Marx's rejection of philosophy

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Thu Jun 1 22:17:41 MDT 1995


According to some comments, the following post might have not emerged
successfully from last week problems with the list, so I am reposting it
now. I apologize to those who have already seen it.

*******

Ralph Dumain has promoted me from Althusserian to Stalinist! Actually,
Ralph hasn't shown any urgency in accepting he was wrong when he ran to
assume an Althusserian nature to my critique of philosophy as an historical
form, although I was saying from the very beginning that it was about the
overcoming of the representation of reality by the reproduction of reality
in thought as the general form of scientific cognition.

Even my "bulshit tattle, etc." (just to be brief) has gained a new status
in Ralph=B4s world. Now I

>write ...
>like a snotty conceited party bureaucrat, or
>worse, like a professor.

I have never been either of these. Does it mean I should consider myself an
autodidact too? After all, almost 2/3 of the time I was a student at the
university occurred under the direct rule of a military dictatorship or of
an ultra-right intervention. Imagine what I was supposed to formally learn
at that time. Since then, I have remained outside the academic world. I
have advanced for many years into my findings concerning the development of
science as a necessary concrete form of political revolutionary action on
the basis of facing in my daily work the limits of social planning as a
concrete form of capital accumulation and by critically facing the question
about socialist or communist parties failing to survive as significant
political forces of the Argentine proletariat.

But no, I do certainly not consider myself an autodidact. I just personify
the specific social necessity of producing scientific cognition as the
negation of the negation of free consciousness (that is, as an alienated
consciousness that is aware of its own determination as such and,
therefore, overcomes itself as such alienated consciousness). And this
social necessity needs to take shape through the intentional action of
individuals that tend not to fit in academia nor in present-day political
parties, as both of these are determined to incarnate alienated
consciousness as if it were its own apparent absolute negation, that is, as
an apparent abstractly free consciousness.

So I do not feel the vanity of the autodidacts, that need to go on boasting
about their

>lack of
>affiliation with or even respect for any academic institution or
>political party

after showing they are convinced that everybody else owes them reverence by
calling "insolent" anyone that faces them with arguments they do not know
how to deal with in a rational way.

Now, concerning my

>>Scientific cognition is the most developed form of the conscious
>>regulation of human action, as it attempts to relate in thought
>>the real forms by reflecting their real determinations.

Ralph writes

>Are you defining the goal of science as the regulation of human
>action?  In other words, pragmatically?  The goal of science is to
>transform the world for our use?  How about understanding things
>we can never change -- the Big Bang, the formation of galaxies,
>etc.?  I'm rather suspicion of your characterization of science.

I will get directly to the point leaving aside all the connotations implied
in equating "the regulation of human action" with "pragmatically."

It is no secret that the development of terrestrial mechanics has gone hand
in hand with the development of celestial mechanics. It happens that, to
discover (whether through the ideal representation or the ideal
reproduction of reality) the necessity of a concrete form of matter one is
attempting to consciously transform, one needs to face it under the most
abstract forms that are relevant to this transformation. Today, particle
physics has reached a point where the relevant abstract forms of matter it
has to deal with are such that they only become apparent when it faces them
in the so-called Big Bang and in the formation of galaxies. Any reader of
Scientific America knows that the models of quantum mechanics need to be
tested against the models of the Big Bang.

In Marx and Engels' words: "..., in this conception of things such as they
really are and have happened, any deep philosophical problem comes down to
a plain and simple empirical fact. Thus, for example, the important problem
of the relations between man and nature ... disappears by itself when faced
with the awareness that the very famous "unity of man with nature" has
resided always in industry, taking it one modality or the other according
to the grater or lesser development reached by industry at each time, ..."
(The German Ideology). And Marx stresses this again: "Industry is the
historical _real_ relation of nature (and, hence, of natural science) with
man; this is why, when industry is faced as the _esoteric_ unveiling of
human _essential powers_, the _human_ essence of nature or the _natural_
essence of man is also understood; on doing so, natural science loses its
abstract, material, or rather idealist, orientation, and it becomes the
_base_ of human science, in the same way it has already become (though in
an alienated way) the base of real human life. To give _a_ base to life and
another to science is, thus, beforehand, a lie." (1844 Manuscripts)

The apparent separation between cognition and practice stems from the
nature of the historical stage of humanity's development in which the
regulation of the social metabolism process by means of thought - the
specifically human regulation of the social metabolism process - is
alienated, turning itself into a concrete form of the autonomous regulation
of this process by the production of value. Only in this historical stage
can scientific cognition appear denying its true immediate condition as the
necessary form the regulation of conscious action takes. Moreover,
scientific cognition can even appear as the very denying of action, as its
abstract opposite, in other words, as theoretical cognition.

