Socialism - Science - Religion

m.lepore at genie.geis.com m.lepore at genie.geis.com
Fri Jun 9 20:22:00 MDT 1995


 I view science is the process of looking for the unifying principles
 which can account for repeated patterns found in the world, to
 explain for observations in terms of causes and effects, and in terms
 of development and change.  That's WHAT it is; every other
 consideration is HOW.

 When I describe Marxism as a scientific activity, my critics often
 emphasize particular means of science rather than this fundamental
 end.  I hear two common objections:  (1) that Marxism cannot predict
 historical outcomes, and (2) Marxism cannot test hypotheses in an
 unambiguous way.

 As for prediction:  The critics demand of Marxism be something which
 no _social_ science can do at this point in time.  _Social_ science
 has more in common with the "classifying sciences" which explain the
 PAST, like zoology and geology, than it has in common with fields
 that occasionally predict the FUTURE such as chemistry and physics.
 Even the hard physical sciences are unable to predict anything when
 they have to deal with a complex multi-parameter system, for example,
 the question of whether it will be raining two weeks from today (very
 simple and well-understood principles of physics, but too many
 factors to measure and calculate).  Therefore, many critics of
 Marxian science are not only demanding of it certain things which no
 _social_ science can do, but some things which no science at all can
 do.

 As for hypothesis testing:  Although 'sociology' means 'social
 science', much of sociology has dealt with relations among individual
 measurable parameters:  income, family size, education, divorce rate,
 etc.  Marxism is not intended to be an investigation of simple
 parametric relationships.  It is an ambitious project to identify the
 laws of history, the most general relationships among technological
 tools, class structures, the family, politics and law, religion and
 philosophy.  It is intended to be a Big Picture science.

 Some of my critics argue that my description of science is
 indistinguishable from religion.  Religion, they point out, is also a
 Big Picture system of 'knowledge'.  Nevertheless, religion has no
 _data_; in place of data it has questionable hearsay testimony about
 ancient miracles.  Religious thought employs logical fallacies,
 asserting that a hypothesis is true because our parents and teachers
 said so, or because a particular book said so.  Religion selects some
 of its alleged truths merely because it is more comfortable to
 believe in them, as in the case of the immortality of the soul, and
 the heavenly reward for good deeds.  We can even identify where
 certain religious ideas likely came from, such as the 'angry
 thunderbolt-hurling man up in the sky' conception of the god,
 obviously borrowed from earlier mythologies, or the adventures of the
 powerful and brave man who had a divine father and a human mother
 (Heracles = Jesus).

 In light of this, opponents who throw out the bumpersticker-quality
 objection, "Marxism is just another religion," "Marxism is based on
 faith," are displaying a considerable amount of ignorance.

 Maybe some of this has already been discussed.  I haven't yet had
 the time to read all the previous articles.

                                    Mike Lepore   mlepore at mcimail.com




     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---

     ------------------



More information about the Marxism mailing list