Preparatory Notes towards a Dialectic of the Psyche : Part 1


Preparatory Notes towards a Dialectic of the Human Psyche : Part One

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The historical origination and development of capital is not identical with that of capitalism. Capital has a history prior to that of capitalism which only commences when the capital relation itself has become the dominant relationship of production. If we are to consider the history of the human psyche – whether or not such a dialectic is logically and historically legitimate remains debatable – then we are forced to admit that its ‘prehistory’ is not its history per se because its real history as a determinate phenomenon is its history as a human social phenomenon. But this likewise applies to the human brain itself which, as being the human brain, has a purely social history despite the elementary truth of its biological prehistory in other ancestral, determinate neurological structures.

Analogously, insofar as the chemical elements have not always existed, their real history as determinate forms only begins when they actually come into being. The astrophysicists assert that, besides the simplest element (Hydrogen), the elements were actually created out of this simplest of elements and succeeding elements under extremely high temperatures and pressures as a result of physical processes taking place within the stars as they passed through different stages in their development. [1] Without this process of their formation, they obviously could not exist but this process of their formation is not their history per se as determinate elements. It is, if we must employ this word, their prehistory; the prehistory of their formation or the process by which they came into being.Their real history as determinate objects only begins once they have come into being. The move from the pre-atomic to the atomic to the molecular and then from the non-living to the living* […] were ‘nodal points’ in the history of the universe, the emergence of matter on qualitatively distinct levels which broke off – a leap as such – from the preceding stage of development. It is a transformation which contains all the preceding development sublated within itself; abolished yet preserved.

*[Biopoiesis/Abiogenesis. The developmental process by and through which living matter originated out of non-living matter in the early history of the Earth. It has been postulated that the first living microscopic forms originated in an aqueous environment, later evolving into amphibious forms which became adapted to colonise the land and evolve into higher terrestrial forms of life.] [2]

If we consider the real origins of any formation in natural or social development, we enter a neverending world of change and transformation. In such a world, the evolution of the simplest living organism could only be determined and mapped by reference to the endless series of steps and stages by means of which it has has come into being. We would have to render the history of anything by tracing it back to the beginning of time itself and even “before” that if such a word as “before” has any meaning within such a physical paradigm.

In other words, everything has a ‘prehistory’ which is not its history per se. Indeed its prehistory is the history of some other determinate formation or process. For example, the development of stereoscopic vision*[…] in our ancestral primates**[…] is an intrinsic part of their history but part of our prehistory. The history of stereoscopic vision in humans can only be addressed when human history itself commences. Human history commences with this prehistory primate legacy incorporated (superseded) within it and henceforth it becomes a presupposed part of humanity’s history. This is precisely why any history of the human psyche cannot be separated from the history of human society and does not and simply cannot fall outside this history. If it is located antecedently to this history then it is, of course, not the human psyche per se but rather a part of a hominoid/hominid phase in transition to it. That is, it is hominoid/hominid but not necessarily human. The humanoid hominid (Homo) emerges from its antecedents which are only becoming human just as molecular chemistry emerges from the atomic but this does not make the existence of the separate, individual atomic elements into the history of molecular phenomena. Rather they remain distinctly atomic until they form molecules and only when this happens has the molecular arrived and thenceforth commences the history of the molecular.

*[Stereoscopic Vision is the capacity of the human visual apparatus to form two separate images of an object taken from the slightly different viewing points corresponding to the position of the eyes. In human perception, the brain merges the two images into a single image, giving objects the appearance of depth and solidity. Stereoscopic vision predates the hominid line and was essential for the survival, and further evolution, of humanity’s arboreal and ground-dwelling primate ancestors.]

**[Primates, in the classification system of biology, is the order of mammals that includes the prosimians (a), monkeys, apes and extinct animal primate ancestors of hominids and of contemporary animal primates. The primates possess flexible hands with opposable digits which are necessary for dexterity. They have stereoscopic vision and developed brains which are structured and differentiated into interrelating parts performing a diversity of complex functions. Most primates are arboreal and anatomically unspecialised. They generally inhabit warm climates. The behavioural organisation and relations of the different species within the order are characterised by a trend of increasing complexity and increasing capacity to learn.]

(a)The Prosimians are the lower sub-order of primates (and their extinct primate ancestors) which includes the lemurs, tree shrews, tarsiers and lorises.

Everything has an unlimited prehistory leading up to the start of its limited history which then passes into the unlimited prehistory of succeeding forms. Incidentally, this is why Evolutionary Psychology is a bogus science because it deploys the paradigms of Evolutionary Biology (which are applicable only to purely biological systems) in an attempt to explain human psychological phenomena whose origination and development can only be located within the historically and logically more concrete paradigms of the evolution of humanity as a social being. [3] For example, the hunger, thirst, sex, etc, of human beings are human hunger, human thirst, human sex, human etc. We locate this prehistory as socially and humanly appropriated. It is not the ‘animal in the human’ (like the Babushka in the Russian doll) but rather part and parcel of being the human animal. Man is an animal but it is being the human animal which concretely distinguishes him from all other animals. The distinction may appear oversubtle but it is real and fundamental nevertheless.

To assert that the human psyche is ultimately the plaything of the laws of biological evolution is not only to apply such laws where they are inapplicable but it is also to deny the socio-historical origins and evolution of the psyche itself. This attempt to subsume ‘sociology’ under ‘biology’ can only result in a ‘science’ which is no real science at all but an utterly bogus enterprise. Evolutionary Psychology is the latter-day Phrenology. And, like Phrenology, but unlike Physics, Chemistry and Biology, it will not endure because it is scientifically, and therefore logically, illegitimate.

The pre-conditions for the origination of the human psyche were generated in the course of the natural origin and development of the modes of life of ancestral primates. Of course, the whole of previous natural development is a pre-condition for any existent phenomenon but we can only take certain pre-developments as assumed or presupposed (e.g. the emergence of living forms out of the non-living, the molecular out of the atomic and the atomic out of the pre-atomic, etc) and move forward from the existence of the ancestral primates of human beings.

