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“Psychology”: Evald V. Ilyenkov

Leont’ev’s definition—the science of the generation and functioning of the image. This is psychology as a whole, that is, including animal psychology, or, more accurately perhaps—a definition that in its general form applies precisely and only to this kind of psychology.

The psychology of man. Maybe the question turns on how we define the concrete-specific determination of the image in man. Surely, it lies in universality. In the ability to “generate” an image of any thing—any image. From an image of perception of the simplest geometrical form to an image of “substance,” of a logical category, a moral law, “beauty,” and so on. And science, and art— all these are images (representations, represented—and executed in one or another sensorially perceptible material—forms of existence and motion) of the external world. Without this, materialism is an empty word.

The secret of “the image in general” must probably be sought in analysis of the simplest image, the simplest psychic phenomenon, the simplest product of psychic activity in which such activity first “appears.”

It is the same here as with value.

To understand what value is in general does not mean to create an abstraction within which all differences would be extinguished between a frock coat and sackcloth, between a commodity and money, between value in general and surplus value in all its special kinds (profit, rent, interest, etc.).

It is necessary to analyze the simple (historically and logically first) form of value, its first kind equal to genus.
Where is it—this “concreteness reduced to the simplest determination”
of the image, product, and form of flowing of the process that creates this image?

It is absurd to look for “the general” between the image of perception and of fantasy, between the image of representation and the image of concept. Complex (developed, concrete) images must not exist for us at this stage of analysis; they still remain to be “drawn out”—that is, understood.

We shall do as Marx did. We shall not go back into the depths of history, into an investigation of animal forms of the psyche (and of the image), for abstract characteristics are preserved (reproduced) in the ontogenesis of the human psyche, as the first stages of its development, briefly repeating phylogenesis.

Zoopsychic prerequisites are here too reproduced as its product, in their “purged” form, as truly necessary conditions of the emergence of the specially human psyche.

The first prerequisite—it would seem that this is obvious—is the ability to move about actively in space, in search of food, water, and so on. To speak of the psyche of a plant is—obviously— incorrect.

Psycology: Evald V. Ilyenkov

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