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#14759673
One Degree wrote:@Wellsy

I believe I grasp what you are saying. Would it be fair to say this was what Scott Peck was alluding to in his books? I found his concept of 'lies' a useful tool in understanding our personal fantasy world and seeing how it related to other fantasy worlds. I find his vocabulary useful for trying to understand myself and the rest of the world. I know I am detracting from the main topic again, but I find it difficult to pass up an opportunity for your views on this. Simply ignore my post, if you wish to get back on topic. ;)

I can't say I'm acquainted with Scott Peck's books, so difficult for me to comment.
Though based on the brief look at some things that look to summarize his points in some of his books, I imagine that his idea of evil people lying might be similar to things like:
Defence mechanisms

I have a feeling this could all be nonsense and irrelevant.
The thought that comes to mind is just that we seek security, stability, closure in our thinking and are averse to anxiety, discomfort and despair. And the things we're averse to come from becoming aware of how unstable many of the things we believe are. It's my impression that all that I believe couldn't stand the most aggressive skepticism. It's simply rational and practical to accept that there is faith in certain assumptions that I can't logically justify, but allow me to keep doing things without simply being paralyzed by doubt.
There are those that avoid this discomfort by simply blocking out any awareness of the instability, and then there are those that ask a lot of questions like philosophers that seem a bit more comfortable being entirely unsure about everything. Shaking the foundations of their base assumptions and being able to accept the instability to some degree. That even after becoming aware of the shakey nature of one's assumptions, one then again simply ignores them, because it's necessary to act on the assumption to act at all, rather than be paralyzed by the doubt that leaves on with no assumption.
That one might have an assumption, leap of faith on the existence of a metaphysical God to seek closure in other beliefs like there being a normative/objective morality or that there is a soul (ultimate self) from which to base a sense of free will on. To disrupt the assumption is to bring discord into a whole array of beliefs, just as one might be in a state of crisis when their self concept of being a good person is disrupted by evidence or reasons that challenge it.
#14761958
Found a past thread post that I think raises the exact sort of questions that I think arise based on questioning the extent to which mental processes map to the neural.
Which brings into question the the theoretical foundation for experiential psychology which accepts some sort of distinction between the material/brain and the abstract/subjectivity but asserts that there is some degree of correspondence.

And this is what the article on Wittegenstein touches on as being unclear
In contrast, Wittgenstein argued we need not presume there are neural processes correlated with associating or with thinking; such that it is possible to read off thought processes from brain processes. Even if assuming a system of impulses going out from the brain is correlated with thoughts, this does not provide reason to think these thoughts would proceed systematically. It is plausible that certain psychological phenomena cannot be investigated physiologically, as physiologically nothing corresponds to them: as Wittgenstein states this assumption begs the question; “why should there not be a psychological regularity to which no physiological regularity corresponds?”[2]


That what isn't established with confidence what sort of correspondence between the mind and the body there is. Because it would seem dubious to what specificity parts of the brain service a specific psychological function. To see the fruits of our investigation for such things, one could look into evolutionary psychology and question to what extent their findings and theoretical assumptions stack.
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolutionary-psychology/
In brief, evolutionary psychologists maintain that there is an analogy between organs and psychological mechanisms or modules. Organs perform specific functions well and are products of natural selection. There are no general purpose organs, hearts pump blood and livers detoxify the body. The same goes for psychological mechanisms; they arise as responses to specific contingencies in the environment and are selected for to the extent that they contribute to the survival and reproduction of the organism. Just as there are no general purpose organs, there are no general purpose psychological mechanisms.
...
There are numerous examples of the kinds of mechanisms that are hypothesized to underlie our behavior on the basis of research guided by these theoretical tenets: the cheat detection module; the waist/hip ratio detection module; the snake fear module and so on. A closer look at the waist/hip ratio detection module illustrates the above theoretical tenets at work. Devendra Singh (Singh 1993; Singh and Luis 1995) presents the waist/hip ratio detection module as one of the suite of modules that underlies mate selection in humans. This one is a specifically male psychological mechanism. Men detect variations in waist/hip ratio in women. Men's preferences are for women with waist/hip ratios closer to .7. Singh claims that the detection and preference suite are adaptations for choosing fertile mates. So our mate selection behavior is explained in part by the underlying psychological mechanism for waist/hip ratio preference that was selected for in earlier human environments.

What is important to note about the research guided by these theoretical tenets above is that all behavior is best explained in terms of underlying psychological mechanisms that are adaptations for solving a particular set of problems that humans faced at one time in our ancestry. Also, evolutionary psychologists stress that the mechanisms they focus on are universally distributed in humans and are not susceptible to much, if any, variation. They maintain that the mechanisms are a product of adaptation but are no longer under selection (Tooby and Cosmides 2005, 39–40).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modularity_of_mind
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/modularity-mind/#FodMod
Domain specificity. A system is domain specific to the extent that it has a restricted subject matter, that is, the class of objects and properties that it processes information about is circumscribed in a relatively narrow way. As Fodor (1983) puts it, “domain specificity has to do with the range of questions for which a device provides answers (the range of inputs for which it computes analyses)” (p. 103): the narrower the range of inputs a system can compute, the narrower the range of problems the system can solve—and the narrower the range of such problems, the more domain specific the device. Alternatively, the degree of a system's domain specificity can be understood as a function of the range of inputs that turn the system on, where the size of that range determines the informational reach of the system (Carruthers, 2006; Samuels, 2006).


But this sort of thing is contentious (from Evo. Psych. Link)
(2) Such systems, when complex, need to have massively modular organization.
...
he second type of argument is one side of a perennial debate in the philosophy of cognitive science. Fodor (2000, 68) takes this argument to rest on the unwarranted assumption that there is no domain-independent criterion of cognitive success, which he thinks requires an argument that evolutionary psychologists do not provide. Samuels (see esp. Samuels 1998) responds to evolutionary psychologists that arguments of this type do not sufficiently discriminate between a conclusion about domain specific processing mechanisms and domain specific knowledge or information.Samuels articulates what he calls the “library model of cognition” in which there is domain specific information or knowledge but domain general processing. The library model of cognition is not massively modular in the relevant sense but type two arguments support it. According to Samuels, evolutionary psychologists need something more than this type of argument to warrant their specific kind of conclusion about massive modularity. Buller (2005) introduces further worries for this type of argument by tackling the assumption that there can be no such thing as a domain general problem solving mechanism. Buller worries that in their attempt to support this claim, evolutionary psychologists fail to adequately characterize a domain general problem solver. For example, they fail to distinguish between a domain general problem solver and a domain specific problem solver that is over generalized. He offers the example of social learning as a domain general mechanism that would produce domain specific solutions to problems. He uses a nice biological analogy to drive this point home: the immune system is a domain general system in that it allows the body to respond to a wide variety of pathogens. While it is true that the immune system produces domain specific responses to pathogens in the form of specific antibodies, the antibodies are produced by one domain general system. These and many other respondents conclude that type two arguments do not adequately support the massive modularity thesis.


So this question of in what way does the material structures correspond to the abstract/psychological mechanisms that we experience and express seems crucial to investigating the human subject validly. If we are to have the wrong assumptions on this issue, certain experiments may be to compromised to be of any empirical use.


Another thing that's caught my attention skimming through the older threads on here, is the idea of our subjectivity being structured like language which seems to go back to Freud.
And from these thoughts on how the mind works and it being much like language, I think it probably fits well with Wittgenstein's work and those that use it to reject what I think is treating the human mind as if it were a computer. In the sense that our subjectivity/consciousness isn't like the protocols in a machine which are input into it from an external source. But we are beings that are able to create our own meaning without some other being coding it into us. That if there is a fruitful avenue to theorize about the human mind, understanding language seems to be a good step.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8582/2155eaab49a23b71c2f5746c97ed4f9ce5d3.pdf
A great deal needs to be said about these misconceptions, but I shall restrict my remarks to four brief but very general points that, if correct, undermine these various computational theories.

First, it makes no sense to speak of symbolic or semantic representations in the brain. For such representations are determined by conventions. They are representations only in so far as they have a rule-governed use, and hence only in so far as there is a correct and incorrect way of using them. For an object, a sign, to be a semantic representation of anything, it must have a meaning. It is not a sign of, but a sign for, what it represents. And that it is a sign for what it represents is exhibited in explanations of its meaning given in a symbol-employing community, in corrections of mistakes by users, and in explanations by users of what they mean by it. But brains are not members of a community, and it makes no sense to suppose that brains can be said to employ symbols. Moreover, those who use a symbol mean something by it when they use it, but it makes no sense to ascribe meaning something to the brain or its parts.

Secondly, the supposition that a system of rules might be ‘part of the fixed structure of the mind/brain ... beyond the level of possible introspection’ is nonsensical. It makes no sense to speak of an unformulated rule being part of the fixed structure of the mind or of the brain. Human beings may engage in rule-governed activity without formulating the rule in so many words – they would teach the activity by example and exemplification. But brains and minds do not do so. And it is unintelligible to suppose that a rule-formulation is ‘part of the fixed structure of the mind/brain’, unless there is writing or speech to be found in this strange organ.

Thirdly, it makes no sense to speak of the brain’s following rules, just as it makes no sense to speak of a computer following rules (as opposed to producing results that accord with rules). To follow a rule is the exercise of a two-way ability to act or not to act. But neither brains nor computers have two-way abilities. But to be caused to behave in a manner that coincides with what a rulefollower would do, to be caused to generate the same output as would result from following a rule, is not to follow a rule at all. Indeed, it is to make any rule altogether redundant for the operations of the entity (brain or computer) – since mechanical necessitation has replaced normative behaviour. A medieval monk who struck a bell every hour as determined by an hour glass, was following a rule; a church clock is not. An abacus or slide rule does not follow any rules. Neither does a computer. Nor does a brain. And when they malfunction, they do not transgress rules.

Fourthly, it makes no sense to suppose that the brain engages in computations (any more, strictly speaking, than a computer engages in computations and calculations). For to engage in calculations and computations is precisely to follow a set of rules, which presupposes not only a twoway ability, but also an understanding of the symbolism and of the computational rules associated with it. But the brain is not a possible subject of understanding (any more than is a computer). It cannot be said to understand any symbols or to know what they mean, let alone to use symbols and mean something by their use, for brains can neither mean nor fail to mean anything.

If these four points are correct, as I believe them to be, then computational theories in psychology, cognitive neuroscience and theoretical linguistics need extensive revision.
#14761990
I think the motivation to map consciousness to physical brain structures is sometimes more of an urge, ie something more than the scientific. I've described this here by reference to Transhumanists, where this urge can be almost religious in nature. Of course, this inflated vision doesn't apply to most scientists, but we are human and occasionally like to dream.

Like in the discussions on the soul and death, I suppose it would be possible to map a simplified version of our internal self to machine-logic or whatever afterlife people envision, but most people would not recognise this as anything approaching a satisfactory translation. I suppose there will be some folks (we have one amongst us right now) who think that 'trimming the fat' from the map of consciousness is a good thing, essential even, but there we have moved to modification instead of reproduction.

