Aristotle, and all that.

SCIABRRC at acfcluster.nyu.edu SCIABRRC at acfcluster.nyu.edu
Sat Feb 25 09:03:17 MST 1995


Charles Andrews raises a few interesting questions, to which I'll respond
briefly.

First, I completely agree that there is a very real dossage or vestige of
Platonic idealism in Aristotle.  While Aristotle reacted against his teacher,
he never quite rose above the idealist influence.  Hegel was a modern idealist,
but this does not stop us from investigating Hegel's contributions.  While it
is nice to hear Charles say that "nobody" would deny looking at Aristotle as
"background", it is precisely my experience that people simply dismiss
Aristotle as a formal logician, without ever having read a word.  My posts have
merely meant to capitalize on the fact that there is much of value in
Aristotle's work; one simply can not dismiss him for the formalist distortions
of his successors.

As for "class character"... this Visiting Scholar certainly understands and
appreciates the importance of grasping the context of any thinker in
intellectual history as a means of comprehending their significance.  But it
has also been my experience that the mere mention of "non-proletarian" class
origins is enough for some vulgar theorists to dismiss the contributions of the
thinker under consideration.  I think that my discussions of Hayek on this
board provide some evidence of people wishing to "turn a deaf ear" simply
because Hayek is not a Marxist, and hence, Marxists can't learn anything from
those outside the Marxist tradition.  (This does not apply to most of the
participants in this Discussion group, but I know some who dismissed the notion
of a Marx-Hayek dialogue as simply out-of-hand.)  So please, don't use "class
character" as a litmus test for understanding; it is important in a specific
context, but not a disqualifier.

Finally, on "misrepresenting" Lenin... Lenin DID praise Aristotle, but he also
noted his shortcomings.  I may not agree with everything Marx wrote, but I
certainly praise his contributions.  It is possible to have a "mixed" reaction
to a thinker, while appreciating their contributions.  Once again, my posts
have merely underscored the fact that the "fathers" of Marxism noted things
about Aristotle that too many Marxists today seem to forget.  We need to pay
more attention to these things.

Also... while I have quoted Aristotle on body parts, etc., I have done so
precisely because I wished to show that the "great classifier" was better than
some of his critics give him credit for.  There is a dialectical kernel in many
of his analyses which should be extracted, much as Marx turned Hegel on his
head, abstracting the formal method from its idealistic-mystical content.

All of these observations regarding Aristotle and others are part of my own
project, I admit... which is to get Marxists out of their theoretical ghetto,
to look toward non-Marxists and pre-Marxists more closely, and to build bridges
and dialogues with those who work in vastly different traditions.  Through this
process, thinkers from different schools can emerge with a better understanding
of the strengths and weaknesses of others... and of themeselves.

                                 - Chris

Chris Sciabarra, Visiting Scholar, NYU Dept. of Politics




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