As Ralph does not go beyond this appearance he cannot see in my "what is to
be done" the otherwise obvious necessary step that opens any conscious
action, but a suspicious

>invocation of Lenin's
>... catch-phrases as authorities.

Had Ralph thought a little more, he would have noticed that someone that is
pointing out how Marx discovers the limited scope of logic to appropriate
in thought the real determinations and how he overcomes it in Capital by
reproducing the real necessity instead of representing it through a logic,
would never seek for support in Lenin.

By the way, calling the quotations where Marx explicitly points out the
specificity of his method, or his irreducible critique of philosophy and
logic,

>invocation of ...
>others' catch-phrases as authorities.

is only a very poor way of avoiding facing them and giving an answer for
their reason. There is no need to be in academia to know it.

Ralph prefers instead to decide that what Marx says "is not Marx" and to
produce his own "Marx," a fantastic "Marx" in whose name Ralph consecrates
"philosophy," the abstract "natural science," and the even more abstract
"vast concern over objective reality" at the same time he expels the
(according to him, "narrow") "instrumentalist view of human thought and
action" that the real Marx himself presents as his concrete scientific
findings, to the field of "ideological bluffing and posturing and Stalin
and Mao all over again." In Ralph's complete words:

>You see,
>Justin, this Stalinist horseshit is exactly what is at stake when
>ones tries to narrow Marx down into a tiny corner, where
>philosophy, natural science, and the vast concern over objective
>reality disappears in favor of a narrow instrumentalist view of
>human thought and action, which is not Marx though he was
>revolutionist above all else.  It is ideological bluffing and
>posturing and Stalin and Mao all over again and I say it's got to
>be finished off once and for all, because it has done us more harm
>than any lacunae in Marx's thought ever did.

Ralph Dumain has spoken: the development of science as the concrete form
taken by the regulation of conscious action towards producing the community
of the freely associated individuals "is got to be finished off once and
for all"! The self-declared pride of the autodidact openly shows it has the
spirit of the ukase. And the uncompromising autodidact has suddenly become
an "us." "Us" who? Marxists that turn Marx's revolutionary overcoming of
the limitations of scientific cognition inherent in theoretical
representation and philosophical interpretation by developing for the first
time "the reproduction of the concrete in thought" into a representation
itself, and then, into an interpretation of the world? If this is the case,
of course, Ralph is right. Only that, is it really about "lacunae in Marx'
thought" or is it about the apparent lacunae needed to force philosophy
into it that are produced by turning it upside down to achieve this end?

It would be really enlightening if Ralph or anybody else could present
quotations from Marx himself (not second-hand interpretations, even those
by Engels) where he says something concerning he is doing philosophy, using
a logic (dialectical or just in general), or that any of these fit into his
dialectical method, or that the result he obtains is a representation of
reality, or a way of interpreting reality.

I will consider some further points in Ralph's reply in separate posts
during the next days. I will also send my paper to those who have asked for
it during this week. By the way, a last observation. To my:

>>I can send via e-mail to anyone who may be interested a copy of
>>my paper "Capital's Development into Conscious Revolutionary
>>Action: Critique of Scientific Theory,"

Ralph comments:

>Hmmm, revolution by scholarly paper.

Since Ralph has agreed with me about the revolutionary character of
Capital, which of course falls in the category of scholarly papers, this
can only be taken as an expression of self-incoherence. But wait, maybe
Ralph wants to make real concerning revolution the dearest dream of
autodidacts: not a single further research on revolution must be written so
each individual will be forced to develop his/her revolutionary
consciousness as an original process of cognition, not just from the
individual point of view (as it is obviously necessary whichever the case),
but even from the point of view of society itself. No Ralph, the regulation
of revolutionary action as a process inherent in collective consciousness
still has the written result of individual scientific research about the
relevant real forms as a necessary material support.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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