Marxism and psychology

Adolf Grunbaum in his writings on psychoanalysis while rebutting the Popperian contention that it is pseudo-science, nevertheless finds it to be a moribund research program on the grounds that the psychoanalytic enterprise is beset by major methodological flaws - most of which revolve around the assumption that just because a a psychoanalysis of a patient might lead to a successful treatment of his symptoms tha t means that the analysis actually discovered the causes of the patient's symptoms. Grunbaum denies that psychoanalysts can legitimately verify the hypotheses of their discipline through clinical data in the way that most of them have attempted to do since Freud's time. He points out that most of these attempts involve basic errors of logic as well as a failure to understand the requirements of scientific method on the part of psychoanalysts. He also takes on the more recent attempts to vindicate psychoanalysis as a hermeneutic science such as suggested by Paul Ricouer and Jurgen Habermas.

Jim Farmelant


I don't agree that we should knock Freud just because his theory proved to be (largely) wrong and the people he cured were mostly not proletarians. There were no other theories around in his day that cured people better than his did, as far as I know. His theorizing dealt with processes within the human brain; in those days, and even now to a large extent (*pace* cognitive neuroscience), we could not make reliable statements about the why the brain worked in real, complex behavior.

He was doing what Marx said we should do: try to test our theories in practice.

It is true that his theory explained behavior as essentially individual, with mystical trappings (ego etc). But again: there was no proper social psychology in his day; his focus on the social effects of parents and siblings on the infant was really a step away from the absolute focus on the individual (and, worse, on psychophysics) that was characteristic of psychology in his time and was a step toward a social psychology, although it was a social psychology only of infancy.

I think we depart from the spirit of Marx if we dismiss theories because there has not (yet) been a way of getting direct evidence for or against them. I'm sure you agree with me here.

Todavia en lucha

Jim Blaut


To the best of my knowledge, Freud, the psychoanalyst, did not theorise processes in human brain. He theorised the processes in human mind, including unconscious mind. Freud, the Neurologist, certainly studied processes in human brain. However, this was before the discovery of psychoanalysis.

I have found Sartre's Freud Scenario very useful for understanding early years of Freud's activity. Freud Scenario is the screenplay Sartre wrote for the film on Freud made by John Huston.

Ulhas Joglekar


Shall deal with Cardoso later, but now I would like to offer an opinion on the present exchange concerning Psychoanalysis and the Micro-macro link.

I would like to point that most of what is relevant to Social analysis in Freud's corpus relates mainly to his later works, mainly *3 Essays on Sexuality*, *Civilization and his discontents* and *Drives and their destinies*. The relevant concepts developed there are that:

(a)The development of the individual consciousness is not some natural process that proceeds from the existence of the individual body per se, but a largely contingent process relating to the organization of the individual libido; the boundaries between the individual and the external word do not necessarily coincide with the boundaroies between the corporeal body and his/her environment, but are created by the individual consciousness through the handling of a symbolic system. The Real word exists only to the consciousness as Symbolic real- a point stressed after Freud, most by Lacan.

(b)Lacanian psychoanalysis, with its stress on language, has drawn attention to the fact that mental illness is not just some malfunction in the functioning of an otherwise naturally existing ego, but relates to the contingent limits between the individual consciousness and the outside. That point is a point stressed, long before Lacan, BY TROTSKY, who wrote in his 1935 notebooks that the independence of mind from the body was a natural consequence of the human species evolution (only a conscience detached from the body can observe the world from outside and therefore go beyond mere "herd consciousness", as put by Marx in the German Ideology) and that the opposition between body and mind postulated by Freud was not idealistic, but quite dialectic.

(c)The point about Stalin's "paranoid" behaviour could be related to the fact that, as, in the micro level, a masochist can regard him/herself as a felon deserving punishment and so rejoice in his/her own torture, or as a pervert can detach himself so much from others as to see them only as objects providing sadistic pleasure, in the same way a societal body is not some self-adjusting organism that will tend to congregate people harmoniously except for some malfunction; class struggle, for instance, is not an accident, but the very basis of the actual functioning of "all hithertho existing societies". Stalin, who was no mad man, could, due to personal factors, think himself the sole embodiment of the Leninist programme, and so have no compunctions about destroying bolsheviks in the name of bolshevism. Add to that the fact that the Bolshevik part, due to the historical facts of the time, was crying out for a bonapartist leader to solve its hopeless internal division, and finally, a traumatic incident like Kirov's murder, and you have the Great Purges- or at least their beginning.

