The Immortal Goon wrote:While the modernist, and Marx in particular in this case, want to rely on logic and science, they also desire to understand the emotion and its place; and more importantly, to connect with it in a realistic way.
My impression about Marx thus far, to which I'll admit I am yet to actually read much of his work directly, let alone form in depth opinions, is that his work is partly calls for a self-awareness or consciousness by people. That his naturalism put an emphasis on the concrete world and drew our attention to how our being and consciousness is intimately tied to it. From that we could derive a approximate awareness of reality in order to be more conscious in how we live.
To follow from your last paragraph about the emphasis on emotions to the neglect of things as being some sort of means to find ones self and such. I really enjoy plugging Rick Roderick's lectures and his siege on the self. He draws on Freud to illustrate what he thinks the current predicament was for people.http://rickroderick.org/108-philosophy-and-post-modern-culture-1990/
Freud compares the conscious mind, in the book I have – I am talking about now – he compares the conscious mind to a garrison. A captured, tiny garrison in an immense city, the city of Rome; with all its layers of history, all its archaic barbarisms, all its hidden avenues, covered over by civilization after civilization. That’s our mind, that whole thing. But the conscious part of it is that one garrison that’s clear, that holds out in this captured city. A magnificent metaphor for all the surrounding motives, motivations, motifs, desires, that drive us… that are not philosophical… that cannot, even if we talk to our therapist a long time, all be brought up at once.
So the goal of analytic treatment would be for those unreflected massive areas – again to go back to that metaphor of the city – to become part of the garrison as it spreads out to things we are clear about. In other words, it’s not a bad metaphor saying we shouldn’t be clear about who we are, and have an “I”, or a self, or a subject. Now, why am I bringing this up now? Well, to contrast it with my last remarks about culture, if the goal of psychoanalysis is that the unreflected parts become reflected, that the “it” become the “I”, then the goal of a mass simulational culture – and this is a remark that I am using from the Frankfurt school, don’t worry about it.
The goal of a mass telecommunication culture is psychoanalysis in reverse. It’s that the little, last remaining parts of that garrison become unconscious. It’s precisely to reverse that process of enlightenment. Mass culture is enlightenment in reverse gear. Precisely to wipe out that last little garrison of autonomy. It is a constant assault upon it…
And this seems to be an incredible attack on ourselves, where it's difficult to escape from. That your part about people's rejection of history to me even speaks to a recent sentiment I've had, wondering whether this postmodernist milieu or what ever one wants to call the present situation we're in, is in a sense timeless/ahistorical. Though I don't know what I really mean when I think this, what is meant by timelessness, other than simply stuck within the present state of things. Perhaps something I associate with the success of capitalism over socialism in the 20th century and the felt belief that there is no alternative and there is nothing beyond this, there is no future. And Rick Roderick in another lecture speaks of how we may actually enjoy apocalyptic scenarios for the sense of escape it offers, a clean slate to start again, whilst the true horror is enduring a post-apocalypse, where we're forced to endure this timeless space.
But moving on from that ramble, I do have the impression of the description above where it feels difficult to traverse through all that's happening and make any coherent sense of it. That it feels like one is just swamped in currents of emotion swelled up through events
. Without any means of connecting things for a broader perspective, ones awareness is reduced to the immediate. Things are so fast and dizzying, that we're in a sort of sedation, in the sense that we are obscured from becoming conscious of our circumstance, made to quiet our minds to simple pleasures.
Following that linked page about species-being and social essence, which I read through, I felt like it affirmed certain impressions I took from some Soviet thinkers in considering psychology/consciousness. A sense of how the individual's particular consciousness is social not only in terms of being developed through existing relations but is in a sense inheritor of an entire history of humanity and it's objectified labour. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/spirkin/works/dialectical-materialism/ch05-s02.html
When discussing biological factors, one should not reduce them to the genetic. More attention should be given to the physiological and ontogenetic aspects of development, and particularly to those that evoke a pathological effect, for it is these that modify the biology of the human being, who is also beginning to perceive even social factors in quite a different way. Dialectics does not simply put the social and the biological factors on an equal footing and attribute the human essence to the formula of biotropic-sociotropic determination favoured by some scientists. It stresses the dominant role of the social factors. Nor does dialectics accept the principles of vulgar sociologism, which ignores the significance of the biological principle in man.One section
As the highest intelligent being, man is the focal point of all forms of the motion of matter. They are represented in him hierarchically, and the highest ultimately guiding and regulative factor is the social, to which all other forms are subordinate. In other words a human being embodies and sums up, as it were, the whole development of the universe.
in particular stood out to me.