As I've recently mused on my attraction to using threes, I'll conclude with this section. A line of thinking that suggests that the 'computer' model of consciousness is inadequate is described by Stuart Hammerof (this is one of his more accessible videos) where he opines that the neuron is not just the simple on/off switch needed for the computer model, but has internal processes that may be important too, to support this he talks of single-celled organisms functioning fine without a brain. He then goes on to talk of microtubules within the neuron and quantum events which is where this approach becomes a little woolly for the purposes of this discussion.
This burgeoning complexity would suggest that it is more useful to consider higher symbolic structures, and the musings on language above seem to represent this... a focus on the software as opposed to the hardware.
#14956613
In regards to introspection as a method of psychology (Wundt) and my earlier concerns that one can fall into ad hoc rationalizations, I've come to Vygotsky in emphasizing that introspection itself isn't the right method for psychology but rather one is to infer the subjective indirectly through the objective.

I've seen this point of rationalization resonate with a paragraph I read by Vygotsky in regards to a psychology of art.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1925/art1.htm
Far more important is the difference between subjective and objective psychology of art. The difference of the introspective method as applied to the study of aesthetic feelings becomes obvious from the individual properties of these feelings. By its very nature, an aesthetic feeling is incomprehensible and fundamentally obscure in its evolution to the person experiencing it. We do not really know or understand why we like or dislike an object. Anything we devise to explain its behavior is but an afterthought, an obvious rationalization of unconscious processes. The very substance of the experience, however, remains mysterious. The purpose of art is to disguise art, according to a French maxim. Psychology attempted to solve these problems experimentally, but all methods of experimental aesthetics, as applied by Fechner (the methods of selection, determination, and application) or approved by Külpe (method of selection, gradual change, and time variation), are essentially not able to be anything but the simplest and most elementary aesthetic evaluations or appraisals.

In summarizing the results of this methodology, Frebes reaches very lamentable results. Haman and Croce criticized it severely, and the latter bluntly called it aesthetic astrology.


Rather, the method of introspection as seen with Descartes only makes clear the ontology that the mind isn't reality/matter (defined simply as that which exists outside of an individual's consciousness/not strictly dependent on it).
To summrize the issue with introspection, I share this passage where introspection is only justified should the appearence of things coincide with how they really are, but there is just reasons to doubt that this is the case though the two aren't wholly independent of one another.
Spoiler: show
So far as I know, the only current of philosophy which has a clear position on the mind-matter dichotomy and a commitment to dialectics, is the current of Marxism which runs from Plekhanov to Lenin to Vygotsky and his followers up to Ilyenkov. Vygotsky says:

“The question is whether in introspection phenomenon and being coincide” and quoting Lenin: “the only ‘property’ of matter connected with philosophical materialism is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside of our consciousness ... the concept of matter means nothing other than objective reality, existing independently from human consciousness and reflected by it.”

This quotation is a real gem, so let us take a little time to unpack it.

Firstly, what is meant by “phenomenon” and “being” when we are talking about introspection? “Phenomenon” means appearance, how things appear to be, whilst “being” is what is. So the question is: does the impression one has of one’s own consciousness correspond to what one’s consciousness actually is. Phenomenology – the study of appearances – answers in the affirmative and makes its subject matter what is given in introspection. [Just a warning here: although this was the definition in Vygotsky’s time, the meaning of “phenomenology” has been somewhat mobile since.] On the face of it, the claim that one has direct, unmediated and reliable access to one’s own consciousness seems to be undeniable, indeed, the very definition of consciousness!

But the answer is not so simple. What is given in introspection is clear enough as a concept, but what it corresponds to is far from clear. A drunk may tell you they are clearheaded and fit to drive, a mentally ill person may tell you that they are the King of England, I might tell you I am typing the word “form” whereas in fact I am typing “from” And yet all these obviously mistaken reports of the introspective appearance of my consciousness, are contradicted by what anyone listening to me knows about my consciousness. How is this possible? Well, in our behaviour we betray our consciousness to everyone, but our introspection is only of the act of introspecting and by the act of introspecting I destroy the state of mind which is supposed to under observation. Appearances may be deceptive.

Lenin refers to “philosophical materialism.” He refers to the fact that philosophical materialism simply makes the distinction between, on the one hand, matter – everything that exists outside of our consciousness, and in whatever shape, is given to us in our consciousness, and on the other hand, our consciousness. Beyond the claim that matter exists independently of consciousness philosophical materialism cannot take a step further; matter is defined by being outside of our consciousness. And it is through our consciousness that we get to know about the world. Any attempt to blur the distinction between consciousness and matter, under this definition, is madness. At best it is missing the point. If I can’t distinguish between my thought and what I am thinking of, then either I am an infant or simply don’t understand the question. The question of the distinction between thought and matter is the fundamental question of philosophy. As Descartes saw, consciousness is what we are given. The question then is, what is there beyond that, behind our consciousness. If we blur that distinction, and obfuscate the question then we surely must have misunderstood the question.

In The German Ideology, Marx wrote “My relation to my environment is my consciousness,” but then crossed it out. But this is a very succinct way of putting it. Marx puts it in the first person; he does not say “a person’s relation to their environment is their consciousness,” because he must treat anyone else’s consciousness scientifically, in the knowledge that another person’s consciousness must be inferred from their behaviour and whatever we know about their physiological condition. But his own consciousness occupies a special position because everything he knows passes through his consciousness, including his scientific investigations. The point is that the special ontological status occupied by consciousness only applies in the first person. Descartes’ mistake was to extend a perfectly valid question he asked of himself, to consciousness in general.

THIS IS what transformed “consciousness” into a problematic substance. Your consciousness is part of the material world, and is reducible to the totality of the state of your organism and its environment, all of which is accessible to scientific investigation.

BUT my consciousness, I cannot investigate scientifically. As Feuerbach put it quite correctly: “what for me is a mental, non-material, suprasensory act, is in itself a material, sensory act.” The other point about Marx’s aphorism is that he defines it as “My relation to my environment” without any qualification. It is all-inclusive. Marx does not limit consciousness to “awareness” nor does he exclude emotions, or make any other such qualification. It is the totality of my relation to my environment. The problem of the further specification of consciousness cannot be settled in advance by philosophy but requires positive, experimental investigation. So philosophy can only give this very starting point: “My relation to my environment is my consciousness.”

Putting this together with the problem of the difference between phenomenon and being in psychology, what this means is that introspection may contribute something to an elaboration of consciousness, but consciousness is not given to introspection. Introspection is a phenomenon in its own right. I cannot step outside of myself and make my own consciousness an object of my consciousness.

The above summarizes that one's own consciousness is their relation to the world which isn't generalizable to everyone elses consciousness (Mistake of Descartes) which must be inferred and deduced.
Introspection only clarifies that consciousness isn't reality itself (mind isn't matter), but that in regards to epistemology requires a science in which we figure out things that aren't given directly in appearance but must be rationally constructed.
Like a historian who must construct the object of his study...
On the basis of these arguments we can now suggest a new method of art psychology, which in Müller-Freienfels’ classification is termed the “objective-analytic method.” Accordingly, the work of art, rather than its creator or its audience, should be taken as the basis for analysis. While it is true that a work of art as such is not an object of psychology (having no psyche of its own), we must remember that a historian, studying for instance the French revolution from materials that do not contain any of the objects of his study, finds himself faced with the necessity of actually creating the object of his study by means of indirect, that is, analytic methods. Indeed, this happens in a number of other disciplines and sciences. They search for the truth in a way similar to that of a court investigating a crime from leads, circumstantial or other evidence. Only a bad judge would pass a sentence on the basis of statements from either the defendant or the plaintiff, both of whom are prejudiced and bound to distort the truth. The psychologist operates in a similar fashion when he studies the statements of a reader or a viewer of a work of art. This does not mean, however, that a judge should not hear the interested parties – provided he takes their statements with a grain of salt. And the psychologist never refuses to use any material, even though he knows from the outset that it may not be correct. The judge establishes the truth by comparing various false statements, checking them against objective evidence, and so forth. The historian uses notoriously false or biased material most of the time; and like the historian or the geologist who first creates the object of his studies and only then subjects it to scrutiny, the psychologist is forced to resort to material evidence – the works of art – and create a corresponding psychology in order to be able to study the laws governing it.


So we must use objective means to construct a reasonable sense of the subjective to which the observable is an important part, but not the entirety of psychological science (behaviourism is lacking inquiry into the subjective).
Spinoza is asserted to have the position that one isn't to try and look into the brain to find answers but must observe the activity of people.
It is in the activity of the human body in the shape of another external body that Spinoza saw the key to the solution of the whole problem. “Within the skull you will not find anything to which a functional definition of thought could be applied, because thinking is a function of external, objective activity. And you must therefore investigate not the anatomy and physiology of the brain but … the ‘anatomy and physiology’ of the world of his culture, the world of the ‘things’ that he produces and reproduces by his activity.”

Thinking is found in human activity rather than in contemplation, consciousness is a product of man's assimilation and adaption to the world and culture.
To which the starting point of any problem of psychology is to find that which is both objective and subjective, ie the basic unit of analysis.
An empirical phenomenon which is the simplest unit of a complex whole.
#14957090
Conceptual Confusion in Knowledge
Bulaba Jones wrote:Indeed, as well as the fact that the human brain did not evolve to understand itself. We still don't really understand consciousness. We don't know exactly what dreams are, why they happen, and what they mean, if anything (although we have plenty of competing ideas, some more convincing than others). We don't even understand what hypnosis is.
You're most likely familiar with some of my ideas, concerning the noosphere and consciousness...

In The Naming of Names : the Search for Order in the World of Plants, Anna Pavord explores scientific nomenclature and taxonomy. Here's an excerpt:

Theophrastus knew nothing about the mechanics of pollination and yet, in writing about date palms, noted that 'it is helpful to bring the male to the female; for it is the male which causes the fruit to persist and ripen, and this process some call, by analogy "the use of wild fruit". The process is thus performed: when the male palm is in flower, they at once cut off the spathe on which the flower is, just as it is, and shake the bloom with the flower and dust over the fruit of the female, and, if this is done to it, it retains the fruit and does not shed it.' This is where the biggest chasm looms between our mind-set and his. How could he so accurately describe the process of pollination without going on to ask himself why this particular trick worked? He understood the concept of a male and female plant. He understood that a good fruit set depended on the female flowers being visited by the males, but he never puzzled out the concept of pollination. Seeds and fruits came, but the how of it was a mystery.

She goes on to state that Theophrastus described only what he could see with his own eyes. Spectacles had not yet been invented. Nor had the magnifying glass or the microscope. He could see the veins in a leaf, but not the stomata, the tiny pores that control the passage of oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the plant. But of course he did not know anything about oxygen or carbon dioxide or the way leaves breathe.