Carlos Rebello


In answer to criticism of Freud's mythology, it has been urged that Freudism is a therapy, not a science. Such defenders admit that emotively-charged concepts such as libido, the censor, the Oedipus complex and inhibition have no place in a scientific hypothesis. But (they argue) the neurosis is an emotional crisis, and the neurotic can only be cured emotionally. It is no use talking to him about conditioned reflexes. His emotions must be stirred, and this justifies the myths of psychyoanalysis, by which truths are conveyed to him fabulously but vividly.

But just because Freudism is not a science, it fails as a therapy. Granted that the neurotic must be touched emotionally, are individual psychoanalysts really arrogant enough to believe that the enormous, creative force of emotion, the dynamism of society, by them, as individuals, and by means of such arid concepts as those of Freudism? Emotion, in all its vivid colouring, is the creation of ages of culture acting on the blind unfeeling instincts. All art, all day-to-day social experience, draw it out of the heart of the human genotype and direct shape its myriad phenomena. Only society as a whole can really direct this force in the individual. To imagine that one psychoanalyst can shape it is to believe that one can bring down the houses of London with a shout. Could any discipline rooted in scientific causality have made so rash a misjudgment of the powers of the individual, as to believe that the mighty force of emotion could be harnessed by 'Transference of libido' to the earnest, middle-aged and bald physician? At least the Victorian heroine who wished to reform the sinner by a good woman's love had personal charm and unlimited opportunity.

The innate responses of an organism, the so-called instincts, as such are unconscious, mechanical, and unaffected by experience. Psychology therefore is not concerned with them, for they are the material of physiology. Psychology, in its study of consciousness or unconsciousness, can only have for its material all those psychic contents that results from the modification of responses by experience. It is this material that changes, that develops, that is distinctively human, that is of importance, and psychology should and in practice does ignore the unchanging instinctual basis as a cause. It concerns itself with the variable, which changes not only from age to age but from individual to individual and in an individual from hour to hour.

From Christopher Caldwell's "Studies in a Dying Culture"


What I find fascinating in Freud is the logic of explanation. This will permit me to comment on the attack on falsification being carried out via the assault on Popper (a practice that never offends me).

On the one hand, there are nonempirical levels of reality that have to considered. Freud's theory posits internal, nonempirical structures that give rise to the normal or pathological manifestations we see in individual personalities. (A pathological manifestation is a reflection of a disorder, a distorted personality structure and so forth.)

On the other hand, Freud's (magic bullet) interpretative style is problematic. It asserts itself in a way that cannot be falsified. It rationalizes manifestation rather than rationally explains manifestation. Moreover, the "explanation" tends towards tautology. The idea of psychopathy is a good example; indicators of the personality disorder believed to explain abnormal behavior are features of the behavior that needs to be explained. This circularity is what gives credence to Lakatos and others criticism of psychodynamics as possessing a theological character.

Falsification has its place (especially in exposing theological-style explanations). Verification and confirmation also have their place. Each approach to judging the soundness of a theoretical or descriptive claim is appropriate to the domain of reality that is being studied.

Falsificationism is one approach we can take when claims about the object/system posited depends heavily on theoretical objects and explanation. By showing that the system does not operate according to the logic being posited, positive claims that consider themselves true by failure to confirm or verify lose their security blanket. Hypothesis testing (given domain) still rests fundamentally on falsification logic. The procedure of falsification meets the pragmatic criterion.

This does mean that falsificationism is the only logic of testing theories in science. But certainly this dismissal of falsification on the basis that one of its principal advocates was Karl Popper (who, granted, had some rather mean things to say about Marxists) is not a valid position. Desiring to poop on Popper is one thing. The usefulness of falsificationism is another. I share with Jim Blaut the desire to poop on Popper. I disagree with his characterization of falsificationism.

