To what point is the mind innate or tabula rasa? - Page 2 - Politics | PoFo

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Wellsy wrote:Thank you for mentioning, I have sometimes mentioned their work as a defense against those who think any conclusion associated or shared with Marxists or those who sympathize with Marxism is some how wrong by showing pivotal thinkers within the 'analytical' tradition arriving at similar conclusions.
I hope their work gains greater attention and makes some headway and comes to the view that artefactsare significant to the development and reproduction of human lives.
They will hopefully break the confusion between the the ontological distinction between mind and matter and epistemology based on the subject-object relation which is not an individual against the world but a socialized individual within a culture which at the very least gets beyond certain limitations of the former and leads to creative avenues based on how human beings actually exist.

I don't think reasonable people really dispute that mind is a mix of nature\nurture, it's just when you take it to one extreme or the other on purely ideological grounds that people start to call bullshit.
Sivad wrote:I don't think reasonable people really dispute that mind is a mix of nature\nurture, it's just when you take it to one extreme or the other on purely ideological grounds that people start to call bullshit.

My impression is that nature/nurture end up almost contentless words because they're easy to throw up but harder to explain in specific detail.
Man is clearly biosocial but it seems we still think of our human nature in a fragmented way because the intellectual disciplines are themselves so separated (a problem of intellectual labor in general is its analytical fragmentation).
Linguists and cultural critics working in their departments, the social behaviourists and sociologists in their departments, and historians and psychologists in theirs, each focus exclusively on just one aspect of concepts. The absence of an integrated theory and the dominance of one-sided approaches is a result of the modern fragmentation of science along disciplinary lines. Imagine if you had two different departments, one studying keys, the other locks. Each can describe the constitution of their subject perfectly well, but self-evidently no sense could be made of either locks or keys. Only if the systems of activity in which individuals participate, the constellation of artefacts used and constituted in that activity and the individual human actions are taken together as aspects of a single, indivisible whole, can we understand any one side of a concept.

And at times I'm not sure that such extremes necessarily always exist as a person's opinion although they are bound to it due to the logical necessity of the conceptual framework they espouse.
That we say humans are biosocial but we haven't an integrated theory although we'd like one.

And looking at my title itself it seems to suggest a split, a point at which biology matters no more in regards to the mind. But as mentioned in earlier posts, even the higher mental functions aren't separate from the lower mental functions but appropriate their function and thus change them.
Just resources for later.
But a man differs from an animal above all by the presence of spiritual senses to which artistic taste and moral sense (conscience), the sense of the sublime, pride and love in its human spiritual meaning pertain. On the other hand, from the point of view of historical materialism, the highest spiritual senses do not presuppose additional physical organs, but rather transform and instill the highest ideal meaning into the activity of the natural senses, all the vital functions of a human organism.

The basis of vexation of mind is nothing but pain. Its essence differs, however, from a sudden heart attack. Thirst for justice differs from mere physical thirst. Someone who listens to symphonic music hears it with his ears, but he does not hear just a collection of sounds. Human senses are physically always the same. This means that the highest spiritual qualities do not presuppose different organs but different abilities of an individual which form a richer content of human life and behaviour.
‘Emergence’ is the idea used by atheists to fill the gaps which religion fills with God – “I don’t know how this property of some complex organism is produced, it emerged naturally.” Emergence is a category of processes which includes a wide variety of intelligible processes which have little in common with each other, other than not being explicable solely in terms of causality. It is generally associated with processes which only occur when the number of individual components, causal iterations or level of complexity passes a critical level. It is then often falsely concluded that this complexity functions as the cause of the phenomenon concerned, being an efficient explanation for its occurrence under the relevant conditions. It should be noted that causality is not synonymous with intelligibility. In this sense, part of the role of ‘emergence’ is to restore ‘causality’ to its hegemonic role in positivist science. Another motivation is the problem in Analytical Philosophy as to how a collection of objects can exhibit a property which is not present in any one of the component objects individually, or in the precursor collections. For example, evolution proceeds for millions of years without any organism exhibiting consciousness, and suddenly homo sapiens ‘emerges’. Did God inject consciousness into Man, or did it ‘emerge’ naturally? Obviously the latter. However, to say that consciousness emerged at a certain point in evolution no more explains consciousness than does Divine intervention.

