Science -Reply to Juan

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Tue Jul 4 20:45:16 MDT 1995


Lisa Rogers writes:

>Juan, I find it very difficult to read your posts.  It seems to me
>that we speak entirely different languages, and I don't mean because
>I'm a scientist or blinded by prejudice.

Lisa, since we both are scientists, I am positive that the problem does not
arise from this generic being we share. So it is necessary to follow this
genus into its concrete specific forms to find where does our difference
come from. And this concrete difference is what I have been developing
since my first post on the forms of scientific cognition as a concrete
historical form of the regulation of concrete intentional action. Likewise,
even in the case you were opposing your "scientist" condition to my
consequently "non-scientist" condition, I would have not faced it as a
matter of "blind prejudice." Prejudice is only an abstract name for very
concrete social determinations of present-day consciousness. So I wouldn't
have left the question in such an abstract state, but asked for the social
determination that needed to realize itself by taking shape in a prejudice.

>I'd like to take another shot at your recent post, if I can find the
>time, but we might have to start with translation.  I mean, the words
>look familiar, but I am at least unaccustomed to the way you use them
>- necessity, reproduction of reality, etc.

If you were an ordinary scientist, it would be obvious for me that you
should be unaccustomed to the way I use "necessity, reproduction of
reality, etc." But, according to your own definition, you are not an
ordinary scientist concerning these matters: some time ago you defined
yourself as a "student of Marx." And, being such, I am positive that you
have faced Marx's

"The concrete is concrete because it is the synthesis of multiple
determinations, therefore, the unity of diversity. It appears in thought
then, as a process of synthesis, as a result, not as a point of departure,
although it is the true point of departure, and, therefore, as well, the
point of departure of intuition and of representation. In the first path
[the analysis], the sheer representation was condensed to abstract
determination; in the second one, abstract determinations lead to the
reproduction of the concrete by the path of thought." (Grundrisse).

As you can see, Marx directly opposes here what he considers the proper
scientific method to "representation" and "intuition." Furthermore, he
directly says its result is "the reproduction of the concrete by the path
of thought." What's this? Isn't Marx opposing his scientific method to the
two, and only two, forms of human cognition that any present-day ordinary
scientist will say can possibly exist? And isn't Marx presenting this
really unaccustomed point of view almost in a casual way?

Now, Lisa, haven't you been stricken by these facts when you worked with
Marx text? Or have you just said to yourself, in a Ralph Dumain mood: oh,
just another of Marx's catch-phrases! Concerning myself, I was really
impressed by these facts when I noticed them many years ago. So I said to
myself, how could this uncommon distinction between "representation" and
"reproduction" be so familiar to Marx? I knew by that time that it was not
present in the classical economists. So the only path left not to close my
eyes just turning Marx's development into a pure abstraction, was to look
in the other area that Marx mastered, Hegel. So I started working with
Hegel's Logic not just with the abstract interest of seeing what I could
find there, but with the concrete objective of looking for a possible root
of Marx's opposition of "reproducing in thought" to "representing in
thought" (and for other related concrete questions).

It took me quite a lot of time and effort, but it was certainly there:
Hegel constantly points out the difference between representation, whose
development obeys a necessity external to its object, and dialectical
cognition, that follows the unfolding of the necessity immanent to this
object, albeit he is unable to avoid the appearance that it is about the
necessity of the Idea itself. Hegel does but to stick to this appearance up
to its end. He gives logic as its content, that is, as the content of the
abstractly ideal necessity, the general form of the development by thought
of the real necessity, placed not as the ideal reproduction of matter but
as the development of the real necessity itself. On doing so, Hegel pushed
representation beyond its limits. The real necessity lay there with its
strength unchained, ready to be called into action. When Marx placed this
dialectical development right side up, it was obvious for him that it was
about following the development of the real concrete by means of thought,
therefore, that it was about ideally reproducing it.

