Marx's rejection of philosophy

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sat Jun 3 12:31:30 MDT 1995


I can't wait for the next installment of Inigo's evasions.
Coincidentally, before receiving Juan's last post (or
re-post/riposte), I came across an interesting reference I'll get
to in a minute, but first:

>The apparent separation between cognition and practice stems
>from thenature of the historical stage of humanity's development
>in which the regulation of the social metabolism process by
>means of thought - thespecifically human regulation of the
>social metabolism process - isalienated, 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.

But in fact, there is no way to have a discussion, to write,
think, or debate, even reproduce the concrete in thought and write
CAPITAL, without being able to draw a distinction between
cognition and practice, or better put, thought and other types of
action.  This does not imply an a priori separation of the two at
all.  Such a priori separation, in fact, does apply to alienated
forms of theoretical cognition, of which postmodernism is just the
latest mutation, but theoretical cognition in se is neither
alienated from nor separated from nor antithetical to action.  I
am no advocate of such separation, and poor inattentive Juan is
attacking a straw man once again.

However Inigo may object to my linking him with Althusser, I'm
afraid his latest rant brings to mind the following quote by
Andrew Collier in criticism of Althusser (and Callinicos), which I
happened across minutes before finding Inigo's riposte online:

"Knowledge has to be sought out; it does not reveal iself
mystically to the adept of practice.  The idea that it does is
very prevalent on the left, but has an extremely suspect
genealogy.  One need only look at the use of this idea in military
and bureaucratic ideology, to prevent political questions being
asked about military and bureaucratic practices ('that is all
theory, we are the practical men, we know what is best' and so
on).  By rejecting any theory but that which is instrinic to the
practice concerned, all criticisms of existing practices are
repressed."

-- from: Collier, Andrew.  "In defence of epistemology", in:
ISSUES IN MARXIST PHILOSOPHY -- VOLUME THREE: EPISTEMOLOGY,
SCIENCE, IDEOLOGY, ed. John Mepham & David-Hillel Rubin,
Humanities Press, 1979, p. 56.

I was intrigued by the Juan's first two paragraphs -- "producing
scientific cognition as the negation of the negation of free
consciousness" and all that, but the rest of Inigo's charming
little intervention is just blowing smoke.  All of his ripostes
are evasions of the issues I take with his thesis.  Now, why do I
name his myriad citations of Marx and Lenin as invocations of
authority rather than taking them as challenges to which I must
respond?  Because these citations are all non sequitors: none
serve as steps in nor do they support Juan's argument, hence I can
only conclude that they are weapons of more-Marxist-than-thou
intimidation, not arguments at all.  I wish Juan luck in his
battle with the Agentinian ruling class and the Argentinian left,
and I hope that the Argentinian left has more on than ball, and a
better sense of humor, than ours.


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