The transition to human life presupposed fundamental pre-conditions in the mode of life of these ancestral primates. Firstly the use (on a regular basis) and the capacity to fashion simple tools for use in the acquisition of the physical needs of these primates was essential. This is indicated in pre-homo Australopithecines.[4] We can also directly witness tool using and simple tool making activities today in some primates. [5] Implicitly, this involved the acquisition of specific skills which could be transmitted (and this implies higher stages of learning compared to other animals) and gradually refined in the course of their transmission and repeated use from one generation to the next. This learning of new skills and the development of novel forms of behaviour enabled these ancestral primate groups to gain an edge over competitors in the struggle to survive. This learning process equipped these primates to ‘cope’ – in a more adequate way – with the demands placed on them in their interaction with their natural conditions of life. The relatively advanced learning capacities of ancestral primates and the transmission and refinement of acquired skills and behaviour resulting from these learning capacities were therefore essential, pre-constituted conditions necessary for the transition from animal primate to human.[6]

This ‘culture’ of transmission of acquired skills gave such primates a distinct advantage in the struggle to survive, enhancing their chances of survival and augmenting adaptational capacities. The acquisition of these skills and their further elaboration and development into an ever-widening repertoire of skills and modes of behaviour was determined by the natural conditions of life of these primates. The demands placed on animals by their conditions of life are the real determinants which govern the necessity of animals to learn novel skills and forms of behaviour in order to counter and survive the impact of these conditions on their mode of life which is, indeed, organic to these conditions and vice versa. [7] Van Schaik and Pradhan have indicated the ‘traditional’ character and ‘strong social component’ in tool-using skills in the ‘great apes’ [8] Tonooka et al have demonstrated the acquisition and transmission of tool making and use in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) [9]

In the course of developing new skills and forms of behaviour, ancestral primates must have engaged in a continuously changing relationship with their conditions of life in the course of which making adaptation*[..] an intensely active process. Changes in this relationship necessarily involved neurological developments in these primates (neural plasticity) and, as a consequence, an augmentation of learning capacities and mechanisms. [10] [11]
The supersedence of a given complex of natural conditions – within which and through relationship to which definite forms of behaviour and skills had been developed – would have necessitated the alteration, or even complete transformation, of previous modes of behaviour which were adequate for survival under previous conditions but had become, with the changes in conditions, inadequate for survival. Under threat of extinction new modes of behaviour and skills had to be developed in order to continue to survive. Therefore, whether an ancestral primate species survived or not (and evolved to a further stage of existence or into a different sub-species) depended on whether or not it acquired and developed the necessary skills and behaviour (in the course of changing conditions) which provided it with the means of surviving the newly-posited conditions within which it found itself and struggled to maintain its mode of life.

*[Adaptation : A term employed in the biological sciences describing the process through which living organisms evolve in order to survive changes taking place in their conditions of existence. Changes in the mode of behaviour of organisms are ‘selected’ according to their survival ‘value’. Such changes may be a product of genetic modification and/or the learning of novel skills which enable organisms to survive and reproduce under changing conditions. Those organisms which fail to adapt to changing conditions are necessarily forced down the path towards extinction. Adaptations can be inherited or passed on through mimicry to succeeding generations which become progressively more versatile, richer and augmented in their repertoire of skills and behaviour out of which are constituted their capacities to cope with the demands placed on them by their natural conditions of life. Through adaptation, organisms become increasingly more capable of surviving further changes in their life conditions in the future. However, overspecialisation** may, with a rapid change in conditions, be the fundamental determinant in the extinction of a species.
In the Origin of Species, Darwin gives the example of the Finches of the Galapagos Islands. In this case, a single ancestral South American species of finch has become differentiated – under different conditions prevailing in the different islands of the archipelago – into 14 distinct species. The adaptation of each species to very specific conditions is manifested in the diversity of the shape of the beak for the range of species. For example, finches which have evolved to break into nutshells have a different shape beak from those which tend to feed on insects, etc.]

**[Overspecialisation is a term used in Evolutionary Biology which denotes the evolutionary adaptation of an organism under specified conditions which equips it to survive exclusively under such conditions. The more constrained and narrow its ecological niche, the more probable will a change, especially a catastrophic change, in its conditions of life push it onto the road to extinction. Such overspecialised organisms become so highly specialised that rapid qualitative transformations in their conditions of life – barring such adaptive transformations in the behaviour and structure of such organisms – inevitably lead to their extinction. Overspecialisation funnels an organism into a highly specialised mode of life in which its niche must retain the highest possible degree of stability if the organism is to survive. Consequentially, changes in its conditions of life (especially catastrophic ones) make it highly vulnerable to extinction. Thus, overspecialisation – through the process of adaptation – ‘fits’ an organism to a highly specialised and delimited mode of life. A rapid change in conditions leaves the organism adaptationally ‘stranded’ and unable to survive so that extinction ensues. This is why overspecialisation can be a prelude to extinction. Organisms which have evolved to live within prevailing conditions and yet possess the capacity to adapt to marked changes in these conditions (adaptability) tend survive. Hence, in such organisms, specialisation takes place but not to the detrimental degree that it excludes further necessary adaptation with alterations (catastrophic or not) in their conditions of life.]

It was the learning capacities of ancestral primates – the ability or inability to learn new skills – which gave them an advantage or disadvantage in the struggle for survival under changing conditions. The disadvantaged tended to perish whilst the advantaged or other distinct species filled their niche in and under the new conditions. The history of hominid evolution is filled with extinctions. This process would have been shifted into an accelerated mode in periods of catastrophic change. For example, consider the extinction of the dinosaurs and their eclipse by the mammals where catastrophic changes constituted the basis for this relatively rapid transition in the history of animal life. In primate evolution – more specifically in those primates which immediately preceded the Homo line – the development of a wider repertoire of skills and complexity in their operation would have provided ancestral primates with an edge in the struggle to survive such catastrophes e.g. drought, floods, disease, etc. Here, it is not simply the emergence of biological variations and behavioural changes on which the law of natural selection*[…] acts that is fundamental but rather the capacity to actually learn new skills and forms of behaviour which facilitate survival and propagation.

*[Natural Selection is the term used in bioevolutionary science which describes the ability of ‘selected’ organisms to survive and propagate in a population of organisms engaged in the ‘struggle for existence’. Individuals developing favourable characteristics (phenotypes(a)) possess augmented capacities to survive and thus to reproduce whilst those who are disadvantaged tend to diminish and die out (extinction). Consequently, the genotypes of the favoured organisms are transmitted. Those modifications of a species which are advantageous for survival are thus preserved and the species evolves into higher forms. Selection acts on behaviour and selects those forms of behaviour which are advantageous in the struggle for survival. Darwin – in his Origin of Species – details the mechanism of selection, revealing both necessity and chance in the evolution of species and demonstrating purposiveness in the development of living forms.]

(a)The Phenotype of a living organism are those features and characteristics of an organism which are produced and determined by its genetic constitution i.e. by its genotype (b). The phenotype does not express the genotype in a rigidly deterministic way but according to the material conditions of existence (the internal biological and outer environmental influences) of an organism.

(b) Genotype is the genetic constitution of a living organism being the total complement of its genes found distributed in the nucleus of the diploid (non-haploid) cell. The genes are present in paired homologous chromosomes in the cell nucleus and are the units of inheritance responsible for the transmission of inherited phenotypic characteristics. The set of genes characteristic of a given species is also known as its genome. Research on the structure of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) has revealed how genes direct protein synthesis in the cell and how alterations in the chemical structure of DNA causes genetic mutation to become expressed phenotypically in alterations in the synthesised polypeptides.

