Most people think that abstraction begins INSIDE of people’s heads after they’ve sorted through sense data. But following the Russian Marxist Vygotsky, Alfred Sohn-Rethel argues that abstraction is social BEFORE it becomes psychological. There are very interesting relationships between the use and exchange of coined money and the increase in abstract thinking in philosophy in the ancient world. So too, the production of abstract labor and the fetishization of commodities affected scientific epistemology in early modern Europe.
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