dialectic

Hans Despain DESPAIN at econ.sbs.utah.edu
Mon Feb 20 18:38:03 MST 1995


There seems to be some interest in the topic of dialectic, I would
very much like to begin such a discussion.  Dumain offers to upload
some bibliograpic citations which would be very appricated.
Goldstein has immediately suggested a distinction between dialectics
of nature (a la Hegel and Engles, I not sure that Lukcas and the
Frankfurt school belong in this same category) and dialectic as
scientific method (Marx and Lenin).  This distinction is, I believe
to be actually quite important, and useful.  Press offers an
introduction to dialectics that is quite useful.  I especially like
the his commets on simplity and complexity.  Dialectics seem to me to
be a rather simple method to organize a rather complex world, without
taking its simplity of method for granted, while at the same not
denying its complexity.

In Dumain's post he itemizes the mentions of my post.  This is
propably quite broad, but to begin with it seems like possibly the
best way to start.  Therefore, I will take the same approach.
However, I will make my post seperate, first, in order to keep the
posts shorter so they are more convinently readable; second it is a
lot of work to address and post each issue; and especially 3) to
encourage a wider, but at the same time more specific discussion.

I suggested that possibly the first order of business is to rid
ourselves of the Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis characterization.
Dumain says that he believes no one to take this serious as a meaning
of the Hegelian or Marxian dialectic.  Boy, this has not been my
experience, perhaps it is because I am surrounded by economists and
not philosophiers.  I have had a request to send someone
personally my page on the issue, which I will, and maybe if there is
any interest I will share it with the list.

Therefore, the first order of business may be the concern of the
difficulty of expounding the Marxian dialectic as it both differs and
resembles Hegel's.  At this point in my studies it seems to me to
have more in common with Hegel's then many Marxist thinkers
(economists) care to admit.  Marx's Hegelian commitment, however,
does not mean that Marx adopts the Hegelian *speculative philosophy*,
nor is he necessarily committed to Hegel's ontology (although I have
many question about this).  The implicit ontological commitment to
Hegel by Marx is difficult to justify without a commitment to Hegel's
*idealism*, as Hegelian non-Marxists and Marxian non-Hegelians are
quick to point out.  Bhaskar and the non- Metaphysical interpretation
of Hegel (K. Hartman, T. Pinkard, T. Smith) give an interpretaion of
Hegel that is quite consisent with both Marx's exploitation of method
and critique of philosophical commitment.

In a future post I will elaborate on what I see to be Marx's
ontological Hegelian commitment, which can be termed (following
Bhaskar 1993, 1994) ontological dialectic.  This is bound to led to
paths that will be hotly contested, but the ontological commitment
must be addressed.  My main intention, however, is in hopes of
discussing the dialectic method itself.  Thus, maybe it is possible,
as best we can, to attempt to keep Marx's dialectic as method and his
ontological commitment separate discussions (though they are not
necessarily a separte issue).

In regards to method, or epistemological dialectic, I believe Dumain
to be quite correct to point to section 3 of the gerneral
introduction to Grundrisse.  The problem with this exposition of
Marx's is that those unfimilar with (epistemological) dialectics are
not able to reconginize it as dialecitcal.  In fact, I have had this
section read to me to deny Marx is using dialectic as method.  With
respect to the method of dialectic the exposition by Marx's is broad
and general.  Dumain asks how this "dovetails" Hegel?

I believe that it is very similar to how Hegel himself broadly
describes his method of dialectic in the *Phenomenology of Mind*,
which was meant as an introduction to his *Logic*.  Hegel argues that
the Mind moves from the concrete or its sense-perception of the world
and its outside objects, sense-data, to abstract thought.  The Mind
attempting to understand the sense-perceptions encounters opposition,
contradiction, paradox, interconnection, etc., indulging in several
states of epistemological experience, which moves the Mind to the
internal connections between objects, which are hidden from the
external surface, resulting in thought itself, i.e. the Idea.  This
for Hegel is the first step of the dialectic as method, from the
concrete to the abstract.

The next step for Hegel is to show that the Idea logically and
rationally emerges in the concrete world.  This second step moves
from the abstract to the concrete.  In *Logic*, this second step
shows that all the categories are internally connected in a
dialectical system of thought.  The Idea itself, through the (casual
human) power of one's *external teleology* emerges in concrete form,
as post-philosophical wisdom.

This very much resembles the broad method discription that Marx
offers in the Grudrisse.  Where Marx says he begins with the concrete
chaotic whole moves to the abstract, and from the abstract to the
concrete, now in an unified rational whole.  The 6 page passage
seems to me undeniblly Hegelian.

The problem is then to demonstrate how this Hegelian method emerges
in the work of Marx.  Hegel follows his triadic formula of
*universality*, *particularity* and *individuality* to organize and
structure his entire method and system.  Marx, however, seems only to
sometimes use such triadic formulation, while at the same time
applying an empirical analysis along with, at times, a very different
approach to Historical analysis then Hegel.

Marx, certainly rejects Hegel speculative philosophy, along with his
commitment to idealism, and the inversions that Hegel analysis
mirrors.


Hans Despain
University of Utah
despain at utah.sbs.utah.edu





















































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