By Andy Blunden

Andy Blunden offers an immanent critique of Cultural-Historical task idea, the present of psychology originating from Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934). Tracing the roots of this idea from Goethe, Hegel and Marx, the writer attracts out the rules with which Vygotsky constructed a thought of the brain within which the person and their social state of affairs shape a unmarried Gestalt, transcending the issues of mind-body  Read more...

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At the deepest level, though, his philosophy is that of a social movement, of people who have organized themselves around a common cause or ‘project’. Hegel wasn’t simply a communitarian; he was deeply concerned with individuality and how the self-determination of an individual person could be realized in and through the appropriation of the culture of the community as a whole. His central concern was what later came to be called ‘social solidarity’, but only that kind of social solidarity which promotes the flourishing of individuality.

It is true that they entail ‘externality’: a word cannot be spoken in a vacuum, a building cannot be erected without the help of gravity. But a word is what it is only in connection with its use by human beings and the same is true of a chair or a key or any artifact whatsoever. One of the difficulties that Hegel had to overcome was the problem of dualism. Descartes operated with a mind-matter dualism, and Kant’s philosophy got around mind-matter dualism at the cost of introducing a host of other dichotomies and the need to overcome these dichotomies in Kant’s philosophy was one of the main drivers for Kant’s critics, such as Herder, Fichte and Hegel.

But at any given moment, the Concept and Intuition are not in unity. So what does this mean? Hegel’s central concept here is not a supreme, absolute kind of ‘master signifier’, but a deficient, internally riven, incomplete, broken concept; every move it makes to try to rectify this internal contradiction only generates new contradictions, new problems. Rather than the final outcome of a never ending historical process, the Idea is the process. Consciousness always and only exists in and through individuals, but consciousness of oneself as an agent and creator of knowledge, and as a part of an historical process of knowledge, is the product of historical development.

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