foundationalism

Richard Wolff rwolff at minerva.cis.yale.edu
Sun Jan 29 15:10:42 MST 1995


To: Justin Schwartz

	I am not sympathetic to your characterization of fondationalism
and antifoundationalism as parallel to materialism and idealism. Indeed,
that strikes me as a rhetorical device aimed to find adherents to your
perspective from among those who would rather think of themselves as
materialists than idealists.

	I think of myself as a maerialist and an anti-foundationalist.
Nor am I sympathetic to your characterization of my position as involving
"confusion" or "conflation," - more rhetorical moves.

	We are here faced again with the irreducible (from my
perspective) problem that differen thinkers define and use concepts and
words in different ways. Marxists have NEVER agreed on what the couple
materialism/idealism means - any more than we can now agree on what
foundationalism/anti-foundationalism means. We have different
perspectives which are not amenable, in my view, to any foundational
definition which adjudicates amongs them. I am not confused so much as I
am different from Schwartz.

	In any case, what I want to stress is the differences among
Marxists over key epistemological issues so we can face our differences,
struggle over their implications, and forge alliances that neither deny
nor suppress those differences as has been the tendency (with disasterous
results) among Marxists in the past. We need now to fashion new kinds of
alliances driven rather by all that we have to share in terms of social
goals WITHOUT entering the trap of absolutist theoretical stances.

	That is, for me, the key underlying agenda in these discussions.

R. Wolff

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