On the road of primate evolution towards and within the Homo line, the ‘best’ learners were inevitably the ‘best’ survivors so that survival and the increasingly augmented capacities to learn became intrinsically linked. This learning necessarily precluded an overspecialisation. Rather it was the acquisition and development of genus-specific and geographically portable skills which had to become established, cultivated and refined in order to survive in a range of different environments and conditions which were encountered on the path towards the early evolution of the Homo genus and beyond.

This general applicability of acquired skills and behaviour in a wide range of situations and different conditions meant that the threat of extinction became lessened compared to those species that had overspecialised and thus were thus more vulnerable to rapid changes in their natural conditions of life. Therefore, it was not simply the ability to learn new skills – which in the evolution of ancestral primates facilitated survival – but to learn specific kinds of skills which, at the same time, had a general and enduring applicability under a wide range of conditions. These portable skills could be articulated and modified to counter demands placed on a species with alterations in their conditions of life, in their geographical re-location, and thus provide the necessary versatility requisite for survival.

Overspecialised adaptation – as manifest in structure or behaviour – must originally have had a survival value in relation to an organism’s life-conditions otherwise it would simply not have been selected in the first place. Radical changes in those life-conditions can render such overspecialisation a precursory to extinction because the survival value of such structures or behaviour is negated under the altered conditions, putting the given organism at a disdavantage relative to these conditions. They tend to lose their former adaptive function. The evolutionary line which leads from Australopithecines to Homo Sapiens must have been one which either precluded marked overspecialisation or one in which such specialisation came to serve generic, portable functionality in the Homo genus under evolving conditions of the struggle for existence. If a species becomes ‘funnelled’ down a very narrow ecological niche as a result of overspecialisation, a radical alteration in the conditions of that niche tend to push the species towards extinction. For example, if dentition becomes highly specialised for a very specific herbivorous diet, the inability to access the plant food source will tend to push the herbivore towards extinction. But if the dentition has become adapted to handle a wide range of foods of both plant and animal origins, (omnivorous), then the given species will be less susceptible to extinction if its conditions of existence undergo marked changes. It will still have a more diverse and wider foraging range and potential at its disposal in terms of its food intake.

The relatively advanced capacities of toolusers and, perhaps, sporadic makers over other groups and the ability to transmit these skills to succeeding generations formed the embryonic complex out of which hominids could evolve towards the Homo line. [12] The use and fashioning of simple tools in hominids contained, in potentio, the more advanced forms of behaviour of Homo embracing co-operation, communication and thus, consequentially, the rise of language and consciousness itself. Accordingly, all these acquired skills and forms of behaviour – taken in their totality and interrelation – constituted the germ (seminal natural-historic ground) out of which human society could come into being and evolve as a new, distinct socio-historical form of development.

With the transition to Homo relationships, the hand becomes specialised as the organ of labour so that production later becomes the material basis of human life. [13] As the evolution of Homo proceeded, the development of existing skills and the learning of new ones necessitated a greater degree of co-operation and communication. This, in its turn, necessitated the origination of language which constituted a primary condition for the rise of consciousness itself. i.e. the origination of the human psyche proper as a phenomenal totality. [14] This basic principle is central to Engels’ thesis in his work The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man.
Toolmaking and their use gave rise to emerging social relations between hominids which became, in themselves, intrinsically necessary for these primordial forms of material production. These relations had to be mediated by language and its internalised corollary in the realm of nascent forms of consciousness. Accordingly, the production of tools and the development of the relationships within Homo thus related become increasingly subject to mediation by consciousness in the making.

In the course of the origination and development of Homo, the beginnings of the rise of consciousness (sapienisation) begins to engender its psychological opposite in the form of the unconscious i.e. the forms of awareness of the human psyche as a totality begin to be posited in embryo. The learning mechanisms and modes of behaviour of ancestral hominoids are continuously passed from one generation to the next in forever developing forms. Eventually, the origination of consciousness and its positing as a determinate, specifically human, form of awareness results in a synthesis which incorporates a supersedence of the relationship between instinct*[…] and learning**[…] in the ancestral primate animal. This relationship between instinct and learning in the animal is raised to a new level of development in the emergence and establishment of consciously thinking beings. It is no longer the pre-homo, hominoid animal instinct and learning relationship as such but is reaffirmed in its humanisation; it becomes intrinsic to the psychic life of human beings and thus its pre-homo character is superseded into the human form which is marked by the new, higher psychic form unifying the conscious and the unconscious***[…]

*[Instinct is understood here to be a particular form or tendency of behaviour found in animals which is innate for a given species. Such forms of behaviour are not learnt but may be mediated and affected by learning and vice versa. Instinctive behaviour arises and evolves in animals in relation to the changing conditions of the mode of life of a given species. Natural selection acts on definite forms of behaviour to which a given species is biologically pre-disposed and, in so doing, the phenotypic characteristics of an organism are selected. Concomitantly, the genotype of the organism – underlying the ‘selected’ anatomy and physiology – is simultaneously selected. Instinct does not emerge and evolve in isolation from learning and vice versa. In their unity, each mutually conditions and affects the development of the other. For example, nidification (nest-building) in birds takes different forms according to the material conditions of life of a given species. In the process of nest-building, a bird must also learn various skills involving the use and manipulation of different materials and construction technique. Thus, in nidification, both instinctive and learnt capacities are at work simultaneously. Therefore, instinctive behaviour is an inherent or innate pre-disposition towards certain forms of behaviour for a given species and directed towards the realisation of a specific objective or aim (non-conscious (a) purposefulness) which can be mediated and affected by learning and vice versa.]

(a)The term non-conscious here serves to characterise the form of awareness found in animals and not involving conscious thinking.This characterising the mode of learning in non-human animals.

**[Learning is understood here to be the process of acquiring and developing knowledge, skills, abilities or novel forms of behaviour, etc, found in animals and raised to the cognitive level of consciousness and reflexive thinking (self-consciousness) in humanity.]