‘Emergence’ is also intended to counter the reductionist refusal to grant relative independence to sciences which rest on ‘emergent’ forms of motion. ‘Emergence’ means that ‘mental phenomena’ can be described and explained without any reference to ‘physical phenomena’ or explanation of the phenomena in physical terms. It is here that the concept of emergence acts specifically as a barrier to science because it functions to sanction the idea that there is no intelligible explanation for the ‘emergence’ since ‘emergence’ itself functions as such an explanation.'s_anti-innatism
There has to be a discernment of biological instincts/drive which pre-exist the mediation of cultural artefacts as babies aren't directly masters of language/signs and tools although their propensity for it does seem something innate unless some sort of abnormality disrupts their growth.
Although what is unique to humans is also the ability to create new signs rather than just their use.
There is also clearly the biological drives as seen in very simple emotions that are evident from day one.
However, the limits of purely verbal mediation processes become apparent in the analysis of emotional development in early childhood. Young infants are still unable to comprehend speech signs. They comprehend only their intonation that also represents a facet of expression. Therefore, the analysis of expressive reactions can reveal that infants already run through a rapid, culturally conveyed differentiation of their emotions during their first year of life without any speech processes being involved on their side. Five discernible emotions in the neonate (distress, disgust, fright, interest, endogenous pleasure) differentiate into approximately 15 discernible emotion qualities during the first year of life (Holodynski & Friedlmeier, 2006; Sroufe, 1996). Hence, from a culture-psychological perspective, an analysis of expressive reactions can be conducted already at this early age. This idea has been taken up in the work of Demuth (this issue); Kärtner, Holodynski, and Wörmann (this issue); and White (this issue)—all found in this special issue on emotions.

So discerning the appropriate limits of what is biological can be found in physiological studies such as that seen with behaviorism beginning with Pavlov.
Where the mediation of consciousness in any degree isn't needed as there is a direct stimulus-response approach.
The behaviourists got around this by regarding sentient creatures as input-output devices, the inner workings of which were eliminated in favour of stimuli-response matrices. Not only did this place the entire science on an appallingly unethical foundation, but after almost a century of work, little was learnt about human beings, for whom consciousness is the only avenue to understanding behaviour.

But many of higher and more developed mental functions are the result of changing some of those same functions through the appropriation of cultural artefacts and activity they're involved in.
And so we should remember the biological foundation to the higher forms, which Lev Vygotsky had done substantial work on positing a plausible link in his description of things like self-control/regulation.
Where he is able to link abstractions from activity that can be properly related to biological/brain functions.
But it remains incomplete.
Vygotsky’s chapter “Self-Control” is indeed a brilliant solution to the puzzle posed by the existence of free will in a material organism constrained by knowable laws of biology. In his work on child development, Vygotsky shows how an infant comes to acquire self-control and exercise free will at the level of the individual organism. In doing so Vygotsky completes the quest begun by Spinoza to transcend the causal psychology of the lower psychological functions and the descriptive psychology of the higher psychological functions, by sketching the basis for an explanatory psychology of the higher psychological functions. But it must be recognized that what he has produced is a kind of link. A full-blown scientific theory of psychology cannot be limited to the study of assemblies of conditioned reflexes any more than evolutionary biology could be limited to the study of genetic mutations and give up explanation of evolutionary events in terms of ecological niches, food chains, genetic diversity, adaptation, etc., or historians could eschew reference to historical events and confine themselves to discussing written and archaeological records.

Vygotsky has provided this link without recourse to any conception of an extramundane ‘spirit’ acting on the body from outside the material world. It has to be said though that no trend in modern science postulates any such spiritualistic theory. Other currents either avoid the mind-body problem altogether, concerning themselves only with neurological phenomena for which thinking is merely taken as a symptom of organic (mal)functioning, or conversely describe the neurological activity accompanying thinking with only pseudoscientific explanatory force, or alternatively, like Spinoza, ascribe to theories of mind-matter parallelism, or the supervention of thought on material processes or see consciousness as an epiphenomenon of nervous processes. Making one’s protagonist ‘spiritualism’ and one’s solution causal determinism is misconceived.

We must discern how the quality of the mind is integrated in a physical being and attempt to avoid cartesian dualisms where we retain distinctions within some whole.
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
#15041049 ... hology.pdf
Desire is the crucial relation. When consciousness is not only aware of an object, independent of itself, but desires it and wants to consume it, then the decisive step of ascribing subjective meaning to the object has been taken, and the most elementary form of self-consciousness attained. With desire, the organism is not only aware of the object as independent of it, but acts to annul that independence, rendering it a means of satisfying its own desires. Thus the subject apprehends its own subjectivity – its needs – in the form of an object, but cancels its objectivity by consuming it.