So you see, technological instruments (this can include conceptual patterns of organization, like a flow chart for example) extend our senses and reorganize our knowledge of the world. Look at morphological classification, cladistics, bioinformatics, etc; all of it aims to organize or structure conceptual patterns. Each technique is valid, and I wouldn't call any particular technique "confused." But one might suggest that an earlier form of classification is confused or incomplete.

Conceptual confusion in any field is a side-effect of our limited awareness. Like Theophrastus, we can describe things- psychological processes, dreams, and consciousness, but how any of it works remains a mystery. So conceptual confusion isn't necessarily confusion, it's likely a matter of speculative obfuscation. The information or mechanism is hidden from view and therefore it affects our observation.


With that in mind, I'm fascinated by physicists trying to eliminate the observer from an objective physical system. How can we take away the observer, when what the observer observes is an abstract process defined by being present. Any objective model of causality that wishes to integrate or perhaps eliminate subjectivity is, to me, the definition of conceptual confusion.

We should accept the notion that humanity shares one mind, and its subjective observations constitute an objective happening that only appear to be in motion because we're aware of being present. A single mind will always be somewhat confused because thinking is an act of abstraction filtered by past & present experience.

In more concrete fields, even something like developmental psychology consists of competing ideas.
In reality, all fields interconnect and lead to consciousness.

Psychology is a science, but it is (in my opinion) the most fascinating one because it is, arguably, the most speculative one. The amount we don't know is truly staggering.
Knowledge is organized ignorance.
#15038408
Something I've been thinking about is a pseudo-problem posed by confusion in the cartesian ontological distinction between mind and matter, where it presupposes their independence and thus asks who they interact with one another.
https://ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/story-concept.htm
As is well known, this starting point, true and valuable in itself, led Descartes and those who followed him into intractable problems, summed up in the condemnation of Cartesian Dualism. Not only did mind/body dualism pose the problem of finding where and how the two domains of reality interacted with one another, the dualism flowed through to all the forms of thought and matter: how was each form of thought (i.e., concept) connected to the corresponding form of being (i.e., material object) it reflected? Posed this way the problem leads to nothing but nonsense.
...
So Descartes was correct in marking the distinction between his consciousness and matter, but mistaken in making this ontological distinction the starting point for a study of epistemology. The distinction which properly marks the beginning of the study of the sources and validity of knowledge is the subject/object relation. In this case it is false to treat subject and object in a dualistic or dichotomous way, there are halfway in-betweens, the boundaries are blurred. Subject and object are a mutually constituting unity of opposites. But the subject/object relation is one which can be found not only in relation to a person and the world they know, but it can be found even in the actions of a computer, an institution, or a natural process. The problem of knowledge is the problem of the subject/object relation, not an ontological problem.

There is an illusion in thinking that conscious thought causes actions because the quality of thought is not explained in relation to the body and posed against it.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/determinism.htm
The nervous system is an elaborate system of stimulus-response reactions, a system which to a certain degree is ‘self-constructed’ under conditions not of the subject’s choosing. The human organism taken as a whole cannot be described as a stimulus-response object because through personal development people have constructed an elaborate system of stimulus-response apparatuses which mediates between the stimulus acting on the person and the person’s response. This elaborate system is the material basis of consciousness and identity. Thus, when a person responds either with conscious awareness or with an immediate, conditioned response, the laws of biology are not violated. Does this mean that consciousness (i.e., thought) causes the subject’s actions insofar as the action is executed with conscious awareness? All the natural scientific evidence points to the fact that thoughts cannot be causes of material effects.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1930/mind.htm
Let us now from this viewpoint examine the way out of the blind alley that takes shape if we accept these claims. As is well known, to this day two basic problems have been left unsolved by the older psychology: the problem of the biological meaning of the mind and the clarification of the conditions under which brain activity begins to be accompanied by psychological phenomena. Such antipodes as the objectivist Bekhterev and the subjectivist Bühler equally acknowledge that we know nothing of the biological function of mind, but that we cannot assume that nature creates superfluous adaptations and that since mind evolved in the process of evolution it must fulfill some, still for us totally unintelligible, function.

We think that these problems were insoluble because they were stated falsely. It is absurd to first isolate a certain quality from the integral process and then raise the question of the function of this quality as if it existed in itself, fully independently of that integral process of which it forms a quality. It is absurd, for example, to separate the heat from the sun, to ascribe it independent meaning and to ask what meaning this heat may have and what action it can perform.

But until now psychology proceeded in exactly this way. It revealed the mental side of phenomena and then attempted to demonstrate that the mental side of phenomena is entirely unnecessary, that in itself it cannot cause any changes in the activity of the brain. Already in the very statement of this question resides the false presupposition that mental phenomena may act upon brain phenomena. It is absurd to ask whether a given quality can act upon the object of which it forms a quality.

The very presupposition that there can be an interrelation between mental and brain processes presupposes in advance a conception of the mind as a special mechanistic force which according to some can act upon brain processes and according to others may only proceed in parallel with them. Both the theory of parallelism and interaction theory make this false presupposition. Only a monistic view of mind allows us to state the question of the biological meaning of the mind in a completely different way.

We repeat once more: we cannot isolate mind from the processes of which it forms an inalienable part and then ask what is its use, what role does it fulfill in the general process of life. In reality the mental process exists within a complex whole, within the unitary process of behavior, and when we wish to understand the biological function of the mind we must ask about this process as a whole: what function do these forms of behavior fulfill in adaptation? In other words, we must not ask about the biological meaning of mental processes but about the biological meaning of psychological processes, and then the insoluble problem of the mind which on the one hand cannot be an epiphenomenon, a superfluous appendage, and on the other hand cannot move any brain atom for one bit – appears soluble.

As Koffka says, the mental processes point forward and beyond themselves to the complex psychophysiological wholes of which they form a part. This monistic integral viewpoint is to consider the integral phenomenon as a whole and its parts as the organic parts of this whole. Thus, the detection of the significant connection between the parts and the whole, the ability to view the mental process as an organic connection of a more complex integral process – this is dialectical psychology’s basic task.

In this sense, the fundamental debate about the question as to whether mental processes may act upon bodily ones had already been decided by Plekhanov. In all cases where there is talk of the influence of mental processes, such as fright, strong grief, painful experiences, etc. on bodily processes, the facts are mostly related correctly, but their interpretation is incorrect. Of course, in all these cases, it is not the experience itself, the mental act itself (the ardent desire for food as Pavlov said) which acts upon the nerves, but the physiological process that corresponds to this experience and that forms a single whole with it, that leads to the result of which we speak.
...
Thus, what is false in the old viewpoint is the idea of a mechanistic action of the mind upon the brain. The older psychologists conceive of it as a second force that exists alongside the brain processes. This brings us to the central point of our whole problem.


The point being that there is an incorrect abstraction in their presupposed independence of bodyless thought and a thoughtless body when real existing man thinks and his thinking isn't merely the activity of his mind but of his entire body.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essay2.htm
There are not two different and originally contrary objects of investigation body and thought, but only one single object, which is the thinking body of living, real man (or other analogous being, if such exists anywhere in the Universe), only considered from two different and even opposing aspects or points of view. Living, real thinking man, the sole thinking body with which we are acquainted, does not consist of two Cartesian halves ‘thought lacking a body’ and a ‘body lacking thought’. In relation to real man both the one and the other are equally fallacious abstractions, and one cannot in the end model a real thinking man from two equally fallacious abstractions.

That is what constitutes the real ‘keystone’ of the whole system, a very simple truth that is easy, on the whole, to understand.

It is not a special ‘soul’, installed by God in the human body as in a temporary residence, that thinks, but the body of man itself. Thought is a property, a mode of existence, of the body, the same as its extension, i.e. as its spatial configuration and position among other bodies.

This simple and profoundly true idea was expressed this way by Spinoza in the language of his time: thought and extension are not two special substances as Descartes taught, but only two attributes of one and the same organ; not two special objects, capable of existing separately and quite independently of each other, but only two different and even opposite aspects under which one and the same thing appears, two different modes of existence, two forms of the manifestation of some third thing.

What is this third thing? Real infinite Nature, Spinoza answered. It is Nature that extends in space and ‘thinks’. The whole difficulty of the Cartesian metaphysics arose because the specific difference of the real world from the world as only imagined or thought of was considered to be extension, a spatial, geometric determinateness. But extension as such just existed in imagination, only in thought. For as such it can generally only be thought of in the form of emptiness, i.e. purely negatively, as the complete absence of any definite geometric shape. Ascribing only spatial, geometric properties to Nature is, as Spinoza said, to think of it in an imperfect way, i.e. to deny it in advance one of its perfections. And then it is asked how the perfection removed from Nature can be restored to her again.

The same argumentation applies to thought. Thought as such is the same kind of fallacious abstraction as emptiness. In fact it is only a property, a predicate, an attribute of that very body which has spatial attributes. In other words one can say very little about thought as such; it is not a reality existing separately from, and independently of, bodies but only a mode of existence of Nature’s bodies. Thought and space do not really exist by themselves, but only as Nature’s bodies linked by chains of interaction into a measureless and limitless whole embracing both the one and the other.

This is a point in which the distinction between humans and automatons is found in the quality of the universality of our action rather than the efforts to explain all sorts of specific actions by brain specific modules mentioned earlier.
The cardinal distinction between the mode of action of a thinking body and that of any other body, quite clearly noted by Descartes and the Cartesians, but not understood by them, is that the former actively builds (constructs) the shape (trajectory) of its own movement in space in conformity with the shape (configuration and position) of the other body, coordinating the shape of its own movement (its own activity) with the shape of the other body, whatever it is. The proper, specific form of the activity of a thinking body consists consequently in universality, in that very property that Descartes actually noted as the chief distinction between human activity and the activity of an automaton copying its appearance, i.e. of a device structurally adapted to some one limited range of action even better than a human, but for that very reason unable to do ‘everything else’.

Thus the human hand can perform movements in the form of a circle, or a square, or any other intricate geometrical figure you fancy, so revealing that it was not designed structurally and anatomically in advance for any one of these ‘actions’, and for that very reason is capable of performing any action. In this it differs, say, from a pair of compasses, which describe circles much more accurately than the hand but cannot draw the outlines of triangles or squares. In other words, the action of a body that ‘does not think’ (if only in the form of spatial movement, in the form of the simplest and most obvious case) is determined by its own inner construction by its ‘nature’, and is quite uncoordinated with the shape of the other bodies among which it moves. It therefore either disturbs the shapes of the other bodies or is itself broken in colliding with insuperable obstacles.

Man, however, the thinking body, builds his movement on the shape of any other body. He does not wait until the insurmountable resistance of other bodies forces him to turn off from his path; the thinking body goes freely round any obstacle of the most complicated form. The capacity of a thinking body to mould its own action actively to the shape of any other body, to coordinate the shape of its movement in space with the shape and distribution of all other bodies, Spinoza considered to be its distinguishing sign and the specific feature of that activity that we call ‘thinking’ or ‘reason’.