I have to raise an caution to some of the argument presented by Cauldwell. He seems to be arguing that (for Freud) instinct explains everything.

I don't think this is what Freud argued. Or at least, Freud's argument is more complicated than this. Freud's theory is a control theory--the mother of all control theories, in fact. The logic of control theory should be made explicit when trying to understand Freud's theory. Let me explain briefly and related it again to differences in explanatory approaches.

Empiricists have taught us that cause (necessity) is attributed to events or actions that are constantly conjoined, events or actions that are sensed, and that this is all there is to reality (sometimes they thrown in the assumption of uniformity, but they never explain how it is possible).

But the empiricist account of causality is not really a causal theory. It is simply the observation of conjoined events. Causality exists at the level of the real and actual, and theory (the theoretical level of reality) becomes vital to explain causality. Empiricism is atheoretical (at least in intent).

The logic of Freud's argument is radically different from empiricism. For Freud, instinct gives the person the tendency to act. Instinct is a natural force internal to all living beings, the spark in the cylinder of the engine of motion, a drive potential to act. Socialization is the process through which instinct is given an internalized social governor.

An analogy is useful here. The personality is like a hand holding a heavy object which must when released (all things being equal) fall to the ground. Heavy objects have a tendency to fall. If released they will (again, all things being equal) always fall. The empiricist will tell you that these events--release and fall--are conjoined. But the physicist will tell you that gravity, i.e., the attraction of objects to each other (the tendency of mass to move together) is the reality that underpins the empirical conjunction.

In this way, the logic of Freud's theory is scientific and compelling. It is not unlike transformational grammar and other propensity-unfolding logics that take account of ecological factors.

For Freud, just because the drives and the governor exist at the level of the real does not mean that they are only mental associations or imposition (existing only in the mind of the theorist). For Freud, this complex structure is ontological.

Despite the valid reasoning of this argument (however slighted by empiricists), any scientific theory constructed in this way must demonstrate the existence of the real structures it supposes in the world. This is where I believe Freud's theory falls short. So far, the theory has not worked out a method for falsifying its central claims. And psychodynamic theory's soundness could only be judged on the basis of falsificatory logic.

Cauldwell is at least partly right in that part of the problem lies with the concept of instinct. People who know me know I abhor arguments based on instinct constructs. I don't believe humans have any instincts; rather, they likely have capacities and drives.

I do find the notion of human capacities and drives compelling. And, operating out of charity, it seems that this is what Freud generally tends to mean in his use of the instinct construct. But I find giving them such importance in a theory of personality, specifically the explanation that high-order human thought and action are at base expressions of sublimating our baser drives, not very compelling.

Besides a few basic drives (hunger, thirst) and capacities (language-acquisition), I am convinced--although I remain open to evidence to the contrary--that what is human is social and that the motive to act, whether prosocially or antisocially, derives from the cultural-ideological structure in which we are socialized.

The tendency to act human is far more complicated than giving power to angels and demons like Eros or Thanatos.

Still, to reinforce the two points I wanted to leave with the list this evening, I still find the logic of Freud's theory valid (though not very sound) and I believe falsificationism is the only way to deal with a theory so dependent on (claims of) real structures as opposed to empirical phenomena.

Finally, I apologize for the simple way I have treated Freudian thought. Obviously his position (and its various elaborations) are far more complex than presented here. I merely wanted to discuss the basic explanatory logic to his theory and relate it to the criticisms of it by Lakatos and others, which I regard to be somewhat exaggerated.

Incidentally, Lakatos couldn't be more wrong about Marxism in this regard. Unlike psychodynamics, claims made by Marxism can be adjudicated through verification and confirmation; the predictive validity of Marx's projections confirm the correctness of his theory. Marxism is very much a "progressive" research program. Evidently, Lakatos couldn't get fully out from under Popper's long and anti-communist shadow.

Andy Austin


A couple of days back, I started my subscription to this discussion list, to find this very useful and lengthy discussion well in progress. I sent a post, but it seems never to have appeared, at least in the mail I am receiving here - northern England. So, I'll try again!