***[Unconscious is a category deployed here to denote the realm of the human psyche which arose in the sapienisation process as a result of the rise of consciousness and consequent sublation and incorporation of the instinctive capacities of humanity’s animal ancestors.The instinctive in the animal becomes transformed into the unconscious in humans in the course of the hominisation (sapienisation) process with the rise of consciousness. The psychodynamic of the intermediation of the ‘conceptless’ unconscious and the ‘conceptful’ conscious is a fundamental dynamic in the history of the psyche. The conceptual content of the human psyche does not originate in the unconscious but this conceptual content mediates, and is mediated by, the unconscious which, accordingly, is a distinct yet related realm to the conscious. The human psyche is a unity of the conscious and the unconscious. The dialectical interrelationship between thinking and feeling (thought and emotion) involves the intermediation of the conscious and the unconscious (interpenetration of the conceptual and non-conceptual). The unconscious contains sublatively incorporated within itself all those instinctive capacities possessed by humanity’s hominoid ancestors. The unconscious is integrated into the total life of the psyche so that these superseded capacities are not separated from, but are active in, the life of this totality as a consequence of the origination and evolution of conscious awareness in the hominisation process. It was the rise of consciousness itself which was the fundamental transformative element in the emergence and positing of the human unconscious]

The origination of beings acquiring and developing the capacity to think consciously, marks the rise of the human psyche itself as a totality. This transforms (for it truly is a transformational process, a ‘revolutionary’ process) the behavioural capacities of the ancestral hominoid primate – mediated by the relationship between instinct and simple, pre-conscious learning mechanisms – into the consciously, psychosocially mediated behaviour of human beings; into beings possessing and applying the capacity to consciously understand, reflect upon and transform in practice their natural conditions of life.

The simpler, non-conscious forms of awareness of the hominoid (ancestral primate) becomes sublated into the social, conscious form of awareness of the human psyche. Both remain forms of awareness but the human form stands on a higher level compared to the purely animal form. The human psyche embraces conscious thought but, considered as a whole, is a qualitatively more complex, determinate phenomenon than conscious thought alone taken in and by itself. Conscious awareness is an intrinsic part of this psyche but the latter in its globality is not simply identical to conscious awareness itself. The human psyche, as we have already indicated, possesses a prehistory which becomes sublatively incorporated into this higher psychic form with the rise of consciousness in the transition from the animal to the human.
The rise of consciousness not only marks the rise of the human psyche as a whole but is the essential transformative element in the transition from the non-conscious awareness of the animal to the conscious awareness of human beings. The origination of conscious awareness completely transforms all the capacities and inner relationships of the pre-homo, non-conscious forms of awareness. It raises these capacities, etc – in the course of superseding them – to the new, qualitative level in the psychosocial *[…], conscious forms of awareness of human beings. In so doing, the human psyche determinate has arrived and steps forth on its course of development.

*[Psychosocial is a term used to denote the relationship and unity between the character of social relations and the human psyche in which the psychological assimilation of these social relations gives the psyche a particular mental content at any given stage in the historical development of human society, conditioning the prevailing forms of human behaviour of the given epoch.]

Henceforth the…

forms of consciousness, even as they are determined by the conditions of life, constitute in themselves also a part of history. This does not consist only in the economic anatomy, but in all that combination which clothes and covers that anatomy even up to the multicoloured reflections of the imagination….there is no fact in history which is not preceded, accompanied and followed by determined forms of consciousness, whether it be superstitious or experimental, ingenuous or reflective, impulsive or self-controlled, fantastic or reasoning. (15)

The origination of consciously aware beings in the course of this transition from the pre-conscious animal to humanity marks the origination of the human psyche as a psycho-historical totality. The labour process, according to Engels, constitutes the social material basis for the origination of consciousness and therefore of psyche as a totality. Implicit in this process is the need for communication and therefore language (practical language – speech) and thought. Marx writes that…

Consciousness is, therefore, from the very beginning a social product, and remains so as long as men exist at all. Consciousness is at first, of course, merely consciousness concerning the immediate (Marx emphasis) sensuous environment and consciousness of the limited connection with other persons and things outside the individual who is growing self-conscious. At the same time it is consciousness of nature, which first confronts men as a completely alien, all powerful and unassailable force, with which men’s relations are purely animal and by which they are overawed like beasts; it is thus a purely animal consciousness of nature (natural religion)* […] precisely because nature is as yet hardly altered by history – on the other hand, it is man’s consciousness of the necessity of associating with individuals around him, the beginning of consciousness that he is living in society at all. This beginning is as animal as social life itself at this stage. It is mere herd-consciousness, and at this point man is distinguished from sheep only by the fact that with him consciousness takes the place of instinct or that his instinct is a conscious one.

[Marginal note by Marx: We see here immediately: this natural religion or this particular attitude to nature is determined by the form of society and vice versa. Here, as everywhere, the identity of nature and man also appears in such a way that the restricted attitude of men to nature determines their restricted relation to one another, and their restricted relation to one another determines men’s restricted relation to nature]

Marx continues….

This sheep-like or tribal consciousness receives its further development and extension through increased productivity, the increase of needs, and, what is fundamental to both of these, the increase of population. With these there develops the division of labour, which was originally nothing but the division of labour in the sexual act, then the division of labour which develops spontaneously or “naturally” by virtue of natural pre-disposition (e.g. physical strength), needs, accidents, etc, etc. Division of labour only becomes truly such from the moment when a division of material and mental labour appears.

[Marginal note by Marx: The first form of ideologists, priests, is co-incident]

From this moment onwards consciousness can really flatter itself that it is something other than consciousness of existing practice, that it really represents something without representing something real; from now on consciousness is in a position to emancipate itself from the world and to proceed to the formation of “pure” theory, theology, philosophy, morality, etc. (16)

[all emphasis in these passages is by Marx)

*[note by SM : animistic forms of religion. Animism is a term used to describe a variety of belief systems or conceptions in the history of human consciousness in which natural phenomena were thought to be animated by supernatural forces, powers or ‘spirits’. The conception that natural phenomena are endowed with, and moved by, supernatural forces characterises the earliest forms and systems of religious belief and finds transmuted secular expression in later systems of philosophical thought e.g. in Spinoza’s concept of ‘infinite substance’. In higher religious and secular forms of thinking, animism develops beyond its localised bounds and existence and matures into a world pantheistic outlook which identifies the materiality of the universe as a whole with deity e.g. in Hinduism, Gnosticism (the mystical Christianity of the first two centuries of the Christian era), Sufism, Spinozism, etc. Despite its essentially theological character, pantheism conceptualises the diversity of nature as arising out of inner unity. Implicit in this conception is, firstly, the recognition of the unity of nature in its infinite diversity and, as such, an early dialectical notion of nature and secondly, a notion of regularity and the law-governed character of natural phenomena albeit through the presence of deity.]

The insight and profundity of Marx’s analysis above must be noted here, written, as it was, at least thirteen years before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species and twenty-five years before his Descent of Man.

Humanity’s consciousness of ‘living in society’ is itself a reflection of humanity’s association in order to survive in the struggle against Nature and to harness it to meet human needs. This awareness of ‘living in society’ is negatively expressed in humanity’s conception of the ‘otherness’ of Nature which ‘confronts men as a completely alien, all-powerful and unassailable force’.

