DIALECTICS, SAYER, BHASKAR, MURRAY -- REPLY TO DESPAIN

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Wed Apr 12 02:13:04 MDT 1995


Hans Despain (Sat, 8 Apr 95 17:58:51 -700) sez:

>I haven't had a chance to read Sayers as of yet, except for your
>summarizes.  I am a little concerned with his seemingly heavy
>relience on the *German Ideology*.  This phase of Marx's
>dialectic relies too much on historical necessity.

What?

>But, I would agree with your summary that it is especially here
>Marx distances from Hegel, or materialism from idealism comes
>out in colors.  But, by the time *Capital* is published I think
>that it distorts Marx's >conception of dialectic.

What?  Neither this nor the explanation that follows (*not cited
here) makes sense to me.

>Marx remains committed to a notion of *materialism*, and there
>remains a distinction between materialism and idealism, but it
>wouldn't be put in the same place, and the distinction may
>become a bit more blurred.

What?

>From the *German Ideology* history has a necessity against the,
>reformulated Hegelian, notion of "estrangement."  Which in
>*Capital* is reformulated to "commodity fetishism," which has
>almost ahistorical presentation.  Take a look a *Grudrisse* the
>section on method, Marx states that it would be mistaken to
>order the categories as they occer historically.

>In the *German Ideology* I read contrary to his statements in
>*Grudrisse*, he presents and grounds everything historically,
>and communism is no longer a moral philosophical struggle, but
>in fact is historically on its way.

Not a word of this argument makes sense to me, and furthermore,
your concerns strike me as shallow as your reading of Marx.  I
really don't want to be unkind, but after suffering through Dick
Howard this evening, I am bothered by what you consider to be
significant intellectual endeavor, though I don't doubt your
sincerity.

Furthermore, the last sentence quoted above distorts the purport
and content of _The German Ideology_, IMO.  You arbitrarily and
impermissibly read your own anxieties into Marx.  Your thinking is
very sloppy in your assertions about grounding, and your (not
Marx's) dualistic polarity of the historical necessity and the
morality of the struggle for communism.  You are not doing any
real intellectual work here no matter what you pretend, and I'm
getting pissed off.  I don't get paid a nickel for any of the work
I do in this area, and I don't have a PhD or even a Masters in the
appropriate disciplines, but at least I have coughed up some
references to and abstracts of substantial work on Marx.  I think
I can differentiate intellectual substance from philosophical
channel-surfing.  I am losing my patience with the latter approach
to Marx.

And in general, I find you obtuse in your responses to the
arguments of others on this list.  Is this because you are in a
rush (as I often am), and you lack the time to read other people's
posts carefully?

>I think Bhaskar is much more interested in attempting to
>institute an "objective standard" (my term, borrowed from H.
>Putnam) that is rooted in ethics.

I see.  You are disturbed by Machiavellian amoralism, and not only
do you search for a philosophical antidote, which you believe you
find in Bhaskar, you believe Marx himself needs this serum, not
just those Marxists who have come under the sway of Stalinism and
its deadly mutant Maoism.  And yet your playing with ontological
categories strikes me as a rather tame and superficial timewaster.
If Marx did not take the time to articulate a distinct ethics,
then why don't you elaborate one that grounds itself in reality,
instead of wasting time with this foolishness?

>Ralph I was wondering if you could possiblly expand on Sayers
>reference to Murray, how does he present the conception of
>Marx's use of "Essence Logic?"

No, I can't.  I already gave the page number (93), and the
information there is sparse.  But I can give you the bibliographic
reference to Murray verbatim (the citation style is unfamiliar to
me):

Murray, P.  (1983)  Marx minus Hegel: further discussion of Sayer,
_Philosophy of the Social Sciences_ (13).

I believe I mentioned Marx's use of the doctrine of essence in
another recent upload, re Gareth Jones?


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