I hesitate to get involved in a discussion on psychology, but one thing has cropped up several time and it intrigues me. One or two contributors seem to be looking to some sort of 'atom' or 'quantum' of the brain, and the name Popper has cropped up too. That is appropriate, because at the roots of Popper's world outlook is this very atomism; that the world can be reduced to 'quanta'. It is a pretty much entrenched position among many physicists, and it is not unusual to overhear engineers (see Sam Pawlett's " Real reductionists like James Watson and the Churchlands believe that, ultimately, the laws of physics will explain everything. Psychology is literally engineering.") saying, 'We could understand life and the mind if they could adequately be expressed in a complex enough set of partial differential equations', or somesuch!

Reading Birute Regine & Roger Lewin 'Mastering the Game' New Scientist 26 Sept 1998 is extremely revealing. Their conversation with John Holland about mathematical studies of emergent phenomena and emergence in reality, leads me at least to the conclusion that Popper's innate assumption that the world can be described by quantum theory is destroyed without trace, simply by painstaking experiment with his assumptions [Note; not by some kind of 'thought experiments', which some of the correspondents do seem to indulge in'].

I don't know if any of you have a background in mathematics or science, but this article does seem to offer a different, general point of departure that might help resolve these questions of reductionism vs dialectics. I'll try to approach the 'psychology' question' from this standpoint, but it will take some time1 Probably, someone else already has made such a critique.

Last point. Is Marxism really concerned with the principle of parsimony? I thought that went out with William of Ockham.

[Oh no, it's not the last, as I read on!] There is some odd stuff in the posts by Andrew Wayne Austin and James Blaut, in fact a great deal that would be material for several other threads. I don't know if you people are being single-minded here, 'cos there's an awful lot of posts on Psch., and moreover, I haven't the slightest clue where it started. But for what its worth, here goes:

1. Andrew speaks of 'necessity' in the context of causality - the empirical observation of a concatenation of seeminly related events; a time series. Call me dumb if you like, but I expected some sort of dialectic approach here, which even non-Marxist biologists are comfortable with. How can he examine necessity without the element of chance? Isn't that a bit like the positivists/reductionists, i.e right up Popper's alley? It is bound up with Popper's rather stultefying 'method' of 'falsification' too.

2. Instinct in humans. Without going into the tendency of aphasics to swear wonderfully - see Pinker's Language Instinct' - I simply cannot see how instinct and reflex can be ignored. One of the most delightful experiments that I have seen is that where a small crawling infant is placed on a black and white tiled surface. It isn't like your actual kitchen floor, because there is a 3 foot step in the surface, covered with glass. The infant crawls around, but never once crosses the step - he/she is generally not too keen on heights, despite the fact that surface is perfectly solid. To me that is an instinctive aversion to falling. And so too is the direction of the fovea - where receptors on the retina are most densely packed - to movement picked up in peripheral vision; you cannot resist it. And so it goes. We have a problem here, it seems. One that appears to conceive of humanity as comprising _entirely_ social beings, cut loose absolutely from the rest of the natural world, and indeed from its emergence - the negation of purely 'biological' processes. Negation is not to be taken literally as some kind of destruction/annihilation of the negated, or so it seems to me.

3. James Blaut's experiments with kids and vertical aerial photographs are extremely interesting. The vertically-downward view of a surface is one outwith anyone's experience, except perhaps that of a bomb-aimer in a WW2 aircraft - we generally look laterally or obliquely from high places. We are used to and arguably cope innately with perspective, contrast reduction by atmospheric haze and various other depth cues. As we learn about objects and their size, we can adjust for varying scale too. A kid of 3 or 4 might be expected to be perplexed by a single nadir-looking aerial photo for all these reasons, and also another one. Cartographers have long used the device of relief shading to introduce depth to maps. The curious thing is that they always use an imagined light source at the top left corner, and by golly it works, as any decent atlas will show - ridges and valleys look much better than contours [they give an impression of the first derivative of the surface by the tonal effect of varying contour spacing].