This ‘otherness’ of Nature – is it a transhistorical characteristic in humanity’s conscious relationship with Nature which is expressed in different degrees (i.e. in altering historically determined forms) throughout the history of human consciousness? This ‘transhistorical’ itself being an absolute (in pre-class and class societies) which passes into (is superseded into) the historically relative with the evolution of post-class society? Does the actual human reflection of this distinction between humanity and Nature in the human psyche become superseded (sublated) in the development of post-class society? Accordingly, does the human conception of ‘living in society’ or the ‘otherness’ of Nature disappear as a reflection of the supersedence of the actual alienated character of humanity’s relationship with Nature?

With the developing transcendence of this conflict between Man and Nature – reaching its highest point of development in bourgeois society – does not humanity’s alienation in and from Nature and thus from self and other humans truly, progressively tend, perhaps asymptotically, towards a final disappearance, vanishing point? But perhaps never absolutely arriving at it? The conceptions of Man and Nature or Man or Nature would thus tend to disappear with the unfolding transcendence of this ‘otherness’ of Nature to Man? And the psychic implications and significance of this transcending? Man becoming ever more free, ever free of fear* […], ever more without the psychology of bourgeois society? Ever more beyond what is attributed to be ‘human nature’ by Evolutionary Psychology? What is ‘human nature’ now ceases to be human; rather appears as inhuman from a vantage point of looking back as if men and women will even feel the need to ‘look back’ (or ‘forward’ even) in this post-class world. Everything becoming transformed, not simply labour which becomes truly human, unalienated ‘activity’ but sexual relations as well which are, of course, psychosocially mediated?

*[The term fear is used generically here to denote a psychoneuroendocrinological state characterised by a sense of impending threat or danger and giving rise to feelings of alarm, distress, apprehension, etc. For example, anxiety is a state of fear engendered in thinking processes which derives from the awareness or perception (a) of the reality or possibility of danger or threat. Because anxiety is a form of fear, its physiological effects take the forms of heightened pulse rate, higher blood pressure, increased rate of respiration, sweating, dryness of mouth, etc. The operative psychoneurological mechanism is the so-called ‘fight or flight response’ activated in both humans and animals in response to threat. It is a ‘reaction of the autonomic nervous system**[…] to an emergency which prepares the organism either to fight or flee’ (Macmillan Dictionary of Psychology, S. Sutherland (Ed), 1995, p 168). In humans the whole process is activated by means of the relationship between psychological and neuroendocrinological factors (brain, nervous system, pituitary-adrenal hormones). This intermediation of psychosocial and neuroendocrinological factors constitutes the ground within which human anxiety arises. This process is often intrinsic to those mental states which Psychiatry describes as ‘forms of mental illness or disorder’, the so-called neuroses and psychoses. ‘Withdrawal’ and ‘aggression’ are psychosocial forms of behaviour mediated by fear. (see, for example, Creager, J.G., Human Anatomy and Physiology, pp 477-78).]

(a) Perception is, taken collectively, understood to be those psychoneurological processes in humans through which the subject detects, becomes aware, selects, organises, processes and interprets the external world.

**[The Autonomic Nervous System is that part of the nervous system (divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems) which regulates and controls the involuntary actions and processes of smooth muscle, the heart, iris, glands, genitals, lungs, stomach, etc. The sympathetic and parasympathetic induce opposite actions. For example, the former increases heart beat and blood pressure whilst the latter has the opposite effects on the cardio-vascular system.]

Beyond this historically-determined relation of ‘otherness’ of humanity to Nature – which reflects the socio-historically conditioned dependence and subservience of humanity on and to Nature and therefore humanity’s impotence in the face of Nature – lies Marx’s ‘true realm of human freedom’ (Volume 3, Capital) in which humanity neither distinguishes itself from Nature nor distinguishes Nature from itself??

Man as a species will always look out into the universe but they will see themselves at home within it. When they observe a supernova, they will observe an image of the formation of the conditions for their own history and therefore for their own human life.

Communism as the positive transcendence of private property as human self-estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being – a return accomplished consciously and embracing the entire wealth of previous development. This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man – the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.

(Marx. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Private Property and Communism, section 3 of ms)

Therein exists neither “humanity” nor “Nature” as such with the transcendence of this relationship of alienation but only the oneness of the ontologicality of humankind immersed in Nature and Nature immersed in humankind. An immersion in which the ‘otherness’ of Nature is not distinguished from the ‘self-otherness’ of humanity. ‘Fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man’. This real unity, this real historically-evolved synthesis beyond otherness, becomes manifest in the transcendence of the psychic forms and aspects of the alienation of humanity from Nature and humanity from itself.

The brain of ancestral primates becomes materially transformed, becoming further evolved to new, more complex, stages of development in the course of human evolution under the direct influence of the material and social relations of the labour process. The human brain is, therefore, a structure which comes into being in the course of that transitional period of development between the natural mode of life of ancestral primates and the earliest social modes of life of humankind.

This may appear trite or even tautological but it must not be forgotten that the human brain is only human as such when human beings have actually come into being and the historical development of human society actually commences. We cannot speak of the human brain or human psyche whilst it is still in the process of coming into being. Whilst still in the process of its formation just as we cannot speak of capitalism whilst its still growing in the womb of feudal society. It is something other than human whilst it is still caught in that process of its genesis. It is, of course, becoming human and, accordingly, these alterations express, and are expressed within, the developing forms of behaviour of pre-sapien hominini*[…].

*[Hominini : in the classification system of Physical Anthropology (a), members of the Homo genus and Panini genus including the chimps, modern man and the extinct, bipedal hominid ancestors of mankind e.g. Australopithecines, Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus and Homo Neanderthalensis. Modern man (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) is the only extant species of the Hominina which is the bipedal subtribe of the Hominini.]

(a) I use the taxonomy of Mann and Weiss as a guide in these notes. Humanity and its bipedal ancestors (subtribe Hominina) are classed in a ‘tribe’ (the Hominini) with chimps (subtribe Panina) on the basis of a common ancestor, divergence occurring approximately 6 million years ago. The Australopithecina (Australopithecines) were another subtribe of the Hominini. The taxonomy can be confusing, thus : hominoidea, hominidae, homininae, hominini, hominina, homo, homo sapiens. See also Mann, Alan and Weiss, Mark (1996). “Hominoid Phylogeny and Taxonomy: a consideration of the molecular and Fossil Evidence in an Historical Perspective”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 5 (1): 169–181. doi:10.1006/mpev.1996.0011 . PMID 8673284.]