This capacity, as such, has its own gradations and levels of ‘perfection’, and manifests itself to the maximum in man, in any case much more so than in any other creature known to us. But man is not divided from the lower creatures at all by that impassable boundary that Descartes drew between them by his concept of ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. The actions of animals, especially of the higher animals, are also subsumed, though to a limited degree, under Spinoza’s definition of thinking.

This is a very important point, which presents very real interest. For Descartes the animal was only an automaton, i.e. all its actions were determined in advance by ready-made structures, internally inherent to it, and by the distribution of the organs located within its body. These actions, therefore, could and had to be completely explained by the following scheme: external effect – movement of the inner parts of the body – external reaction. The last represents the response (action, movement) of the body evoked by the external effect, which in essence is only transformed by the working of the inner parts of the body, following the scheme rigidly programmed in its construction. There is a full analogy with the working of a self-activating mechanism (pressure on a button working of the parts inside the mechanism movement of its external parts). This explanation excluded the need for any kind of ‘incorporeal soul’; everything was beautifully explained without its intervention. Such in general, and on the whole, is the theoretical scheme of a reflex that was developed two hundred years later in natural science in the work of Sechenov and Pavlov.
...
Man’s ‘response’ mechanisms are by no means switched on just as soon as ‘the appropriate button is pressed’, as soon as he experiences an effect from outside. Before he responds he contemplates, i.e. he does not act immediately according to any one prepared scheme, like an automaton or an animal, but considers the scheme of the forthcoming action critically, elucidating each time how far it corresponds to the needs of the new conditions, and actively correcting, even designing all over again, the whole set-up and scheme of the future actions in accordance with the external circumstances and the forms of things.

And since the forms of things and the circumstances of actions are in principle infinite in number, the ‘soul’ (i.e. ‘contemplation’) must be capable of an infinite number of actions. But that is impossible to provide for in advance in the form of ready-made, bodily programmed schemes. Thinking is the capacity of actively building and reconstructing schemes of external action in accordance with any new circumstances, and does not operate according to a prepared scheme as an automaton or any inanimate body does.



Many distinctions are abstracted out of the whole of a human's activity and not considered in relation to this whole. The point being that the distinctions should remain but not considered in analytical independence in actuality.
https://www.personalitycafe.com/redirect-to/?redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ethicalpolitics.org%2Fablunden%2Fpdfs%2FCritical%2520Appropriation%2520of%2520Hegel.pdf
The great contribution that Hegel made was that, while not eliminating the subjectiveobjective distinction from his philosophy, he made this distinction secondary and derivative from the more fundamental unity between human beings and the world created by human activity in the world, which was his starting point. This meant that it was possible for Hegel to give us the definition of a concept which did not define concepts as inward subjective thought-forms, nor as objective worldly entities, nor a duality comprised by pairing up something subjective with something objective.

The concept of ‘formations of consciousness’ gave him a primary concept from which objective and subjective aspects could be distinguished. Contrariwise, any approach which begins from entities as either objective or subjective cannot eliminate such a dichotomy because it is built into its foundations. Whether we call it Spirit or Activity is an entirely secondary question, in fact, provided we begin from a foundation which is prior to the rupture between the subject and object of activity.

There are only a limited number of concepts in our culture whose objects are not implicitly either subjective or objective. We may say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but 3 “beauty” still designates an attribute of the object

https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/chat/index.htm#action
Actions are the main units of human life, of Activity. An Action is a purposive act or doing. An Action is therefore both objective, external, material, perceptible movement, and subjective, internal, mental – intentions, plans and feelings. That is, actions are a unity of both consciousness and behaviour. (‘Behaviour’ does not include any subjective component.) (See LSVCW v. 3, pp. 35-50.)

Since Actions are purposive, a person is generally consciously aware of their Actions; those Actions which are carried out without conscious awareness (such as stepping over a kerb while walking) are called Operations. But in human beings, Operations always have the potential to be transformed into Actions, whilst conversely, through force of habit, Actions may also be transformed into Operations. (See Leontyev 2009, pp. 369ff.)

An Action is not however objective behaviour + subjective thought; action is a prior unity which is subsequently (i.e., in development) differentiated into subjective thinking and objective behaviour, as, for example, a growing child learning to subject their own behaviour to conscious control. An Action cannot be ‘broken down’ into movements and meanings (what you did and what you meant to do), because without the real unity of the two, it is not an Action. Nonetheless, actions contain an internal Contradiction in that what you mean to do is not always what you do, and vice versa. An Action can only be understood together with the train of thinking which manifested itself in an objective act, not limited to a momentary state of consciousness.


The issue though is that in criticizing this conception of the soul, we also destroy the idea of the metaphysical free will and have to then explain how man can be both determined and free.
Because true to the earlier point that it makes no sense to speak of the the mental causing material affects in the body.
http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Mail/xmcamail.2015-06.dir/pdf9UQ7dqv45X.pdf
Spinoza took issue with the Cartesian conception of will grounded in a separation of the material world from a wilful mind capable of free action in relation to it. He ridiculed the common-sense notion of free will: ‘...so firmly are they persuaded that the body is moved by mere command of the mind, or is kept at rest, and that it performs many things which merely depend on will or ingenuity of the mind’ (Spinoza, 1993). He also denies it: ‘The body cannot determine the mind to think, nor the mind the body to motion, nor to rest, nor to any other state (if there be any other)’ (Spinoza, 1993).

And the idea of the will undetermined by real world motives confuses the matter with a faulty abstraction.
http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/10867/1/VWills_ETD_2011.pdf
Marx's second argument against Kantian morality is that its focus on the free will belies the extent to which the will is itself determined by material conditions and material interests. The abstraction of the “free will” is illegitimate according to Marx because it attempts to prize apart the intellectual life of individuals from their economic, social, and historical context. A person with a will that is “wholly independent of foreign causes determining it,” to adopt Kant's phrase, simply does not exist in reality, and therefore such a subject makes a rather poor starting point for moral theory. (Later, in 1853, Marx writes, there critiquing Hegel, “Is it not a delusion to substitute for the individual with his real motives, with multifarious social circumstances pressing upon him, the abstraction of “free-will” — one among the many qualities of man for man himself”74!)


The issue of our free will then gets replaced that like all biological beings we can be reduced to a stimulus-response model of reflexes as based in beharourism. But Lev Vygotsky doesn't accept this as adequate and wishes to push beyond a crude materialism whilst establishing continuity with it, such that lower mental functions develop into higher ones. Otherwise how would we distinguish ourselves from machines, how do we adequately explain the universality of human activity which some do attempt to reduce to properties of machines.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/determinism.htm
Although Vygotsky at times refers to free will as an “illusion,” he does not support the line, common among natural scientists, that consciousness merely supervenes on activity, that is, that consciousness is merely an epiphenomenon of behavior. Such approaches claim to explain human behavior without reference to consciousness, but this is not Vygotsky’s line. In his earliest contributions to psychology he proved that behavior cannot be understood without reference to consciousness, mediating between stimulus and response. Human behavior cannot be explained without recourse the language and concepts of psychology.

http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Mail/xmcamail.2015-06.dir/pdf9UQ7dqv45X.pdf
Vygotsky understood that what he was working on coincided with Spinoza’s understanding of freedom in the Ethics. He criticised Descartes for his explanatory inadequacy in failing to ‘make a clear distinction between passions of the soul and passions of a soulless machine’ (Vygotsky, 1999). He was also acutely aware of the difficulty of theorising will and distinguishing it from the sort of mechanical explanation that would only be reasonable when discussing machines:

In the final analysis, the question is: does what is higher in man, his free and rational will and his control over his passions, allow a natural explanation that does not reduce the higher to the lower, the rational to the automatic, the free to the mechanical, but preserves all the meaning of this higher aspect of our mental life in its fullness, or to explain the higher, do we inevitably have to resort to rejecting the laws of nature, to introducing a theological and spiritualistic principle of absolute freewill not subject to natural necessity? (Vygotsky, 1999)


His task here was to follow Spinoza in an idea of freedom which isn't undermined by being determined but is about how from determinations we can develop a level of self-determination.
It is in this sense that education is a freedom-enhancing process: to put the point simplistically in Spinozist terms, to know the reasons why I act is to be a cause of myself (causa sui) rather than to be the subject of extraneous determinations.
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For Spinoza it is in self-determination that human beings exhibit freedom. A free agent is not one whose actions are undetermined, but one whose actions are self-determined and self-determination arises only when we are not controlled by our passions. A passion here is not the same as an affective impulse; rather it is what Spinoza called an affect produced by external causes rather than by our own power. We are not controlled by passions when we understand the reasons for our actions is based on adequate ideas. To be guided by adequate rather than inadequate knowledge is to be free from external determination.
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Free will only arises when humans are active rather than passive. In turn, actions which are active in Spinoza’s terms (i.e. self-determined) are only possible when such actions coincide with adequate rather than inadequate ideas.
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The more our actions are formed by adequate ideas (i.e. ideas where the genetic connections are understood explicitly) the more we are determinate of our own actions and, as such, active. The more we act according to inadequate ideas (ones whose relations are unexpressed) we are said to be passive and as such our actions are not free.
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Thus for Spinoza free action is not a matter of choice or volition but of the mind’s activity as opposed to passivity. Activity for Spinoza concerned the quality of action rather than the mere fact of acting: the mind is active when its ideas are adequate and passive when its ideas are inadequate. For Spinoza, we are said to act when we are the adequate cause of our actions; that is, when the ideas on which our actions are based are adequate ideas. This is a totally different sense of action from the common one that makes no such profound distinction. So many of the actions that we feel ourselves to be engaged would, according to Spinoza’s line of argument, be understood as vain repetitions.


So to determine ourselves rather than be determined by external things, we must understand (have adequate ideas) the reasons for doing what we do. This is knowledge that understands why it does something, it's not a collection of facts as much as it makes explicit the relationship of things to one another.

This brings us to the beginnings of Vygotsky's work on the will, which he sees as integral to all higher mental functions which grow through qualitative stages in our development by mastering our activity in relation to predicaments in the world.
He tends to emphasize that the difference between man and animal, in man's capacity for a free will is how we can decide our own actions as mediated through artefacts and in doing this we train our bodies (our actions) to a point that they come under our conscious control, we master ourselves in the same way we master material tools as both are tied together as one can't master say, playing guitar independent control of one's own body.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/the-individual.htm
Once, however, the process of internalisation is complete, the artefact, which may begin its life as an objective, material thing outside consciousness, albeit a thing endowed with social significance, has become integrated into the psyche itself, and cannot be said to be something other than the psyche. The same can be said of the activity of consciousness in relation to other people and an artefact; this activity ceases to be something that the psyche does, but rather is the psyche itself. In Leontyev’s words: “Man’s activity is the substance of his consciousness,” or as Johann Fichte put it: “The self is pure activity.” (Fichte 2000)

Lev Vygotsky’s key idea about the construction of consciousness is based on how we learn; learning takes place through the collaboration of the novice with an adult member of the culture using some artefact to allow the novice to complete some operation they need to become a competent member of the society. That artefact may be a sign or any other kind of useful thing provided by society for the achievement of social ends, or a role-model (a symbol, index or icon, in Peirce’s categorisation of signs). The child learns to coordinate their own activity using the artefact, and then gradually internalises that activity so that the use of a objective thing, spoken word, etc., may no longer be necessary, but is taken over by internal functions within their own body.