Now, what made me follow this path instead of stopping, for instance, at an
abstract condemnation of Hegel for his "In typical German fashion, not
wanting to dirty its hands with mere matter," as Ralph Dumain does? Is it
because of my abstract cleverness vis a vis Ralph's abstract prejudices?
Certainly not. It is because we personify with our respective intentional
actions two different concrete necessities of capitalist society concerning
science. And, again, it is on this concrete difference that I have been
focusing my posts about science as a necessary concrete form of the
political action through which the supersession of capitalism realizes
itself. See, Lisa, I am always following the question of the historical
determinations of the forms of scientific method until reaching in its
development the extreme concrete form that it takes in our current
discussions in this list.

But there is more to point out here. I am also positive that, given the
field you are more directly concerned with, you have specifically thought
about Marx's

"It is, in fact, much easier to find by analysis the earthly core of
religious mistiness than, conversely, from the real relations of life at
each moment, to develop their celestial forms. The latter is the only
materialistic and, therefore, scientific method." (Capital)

Rather unaccustomed, if you think about science as an analytical process
based upon separating what repeats itself from what it doesn't, to place
then the forms left through a logical necessity, isn't it? And "the only
materialistic and, therefore, scientific method"? It certainly needs to be
critically faced until reaching a concrete answer. Or have you concluded
that it is just another example of

>a lot of
>abstract talk, or talk about things in utterly abstract terms, such
>as the very idea of talking about "science" in general, that have
>limited usefulness to me.?

But, if this is the case, when the scientific method Marx uses according to
his own definition is at stake, doesn't calling oneself a "student of Marx"
becomes an abstraction? My answer is no; it is a specific concrete form
that the alienation of human consciousness as a potency of capital needs to
take by representing itself as an abstractly free consciousness.

And, Lisa, I never made such an abstract claim as

>the nature of the problem is such that you can not offer
>examples

What I said was that

>concrete examples can easily become
>pure abstractions as soon as they are isolated from the explicit
>development of the determinations they are supposed to show in a more
>immediate way. Only after these determinations have been exposed, their
>concrete forms (and this is what examples are about, albeit presented as if
>they had an external relation with their determinations) can be considered
>by themselves.

If you follow my posts you will see that I normally face a real concrete
form, and then, starting from its simplest specific determinations, I come
back to it by developing (in the very brief way that fits into current
e-mail structures) the necessity inherent in these determinations. And I
even follow this development beyond the initial form, until reaching our
own action in the Marxism list as a necessary concrete way the initial form
has of realizing its own necessity. So I am always referring to our
concrete action here, only that I don't turn each of us into an individual
abstraction, but consider each of us as what we are: each of us a necessary
concrete form through which our historically determined social metabolism
process realizes itself.

So beyond giving another shot at my posts, I would ask you to stop at any
point of them and question it about what social necessity can I be
personifying to present it the way I do. Only one condition: never take as
a final answer that which only implies a further question. If you follow
this procedure, you will find that, sooner or later, to answer the initial
question you will have to ask yourself about the social necessity you
personify to face that point in the way you do. And the cognition of one's
own necessity as the necessary form of regulating one's own action is what
science is about beyond any abstract appearance.

This is obviously not a simple task (lots of real forms to face with your
thought, with the corresponding work on texts needed to potentiate it as a
recognition process from the social point of view), since abstract answers
cannot fit in it. And it cannot be a simple task since it involves
discovering that one's own consciousness that, as a Marxist, one has
abstractly assumed it was the most unquestionable expression of free
consciousness and, therefore, the absolute negation of alienated
consciousness, actually is a necessary concrete form of alienated
consciousness that only through this same task can become the negation of
this negation of free consciousness. But how could the conscious regulation
of the social metabolism process through the reproduction in thought by
each individual of her/his own necessity be a simple task, when it actually
is the most developed concrete form taken by matter (at least inside
humankind's present reach)?

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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