching at appropriate
```times or in appropriate places!

```
```All the best,

Rod

________________________________________
```
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca- bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
```
```
```Behalf Of Andy Blunden [ablunden@mira.net]

```
```Sent: 02 March 2010 09:42
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia

So on that basis, Rod, you would also be opposed to the
teaching of mathematics, and for that matter, art, unless
the child was planning a career in a genuinely relevant
profession, such as maths teacher or art teacher. :)

Andy

Rod Parker-Rees wrote:

```
```I think there is a big affective difference between the way we

```
```learn
```
```
```
first languages (or multiple mother, father and grandmother tongues)
```
```
```and
```
```
```
the way we learn studied languages. I was taught French all through
school but learned Italian by spending the best part of a year in Italy and i am conscious of differences in HOW I know each of these languages
```(and English). I have more of a feel for whether or not something

```
```sounds
```
```
```
right in Italian but I know I know a lot more about the workings of
```French grammar.

```
I wonder how useful it is to teach grammar, as a formal system of
```
```
rules, to children who are still picking up on the 'feel' of their
language. I still think that reading well written prose is probably the best way to develop this feel (picking up a set of 'intuitive' patterns about 'the done thing' or 'what people do, as a rule') but of course this helps to develop a 'gut feeling' about the grammar of WRITTEN
```language - we also need plenty of exposure to different styles of

```
```spoken
```
```
```
language so that we can develop sensitivities to what works when and
```with whom (I never had much time for those primary schools which
```
insisted that children must only be exposed to one, 'correct' way of
```forming letters - one font - for fear of confusing them!).

```
The time for learning about conventional rules AS rules may be when
```
```
we start to ask questions about why some people say it this way and
```
```
```some
```
```
```
say it that way. We know from studies of language acquisition that a
huge amount of time can be wasted on trying to condition children to
```follow a rule which they have not yet noticed.

```
```All the best,
```
```
Rod

________________________________________
```
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca- bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
```
```
```Behalf Of Andy Blunden [ablunden@mira.net]
```
```
```
```Sent: 02 March 2010 02:21
```
```To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] new national curriculum in Australia

Our immensely incompetent Labor Government yesterday
announced their new national curriculum for schools
(formerly this was a state responsibility).

It features the teaching of history from the very beginning,
including indigenous history (this is an unambiguous good)
and emphasises the 3 Rs, including grammar. No curriculum
has been set yet in Geography and other subjects.

```
```http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/a-sound-beginning-20100301-pdlv.html

```
```Helen raised with me off-line this problem of reintroducing
```
```the teaching of grammar: who is going to educate the
educators? Anyone under 55 today did not learn grammar at
school or until they did a foreign language, when they
learnt the grammar of the other language. (Grammar means
"Which icon do I click now?")

```
What do xmca-ers think about teaching grammar? (I am in favour.)
```
Also, many progressive educators here are opposed to
curricula in toto: education should be about learning not
content. Do xmca-ers agree?

Given the disastrous implementation of policies by this
government over the past 2 years, I fear for our education
system. What do people think?

Andy

------------------------------------------------------------------------
```
```
```
```Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
```
```Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov \$20 ea

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```
```--

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```
```
```
```Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
```
```Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov \$20 ea

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```
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```
```
```
```Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
```
```Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov \$20 ea

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```
```
------------------------------------------------------------------------
```
```
```
```Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
```
```Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov \$20 ea

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--
```
```------------------------------------------------------------------------
Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov,
Ilyenkov \$20 ea

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```
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```ea

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