Philip Goldstein pgold at
Fri Jan 20 06:45:11 MST 1995

	Marshall Feldman poses an interesting issue about
overdetermination: "It seems to me that any SINGLE concept
of overdetermination must carry a whole lot of baggage (some individuation
of the world, some notions about causality, some notions about human
consciousness, etc.).  In short, specific versions of all the stuff that
Rorty and his ilk want to deny Philosophy can offer.  I agree with his
argument that Philosophy can't be the master narrative, but I also think
any concrete assertions about society necessarily presume some answers to
these traditionally "Philosophical" questions."
	I think that overdetermination only works in particular contexts.
What it tells us is the many areas, forces, influences, etc., which go
togther to produce or explain a particular historical event, literary
text, or other work. In other words, it resists the Marxist master
narrative whereby history evolves by necessary stages to its final state.
In that sense, it is compatible with Rorty's critique of master
narratives. Why concrete "assertions about society" must necessarily
commit an analysis based on overdetermination to a traditional
philosophy, I don't know. Does this claim assume that any concrete
analysis is always anti-relativist? anti-skeptical? e.g., foundational?

Philip GOldstein


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