The essential components of this learning action are the individual child, the artefact and the ‘representative’ of society, who sets tasks for the child and assists them in achieving the tasks using the artefact. As the learning proceeds, the material thing, the artefact, is transformed into a kind of node within the psyche, a ‘psychological tool’. At this point, the learner has acquired the competency of an adult member of the society (skipping over here the long drawn out series of transformations that takes place during the process of internalisation or appropriation) so that the distinction between the material and mental aspects of the element of culture is secondary and relative; the artefact is an ‘ideal’ or ‘universal’. The outcome is not the insertion of the ideal into some kind of mental substance, but rather the restructuring of the nervous system with the individual coordinating their activity by means of the ideal, which remains an element of material culture. When we talk of activity then, we are talking of the coordination of the purposive activity of two or more individuals in some kind of social practice by means of socially constructed signs. This includes the coordination by the individual of their own body so as to act in relation to the entire society and its culture, irrespective of the immediate presence of any other person. In the limiting case of such activity then, the person acts in relation to their own body as a cultural product.


But this is where things get a bit harder to understand without greater insight into Vygotsky's works, he has some great examples that I think point to how we master control over ourselves and this leads to self-determination rather than only external determination of ourselves such that we can't be reduced to biological processes although such processes underpin the higher mental functions but nor is it explained strictly by the activity of the mind. This is where I'm at the moment, in trying to understand.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/determinism.htm
The first element of Vygotsky’s theory of self-control is that “in voluntary action, we must differentiate two apparatus that are relatively independent of each other.”

(1) “a conditioned reflex is constructed” – an internal change in the subject’s nervous system, and then at a later time:

(2) “the actuating apparatus, that is, the functioning of the cerebral connection already formed in this way,” when the subject acts.

If we were to consider how an athlete or artist or mathematician achieves a particular feat, there are two phases: first a protracted process of training their bodies to respond to artificial stimuli in certain complex ways, and secondly the performance of the feat by the activation of the self-constructed bodily apparatus. In this second phase, the various forms of action have been mastered and are executed with conscious control, but without conscious direction of the individual reactions. ('Consciousness’ includes those processes which, while not part of conscious awareness, can move into conscious awareness in response to events.)

A second important distinction Vygotsky makes is that between motives and stimuli.

(1) A stimulus triggers a conditioned reflex which has been trained and is part of (2) an elaborate system of interconnected stimuli and reflexes which constitute the internal form of a motive. Every form of action is directed and organized by some motive, and when conflicting motives arise, these apparatuses can be combined in complex ways to resolve the conflict.

When a subject is faced with a conflict of motives (e.g., needing to get out of bed but still wanting to rest), the subject will voluntarily introduce an artificial stimulus which they use to resolve the conflict (an alarm clock or telling themselves “I will get up on the count of 3, ...”).

These artificial stimuli which the subject uses to train and control their response to stimuli are provided by their social and cultural surroundings. Adults purposely direct the actions of infants in their care and in doing so introduce these stimuli. Later, children appropriate these same stimuli to “command” themselves. By school age, a child is able to exercise what must be recognized as free will and a significant level of control of their own behavior, while remaining culturally and socially dependent on the conditions of their existence, beyond their control.

“Freedom of will is not freedom from motives.” Yes, though the ability to educate one’s own motives is crucial to the attainment of a genuinely free will, something which may or may not be attained to some degree in the course of an adult life.


There a good examples that Vygotsky shares in regards to how our decision is mediated by artefacts which allows us to then perform actions as if they are aren't willed, such that the free will is a pardox of both relatively free decision if based on adequate ideas comprehension of the situation but in excuting the action, it takes on necessity once again.
We create in ourselves an apparatus based on our decision making via an artefact that then can be put in action automatically without us making the choice, such that the free choice occurs prior to the action.
So for example, he gives an example of a child that has equally positive and negative motives acting upon the child causing a paralysis of decision which they can break from the paralysis through the use of a dice.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1931/self-control.htm
The child ascribed the force of motives to neutral stimuli by introducing an auxiliary motive into the situation and leaving selection to the die. Then the child throws the die, it falls black side up, he selects the first series and the choice is made. How different it is from the selection the child had just made between similar series without the help of the die! We can compare the two processes experimentally and observe something very instructive.

First we will analyze the selection using the die. What shall we call the action chosen by the child – free or not free? On the one hand, it was not at all free, bin strictly determined; the child carried out the action not because he wanted to, not because he preferred it to the alternative, not even because he was simply drawn to it, but exclusively because the die fell black side up. The child carried out the action as a reaction to a stimulus, as a response to instruction; a second earlier he could not have said which of the two actions he would take. Thus, we have the most determined, least free selection. But, on the other hand, in themselves, the black and white sides of the die do not to any degree compel the child to take one action or the other. The child himself ascribed to it the force of a motive in advance and he himself linked one action to the white side and the other to the black side of the die. He did this solely in order to determine his selection through these stimuli. Thus, we have maximum freedom and a completely voluntary act. Dialectical contradiction consisting of freedom of the will appears here in an experimentally separated form accessible to analysis.

He also provides an even better example of someone overcoming indecision through their watch.
As his experiments have shown, human behavior that does not have a specific intention is subject to the power of the situation. Every thing requires some kind of action, elicits, excites, actualizes some kind of reaction. The typical behavior of a person waiting in an empty room with nothing to do is characterized mainly by the fact that he is at the mercy of the environment. Intention is also based on creating an action in response to a direct need of things or, as Lewin says, coming out of the surrounding field. The intention to mail the letter creates a situation in which the first mailbox acquires the capability of determining our behavior, but in addition, with intention, an essential change in the person’s behavior occurs. The person, using the power of things or stimuli, controls his own behavior through them, grouping them, putting them together, sorting them. In other words, the great uniqueness of the will consists of man having no power over his own behavior other than the power that things have over his behavior. But man subjects to himself the power of things over behavior, makes them serve his own purposes and controls that power as he wants. He changes the environment with his external activity and in this way affects his own behavior, subjecting it to his own authority.

That in Lewin’s experiments we are actually speaking of such control of oneself through stimuli is easy to see from his example. The subject is asked to wait for a long time and to no purpose in an empty room. She vacillates – to leave or to continue waiting, a conflict of motives occurs. She looks at her watch; this only reinforces one of the motives, specifically, it is time to go, it is already late. Until now the subject was exclusively at the mercy of the motives, but now she begins to control her own behavior. The watch instantly constituted a stimulus that acquires the significance of an auxiliary motive. The subject decides “When the hands of the watch reach a certain position, I will get up and leave.” Consequently, she closes a conditioned connection between the position of the hands and her leaving; she decides to leave through the hands of the watch and she acts in response to external stimuli, in other words, she introduces an auxiliary motive similar to the dice or the count “one, two, three” for getting up. In this example, it is very easy to see how a change in the functional role of the stimulus, its conversion to an auxiliary motive, occurs.


And as a final random note, a compelling proof of free will is how we can overcome the path of most resistance to realize some intent ie, we endure pain for a greater purpose, or go to great lengths for little reward.
Another substantial psychological change in the process of selection is that here we have an explanation of the basic problem of voluntary action which was left essentially unresolved on the basis of empirical psychology. We have in mind the well-known illusion that always arises with a voluntary act and consists in that the voluntary act is directed as if along a line of greatest resistance. We select what is more difficult and call only such a choice voluntary.

William James recognized this problem as being unsolvable on the basis of a scientific deterministic view of the will and had to admit the intrusion of spiritual force, the voluntary “yes, let it be!” “Yes, let it be” (“fiat” – the word with which God created the world). Selection of the word itself is very indicative. If we conceal the philosophy of this term, we can easily see that, in essence, hidden behind it is the following idea. To explain the voluntary act, for example, the fact that a person on the operating table represses cries of pain and stretches out to the surgeon the affected member despite a direct impulse that would make him pull his arm away and scream, science cannot say anything else except that here we have a repetition of an act like the creation of the world, but of course on a microscopic scale. This means that explaining a voluntary act led the scientist standing on empirical ground to a purely biblical teaching on the creation of the world.

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0103-65642018000200200&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
The relevance of the auxiliary motifs in this process is also evident for Vygotsky when investigating situations that the individual would usually avoid, but in which the construction of a meaning or purpose linked to his volitional act increases or supports his choice. For example, people persist in a hunger strike or endure intense pain due to the establishment of an auxiliary motive (e.g. an ideological project or a religious promise) that gives meaning to that decision (Vygotsky, 1931/1995c).

By examining consciousness as embedded in modes of activity, and noting how we don't simply will things and have perfect control over ourselves as a given but develop our will in relation to our mastery of artifacts as mediation of our own behaviour, he is able to make compatible a view of self-determination which is compatible with biology/physics but isn't solely determined by them.
And very interesting in self-regulation and decision making process is his emphasis on how we overcome conflicting motives which we experience all the time.
How do I wake up and get out of bed when I want to sleep more and not endure the cold morning? He references this example to William James and makes a point of how we might 'trick' ourselves by saying that we will act when we finish counting to 3 "1, 2, 3" and we get up. Without such means we are more so at the mercy of the various motives in our field of activity and take longer to make a decision and do anything.

He also examines different pathologies such as hysteria and amnesic aphasia in regards to the will to help situate how in such pathologies, the issue in regards to the will is a kind of regression of impairment in it's relationship to other functions of consciousness.
So following spinoza he often emphasizes the mediation of the intellect in many operations, so for example we can point out how unlike in Descartes view of the soul, we don't have perfect control over our emotions but we can manage them through the mediation of our thoughts.
A true fact that whilst we can't simply make ourselves feel a certain way, we can indirectly influence how we feel via certain ideas, this had a strong basis in 20th century acting theory.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1932/actors-creativity.htm
The first consists in that Stanislavsky expresses the involuntary quality of feeling in a certain situation. Stanislavsky says that feeling cannot be commanded. We have no direct power over feeling of this nature such as we have over movement or over the associative process. But if feeling “cannot be evoked ... voluntarily and directly, then it may be enticed by resorting to what is more subject to our power, to ideas” (L. Ya. Gurevich, 1927, p. 58).
Actually, all contemporary psychophysiological investigations of emotions show that the path to mastery of emotions, and, consequently, the path of voluntary arousal and artificial creation of new emotions, is not based on direct interference of our will in the sphere of sensations in the way that this occurs in the area of thinking and movement.