The problem with a single aerial photo is that it is sun-illuminated, according to the elevation and azimuth of the sun, i.e. to time of day. Turn the photo around, and any illusion of relief suddenly springs from normal to inverted as orientation is changed according to the map-makers' empirical rule, where valleys appear as ridges etc. When we fly on an aircraft, this disturbing phenomenon occurs again and again, depending on the height of the plane. A true illusion of relief results only by stereoscopic vision of two, overlapping aerial photographs taken from different positions along the flight path. This indeed blows the minds of kids, and some are extremely worried - see the baby item above. So the fact that James Blaut's tiny subjects 'read' the aerial photos, as if they were adults with a map, is truly astonishing, for an adult would simply give up - and they do - unless they had a lot of training or flight time as bombadiers! Can James tell us if his experiment was using single photos or stereopairs and a stereoscope. If the latter, then his work seems to confirm the notion of instinct with regard to depth perception and topology-awareness.

Walter Keen


The kid stuff is described in *Transactions of the Inst. of British Geographers* "Natural Mapping," vol. 16, 1991, 55-74; and "A Cross-Cultural Study of Young Children's Mapping Abilities." vol. 23, 1998, 1-9.

You don't need the innateness argument. As you point out, the classical "visual cliff" experiment of Gibson and Walk showed wonderfully that a crawling infant has a sense of vertical depth in the environment. But now there's tons of evidence that infants are aware of object permanence, and have an early awareness of distance and direction. We suggest that MAYBE the one-year-old in the crib begins to look outward and downward at the environment and then gradually generalizes this to an understanding of what is to be seen from directly overhead. But certainly the mind of a 4-year-old involves immense leaps of imagination to think about huge places, including what is over the horizon and also purely fantastic places.

It is tempting to think that the ability of understanding the world from an overhead view is innate. The argument from analogy to the "cognitive mapping" abilities of birds, rats, etc., is beguiling -- but it may just be analogy. The question is open.

But we have to be very, very careful when we postulate innateness because it is SO easy to generate racism: either the ability, being biological, varies in biologically different populations, or, since it is a biological given, you can't do much about it by way of education. You know -- the usual shit. Chomsky tries to cope with these objections in relation to his theory of universal grammar in his Managua lectures (forgot the title of the book -- MIT press, around 1992). I think Pinker probably is just a very bright salesman. I hope that new techniques of brain study will eventually produce something useful on the way the brain handles macro-environmental information (not "spatial" information). I'm agnostic. What we used were ordinary air photos, black and white, vertical, fairly large scale of 1:2000 - 1:6000. No stereo pairs. The kids named things on the photo (houses, trees, etc.) and they solved a navigation problem: "If this is your house, over here, and that house over there is your best friend's house, how would you go from your house to your best friends house? Show me by drawing it on the picture." (In the real world you wouldn't see the other house from the location of the first house. The route has to be realistic.)

En lucha

Jim Blaut


Sucked right in again by James Blaut's response to my observations! But his work on pre-schoolers and 'reading' air photos sounds very revealing. I'm used to using high-level images, so my points about depth perception were off beam, since James used very large-scale images, in which yes, trees and houses are recognisable, even cars and people walking about. Silly of me really, because I would defy James himself, without photointerpretive training, to 'read' a terrain model presented by either a high-level photo, or any photo of uninhabited areas without dwellings and communications etc - and bare of depth/scale cues like trees, say somewhere in Utah.

There is hardly much doubt that the chimp-upright hominid divergence was from a smart arboreal primate. The arboreal lifestyle surely had a bearing on the framework from which social being emerged, particularly in perceptual/cognitive abilities; in some way perhaps related to the emergence of consciousness, rudiments of which seem clear in other primates - Andy's map reading chimps apart! Weeel, maybe not.... Any being brachiating through trees would have had a fairly regular experience of a vertical view from far above - that is unless Mom intimated not to look down! Joking apart, that is possibly the link. Our astonishing colour perception is regarded by many to have some relationship to arboreal primate's predominant fruit-flower diet, and no doubt one could speculate on quite a lot more, such as navigation in 3-dimensional space. That could point to an innate source for map-reading skills. I defy anyone not to be entranced by high spatial-resolution images from above, especially those 'busy' with information, even if they had not a clue as to what was being revealed - photo-interpretation is almost addictive, but not in the sense of train-spotting! I bet if you showed your kids a photo of some featureless bit of country with the odd house and road their attention span would be short. Give them a suburb or a city and they would go apeshit. I well remember getting hooked on drawing treasure maps when I was about 6 or 7 - but that may well have been Robert Louis Stephenson's doing!

