m of care – apr 27 (2023)

Talk on E. V. Ilyenkov “Personality and Collective”

64 min video – apr 27 2023 – [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2k4xQ82xcU]


what is personality


“…The power of personality is always individually expressedas the power of the collective, that “ensemble” of individuals which were ideally represented, the power of the individualized universality of aspiration, needs, goals controlling it. This is the power of the historically accumulated energy of many individuals, concentrated in it, focused, and therefore capable of breaking the resistance of the historically obsolete forms of human relations, opposing the rigid templates, stereotypes of thinking and action, fettering the initiative and energy of people.”

Evald Ilyenkov, “What is Personality”

In this forthcoming translation of an essay from 1979, Ilyenkov critiques a number of traditional approaches to personality in psychology, philosophy, and popular culture, and presents his own synthesis. His essay is a rich exploration of Marx’s suggestion that a person is “an ensemble of social relations”. In this session we explore this essay, with questions and examples from a range of sources. Together we will try to grasp what it could mean to be a self in a collective.


  1. E. V. Ilyenkov. What is personality? translated by Giuliano Vivaldi
  2. Finding Ilyenkov: How a Soviet Philosopher Who Stood Up for Dialectics Continues to Inspire by Corinna Lotz, 2019
  3. Who Are The International Friends of Ilyenkov by Corinna Lotz

Kyrill Potapov @KyrillPotapov is an organiser at the International Friends of Ilyenkov. He is a researcher in Human-Computer Interaction at University College London with an interest in social practice, agency and learning.

Corinna Lotz @CorinnaLotz co-founded International Friends of Ilyenkov and wrote Finding Evald Ilyenkov: how a Soviet philosopher who stood up for dialectics continues to inspire. She helps organise the Real Democracy Movement.

notes/quotes from meeting:

corinna: on his contribution to the development of philosophy.. of dialectical logic.. ‘nature performs thru us as human beings’.. his concept of ideal.. was that it was a collective human imaginary.. not just in mind but a real thing.. committed suicide in 1979.. we get to know ourselves thru others..

corinna: where is the personality.. oscar wilde ‘only shallow people who do not judge by appearances’.. deep truth of this.. artists can grasp essence of personal by penetrating thru appearance and bring out essence of personality.. they can see things others can’t see

kyrill: personality two narratives 1\ unchanging core/soul.. place of birth et al.. irrelevant.. mystical view

corinna: 2\ genes.. bio view.. one ily really struggled against.. because meant predetermined.. to him.. both seem to make it permanent from beginning

kyrill: 3\ existentialist view.. society pressing down on us.. norms forcing us.. individual resists that and express own freedom.. ily says opp.. the social plane not flat.. and personality is where you lock down.. so actually in every expression of personality .. taking all this multiplicity and putting it in form of individual

it is me.. et al

infinitesimal structures approaching the limit of structureless\ness and/or vice versa .. aka: ginorm/small ness

art-ists and bot-ists ness

13 min – kyrill: hegel’s view.. the prison and breaking out.. hegel’s master/servant dialectic assumes a loop between two people..master relies on slave to treat him as a master and vice versa.. we recognize each other and then recognize self thru someone else.. not introspection.. .. sartre sees it as an imprisoning thing ‘hell is other people’

wilde not us law et al

15 min – kyrill: constant inner struggle of taking in other’s perspective.. in hegel’s term.. battle to the death.. constantly trying to assert who we are.. but what here is a dyad.. this back and forth and ily wants to see it only as a starting place.. and wanting to invert that as well.. to actually escape from this sort of prison/hell.. emphasis on fact that there’s a third.. a social world in which we are relating to each other thru activities/objects..

16 min – from dyad to concrete multiplicity.. to model this in the vigotskian way.. you’ve got me in a relationship w other mediated by tools and activities .. all these physical objects.. have 1\ me, 2\ other, 3\ tool (physical objects)..

didn’t catch this till end when it was restated by corinna.. but yeah.. need the tool now.. because need means for global detox/re\set

[see 6 min video here: gabor on authenticity & attachment.. where he talks of the tension between a&a (1&2?).. and so to me.. the need for a tool (#3) to facil our detox on global scale.. aka: everyone in sync law et al]

so to me.. tool need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs

imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness)

me other tool

nonjudgmental expo labeling.. monika on ai

17 min – so it’s not a dyad because we’re at the same time being effected by all of our relations often in complex ways at same time in all directions..

corinna: infinite world.. personality a dynamic singularity.. can’t be any copies of.. but constant movement in change because in infinite world.. ‘unity and multiplicity’ – marx.. as a spiral.. child grows up w/in wider social world.. arrows show constant interaction inner to outer and vv..

maté trump law.. brown belonging law..