This path is much more tortuous and, as Stanislavsky correctly notes, more like coaxing than direct arousal of the required feeling. Only indirectly, creating a complex system of ideas, concepts, and images of which emotion is a part, can we arouse the required feelings and, in this way, give a unique, psychological coloring to the entire given system as a whole and to its external expression. Stanislavsky says: “These feelings are not at all those that actors experience (perezhivaitsya) in life” (ibid.). They are more likely feelings and concepts that are purified of everything extraneous, are generalized, devoid of their aimless character.
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Psychology teaches that emotions are not an exception different from other manifestations of our mental life. Like all other mental functions, emotions do not remain in the connection in which they are given initially by virtue of the biological organization of the mind. In the process of social life, feelings develop and forma connections disintegrate; emotions appear in new relations with other elements of mental life, new systems develop, new alloys of mental functions and unities of a higher order appear within which special patterns, interdependencies, special forms of connection and movement are dominant.

And our affect is heavily tied to our free will and decision making.
http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Mail/xmcamail.2015-06.dir/pdf9UQ7dqv45X.pdf
Vygotsky notes approvingly inextricable connection which Spinoza drew from affects, thought and quality of action: ‘Spinoza…defined affect as that which increases or decreases our body’s ability to act, and that which forces thought to move in a particular direction’ (Vygotsky, 1993, p.234). This is a deeper, more ontologically embedded notion than the simplistic idea that the possibility of free-action depends upon sufficient knowledge. That is to say adequate ideas, understanding and self-determination are party and parcel of each other.

Emotion being a driving force although not a sole determination of our actions as we need not be thrown into action only by what we feel and may even act in defiance of what we may feel like doing, overiding such motive forces/needs. But decisions aren't solely the domain of the intellect.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/words/ch07.htm
We must now take the final step in the analysis of the internal planes of verbal thinking. Thought is not the last of these planes. It is not born of other thoughts. Thought has its origins in the motivating sphere of consciousness, a sphere that includes our inclinations and needs, our interests and impulses, and our affect and emotion. The affective and volitional tendency stands behind thought. Only here do we find the answer to the final “why” in the analysis of thinking. We have compared thought to a hovering cloud that gushes a shower of words. To extend this analogy, we must compare the motivation of thought to the wind that puts the cloud in motion. A true and complex understanding of another’s thought becomes possible only when we discover its real, affective-volitional basis. The motives that lead to the emergence of thought and direct its flow can be illustrated through the example we used earlier, that of discovering the subtext through the specific interpretation of a given role. Stanislavskii teaches that behind each of a character’s lines there stands a desire that is directed toward the realization of a definite volitional task. What is recreated here through the method of specific interpretation is the initial moment in any act of verbal thinking in living speech.


Where it isn't knowledge to bounce between the points in which emotion is a sole cause of action and thus we're inherently irrational, in that it is only in the case of the child or child like with an under developed will do they act out so impulsively.
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0103-65642018000200200&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
According to Fonseca-Janes and Lima (2013), it is possible to discern distinct steps in the development of the psychological function of thought in Vygotsky’s work: a) syncretic thinking, in which there is an aggregated and disorganized manifestation of cognitive contents; b) complex thinking, characterized by the grouping of objects based on the representations one has about them and not on their stable characteristics; and c) conceptual thinking, which expresses “a deep and broad reflection of the reality of an object in all its diverse complexity, and of the nexus and relationships between it and the rest of reality” (Vygotsky, 1931/2006, 80). In this sense, Vygotsky affirms that thinking plays a central role in the development of all higher psychological functions, that is, of the integral process of consciousness, and that thinking in concepts makes it possible to structure the will directed to an end. Thus, hysteria is also a disturbance of the intellectual activity that guides behavior (Vygotsky, 1931/2006a)

Considering specifically the contributions of his studies on hysteria, one can see that the process of development of the will, according to Vygotsky, is based on the following stages: 1) maximum expression of impulsive and emotional states; 2) overcoming hypobulia as an independent instance; and (3) emergence of an end-oriented will.

So end up with distortions of the will/decision making (which creates an apparatus internally that then becomes an means of executing a specific action upon the right relation to a meaningful stimulus) in terms of a will without direction/an end/purpose but remains strong.
Or a will that can't be properly directed by the intellect due to the difficulty of structuring the decision/intent symbolically.
#15038603
I have a degree in Psych.

It's a mistake to lump it all in together. There are a some branches that are thoroughly scientific, and many that are not.

Modern philosophy of science is descriptive, not prescriptive. Things have changed a bit since Wittgenstein.

https://www.amazon.com/Scientific-Perspectivism-Ronald-N-Giere/dp/0226292134/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=ronald+n+giere&qid=1570023546&sr=8-4
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I have found one of the best summaries of Lev Vygotsky who very lucidly lays out some of the greatest insights from his work.
Spoiler: show
http://www.unilibre.edu.co/bogota/pdfs/2016/mc16.pdf
Three principles form the basis of our approach to the analysis of higher psychological functions.

Analyzing process, not objects. The first principle leads us to distinguish between the analysis of an object and of a process. As Koffka put it, psychological analysis has almost always treated the processes it analyzes as stable, fixed objects. The task of analysis consisted in breaking these forms down into their components. Psychological analysis of objects should be contrasted with the analysis of processes, which requires a dynamic display of the main points making up the processes’ history. Consequently, developmental psychology, not experimental psychology, provides the new approach to analysis that we need. Like Werner, we are advocating the developmental approach as an essential addition to experimental psychology. Any psychological process, whether the development of thought or voluntary behavior, is a process undergoing changes right before one’s eyes. The development in question can be limited to only a few seconds, or even fractions of seconds (as is the case in normal perception). It can also (as in the case of complex mental processes) last many days and even weeks. Under certain conditions it becomes possible to trace this development. Werner’s work furnishes one example of how a developmental viewpoint may be applied to experimental research. Using such an approach, one can, under laboratory conditions, provoke development.

Our method may be called experimental-developmental in the sense that it artificially provokes or creates a process of psychological development. This approach is equally appropriate to the basic aim of dynamic analysis. If we replace object analysis by process analysis, then the basic task of research obviously becomes a reconstruction of each stage in the development of the process: the process must be turned back to its initial stages.

Explanation versus description. In associationistic and introspective psychology, analysis is essentially description and not explanation as we understand it. Mere description does not reveal the actual causal-dynamic relations that underlie phenomena.

K. Lewin contrasts phenomenological analysis, which is based on external features (phenotypes), with what he calls genotypic analysis, wherein a phenomenon is explained on the basis of its origin rather than its outer appearance. The difference between these two points of view can be elucidated by any biological example. A whale, from the point of view of its outer appearance, stands closer to the fish family than to the mammal, but in its biological nature it is closer to a cow or a deer than to a pike or a shark. Following Lewin, we can apply this distinction between the phenotypic (descriptive) and genotypic (explanatory) viewpoints to psychology. By a developmental study of a problem, I mean the disclosure of its genesis, its causal dynamic basis. By phenotypic I mean the analysis that begins directly with an object’s current features and manifestations. It is possible to furnish many examples from psychology where serious errors have been committed because these viewpoints have been confused. In our study of the development of speech, we have emphasized the importance of the distinction between phenotypic and genotypic similarities.

In their external, descriptive aspects, the first manifestation of speech in the one-anda-half to two-year-old child are similar to adult speech. On the basis of this similarity, such serious researchers as Stern come to the conclusion that in essence the eighteenmonth-old child is already conscious of the relation between sign and meaning. In other words, he classes together phenomena that have absolutely nothing in common from the developmental point of view. On the other hand, egocentric speech — which in its outer manifestations differs from internal speech in essential ways — must be classed together with internal speech from the developmental point of view.

Our research on young children’s speech brings us to the basic principle formulated by Lewin: two phenotypically identical or similar processes may ‘be radically different from each other in their causal-dynamic aspects and vice versa; two processes that are very close in their causal-dynamic nature may be very different phenotypically.

I have said that the phenotypic approach categorizes processes according to their external similarities. Marx commented on the phenotypic approach in a most general form when he stated that ‘if the essence of objects coincided with the form of their outer manifestations, then every science would be superfluous” — an extremely reasonable observation. If every object was phenotypically and genotypically equivalent (that is, if the true principles of its construction and operation were expressed by its outer manifestation), then everyday experience would fully suffice to replace scientific analysis. Everything we saw would be the subject of our scientific knowledge.

In reality, psychology teaches us at every step that though two types of activity can have the same external manifestation, whether in origin or essence, their nature may differ most profoundly. In such cases special means of scientific analysis are necessary in order to lay bare internal differences that are hidden by external similarities. It is the task of analysis to reveal these relations. In that sense, real scientific analysis differs radically from subjective, introspective analysis, which by its very nature cannot hope to go beyond pure description. The kind of objective analysis we advocate seeks to lay bare the essence rather than the perceived characteristics of psychological phenomena.

For example, we are not interested in a des cription of the immediate experience elicited by a flashing light as it is revealed to us by introspective analysis; rather we seek to understand the real links between the external stimuli and internal responses that underlie the higher. form of behavior named by introspective descriptions. Thus, psychological analysis in our sense rejects nominal descriptions and seeks instead to determine causal-dynamic relations. However, such explanation would also be impossible if we ignored the external manifestations of things.

By necessity, objective analysis includes a scientific explanation of both external manifestations and the process under study. Analysis is not limited to a developmental perspective. It does not repudiate the explanation of current phenotypical idiosyncrasies, but rather subordinates them to the discovery of their actual origin.

The problem of “fossilized behavior.” The third principle underlying our analytic approach is based on the fact that in psychology we often meet with processes that have already died away, that is, processes that have gone through a very long stage of historical development and have become fossilized. These fossilized forms of behavior are most easily found in the so-called automated or mechanized psychological processes which, owing to their ancient origins, are now being repeated for the millionth time and have become mechanized. They have lost their original appearance, and their outer appearance tells us nothing whatsoever about their internal nature. Their automatic character creates great difficulties for psychological analysis.

The processes that have traditionally been referred to as voluntary and involuntary attention provide an elementary example that demonstrates how essentially different processes acquire outer similarity as a result of this automation. Developmentally speaking, these two processes differ very profoundly. But in experimental psychology it is considered a fact, as formulated by Titchener, that voluntary attention, once established, functions just like involuntary attention. In Titchener’s terms, “secondary” attention constantly changes into “primary” attention. Having described and contrasted the two types of attention, Titchener then says, “There exists, however, a third stage in the development of attention, and it consists in nothing less than a return to the first stage.” The last and highest stage in the development of any process may demonstrate a purely phenotypic similarity with the first or primary stages, and if we take a phenotypic approach, it is impossible to distinguish between higher and lower forms of this process. The only way to study this third and highest stage in the development of attention is to understand it in all its idiosyncrasies and differences. In short, we need to understand its origin. It follows, then, that we need to concentrate not on the product of development but on the very process by which higher forms are established. To do so the researcher is often forced to alter the automatic, mechanized, fossilized character of the higher form of behavior and to turn it back to its source through the experiment. This is the aim of dynamic analysis.

