marxism, science and economics

Jonathan P. Beasley-Murray jpb8 at
Sat Nov 19 12:35:32 MST 1994

On Sat, 19 Nov 1994, LEO MEEKS wrote:

> i am not so sure, for example, that marxism has any commerce
> with the regulative concepts of a philosophy of science, for example
> epistemology and ontology.


> Marxism is first of all an economic critique: a critique of economies of
> language, the polis, the strictly economic, and so forth.  Marxism cannot
> participate in discourse as a positive science and still be critical.
> For example the minute marxists cease participation in the social
> revolution it devolves into revisionism of some sort.

I don't think I can agree with this.  Partly more or less on principle, I
shy away from statements beginning "Marxism is" let alone statements
beginning "Marxism is first of all."  As in the discussions about
splitting the list (or not) it soon becomes clear that marxism
encompasses a whole range of discourses (by now at least), including
philosophy, social critique, discourses on science etc.

I further wonder about the implications of Leo's metaphor of commerce,
and how he would work through it: surely Marxists don't tend to limit
their critiques in this all to disciplinary way, and engagement is not
commerce.  Leo's reformulations of a discourse of epistemology seemed
precisely that: reformulations rather than the disengagement that his
concluding comments seemed to suggest.

I don't think that using terms such as epistemology and ontology makes
one a "positivist scientist," not by a long shot--and certainly not the
way Huseyin, following Bhaskar, was trying to do so.

[sidetrack: And what is the "strictly economic" anyway?  One of the things
I've learned from Marx and marxism is that such "strict" divisions are

> leo


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at


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