MARX & PHILOSOPHY & SCIENCE & SIDNEY HOOK

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Fri Aug 4 20:12:25 MDT 1995


Remember the debate on whether "philosophy" survives in Marx?
Here's an interesting statement from 1936:

"Contemporary philosophers will find it difficult to understand
Marx's conception of philosophy.  It will become clearer when it
is realised that that despite the violent opposition betwen marx
and hegel on the place and function of phlilosophy in social
affairs there is one point on which they are agreed.  Philosophy
is in some sense a _normative_ inquiry.  In Hegel this is
disguised in the form of a rational theology; in marx it is
explicit.    The modern conception of philosophy as an analysis of
the fundamental categories of space, time, implcation, etc., would
have been regarded by Marx, at least, as no part of philosophy
proper but as problems in the logic of science.  Remove logic,
mathematics anfd thre natural sciences from the purview of
philosophy and there is nothing left as its distinctive subject
matter but the critical consideration of values. ... When Marx
speaks of philosophy he is referring to ethical, political or
social philosophy and the metaphysical disguises in which they
often masquerade.  That is why he speaks of philosophical method
as criticism."

In: Hook, Sidney.  FROM HEGEL TO MARX: STUDIES IN THE INTELLECTUAL
DEVELOPMENT OF KARL MARX.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
Press, 1962; p. 26.

The one reference Hook cites here is "Zur Kritik der hegelschen
Rechsphilosophie, Gesamtausgabe", which I suppose to be Marx's
"Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Introduction", the
published article that is often anthologized.  I see I have some
homework to do.

This passage reminds me of a debate -- I can't remember whether
private or public, but it might have been between Justin and me --
whether Marx would have recognized philosophical questions
following his rejection of "philosophy" as philosophical
questions, or just scientific ones.  Note carefully the wording of
Hook's statement.  Ultimately, as I said before, it doesn't matter
all that much whether Marx regarded general concerns in the "logic
of science" as "philosophie" or "wissenschaft"; it is the thing
itself that matters.  I immediately think of a few things that
would confirm Marx's interest in matters outside of the social
sciences, though they were not the object of his life's work: (1)
Marx's surviving outline of Hegel's Philosophy of Nature, (2)
Marx's manuscripts in the last decade of his life on the
foundations of calculus, (3) Marx's interest in the sciences noted
by Engels, (4) Marx's relation to Engels' writings on dialectics
on general including dialectics of nature, (5) Marx's unfulfilled
plan to write a general treatise on dialectical method/logic.  If
I recall correctly, Engels himself thought that the only terrain
left to philosophy consisted of general questions of logic as
applied to the sciences.  The only remaining serious question in
dispute (which I will come back to in a future post) is whether
Marx would have agreed to a idea of a general logic or philosophy
of science independent of any specific subject matter, or not.

I have admitted for some time that I am willing to concede that
the extension of our terms "philosophy" and "science" might be
different from Marx's "philosophie" and "wissenschaft", but I
don't see that it matters a whole lot to my position.

I feel embarrassed to admit I'm reading Sidney Hook, but I really
must after avoiding him for so many years.   I have a few more
quotes from Hook to upload.


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