Consciousness is originally directed towards practice, towards the other, and towards nature. Only when it has become estranged from these relations through the division of labor does it become capable of producing fantasies, of fashioning ideological caricatures of man's actual social, practical, and natural life, in the illusion that it is self-subsistent. 30
The separation and fixation of activities which in their very nature are meant to reflect a total capacity for life, consolidates "our own products into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations and nullifying our calculations." 32 When the division of labor becomes, in the form of the class, the empirical reality of man's social existence, then conscious life takes flight from actual life, and finds refuge in abstract totalities disassociated from praxis and nature. For example, the State, "the social illusion in a condition of divided labor, becomes a necessity to man's personal being, while actual social existence, the class structure, becomes a barrier to the life of the individual, an antagonistic and accidental facet of his personality, instead of the essential milieu of his freedom and growth." a8 The social nexus of productive forces, in being subordinated to the demands of private interest and capital, becomes estranged from the life of the individual, and sustains his life only by 'stunting it'. 34 The 'stunting' or the 'restriction' a5 of man's practical relationship to nature that is just as much his relationship to other men, which Marx mentions in the Ideology, is nothing else than the 'alienation' of the Manuscripts. For if the human essence is to be a total need and capacity for action which is directed towards the totality of the external world, then the forced separation of man from this totality represents a cleavage in the self itself.
It affirmed something I read by Feliks Mikhailov where I think he explains in a simple and clear way, how the humanity's history and social development leads to elaboration upon our consciousness. It seems to elaborate what is summarized in the above passage, about how the more abstract consciousness and emphasis on thought comes about through division of labour.
This for example illustrates a first step to a more abstract manner of thought, because the relation to the land based on evolving social organization compelled such manner of thinking.https://www.marxists.org/archive/mikhailov/works/riddle/riddle3c.htm
We are now faced with two directly objectified kinds of activity: the first is the working of the land, agriculture, arduous physical labour; the second is the working out of how to regulate “border conflicts” with the neighbouring agricultural or cattle-raising tribes. The head of the given tribe and his closest associates see the basis of their activity precisely in the integrality of the tribal lands. And it is this land as the possession of the tribe that they represent in their activity of border regulation. So the object of their activity is the mode of dividing, the mode of limiting the claims of neighbours on their land, on their possessions. It was not the land as such with its life-giving fertility, not the plough and the bullocks that occupied the attention of the head of the tribe and his advisers, but the way of objectively presenting to oneself and one's neighbours where their domain ends.
But how can one objectively delimit land? What does it entail? It entails a number of things. It entails putting a stone landmark at some disputed point, another some distance away, noting a solitary tree as a third “point”, the top of a hill, as a fourth, and then perhaps putting up another stone, and so on. All these “points” are only the means of expressing the border as a line. The border itself thus drawn is only the objectively formulated means of representing one's land as a single whole.
Finding such a means and formulating it is a special kind of labour. The erection of the stones or digging of divides will be done by others, namely those whose social position has now bound them to material production with all its one-sidedness, its separation from setting goals and finding ways of achieving them. Having as the object of his activity the means, methods and forms of activity as such, having people's social modes of activity as the object of his labour, the head of the tribe was confronted with a direct universality of natural processes reflected in human modes of activity. For him the border of the land was a line drawn mentally from a post to a stone. And this line made a perfectly real measurement of the land and was itself an object of his labour.
Lines, straight lines ... They may be used to draw a geometrical figure. A line is free of the sensuous immediacy of a given plot of land. It cannot and does not have to be ploughed or dug up. The real relations objectively inherent in nature are reflected in it, as they are reflected, “caught” by every mode of socially significant human action. But as soon as these modes and means as such (line, figure, angle, etc.) become the object of a person's activity, then nature is represented in them only as an idealised, “directly universal” object. Activity connected with it is no longer material but mental activity, performed as a set of intellectual operations with given idealised objects.