Inactive, rudimentary functions stand not as the living remnants of biological evolution but as those of the historical development of behavior. Consequently, the study of rudimentary functions must he the point of departure for evolving a historical perspective in psychological experiments. It is here that the past and the present are fused and the present is seen in the light of history. Here we find ourselves simultaneously on two planes: that which is and that which was. The fossilized form is the end of the thread that ties the present to the past, the higher stages of development to the primary ones.

The concept of a historically based psychology is misunderstood by most researchers who study child development. For them, to study something historically means, by definition, to study some past event. Hence, they naively imagine an insurmountable barrier between historic study and study of present-day behavioral forms. To study some thing historically means to study it in the process of change; that is the dialectical method’s basic demand. To encompass in research the process of a given thing’s development in all its phases and changes — from birth to death — fundamentally means to discover its nature, its essence, for ‘It is only in movement that a body shows what it is.” Thus, the historical study of behavior is not an auxiliary aspect of theoretical study, but rather forms its very base. As P. P. Blonsky has stated, “Behavior can be understood only as the history of behavior.”

The search for method becomes one of the most important problems of the entire enterprise of understanding the uniquely human forms of psychological activity. In this case, the method is simultaneously prerequisite and product, the tool and the result of the study.

In summary, then, the aim of psychological analysis and its essential factors are as follows: (1) process analysis as opposed to object analysis; (2) analysis that reveals real, causal or dynamic relations as opposed to enumeration of a process’s outer features, that is, explanatory, not descriptive, analysis; and (3) developmental analysis that returns to the source and reconstructs all the points in the development of a given structure. The result of development will be neither a purely psychological structure such as descriptive psychology considers the result to be, nor a simple sum of elementary processes such as associationistic psychology saw it, but a qualitatively new form that appears in the process of development.


One of which I wish to share in regards to the methods of psychology over the stimuli-response method which characterizes much of psychology even still today.
I noticed especially when considering theories in addiction in regards to cravings and triggers. So I found it very resonant to see Vygotsky illuminate how such a principle underpins the psychological methods of his day and mark my suspicion of the continuity of philosophical and methodological problems that are yet to find Vygotsky's improvement and sound foundation for psychological science.
Below in the summary alone you can see how it's about a direct causal effect on the subject by the environment, the passiveness characteristic of mechanical materialism. Man seen as only a natural being, continuation of natural selection and not a social being is conceived only as a result of the world but not an agent that acts within it, changes it and thus changes himself. But hence why many human qualities remain confounded behind metaphysical illusions where man isn't properly conceived as biosocial despite any rhetoric in desire of such a perspective.

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0103-65642018000200200&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
Main explanatory models for craving

In the neurobiological model, the craving may be triggered by things such as images, sounds, odors, and environmental contexts. These triggers can be internal or external cognitive cues that are in some way related to drug use. This relationship is established by pairing repeated drug use with internal or environmental variables, stored together in memory.

Because of this pairing, a person’s neural circuits become hypersensitive to drug-related stimuli, triggering a strong desire to consume. Consequently, the main strategy for craving management in this framework is to recognize the triggers that induce this strong desire in order to avoid situations in which they are present (Zeni & Araujo, 2011).

In the cognitive framework, on the other hand, external/environmental and internal situations are involved in the process of relapse of someone seeking to stop using a particular drug. Mood swings, for example, will activate core beliefs of an individual and beliefs regarding the addictive use of a substance. These beliefs will trigger automatic thoughts that will lead to the craving (Santos et al., 2014). Also present in this model is the understanding that situations that stimulate drug use involve the relationship between additive beliefs and control beliefs:

Physiological craving symptoms, often experienced as strong anxiety, “trigger” permissive additive beliefs (such as “I will use only a little”) that may lead to substance use. Along with these additive beliefs, which are associated with the pursuit of pleasure (or relief from displeasure) and feelings of well-being, the patient may also present control beliefs (such as “I will be harmed by using”), which may lessen the need to consume the psychoactive substance (Santos et al., 2014, p. 122).

The craving management techniques proposed by this framework involve coping strategies that seek to strengthen control beliefs. Among the main techniques, it is worth mentioning the replacement by positive image (RPI), which is the visualization of the benefits arising from the interruption of the use of a substance, seeking to strengthen self-efficacy during withdrawal (Santos et al, 2014).

The behavioral framework advocates the differentiation between craving and compulsion, the former being the motivational desire and the latter the behavioral intention. In the process of conditioning that comprises the manifestation of craving, however, these two phenomena are articulated. Thus, an external stimulus (conditioned stimulus - CS) - for example, the sight of a pack of cigarettes - triggers a craving (conditioned response - CR), which then leads to a compulsive behavior, which may or may not be followed by a substance use response and its consequent reinforcing stimuli (Marlatt, 1987). The management strategies adopted according to this framework, therefore, promote a new conditioning in relation to drug use, especially by controlling the environmental variables, so that the conditioning that triggers the craving becomes extinct.
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Thus the proposition that there is no regression of psychological functions in the manifestation of the craving goes beyond dualistic conceptions such as those used in the behavioral, neurobiological, and cognitive models in which the stimulus-response relationship is ultimately what triggers the use of psychoactive substances.

Part of Vygotsky's distinction for higher psychological functions relates to the mediated role which simply extends beyond the stimuli-response principle founded in the early days of psychological science and adds the mediation of a sort of constructed/artificial stimuli which is introduced by the violation/will of the person.
When comparing the principles regulating unconditioned and conditioned reflexes, Pavlov uses the example of a telephone call. One possibility is for the call to connect two points directly via a special line. This corresponds to an unconditioned reflex. The other possibility is for the phone call to be relayed through a special, central station with the help of temporary and limitlessly variable connections. This corresponds to a conditioned reflex. The cerebral cortex, as the organ that closes the conditioned reflex circuit, plays the role of such a central station.

The fundamental message of our analysis of the processes that underlie the creation of signs (signalization) may be expressed by a more generalized form of the same metaphor. Let us take the case of tying a knot as a reminder or drawing lots as a means of decision making. There is no doubt that in both cases a temporary conditioned connection is formed, that is, a connection of Pavlov’s second type. But if we wish to grasp the essentials of what is happening here, we are forced to take into consideration not only the function of the telephone mechanism but also of the operator who plugged in and thus connected the line. In our example, the connection was established by the person who tied the knot. This feature distinguishes the higher forms of behavior from the lower.

Such a viewpoint is elaborated more so in this section on self-control: https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1931/self-control.htm
Where he mentions the use of a die/dice to help decide between equally weighted motives, or to use one's watch to set a time to leave a room or to count to 3 before getting up out of bed. There being these created stimuli prescribed motives that help condition ourselves to do what we decide, but the acting upon the decision is just as much a compulsion as an instinct but one that is freely created.
Hence the free will is self-determined in being created but it is the creation of a compulsion, something which isn't free.
#15056045
In continuing the earlier emphasis on areas of the brain corresponding to mental functions I'd like to emphasize a point of the non-a priori nature of thinking such that is based on the physiology of the bring but isn't inherent in it.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunde ... s-talk.htm
3. The brain does not ‘cause’ consciousness. A working brain is the essential pre-condition for consciousness, but how do we move from possibility to realised possibility?

If we consider a system from the point of view of how a given possibility can be realised, we hypothetically insert ourselves into the system in question, asking what intervention is needed to realise the relevant possibility. ‘Cause’ can be understood in a practical way only by this kind of thought-experiment. To say that something is a cause is to point to how a given possibility could be realised by a hypothetical intervention in a system. To say that consciousness is caused by the brain is to say that an intervention in the nervous system can bring consciousness into being. As John Searle has pointed out, such interventions can be shown only to change consciousness, but not to bring it into being.

From the phylogenetic point of view, Merlin Donald and others before him have shown convincingly that it was development of culture and behaviour, which introduced consciousness into a pre-human hominid species, not the other way around.

The ontogenetic evidence is that under all but the most adverse conditions, human infants with healthy brains will develop language and consciousness. However, no answer has yet been given as to how consciousness could be introduced into living tissue which was not already capable of consciousness. Thus, the ‘cause’ of consciousness has no coherent meaning in the ontogenetic context. Further, if consciousness is a feature of the brain, an organ like any other, “a system-level, biological feature in much the same way that digestion, or growth” (Searle 2004), then the origin of free will remains a mystery.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1930/psychological-systems.htm
We have no reason to assume that the human brain underwent an essential biological evolution in the course of human history. We have no reason to assume that the brain of primitive man differed from our brain, was an inferior brain, or had a biological structure different from ours. All biological investigations lead us to assume that biologically speaking the most primitive man we know deserves the full title of man. The biological evolution of man was finished before the beginning of his historical development. And it would be a flagrant mixing up of the concepts of biological evolution and historical development to try to explain the difference between our thinking and the thinking of primitive man by claiming that primitive man stands on another level of biological development. The laws of dreaming are the same everywhere, but the role which the dream fulfills is completely different and we will see that such a difference not only exists between, let us say, the Kaffir and us. The Roman believed in dreams as well, although he would not say in a difficult situation “I will dream about it,” – because he stood on another level of human development and would solve the matter, in the words of Tacitus, “with arms and reason and not like a woman through a dream.” The dream was a sign for him, an omen. The Roman did not begin something when he had had a bad dream about it. In the Roman, the dream had another structural connection with other functions.
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To a certain degree this also holds true for one of the most difficult problems – the localization of higher psychological systems. So far they have been localized in two ways. The first viewpoint considered the brain as a homogeneous mass and rejected the idea that the different parts are not equivalent and play different roles in the formation of psychological functions. This viewpoint is manifestly untenable. Therefore, henceforth it was tried to deduce the functions from different brain parts, distinguishing, for example, a practical area, etc. The areas are mutually connected, and what we observe in mental processes is the joint activity of separate areas. This conception is undoubtedly more correct. What we have is a complex collaboration of a number of separate zones. The brain substrate of the mental processes are not isolated parts but complex systems of the whole brain apparatus. But the problem is the following: if this system is given in the very structure of the brain in advance, i.e., if it is fully determined by connections that exist in the brain between its various parts, then we must assume that those connections from which the concept develops are given beforehand in the structure of the brain. But if we assume that it is possible to have more complex systems which are not given in advance, a new perspective on this problem results.

Allow me to clarify this with an admittedly very rough schema. Forms of behavior that earlier were shared by two persons are now combined in the person: the order and its execution. Before they took place in two brains. One brain acted upon the other with, say, a word. When they are combined in one brain we get the following picture: point A in the brain cannot reach point B through a direct combination. It has no natural connection with it. The possible connections between different parts of the brain are established through the peripheral nervous system, from outside.

