Re: [OPE-L] status equality

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Feb 18 2005 - 13:17:05 EST

At 9:20 AM -0800 2/18/05, Ian Wright wrote:
>Hi Rakesh
>>  Too innatist for me, I think. This fungibility and universality may
>>  be a historico social result, not a given of human nature. In some
>>  sense the potential for such pre-existed its actualization, but in
>>  what sense?  What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for the
>>  actualization of these causal powers.
>If we took an infant from 17th century fedual France and deposited it
>with a family in northern California in 2005, would that infant be
>able to become an electrician, a nurse, a software engineer; or would
>it only be able to develop the skills necessary for peasant farming?
>Of course we can't perform this experiment, but I'd hazard a guess to
>the outcome!

But what about an adult? I am wondering whether the kind of
fungibility that a dynamic capitalist economy demands can be taken as
given in human nature. For example, at the social level, fungibility
will be greater to the extent that language is uniform. But there may
also be questions at the ontogenetic level and early childhood
development? I simply do not know.

>We know there is something quite complex that is innate and invariant
>(so far) over historical time periods, which is the genetic basic of
>humanity. It's an enormous amount of information and wisdom zipped up
>in our genes that enables and constrains our social development.

Wisdom in our genes? To me that is a peculiar expression

>  This
>genetic basis enables the development of highly adaptable animals that
>may be socialised into an existing body of theory and practice.

Again perhaps necessary but not sufficient condition for high adaptability.

>  Our
>mental machinery or hardware must be such as to support the ability to
>run all different kinds of knowledge software, from theories about how
>to wire up buildings, to theories about the economy and the society
>There's a lot of work been done on the kinds of mental machinery that
>separate us from the animals.

But that's not all that separates us. It may be necessary but not
sufficient; the divide is a historical product. I am interested in
historical accounts of perception, cognition, powers. Isn't this what
Marx called for in his third Paris Manuscript?


>  But I'm afraid I haven't read any of the
>authors you mention on historical materialist views of human nature.
>There will be a point soon when we will begin to reprogram our genetic
>basis. That will raise very interesting questions about what human
>nature really is ...
>I think now that I have not answered your concerns, or not addressed
>them. What's wrong with innatism, anyhow? Some form of it cannot be

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