Cheers

Walter Keen

Hey, don't write Pinker off. Whatever his deficiencies, he brought Chomsky to the masses, which Chomsky has never been capable of doing - the great problem of the linguist!


A line of experimentation with apes, particularly chimpanzees, is to show them a map of a room and hide on this map a miniature can of coke (turns out chimps love coke). Then the experimenter goes to the room the map represents and hides the can of coke in the exact location depicted by the map. She then returns and asks the chimp to find the can of coke in the room. The chimp goes into the room (by herself) and straight to where the can of coke has been hidden. It doesn't matter where you hide the can of coke, if you show the chimp on the map where the coke is hidden, then chimp will find the can of coke every time. If you don't show them the map, they will find the coke only by searching the room.

Three year old sapiens don't do this very well or cannot do it at all. Part of the logic of the experiment is this comparison with sapiens children. Sapiens children will look at the map, then go in the room and wander aimlessly. Turns out that three year old sapiens children do not abstract very well, if at all.

What the researchers conclude, quite correctly, I think, is that adult chimpanzees have the capacity *without language* to think abstractly. Even though human children *do* possess language (a three year old speaks very well, actually), they do not think abstractly. At least not as well as an adult chimpanzee. PBS ran a special on this recently (you can probably find some information on it in their archives) and it was amazing to see the chimp read the map and go straightaway to the room and find the coke, open it, and drink it.

The larger point is that map-reading is not a uniquely sapiens activity. It appears to be an ability shared by higher-order primates. I would like to see the experiment replicated with gorillas and orangutans. They could probably demonstrate the same ability. This also has implications for our ancestors, erectus and habilis. Hell, even further back that this. If chimps can read maps it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that hominids generally (including australopithecines) could think abstractly, too.

Andy Austin


I am awed. However, I am not too convinced by experiments as opposed to observation in the wild. Those primatologists who seem determined to massage the various links between humans and other primates, as in ASL experiments, have kind of queered the pitch. Habituation is a wondrous thing, as many an animal act will demonstrate.

However, these damn pack rats and various birds, and even parasitic wasps have remarkable geographic capabilities. It is what we draw from observations, and yes if you can bear it, experiments, that is important. That is a minefield.

Having written that truism, the drift of James Blaut's experimental work with kids is primary - humans are not at all objective(!). Marx observed something like 'We can only grasp the anatomy of the ape from that of man' early in the Grundrisse. Having illuminated what seems to be a potential (can we skip the innate, instinctual bit to avoid getting gruff with one another) for abstract navigation in kids, that can be set against the more rudimentary potential in primates - remember they were induced by habituation to Coke and in a controlled situation, and it is difficult to observe such things in the wild. Nonetheless Goodall and others have outlined quite plausibly all manner of behavioural things among wild chimps in particular. Remembering that the separation on molecular evidence between chimps and humans is maybe 5 million years or more, and the evolution leading to both was in quite fundamentally different habitats, the vague correspondence between aspects of human and chimp attributes is useful in speculating on what the last common ancestor was. We are in difficulties there, because the damned fossil record is especially scanty for that time in Africa, for few sediments of that age (late-Miocene) are known. We have to rely on some very scanty indirect pointers to what Africa was at that time, and a rough stab is that it was forested in the equatorial regions from west to east. It is possible to infer that right back to 20 million years, when we find the earliest primates - tail-less apes - in sediments of the Fayum Depression of Egypt in association with pollens and wood remains that show what is now a desert area was then lush open woodland.