Proceeding from such ideas, we can understand a number of facts of pathology. These include, first of all, patients with a lesion of the brain systems who are not capable of doing something directly, but can carry it out when they tell themselves to do so. Such a clinically clear picture is observed in Parkinsonian patients. The Parkinsonian patient cannot take a step. But if you tell him to take a step or if you put a piece of paper on the floor, he will take this step. Everybody knows how well Parkinsonian patients walk on stairs and how badly on the level floor. In order to lead the patient to the laboratory, one has to spread out a number of pieces of paper on the floor. The patient wants to walk, but he cannot influence his motor system, this system is disturbed. Why can the Parkinsonian patient walk when pieces of paper are spread out on the floor? Here there are two explanations. One was given by Sapir . the Parkinsonian patient wants to raise his arm when you tell him to do so, but this impulse alone is insufficient. If you link this request with another (visual) impulse he will raise it. Flic supplementary impulse acts together with the main one. We can also imagine another picture. The system that allows him to raise his arm is now disturbed. But he can connect one point of his brain with another one via an external sign.

It seems to me that the second hypothesis about the locomotion of Parkinsonian patients is the correct one. The Parkinsonian patient establishes a connection between different points of his brain through a sign, influencing himself from the periphery. That this is so is confirmed by experiments on the exhaustibility of Parkinsonian patients. If it would be simply a matter of fully exhausting the Parkinsonian patient, then the effect of a supplementary stimulus would increase, or at any rate lie proportional to a rest, a recovery, and play the role of an external stimulus. (One of the Russian authors who first described Parkinsonian patients pointed out that most important for the patient are loud stimuli (a drum, music), but further investigations demonstrated that this is incorrect. I do not want to say that in Parkinsonian patients things proceed exactly like this. It suffices to conclude that it is in principle possible. That such a system is actually possible we can constantly observe in processes of dissolution.

Each of the systems I mentioned goes through three stages. First, an inter- psychological stage – I order, you execute. Then an extra-psychological stage – I begin to speak to myself. Then an intra-psychological stage – two points of the brain which are excited from outside have the tendency to work in a unified system and turn into an intracortical point.

Allow me to dwell briefly on the further destinies of these systems. I would like to point out that from the viewpoint of differential psychology I do not differ from you and you do not differ from me because I have somewhat better concentration than you. The essential and practically important characterological difference in the social life of people resides in the structures, relations and connections that exist in us between different points. What I want to say is that most important is not memory or attention per se, but the extent to which the person utilizes this memory, the role it fulfills. We have seen that for the Kaffir the dream may fulfill a central role. For us the dream is a parasite in psychological life which plays no essential role whatsoever. The same is true for thinking. How many idling fruitless minds, how many minds who think but are not at all involved in action! We all remember a situation in which we knew how to act, but acted differently.
I want to point out that here we have three extremely important planes. The first plane is the social plane and the plane of social class psychology. We wish to compare the worker and the bourgeois. The point is not, as was thought by Sombart [1913], that for the bourgeois the main thing is greediness, that a biological selection of greedy people takes place for whom miserliness and accumulation are most important. I assume that many workers are more stingy than a bourgeois. Essential is not that the social role can be deduced from the character, but that the social role creates a number of characterological connections. The social and social class type of the person are formed from the systems that are brought into the person from the outside. They are systems of social relationships between people, transferred into the personality. Professional graphic investigations of labor processes are based on this. Each profession requires a certain system of these connections. For the tram-driver, for example, it is indeed not so important to be more attentive than the ordinary person, but to utilize this attention correctly. It is important that his attention has a position which it may not have in, say, a writer, etc.

Finally, from a differential and characterological perspective we must make a fundamental distinction between primary characterological connections which yield certain proportions, for example, a schizoid or cycloid constitution, and connections that develop completely differently and which distinguish the honest person from the dishonest, the honest from the deceitful, the dreamer from the business person. These do not reside in the fact that I am less tidy than you, or more deceitful than you, but in the development of a system of relations between the different functions that develop in ontogenesis. Lewin correctly says that the formation of psychological systems coincides with the development of personality. In the highest eases of ethically very perfect human personalities with a very beautiful spiritual life we are dealing with the development of a system in which everything is connected to a single goal. In Spinoza you will find a theory (I am changing it somewhat) which says that the soul can achieve that all manifestations, all conditions relate to a single goal. A system with a single center may develop with a maximal integrity of human behavior. For Spinoza this single idea is the idea of god or nature. Psychologically this is not at all necessary. But a person can indeed not only bring separate functions into a system, but also create a single center for the whole system. Spinoza demonstrated this system in the philosophical plane. There are people whose life is a model of the subordination to a single goal and who proved in practice that this is possible. Psychology has the task of demonstrating that the development of such a unified system is scientifically possible.


Those who consider man primarily as a biological being are unable to account for the great historical development of human beings, because I differ not from primitive man biologically by socially. And this also emphasizes how in the division of roles, labour and such, that one's individual personality is in large part acculturation of that aspect of society.
And the mind has certain basic functions or instincts which then develop into conditioned reflexes but which then give way to an intellect, which in man becomes particularly combined with speech, a distinguishing human characteristic.

So for example, a child has reflexes that are innate, that allow it to survive, it's not simply nothing biologically, but these lower forms cannot explain the higher mental functions of man.
One cannot explain man through conditioned reflexes and as much is clear even in anthropoid apes.
Vygotsky's summarizes Kohler's research on chimps in one of his works examining zoology, primitive man and modern man.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1930/man/ape-man-1.pdf
He finds that the distinguishing characteristic between conditioned reflexes of an ape and their intellect is marked by the manner in which they learn something (it's genesis).
A conditioned reflex takes time, training between two stimuli such that one decreases their degree of error and develops mastery of the action over some time. Whereas with the intellect, it is an abrupt change where upon seeing the solution, it is clearly remembered and performed as if it were immediately a habitual behaviour.

In many cases, one can see an animal when confronted with a new situation in which its instincts and conditioned reflexes are unable to achieve what it wants.
Due to some difficulty, being a delay or an obstruction, the animal's activity increases greatly, it puts more effort into the habit/reflex to overcome the delay or obstruction or it seeks a roundabout path to it's goal.
Think of a dog that wants a piece of meat and expresses great distress. It tries to reach for it, its barks, it moves around a lot.
Chimps do the same thing, but the smarter ones eventually reach a point where their external excitation is changed into an internal activity where they are presumably trialing possible solutions to the predicament of their situation as they begin to examine their direct environment (ape consciousness is very immediate and concrete). So after initial confusion, excitation and error, the ape seems to reflect on the problem and if they are smart, they may well see the solution and immediately execute it. They then are able to generalize their solution to similar predicaments away from that specific example, there is a continuation of that structural problem independent of the actual objects.
If the chimp simply resorted to repeating what it already knew, they would be unable to solve the predicament. This is analogous to humans who rely on habits but are forced to think when reality breaks the smooth flow of their habits/operations. Suddenly they have to become quite conscious as to why what they usually do doesn't work anymore and solve the problem.
They must achieve the sudden insight, the aha moment in seeing a solution and generally when the intellect is provoked by difficulties in habitual operations/actions, it is able to develop a direct and abrupt neural connection unlike the conditioned reflex due to the greater excitation internally.
A person may very well learn through rote memorization of a task, but they are better able to remember when they are confronted with a problem and are compelled to find the right solution to the task. They remember the solution better than the unconscious associations trained through conditioning.
And this is where the intellect functions, not as a passive reflection but an active seeking of a solution to one's goal.

The child has a basic intellect much like the chimp does, but no one would mistake the chimp for a human no matter how intelligent it may be in it's use of tools or even crude creation of some tools and problem solving.
This is because children being human, are able to have their intellect and language intersect in their development.
http://www.unilibre.edu.co/bogota/pdfs/2016/mc16.pdf
The first thing that strikes the experimenter is the incomparably greater freedom of children’s operations, their greater independence from the structure of the concrete, visual situation. Children, with the aid of speech, create greater possibilities than apes can accomplish through action. One important manifestation of this greater flexibility is that the child is able to ignore the direct line between actor and goal. Instead, he engages in a number of preliminary acts, using what we speak of as instrumental, or mediated (indirect) methods. In the process of solving a task the child is able to include stimuli that do not lie within the immediate visual field. Using words (one class of such stimuli) to create a specific plan, the child achieves a much broader range of activity, applying as tools not only those objects that lie near at hand, but searching for and preparing such stimuli as can be useful in the solution of the task, and planning future actions.

Second, the practical operations of a child who can speak become much less impulsive and spontaneous than those of the ape. The ape typically makes a series of uncontrolled attempts to solve the given problem. In contrast, the child who uses speech divides the activity into two consecutive parts. She plans how to solve the problem through speech and then carries out the prepared solution through overt activity. Direct manipulation is replaced by a complex psychological process through which inner motivation and intentions, postponed in time, stimulate their own development and realization. This new kind of psychological structure is absent in apes, even in rudimentary forms.
...
Unlike the ape, which Koehler tells us is “the slave of its own visual field, children acquire an independence with respect to their concrete surroundings; they cease to act in the immediately given and evident space. Once children learn how to use the planning function of their language effectively, their psychological field changes radically. A view of the future is now an integral part of their approaches to their surroundings.

To summarize what has been said thus far in this section: The specifically human capacity for language enables children to provide for auxiliary tools in the solution of difficult tasks, to overcome impulsive action, to plan a solution to a problem prior to its execution, and to master their own behavior. Signs and words serve children first and foremost as a means of social contact with other people. The cognitive and communicative functions of language then become the basis of a new and superior form of activity in children, distinguishing them from animals.

The child moves from immediacy of their visual field to a semantic field, which governs their actions.
Whilst its the case that apes have only ever been able to learn very simple forms of human language/communication, it is of great biological significance that human children are able to be accultured to human language so readily.
They do not have true concepts as many adults do, but in using language, it becomes part of restructuring their psyche and their relation to the world and guides their activity more and more.
For example, the child learns that many things have names, they tend to associate the names in a manner of conditioned reflex, a handle that is attributed to the object itself.
They speak the same words for the apparently same objects, but they aren't yet cognizant of concepts and tend to have very limited ones due to their limited experiences.
But with a name, the concept can begin to grow and they begin to better grasp the world around them, words become a handle for objects mentally.

All in all, such developments cannot be explained in the conception of a human being as capable of such multifaceted and universal actions as pre-existing in their physiology like an instinct or even developed into conditioned reflexes. Hence the poverty of the evolutionary psychological viewpoint which tries to presuppose very specific brain structures and physiology to underpin all sorts of mental behaviour. Whereas parts of the brain, as already noted, do have general and specific functions, they aren't so specific that one can simply prescribe a specifically observed behaviour as innate. Such a child would likely seem retarded in their development if this were actually the case compared to the normal and relatively expected development of a human child.

But such is the tendency due to an inadequate conception of human nature which can only explain it biologically, considers man as a passive result of nature and doesn't see the interdependence between mans work upon nature in developing himself. Man is in ontologically unity with nature and the nature we witness is one actively shaped by human needs unlike the ape which adapts itself to the environment, we have adapted the environment to our needs and developed even greater and complex needs as a result of such work.
Man has for the most part being evolutionary the same, but the evolution of man culturally has been most radical in recent centuries.

Man is born with biological instincts and drives, but such drives necessarily take a social form and development.
Very little is left untouched by being raised among humans as opposed to animals.

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