Thus a great revolution came about in the development of the modes of human activity. The ideal plane of people's objective activity – and this is what distinguishes man from the animals – acquired a relative independence, became a special mode of activity of a special group of people. This set the stage for intensive development of the modes of theoretical goal-setting and of everything that the intellectual culture of society was to produce.
Consequently, intellectual culture appeared on the scene out of necessity. Its emergence was determined by the social development of the property relation, which broke away from direct, material influence on the object of possession (particularly, the land). It was not the leisure of the free citizen of the ancient city-state, but the character, the content and object of his socially necessary activity that made possible and essential the “invention of free arts”.
What was the relationship between the individual's consciousness and the social forms of consciousness before the appearance of theoretical consciousness as such? The consciousness of primitive man was almost a direct unity, if not fusion, of the individual and the collective in the form of ritual with its developed “language of real life” as a mode of setting goals and ways of achieving them. The individual's obedience to ritual was the basic condition for society's survival and the handing down from one generation to another of the social modes of activity and intercourse. This was the basis of the tribal social and individual mode of goal-setting (thought).
And to this, I suspect that Evald Ilyenkov and Lev Vygotsky and works that elaborate upon theirs, would be fruitful in considering human consciousness and how it develops. I haven't the time to read their works, but I can already see that they have great insight and theorizing when it comes to things like how the material world relates to our consciousness
and how its social in it's very nature.
And it seems complimentary to some basic thoughts in trying to understand the human subject and our consciousness. Where I've gone from considering the Buddhist emphasis on there being no soul, an Anatta. And hearing Kierkagaard quotes about the self being some relation relating to itself.
Which relates well to that species-being text in one quote, or at least I connect them in my mind.
The social basis for the ego extends, finally, even to the conscious and reflective relation of self to self. In both the Manuscripts and the Ideology we discover that all consciousness, both in content and form, is rooted in a social substructure.
ANd this seems complimentary to Freud
, where his emphasis on things like the Ego, Superego and Id, kind of disavow a single subject, but emphasis of relations within the individual. To which I hear Zizek, having being influenced by such thinkers, about the self being like a mask. Which as I understand it, can't be removed, that it seems our consciousness adds some sort of layer on things, including ourselves, being some sort of meaning maker. Can't really see things 'directly', they're always imbued with social meaning. And with ourselves, we individuate ourselves from the external world and feel as if there is a line between us the individual and reality in a way. Also curious is how to in discussing the subject/object, mind body duality, Feliks in emphasizing what I take to be Marx's sort of praxis being a mediation between materialism and idealism
, he speaks of the mind being coming about through motion.https://www.marxists.org/archive/mikhailov/works/riddle/riddle2c.htm
The question was, what kind of organisation must living matter have and what kind of life must it lead for the organism to be able to sense external objects and experience its state and life-activity?
“Without the participation of motion our sensations and perceptions would not possess the quality of objectivity, that is, relatedness to the objects of the external world (emphasis added – F.M.), which is the only thing that makes them mental phenomena.” [Leontyev]
So the mental is not the stimulation of neurons, not the physiological activity of the matter of the brain as such.
The key to the mind lies in the relation of behaviour (motion) of an animal to the objects of the external world, in the constant assessment of the images of things by the behaviour, motion and needs of the organism.
Even from the purely psychological point of view one can understand why the mental stands in opposition not to the physiological, but to the objective world, although every movement of an animal obeys the laws of physiology. When we speak of the mental and the physiological, we are speaking of different things. I feel means I record, I reflect some external object, but the sensation itself is not the imprint of a seal on wax, not what happens in the neurons of the analyser under pressure from the object. Sensation is a need multiplied by the action of the whole organism, which actively seeks an external object and records that object in the seeking movement.
Which seems to relate well to the Marxism in that I think it affirms a sense of reality being in flux and that the treatment of things as static is an abstract ideal that isn't reflective of reality.