Sorry to ramble, but the point that I am trying to make is that such evidence as there is suggests that the chimp-human last common ancestor was arboreal. That is crucial, because surviving life in canopies has a lot to do with behavioural attributes linked to 3-D navigation, and much else besides. Does it really matter if those attributes were 'wired in' or more complexly related to social learning? It would be difficult to separate the two, as we know from both human and primate studies. Whatever, both human and chimp webs of descent would have begun with a common package of attributes - genetic and behavioural, physiological and psychological.

More or less the same broad outline applies to the divergence of chimps and gorillas, except that was earlier on molecular grounds. With the extant representatives of both those diverging webs there is a common factor - they both reside in rain forest, not much different from the Atlantic to Indian Ocean forest cover of the Miocene. Hominids from Ardepithecus anamensis through to us inhabited, or so the palaeoecological record suggests, a very different and much more diverse mosaic of habitats in East Africa, after the formation of the Great Rift. A place of great stress for arboreal beings - I don't think we came out of the trees; more like the trees left our forebears stranded. Inherited (again why cavil about genetic or socially passed on) attributes in such initially alien surroundings are either snuffed out - there are no 'gorrilid' or 'chimpid' remains yet found in E Africa - or they become part of the evolutionary 'fit' package, moulded to conditions through its succeeding physiological-psychological transformations - negation after negation.

All we have to go on as regards the 'mother' of all negations, the moment at which the hominid web changed from a passive part of nature to having a measure of actively rebounding on it, is the appearance of undoubted stone tools around 2.6 million years ago in Hadar (Awash river basin in Ethiopia). So far they cannot be linked believably to the australopithecines whose remains are found in that area, but the few australopithecine hand bones known seem capable of manipulating such pebble tools, and there has been some carbon isotope evidence from their teeth that they did eat meat - the teeth contain blends of C isotopes that point to the entry of carbon initially metabolized by grasses, no primates can digest grass, and the parsimonious suggestion is that it entered through the flesh of grazing animals. It could also have been from eating grass seeds, however.

Tools carry a message, particularly when they are made of materials alien to their geographic location as are the Hadar pebble tools. It is that of organised consciousness, however rudimentary, and the generation-to-generation transmission of culture. Whether it was within a framework of social being - sharing and co-operation, and whether it involved consumptive production as opposed to productive consumption within the production-consumption dialectic (I rely here on an interesting passage in Faddeev, E.T., 1983 The Problem of Ecological Production, p 102-104 in A.D. Ursul, Editor, Philosophy and the Ecological Problems of Civilization, Progress Publishers, Moscow, which unfortunately gives only very general references to sources in Marx-Engels that I have yet to follow through) is impossible even to guess at. Things are not much better for the accepted association of H. habilis with identical tools, but there are suggestions from the Olduvai sites that dismembered carcases were gathered together and even that these sites had rudimentary structures - rings of stones.

That does not get us too far in assessing the nature of human psychology and its emergence. However, it does pose some important questions. Not the least of these relate to instinct. If humans no longer have instincts, as you maintain, then when and how did they disappear? Or could it be suggested that no primates have instincts, and that unites all extant primates? Whichever, what manner of evolutionary process would extinguish instinct? Being an unconscious, non-socially conditioned attribute, it is more likely to be gene- bound. That premise, maybe challengeable, poses the question, 'How does instinct render individuals unfit in the strict Darwininian sense'. If it is redundant within emerging consciousness, then it becomes neutral in the same manner as distal cheek teeth, the appendix and the traces of the gill plates of the ancestral vertebrates. Or does it? In order to deny human instinct, surely you need to back it up with at least some plausible, material process, not merely the present lack of empirical evidence for its recognition in humans.

Walter Keen


Does Psychoanalysis have a place in the scientific understanding of the world?