Self-consciousness develops through three grades: Appetitive Desire, Self-consciousness Recognitive and Universal Self-consciousness. ... 2018-1.pdf
Further, it should be noted that perezhivanie is an elementary form of consciousness. And in cultural-historical psychology, consciousness is a purely social phenomenon. In this regard, it makes sense to examine how Vygotsky characterizes the newborn period of life. First, Vygotsky insists that the newborn has a psyche, despite the fact that it leads a vegetative life and “still has no such basic animal feature as the ability to move independently through space” (Vygotsky, 1984a, p. 271; 1998, pp. 208–209). Since that moment when the body of the child separates (though yet only physically, not biologically, as Vygotsky specifies it) from the mother, the “individual mental life of the newborn” starts (Vygotsky, 1998, p. 211). Vygotsky disputes the statement of researchers who belong to the reflexological school about the lack of psyche in a newborn

Secondly, Vygotsky defines this primary psyche as a form of consciousness, although all of its content is confined by “appetites, instincts and simpler affects,” and any intellectual and volitional phenomena are completely absent.

The only thing that we can assume with certain reason is an obscure, unclear state of consciousness in which sensible and emotional parts are still inseparably merged. (Vygotsky, 1984a, p. 277, 1998, p. 212)

The same obscure, unclear state is also present in the lower animals. The reason why we consider them as phenomena of consciousness, i.e. perezhivaniya, is the social character of infant psyche. From the moment of birth, the whole life of a newborn child takes cultural forms, so that it is a 100% social creature, though possessing a passive sociality at first.

Definitely everything in the behavior of the infant is intertwined and interwoven into the sociable. […] In this sense, the infant might be called a maximally social being. Every relation of the child to the outside world, even the simplest, is always a relation refracted through the relation to another person. The whole life of the infant is organized in such a way that in every situation, visibly or not, there is another person. (Vygotsky, 1984a, p. 281, 1999, p. 215) ... dynski.pdf
Applying this principle of development to the ontogenetic development of emotions makes it necessary to ask: What are the features of this social cooperation that are transformed into individual psychological functions in the domain of emotions? An answer to this question requires a closer look at the beginning of the ontogenetic development of emotions, namely, the emotional reactions of infants. This clearly reveals their cooperative aspects. Infants’ emotional reactions are directed toward their caregivers, and their primary function is to regulate the actions of these caregivers (Holodynski & Friedlmeier, 2006). For example, an infant cries as an expression of distress because of being hungry, alone, or in pain. However, this does not lead to any problemsolving actions by that infant that would solve the unsatisfied need. An infant is incapable of performing such motive-serving actions. Crying functions as an outward signal to the caregiver. The caregiver interprets this crying as an “intentional” appeal of the child and feels obliged to seek its cause and then perform what is taken to be a motive-serving action on behalf of the infant such as feeding, amusing, or freeing from pain.

What is special about emotion episodes at this stage is that the emotional functions are distributed across two persons: The emotional appraisal of the situation is carried out by the infant and is shown in her or his expression, whereas the realization of the emotional action readiness, that is, the appropriate motive-serving actions, is carried out by the caregiver. Hence, the activity mediated by the triggered emotion is regulated interpersonally. Insofar, when looking at the ontogenetic starting point of emotions, one could say that they are built for social cooperation.

Although numerous emotion episodes in adulthood also involve such interpersonally regulated encounters, a great many such episodes are intrapersonal. In other words, an emotion is experienced as an inner signal of the actualized action readiness that leads the adult to perform the motive-serving actions without anybody else being involved. For example, adults can console themselves when feeling sad, can do something to prolong an enjoyable situation, and so forth (see Frijda, 1986; Lazarus, 1991; Leont’ev, 1978).

Although children have a limited sense of self-consciousness (when they are able to experience themselves as distinct from the world around them/individuation) and practically no intellect from their birth, their needs are expressed through their emotions which are interpreted as meaningful from the perspective of the caregiver, which is the starting point of a long journey of not only self-regulation via one's parent, but also eventually the mediation of such with the intellect and signs.
Although before signs can be used we of course communicate verbally, which is material in the sense of being sound waves which are tied to activities shared between the infant and caregiver.
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.
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.
I've revisited an edited/revised version of Lev Vygotsky's thinking and speech and enjoyed the emphasis on human beings not in possessing just the capacity for a practical intellect and speech but it is in their unity where we can use signs as a tools to manage our activity that distinguishes us.
Such that all humans are some general raw biological capacity but our abilities differ widely beyond our biological capacities because of how we've internalized tools of our actions.