The human brain does not emerge and become a fixed structure but rather continues to develop materially (neurological plasticity*[…]) and its processes become more refined, attenuated (increasingly more complexed, refined and sophisticated) and better adapted to orientate and guide human social behaviour. The ‘plasticity’ of the brain’s processes does not end once humanity has emerged from its animal ancestry but necessarily continues at a conscious stage with the socio-historical development of humanity. The brain in evolution is only an exclusive product of natural selection in so far as it is the non-human brain. It becomes, as a totality, with the advent of human life, a socially mediated process and, accordingly, something other than a mere object of study for the biological sciences. [17]

*[Plasticity in this context is the capacity of the brain and nervous system to undergo structural, functional and reparative alterations in the course of learning and adaptation and in response to damage. Such capacities were of fundamental importance in the hominidal transition from animal primate to human and in the further onward socio-historical evolution of humanity. In this transition, the labour process was the social ground which mediated the structural and functional transformation of the brain and sensory apparatus of the ancestral primate, forming the mediating basis for the origination of speech and consciousness. The capacity of the brain to become structurally and functionally altered is an indispensable part of the learning of new concepts, skills and behaviour and involves, simultaneously, the formation of new interconnections and networks of neurons (neural networks) in the brain. The brain is continuously undergoing such changes and alterations with the formation of new, more complex, more intricate and more implicate neuronal pathways as a result of human experience and learning.]

The human brain is not only larger than that of the other species of extant Hominidae*[….] but is qualitatively more complex.These differences arise in the hominid transitional period and are further developed in the course of human social development. The human brain is thus the outcome of this prehistory, this period of extensive development but its development as the human brain per se only begins once it has come to be as a determinately human structure. This means that its further development is not merely influenced by biological processes as in its pre-human stages but now develops under the direct influence of socio-historical conditions and processes which are themselves continuously changing. The human brain itself – as material structure – is, therefore, and can only be a ‘work in process and progress’ and never subject to a once-and-for-all dead end.

*[The ‘family’ of primates including the orang-utans, gorillas, chimps and humans which are part of the larger ‘superfamily’ of Hominoidea which includes the gibbons (family Hylobatidae)]

The sociality of humanity in the making transforms the neurological functions of the animal primate brain into those of the human brain, raising them to a qualitatively more complex stage of development. The transformation of the pre-homo hominoid brain into the human brain is therefore a product of society in the making which is identical to humanity in the making. A complete development and transformation of the cerebral region* […] of the primate brain takes place. The size and inner complexity of the brain as a whole changes so that all the other brain functions become modified as a result of the changes in the cerebral region. These alterations modify and modulate the whole brain which, in its turn, gives impetus to the development of the relations between its discrete parts. The transition taking place between non-conscious primates and consciously thinking humans is simultaneously a process of neurological transformation grounded in emerging consciousness itself and the nascent formation of the human psyche.

*[The cerebral cortex is that part of the forebrain (composed of the cerebral cortex and the limbic system (a)) concerned with language, verbal skills and conceptualisation. It is the centre of voluntary muscle control and important in the regulation of consciously (voluntary) directed activities. It is also associated with the perception of melody, visual pattern and with the emotions in its unity with the whole limbic system. It is the dominant part of the human brain, being associated with intellect, personality development and the emotions]

(a) [The Limbic System is the integrated system of relationships between different structures in the human brain (hypothalamus, thalamus, cortex, sub-cortex, etc) which is neurologically important in the origination, development and expression of the emotions. (see, for example, Creager, J.C., Human Anatomy and Physiology, p. 329).]

Labour and the hand not only develop in their reciprocal relation. [A brain-mapping of the degree of functional importance which the brain accords to the different parts of the human body in its neurology has revealed the hand and speech organs (tongue, lips, mouth cavity) to be the most prominant and significant followed by the feet, sex organs and other sense organs (a)].The evolution of the labour process is the intrinsic, material, social basis for the origination and development of human social relations. And this is clearly indicated in the neurological relations between the brain and the hand. These social relations, once established, in themselves, constitute an essential presupposition for the further onward development of this labour process which – in its development – is continuously transforming and raising these relations to new stages of historical development. The origination and evolution of this complex of relations simultaneously involves the development, refinement and attenuation of the speech and sense organs whose functioning becomes increasingly mediated by conscious awareness. And, once again, we see this in the degree of importance which the neurology of the brain attaches to the sensory-motor functioning of the hand and the organs of speech.


These transitional forms of Homo, in altering their conditions of life through the emerging and evolving labour process in the course of the development of their interaction with Nature, propel themselves forward along the Homo line (leading to ‘modern man’) towards human social relations proper. In doing so, they mediate their own disappearance and the transition to the earliest modes of life of this ‘modern man’. The transitional species of Homo transform themselves into succeeding forms along the genus line in the course of their active relationship with their natural surroundings. In so doing they begin to approach the social mode of life of humanity proper whose relationships become mediated by established forms of conscious awareness. [18]

The relationship between social relations and the psyche becomes established (i.e. the transition to the establishment of this relationship is completed and its determinate existence is posited as a relatively stable relation out of the transitional period of transformation) with the completion of this transitional period. Once established, the conceptual content of the human psyche becomes subject to change and transformation on the basis of the evolution of the socio-historical process. Henceforth, this psyche develops historically in its intrinsic relationship to the history of human society. Any dialectic of the psyche can only be investigated and elaborated within the epistemological framework of this relationship between society and psyche. Once we step outside of it, this “dialectic” must sink into a scientistic elaboration and, accordingly, cease to be a dialectic of the psyche per se.

The human psyche therefore evolves as an intrinsic, organic, mediating part of the whole socio-historical process. The historical development of the psyche – in its conceptual content, structure, functions, inner complexity, etc – therefore necessarily evolves in intimate relation with the history of human society. However, at the same time, in its inner, self-reflective character and dynamic it sublates and incorporates both the social and the biological within itself, incorporating them into a new psychological synthesis in the course of its formation and psychohistorical (a) development.
The human psyche arises as a negation of the simple, pre-conscious*[…] animal awareness and is posited as a distinctly new form of awareness. This form of awareness therefore arises as a specifically human form in which ‘man in the making’ is becoming aware of being aware in the course of the process of its origination i.e. this process (sapienisation**) engenders a self-conscious being which is capable of reflection.

(a) Psychohistorical is a term used here to denote the socio-historical evolution of the human psyche proper in the course of the development of human society through its pre-class and class stages.

