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Thought as collective, co-operative activity

E. V. Ilyenkov on Dr John Dunn. Hegel threw aside the old prejudice that thought was presented to the investigator only in the form of speech (external or internal, oral or written).

He argued that thought discloses itself in human actions every bit as obviously as in words. Human actions demonstrate the real modes of thinking more adequately than narrations of them.

Human actions and the results of these actions, the things created, are the manifestations of thought. They objectify ideas, thoughts, plans, and conscious intentions.

It was on that basis that Hegel included in his logic the things outside consciousness, outside the psyche of the human individual, in all their independence from that psyche.

The whole history of humanity was a process of the ‘outward revelation’ of the power of thought, as a process of the realisation of man’s ideas

By following this path, Hegel took the decisive step toward genuine (‘intelligent’) materialism.

From Hegel’s standpoint the real basis for the forms and laws of thought was the aggregate historical process of the intellectual development of humanity.

Thought had to be investigated as collective, co-operative activity in the course of which the individual’s conscious thinking performed only partial functions.

In taking part in common work the individual was subordinate to the laws and forms of universal thought, which were expressed and understood as some kind of external necessity, as an extra-logical determination of the action.

The logical forms of the development of science and technology stood in opposition to the consciousness and will of the individual as quite objective limits to individually performed actions, even as limits dictated from outside.

Hegel therefore sought to bring logic into line with its real subject matter, with real thought, with the really universal forms and laws of development of science, technology and morality.

Logic was transformed into the examination of the objective laws governing the subjective activity of individuals and its material expression.

Notes made from Ilyenkov’s Dialectical Logic.

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