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

kyrill: ie: wizard of oz.. cowardly lion changes.. end .. turns out to be brave.. the bravery was inside him all along.. for ily.. the unconscious is not this thing in the brain.. it’s a network across people and environments.. so discovered he was brave thru quests in that world.. he finally feels like self and recognizes self.. but only in his activities.. so only relevant in a social context.. not just two minds connecting.. he really is acting brave.. et al.. so for ily .. personality is a system of forces.. one opens it up for others.. not just someone else allows me to see world in a new way.. has to do w our feelings and value world has for us.. changes how we relate not just to other person.. but to whole world..

corinna: this interaction between us and others thru objects is what allows us to take into ourselves this complex landscape that exists outside of us.. can bring about very dramatic transformations.. not just changes.. ie: occupy.. people beginning to see selves in new way.. by what they’ve experienced with others and thru eyes of others.. reflecting on these changes.. and how they can bring about not just changes but leaps.. absolutely vital when thinking about trying to change the world.. t

what we need most from ai/tech as tool (1\ self 2\ others 3\ tool) – expo ness to org ginorm/small data.. ie: listen to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & use that data to connect us

infinitesimal structures approaching the limit of structureless\ness and/or vice versa .. aka: ginorm/small ness

(tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness) ..

corinna: perhaps you could suggest what today could change and encourage the power of personality

if every voice (itch in the soul) was heard 1st thing everyday (before externals trump that itch) and used as data to connect us.. aka: if we all could listen deeper/nonhierarchically

corinna: we’re born into world we don’t choose and don’t know that much about it .. or the possibility of escaping from that

hari rat park law et al

kyrill: how to allow power for personality is social experiences.. can’t be done in a lab or training in gym

nika: question about ai.. about tools/artifact.. and what is art.. i don’t know so much about ily.. but david and i into vigotsky

need: ai as augmenting interconnectedness..

kyrill: ily says a lot.. ie: art sort of structures like social norm.. van gogh’s starry night.. students first thinks it’s happy.. then we talk about it and they see it’s a sad painting.. they develop capacity to feel something new in interacting w same object.. expanding their personality

gabor on authenticity and attachment

corinna: very important seeing world thru another’s eyes which is what artist helps you to do

kyrill: on ai doing labeling.. t

corinna: mystery of black box on mystery of ai.. computers don’t have bodies so don’t have feelings.. can make them very dangerous

but too.. can have tech w/o judgment

to me.. like kyrill mentioned ‘on ai doing labeling’ i think that’s all it can do.. but as opposed to us.. can do it in a ginormous/small way.. which is what we’d need for a global leap/reset

nika: to close.. talk more about ily for people don’t know about him

kyrill: he drew a lot on spinoza, hegel, marx, .. vigostky later.. when people pointed out to him that v has been saying what he’s been saying.. particularly interested in contemp ed approaches.. on zombies reproducing same old thing.. he’s interesting because at that time.. he was challenging how things were .. also a philosophy that could change things.. he felt a lot of animosity and .. was very unhappy w situation.. i don’t read into his taking his own life

kyrill: he was trying to work w deaf/blind school w v’s ideas.. he developed friendships w people who had graduated and been successful.. and point made .. every marx should be interested in disability.. if socialism.. what would look like if no age.. ness.. but disabilities.. w/in them.. can we challenge that and think about changing.. so he was interested in this school

corinna: his final yrs anguished because he was not allowed to do what he wanted to do as a philosopher.. he wanted to change ed in soviet union to help people become what they could.. on ifi.. and wanting to be a revolutionary project.. we try to incorp the widest possibility of spectrums.. the fact he studied ai in his own time.. he was really up to speed.. the concept of human beings developing thru tools.. has enormous potential..t

esp since we all need exponetiated global detox.. to get to legit/covered/whatever personalities

infinitesimal structures approaching the limit of structureless\ness and/or vice versa .. aka: ginorm/small ness









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