*[Pre-Conscious is a term deployed here to denote the forms of awareness characterising the mode of existence of those ancestral hominoids preceding the line of the genus Homo. The transition from the animal hominoid to the hominid and thereafter Homo was marked by the growing transformation of this pre-conscious, non-conscious state of awareness into that of conscious awareness. This transitional process (from the pre-conscious to the conscious) was essentially completed with the emergence of Homo Sapiens Sapiens approximately 40,000 years ago [according to many anthropologists but there are disputes over this]. This marks the completion of this transition process with the arrival of modern man, conscious, capable of reflection, self-consciousness, aware of being aware]

**[Sapienisation (aka hominisation) is the evolutionary process through which ancestral animal primates (hominoids) developed into hominids ascending to Homo and modern man. Anthropologists differ in their estimation of the point of arrival of ‘modern man’ (some postulate between 35,000 to 50,000 years ago and others further back). It appears that the extinction and/or partial integration of the Neanderthal line is thought to indicate the emergence and pre-eminence of ‘modern man’. It must be noted that the Anthropologists make a distinction between the anatomical modernity (200,000 YBP) and behavioural modernity (50,000 YBP) of Homo Sapiens] [19]

The labour process formed the material and increasingly social ground on which language and consciousness have originated and developed. Herein lies the material-social unity of the labour process, language and consciousness and its expression not simply in the human psyche as a totality but neurologically in the structure and processes of the brain itself. The production of tools and their use in the labour process as a whole has enabled human beings to transform their conditions of life. Co-operation was – from that point in the evolution of Homo where toolmaking and their use commenced systematically – intrinsic to this process. The forms of Homo, in constantly changing their mode of existence – by means of the production and use of tools – changed themselves so that they evolved progressively more towards the human line of development in the course of the sapienisation process. With the establishment of human society proper, the onward development of the labour process means that…

Not only do the objective conditions change in the act of reproduction, e.g. the village becomes a town, the wilderness a cleared field, etc, but the producers change too, in that they bring out new qualities in themselves, develop themselves in production, transform themselves, develop new powers and ideas, new modes of intercourse, new needs and new language. [20]

The human labour process necessarily involves social co-operation. This co-operation must involve the co-ordination of activity by means of language which, accordingly, must, sooner or later, have asserted itself as a necessity in the origination of the labour process. Language emerges because human beings must communicate with each other and speech – even in an emergent or rudimentary form – implies thought (consciousness or its beginnings). Speech is externalised thought and thought is internalised speech mediated through language. The distinction between language and speech here is important. Practice (activity) necessarily gives rise to word and concept. In the beginning was the deed. Word and concept mediate each other’s development and constitute a unity of opposites in the historical development of the psyche. This ‘unity’ simultaneously mediates and is mediated by the totality of human activities : practice-language-thought constitute a dialectical unity of distinct aspects of human social development.

Labour, therefore, as a co-operative social process, is intrinsic to the whole historical process. Humanity, by constantly altering and moulding Nature to its own needs, by harnessing and applying its developing knowledge of Nature, by being an active part of Nature, is always changing its relationship to Nature and thereby changing itself.

Natural science, like philosophy, has hitherto entirely neglected the influence of men’s activity on their thought; both know only nature on the one hand and thought on the other. But it is precisely the alteration of nature by men not solely nature as such, which is the most essential and immediate basis of human thought, and it is in the measure that man has learned to change nature that his intelligence has increased. The naturalistic conception of history…… as if nature exclusively reacts on man, and natural conditions everywhere exclusively determined his historical development is therefore one-sided and forgets that man also reacts on nature, changing it and creating new conditions of existence for himself. [21]

The development of human knowledge becomes, directly or indirectly, bound up with the the evolution of the labour process itself and this implies the connection of the evolution of human knowledge with production itself. Production, social relations and consciousness constitute a unity in which each conditions each other in their mutual interrelationships in the socio-historical process. The needs of production and the social anatomy of human relations are therefore closely bound up with the evolution of thought itself and later with natural-scientific thought. Thus Engels writes, in relation to scientific thought and practice, that….

From the very beginning the origin and development of the sciences has been determined by production [22]

“Determined” is perhaps rather too positivistic and “deterministic” a word but undoubtedly the needs of production and the evolution of the sciences are not separable from each other.

The human acquisition of the means of subsistence is mediated by a historically-relative and historically-conditioned understanding of Nature. In the earliest societies this understanding is, of course, very primitive. With the emergence of the different natural sciences, roughly corresponding, in their real systematic evolution, to the rise and development of capitalist society, this understanding becomes more complex with the discovery of natural laws which can be applied in the processes of production. The onset of this period of capitalist development marks a tremendous step forward for humanity in its struggle to wrest its needs from Nature. Human knowledge of natural processes becomes a necessary pre-requisite for production itself. So much so that today production would be unthinkable without the science that underpins its technology.

The human psyche, at any given point in its historical evolution, is the outcome of the entire history of natural and social development which is superseded (sublated) into the character of the prevailing, dominant social relations. Its evolution – as the human psyche per se – only commences, of course, with the emergence of human society. Its conceptual content only engendered by and reflecting the character of the dominant social relations in so far as these relations are themselves the outcome of the entire history of natural and social development, containing this entire history superseded and incorporated within them.

Accordingly, the human psyche must contain superseded and expressed within itself the entire wealth of this history. Of course, the actual history of any determinate formation only commences when it is actually posited as such. As an illustration, the history of capitalism does not begin with the Carthaginians despite the fact that they were merchant traders (merchant capital) of Antiquity or with the Jews in medieval societies despite the fact that their ghettoised communities in Europe lived by money-lending (money capital, usury) because they were excluded from and despised by the gentile feudal order. [a] Their exclusion and alienation from this order and their living by means of commodity and money capital were, of course, intimately connected. Capitalism as a system in which capital starts to dominate all areas of social life begins in the first part of the sixteenth century when capital has entered circulation and agricultural production and started to dominate production as a whole. However, that in itself can never be a denial of the truth that it or any other formation is also the outcome of a long period of prehistory despite the fact that it only emerges as a determinately distinct and new formation at the end of this period of formative development. The legacy of history remains but now sublated within the conditions and context of the new formation. It is the distinctly new relations and characteristics which now constitute its content and determine its subsequent development. The human psyche is, of course, impossible without the networking of neurons [man cannot be a consciously thinking being without the neurology of the brain] but what fundamentally determines its conceptual content is not this neuronal system but rather social relations, social being and the process of human learning and reflection taking place within this social context.

