dialectic and principle of identity

Jukka Laari jlaari at tukki.jyu.fi
Wed Feb 22 13:11:05 MST 1995


On Wed, 22 Feb 1995, Hans Despain wrote:

> 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.

Don't let 'metaphysics' disturb too much; dirty old men have done rigorous
work on Hegel before that non-metaphysical turn. It's just 'the Spirit'
(as an absolute one) that tends to change little by little so that we
easily feel that this or that interpretation is 'passe' or old-fashioned.

> 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.

Hmm? Yes, I believe that too. To consider dialectics only as method (like
something external tool in relation to thinking) easily passes the fact
that categories and concepts essentially do contribute to the thinking
processes - that's sort of idealistic reminder, but remember that Marx
honoured Hegel quite a lot. I'm not sure, but isn't the good old 'work of
concept' (labour of concept?) something, which made its tricks despite of
our will? (Marx of course could've reminded that it's the real social
processes that do those tricks to our concepts and categories via
thinking processes...)

Who remembers "Intellectual and manual work" by Alfred Sohn-Rethel? I
was waiting that someone would pick up that work in relation to
dialectics. The argument (if I remember it at all anymore) is an
elaboration of Marx's in Capital concerning the 'dialectical'
relationship of work and thinking. It's systematic marxist attempt to
cover the evolution of thinking. (There's an English translation of it
from the 1970's, I believe.)

Secondly, Gillian Rose's "Hegel contra sociology" delivers quite tough
critique of Marx (and of sociology, of course): Marx didn't grasp
Hegel's concept of activity, ergo: the lack of concepts of subject, of
culture, and of Bildung in marxism. That have caused serious problems.
Not only in a sense of economic reductionism, but in a sense of blank
spot concerning modern culture in general and especially the role of
culture in the ordinary lives. I'm afraid it's because of that lack that
there's now such a deep and powerful un-dialectical 'post-structuralist
/ modernist' tendency in philosophy and in human/social sciences. Sort of
'it's easy to dismiss Marx's thinking in general when one notices some
failures or problems with the teacher' -logic... On the other hand,
because of that one-sided tendency, I think, there's nice possibility to
contrast two or more forms of contemporary critical thinking. Or is that
all just a sign of the weakness of the left? (Rose's book is from late
seventies or early eighties.)

Any ideas? Comments?

Jukka Laari


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