dialectic and principle of identity

Hans Despain DESPAIN at econ.sbs.utah.edu
Wed Feb 22 10:45:52 MST 1995


Goldstein writes that the four step Hegelian 'principle of
identity' that I offered "loses the richness of Hegel's metaphysical
language."  Yes, I think you are right.  But first before
explaining, let me say that I have been highly influneced my the "non-
mtaphysical interpretation of Hegel (see Klaus Hartman, Terry Pinkard,
and Tony Smith) therefore I perfer to be very cautious with the
use of the term metaphysical.

Now, this is "four step" not meant to describe the dialectic per se,
but to outline a partial of his *speculative philosophy*, i.e.,
his 'principle of identity.'  The dialectical step are especially 2
and 3, which, if we were to dialectical open this up, Hegel negation,
and negation of the negation would emerge in all of its "meta-
language" and form.

Then, again Goldstein points out that Marx has a problem with the
forth step "X is X after all."  Yes, again I think this is correct.
But to state this is simply to identify that Hegel's conculsions are
conservative and suspect.  The Young Hegelians argue that Hegel sells
the dialectic short, by simply taking its radical potential and
coming to conservative conculsion for simply political reason.  They
seem to argue that they only have to take the dialectic from Hegel's
conservative hands to release its radical potential.

Marx in the third *Philosophical and Economic Manuscripts* argues
that it is Feuerbach alone that is able to see the problem is within
the *speculative philosophy* itself (this is one point that Colletti
is quite correct about, when he says that Engles holds to this old
Young Hegelian critique and fails to understand Marx's more esotric
critique).

Therefore, my point is that Marx does not only have a problem with
step four of the 'principle of identity,' but with Hegel's entire
*speculative* application of it, i.e., step 1, 2, 3, and 4.  This is
because Hegel from the beginning identifies and unites in there
difference; "thought with being," "subject with object," and
"infinite and finite."  The "materialist" is not willing to take this
for granted, or as slight as seemingly Hegel does.  Remember, thought
is the predicate.

I can't say too much about Althusser, but the articles I have been
able to work thourgh seem to miss not only the essence of Marx method,
but the essence of Marx's critique of Hegel.  What Althusser terms
(ackwardly) "over-determination" seems to beg for a dialectic as
method (doesn't?).  I think that Colletti has a much better, and more
difficult critique to tackle.  Tony Smith, however, conforts Colletti
quite well in his *Dialectical Social Theory and Its Critics* 1993,
and he has an article out on the same issue *?* (?).


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


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