[a] The Jews in medieval societies. In the feudal order in Europe, the Jews could not hold land in fief and were also excluded from the feudally-mediated Guild system of petty handicraft. This meant that they were forced to living by trade (such as hawking and tinkering) or by money lending (usury, money capital), buying and selling, etc. Trade and usury, as they developed, began to serve to undermine the feudal order itself, acting as a dissolving influence on it. The emergence of anti-semitism in Europe in this period is associated with this conflict between the growth of commodity and money capital on the one hand and the increasingly precarious position of the old feudal nobility and declining Guilds. The Jews lived by means of money or commodity capital and therefore they were seen as the personifications of the threat to the interests of this top layer of the feudal system. This is the historical root of anti-semitism in Europe. The fact that the account of events in the New Testament were conveniently used as an ideological justification for expulsion and persecution does not mean that this persecution was ideologically rooted in that text. The text was used as an ideological cudgel to expel and massacre the Jews in the interests of the the feudal nobility and guildmasters. It is no accident of history that later pogroms and persecutions were often engineered by elements of the aristocracy in alliance with the reactionary layers of the petit bourgeoisie. Hitler’s SS was saturated with assorted princelings, barons and small businessmen. During the middle ages, England was the most anti-semitic of European countries. The massacre of the Jews in York in 1190 and the expulsion of the total Jewish population from England in 1290 by Edward Longshanks (Edward I, “Hammer of the Scots” ) were the most noted events. Edward appropriated all the loans of the expelled Jews so that all re-payments with interest went directly into the treasury of the Crown. The Jews were only formally re-admitted under Cromwell in the 1650s. He saw them as encouraging of wealth, thrifty and conducive to the development of trade and capitalism. Even today in England, in some synagogues, prayers are still said for Oliver Cromwell. We can see how the roots of anti-semitism found particular expression in the nobility and petit bourgeoisie because commodity and money capital undermined the Guild system and the ’divinely-ordained’ feudal order with the nobility seated at its apex. The Crown and nobility often had to go to the Jewish money-lender in medieval England in order to finance wars, profligacy, luxury, etc. And the conflicts of this relationship were exacerbated when loans, payments and re-payments, etc, could not be made, etc.] [23]

Thus, in so far as the psyche cannot subsist in separation from the living brain it is, in that sense, mediated by the neurology of the brain. But the human brain, never mind thinking, in so far as it is human, is itself a social product and, in this sense, we cannot refer to thinking simply as a ‘product of Nature’. The dominating, conditioning paradigm is social relations and social being since even the organ we call the human brain is only a human organ in so far as it is the creation of socially-relating humanity, i.e humanity as a social being. The human brain is not merely a more sophisticated version of the brain of the ancestral ape as Evolutionary Psychology maintains. Rather it is a qualitatively distinct organ altogether which has come into being under the influence of processes which such pre-homo hominoid* ancestors could not possibly have experienced.

*[Hominoid : any member of the Hominoidea superfamily of primates including the Hominidae (Homo, Chimps, Gorillas and Orangs), the Hylobatidae (gibbons) and all their extinct progenitors up to the point where the hominoid line commences]

The human brain itself has developed materially, no matter how minor or imperceptibly attenuated (implying anatomical and physiological plasticity) in the course of the historical development of human society itself over many thousands of years and will continue to do so as long as human beings exists at all. However, in that it is the conceptual content that constitutes the ‘substance’ of thought, of the thinking process, it is society itself that forms the ontological basis and overarching paradigm and conditionality for the origination and development of this conceptual content. As Luria remarks,

socio-historical shifts not only introduce new content into the mental world of human beings; they also create new forms of activity and new structures of cognitive functioning. They advance human consciousness to new levels. [24]

This conceptual content varies according to time and place. Thus Marx, in his famous preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, writes that….

In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness [25]

[We will need to take a closer look at method in part two of these preparatory notes.]


[1] For a general summary of the theory of the formation of the chemical elements, see

[2] Theoretical conceptions on the origin of life on Earth @

[3] Rose, Hilary., Rose, Stephen et al., Alas Poor Darwin : Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology. (Eds : Hilary Rose and Stephen Rose) Vintage, 2001. A list of scholars in the field – including Evolutionary Biologist, Stephen Jay Gould – present critiques of Evolutionary Psychology.

[4] Kivell, Tracy L. et al., Australopithecus sediba Hand Demonstrates Mosaic Evolution of Locomotor and Manipulative Abilities.

[5] Boesch, C and Boesch, H. Tool Use and Tool Making in Wild Chimpanzees. Ethology and Wildlife Research Department, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

[6] Van Schaik, C.P. et al., The conditions for tool use in primates: implications for the evolution of material culture. Journal of Human Evolution, Vol 36, Issue 6, June 1999, pp719-741

[7] ‘An important advantage that primates have in the competition for survival is their practice of living in societies which have a constant close association of young and old through a long life duration. The young learn survival skills from experienced, knowledgeable adults. The result is that by the time primates are grown, they are usually proficient in dealing with each other and the environment. While primate instinctive survival skills are minimal, their social skills are unusually effective. Acting together in groups, they often can avoid or intimidate predators. Groups of primates also have a greater opportunity in discovering and controlling food sources. The rare species in which most individuals live solitary lives are, of course, exceptions.’
O’Neil, Dennis. Adaptations of Group Living @

[8] Van Schaik, C.P. and Pradhan, G.R. A model for tool-use traditions in primates: implications for the coevolution of culture and cognition. Journal of Human Evolution 44 (2003) 645–664.…primates…/79e41508166c6f0a69.pdf‎

[9] Tonooka, R et al., Acquisition and transmission of tool making and use for drinking juice in a group of captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) Japanese Psychological Research 1997, Volume 39, No. 3, 253–265.

[10] Kuboshima-Amemori, S and Sawaguchi, T. Plasticity of the Primate Prefontal Cortex. Neuroscientist 13(3) : 229-240, 2007.

[11] Gould, E. et al., Neurogenesis in the Neocortex of Adult Primates (1999) Science, Vol. 286. no. 5439, pp. 548 – 52.

[12] Sellars, B. Tool Use. (page maintained by Steve Paxton, University of Leeds, UK)

[13] Marzke, M.W. and Marzke, R.F. Evolution of the human hand: approaches to acquiring,
analysing and interpreting the anatomical evidence. J.Anat. (2000) 197, pp121-140.

[14] Goody, E. N. (2012), Co-operation and the origins of spoken language. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 18: 461–465.

[15] Labriola, A. Essays on the Materialistic Conception of History. (London/New York, Monthly Review Press, 1966) p. 113

[16] Marx, K. The German Ideology. Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 5. (London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1976) pp.44-45

[17] Plasticity of the brain: the key to human development, cognition and evolution. Ferrier prize lecture by Professor Colin Blakemore FRS, University of Oxford and University of Warwick.

[18] Stringer, C.B. (1994). “Evolution of early humans”. In Steve Jones, Robert Martin & David Pilbeam (eds.). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 242. ISBN 0-521-32370-3. Also ISBN 0-521-46786-1 (paperback)

[19] McHenry, H.M (2009). “Human Evolution”. In Michael Ruse & Joseph Travis. Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-674-03175-3

[20] Marx. Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy. (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1993) p.494. Notebook V.

[21] Engels. Dialectics of Nature. Marx-Engels Collected Works, Vol 25. (Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1987) p.511.

[22] Ibid. p. 465.

[23] History of the Jews in England
History of the Jews in England (1066 to 1290)

[24] Luria, A.R. Cognitive Development: Its Cultural and Social Foundations. (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1976) p.163.

[25] Marx. Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Marx-Engels Selected Works. (Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1973) p.181















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