Science Since critics of psychoanalysis [e.g. Eysenck, 1965] often dismiss it on the ground that it is unscientific, and since an occasional psychoanalyst [e.g. Home,1966] argues that psychoanalysis is not a science but a humanity, it needs to be pointed out that the proposition 'psychoanalysis is not a science' can be made true or untrue by choosing the appropriate definition of science. If one defines science in a way that makes knowledge derived from experiment and measurement an essential part of the definition, psychoanalysis fairly obviously is not one. If one defines it in terms of the attempt to establish causal relationship between the events, the question hinges on whether one believes that the laws of causality [determinism] can be applied to living organisms capable of consciousness - as Freud did and Home does not. If one defines it as, for instance, the C.O.D. does, 'systematic and formulated knowledge', psychoanalysis is a science, and issue becomes one of deciding to what branch of science it belongs, i.e. whether it is a natural, biological or moral science. See Rycroft [1966] for the idea that psychoanalysis constitutes a bridge between the biological sciences and the humanities, and Szasz [1961] for the view that it is a moral science. [A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis]

Ulhas Joglekar


I see the point in arguing about chimps and children reading maps, but I think it calls forth a question: has any researcher made a chimp *draw* a map- i.e., develop a symbolic system of his/her own devising? You see that I may perhaps be under the influence of some structuralist virus or something, but the fact is that, since tool using and abstract thinking have been proven not to be an exclusive preserve of humans, use of purely symbolic categories is essential in developing a class society, for since the division of human society in classes does not rely on physical categories (i.e., huge silverback males ruling smaller males and lean females among gorillas), it depends above all on the various clanic/totemic systems, which are purely symbolic. That's a point set by M&E in the GI, when they say that "when a relationship exists, it exists *for me*"

Carlos Rebello


Talking about Freud's unconscious, it's interesting to state that, commenting scathingly on the Surrealist idea that art should somehow offer a revelation from the unconscious, Trotsky remarked to Breton that "Freud made the unconscious develop out of the conscious; the surrealists want to drown the conscious in the unconscious". The Freudian unconscious is not something that remains dormant as some KGB "mole" in Cold War potboilers to somewhat awaken when summoned by some external event; it's a repressed memory that keeps trying to revive and that, to a certain measure, shapes the conscious mind, which must shape itself in its efforts to keep the unconscious, *un*conscious. That's why it's not possible to propose- as in the recent Anglo literature about children sexual abuse- that someone could remain a perfectly normal person for decades, keeping memories on some limbo (or memory bank, for that matter), with no telltale sign of having been victimized by CSA. The unconscious is not the "cause" of the conscious; the two form a dialectical unit, and that means that we are able to carry, within us, high culture and the Jurassic jungles, as Nestor put it.

Carlos Rebello


I was somewhat hasty in my writing and finished by suggesting that Nestor was the author of Freud's phrase about the Jurassic Park, for which I ask to be forgiven. The idea of the Jurassic Park in Psychoanalysis- i.e., that the human individual psyche strives after archaic, primaeval objects- has been again and again exposed as one of the main obstacles to integration between Freud and Marxism. In Martin Jay's study on the Frankfurt School, _The Dialectical Imagination, there is a quote from Philip Rieff stating that "Revolution could only repeat the prototypical rebellion against the father, and in every case it's doomed to failure".

I think there is a misunderstanding here. To the young Marx and Engels, the beginning of a truly woman civilization imply a clean break with the world of the promiscuous horde, or herd, where everithing existing is available to everyone; the beginnings of the Social Division of Labour imply that most primaeval objects of desire will have limited access to most people - or no acess at all (the prohibition of incest and the necessity of clean-cut family lines being necessary to have a proper structure of property, as Engels puts in _The Orign of the Family, Privete Property and the State_. All three- Freud, M&E-agree that civilization means precluding access to the possibility of full untrammeled development of primaeval abilities. But the drives are there, all the same- and the feeling of their absence and/or access forbidden. Freud, in *Civilization and its Discontents*, considers that these archaic drives could be re-directed to other objects- Love, Art and Culture being the most obvious ones, but at the same time not available but to a minority. Bourgeois through and through, one might think, until Freud comes with the idea that *work*, when attuned to one's personal and peculiar abilities and interests, could in a future society play the role today played by art and science to an educated minority. "The gospel of salvation through work-says Freud-has only begun to be preached". What could this be but the ultimate bridge between Freud and Marxism? I'm I wrong to see in Freud's "gospel" the outlines of a Communist society based on Marxist lines?

Carlos Rebello