Such a point is strongly made by Vygotsky in his emphasis on the practical intelligence and capacity for speech in apes which share a common ancestor with humans. That their lacking is the independence of the intellect from speech, the nature of their conscious is very proximal/direct and concrete.
Animals even as smart as apes, tend to communicate affectively rather than in terms of ideas. We see such a tendency in many animals where they don't signify ideas and understanding to one another as much as they act in such as way as to evoke an affect. When an animal behaves in a way that alarms others to the presence of a predator, its more an instinctual chain reaction of affect in response to the alarm than it is an idea of the situation. It is also a special characteristic of humans that we have contextual thinking, such that words do not signify a simple and single thing as they can have many meanings, even opposite meanings dependent on the context.
Using Sense and Memory

Let us look at the senses which Nature has given us, our seeing and hearing, which appears to be the very foundation of our communication, our language, our perception of Nature, and everything. In almost all respects, the senses of us human beings are inferior to those of our nearest relatives in the animal world, while tribal people appear to have superior senses to modern city dwellers. Equally, it is frequently observed that blind people have better hearing, and so on. Closer examination showed however, according to Vygotsky, that the raw power of all our senses is near to identical with those of people who live in the tribal way, close to Nature, and the hearing of blind people is in fact no more acute than that of sighted people.

This, despite the obvious superiority which anyone who investigates this question finds on the basis of casual observation.

Likewise, the senses of a child are fully developed at a very young age and may actually deteriorate after the age of 12.

The situation is the same with memory. Although an adult is capable of retaining and recalling a vast quantity of information, quite beyond what a young child is able to memorise, careful experiment aimed at measuring the mneme, the raw capacity of an organism to retain and recall an earlier sensual stimulus, demonstrates that this physiological property is more or less constant across all kinds of people, until approaching old age.

And yet, it is obvious that ability to remember, just like ability to observe is highly variable, both from person to person and across different cultures and age groups.

It is well known that Eskimos have many words for what we call just “snow”, just as we have many words for what an Eskimo would call “car”. However, it is not just a question of the relative weight given to different things in our vocabulary.

The other day I was lucky enough to find myself sharing a table after lunch with a visiting Shakespeare scholar, so I took the opportunity to question him about Shakespeare’s enormous vocabulary. He confirmed to me my suspicion that Shakespeare’s audience did understand his plays, and that audience was not an audience of literate people, but as is frequently depicted in movies, a rough-and tumble audience of common people of late 17th-early 18th century England. Shakespeare’s writings account for a huge proportion of the words found in today’s dictionaries.

The vocabulary of his characters and his audience was vastly greater than the spoken vocabulary of even a highly literate person of today. What has happened to that rich vocabulary?

Commonly, tribal people have a name for every single variety of plant and animal in their world, and different names for young and old, big and small ones, male and female, single ones as opposed to those in groups, standing ones as well as running ones.

Some of these words are still preserved in our language but are slipping out of use, like a gaggle of geese or a murder of crows, a quire of paper, a dozen eggs, and so on, and yet the same people lacked words like tree or plant.

We see a similar situation with counting. The Mongolian herdsman who knows of no number above 5, will know instantly if one of the hundred horses he is looking after goes missing. He doesn’t need to count them; a glance at the herd tells him one is missing.

Clearly, the herdsman and the tribal person use their natural gifts in an entirely different way from how we do. We have no time here to look at the pressures which have obliged people to change the way they use their natural powers. Suffice it to say that life delivers up problems which cannot be solved in the old way, and we have had to invent ways of overcoming them.

This really emphasizes the point about the development of human consciousness in its many facets such as memory, will, intellect as being a cultural-social development rather than something attributable to mere biology.

And it also flows into his later work on the concepts as spontaneous and scientific where there was empirical evidence for peoples activity taking on increasingly abstract or very practical sorts.
Such that the farmer in rural Kazahkstan has concepts that were very concrete where as the person who takes on very abstract works and education tends to subdue their empirical experiences to their abstract concepts.
Which is in fact the strength of education that giving guidance to children with concepts, even though they'll grasp them inadequately will provide the means for them to better grasp their experiences which are based in spontaneous concepts of life.
They'll be able to fill in very distant notions with their real life sense such that refugee takes on the connotations of their real life experience of being apart from family, from dealing with government bureaucracy, perhaps trying to get away from significant problems in one's life.

But in the end, if one were to witness a human confined to his raw biological capacity, one would likely see very little human about them other than their same biological features.

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