Despain & texts on dialectics

Hans Despain DESPAIN at econ.sbs.utah.edu
Fri Mar 10 10:28:18 MST 1995


Tony Smith is does not find my interpretation of his book:
*The Logic of Marx's Capital: Replies to Hegelian Criticisms*
justified, I myself also *do not* find my interpretation justified as
Smith is reading my comments.  I wrote on March 9, that "I find that
Smith's argument, with its ground in the non-metapysical
interpretation of Hegel, though capable of offering better
ontological grounds, remains rooted in first (seemingly) Hegel's
external teleology, and second some sort of dialectics of nautre,
which appears to be out of phase with both Hegel and Engels."  Smith
continues by insisting that he has not committed Marx's systematic
dialectics to either Hegel's ontology, historical dialectics, nor
dialectics of nature.

I think I did not make myself very clear on this issue.  Smith is of
course absolutely correct to point out that he explicitly
distinguishes between systematic dialectics and historical
dialectics, and in fact this is central to his interpretaion.
Moreover, no where in Smith is it explicated that Marx is rooted or
committed to any sort of Hegelian "external teleology."  I do not
mean and did not mean that Smith had committed Marx's method or logic
in this way, and in fact he certainly has not.

My comments where more general then this, and especially in reference
to Bhaskar.  Tony Smith is mentioned two times in Bhaskar's
*Dialectic*, both with the comment that Smith only expounds Marx's
and Hegel's "epistemological dialectics."  Now, my reference is not to
say that any of the writers or authors of the non-metaphysical
interpretation are committing Marx to Hegel's ontology, I am simply
trying to understand myself what must be the ontological grounds that
Marx might have been committed, to justify the use of dialectic
as a systematic ordering of categories?  And for that matter, what is
Hegel's?

Also I like Smith believe that Marx is *not* commmitted in any
explicit and possibly not in any implicit way to dialectics of
nature.  Engles and others have attempted to commit Marx to some
dialectics of nature.  This is exactly why they are out of phase with
one another.  I don't know that Bhaskar can accomplish this task, nor
do I necessarily believe that this is so cruical for dialectics, I
merely have question on the issue.  It seems to be a special case of
the possiblity of naturalism.

Marx seems to have some sympathy for this issue, but I agree with
Smith that this does not commit him to dialectics of nature in any way
for his use of dialectic as a system of categories in *Capital*.

I am also not sure that Hegel's *external teleology* need be given a
historical interpretaion?  Hegel argues that external teleology
allows humans to achieve further self-consiousness and self-
determination.  It is in this sense that it seems Marx must be
committed to a similar view to argue for "socialism" and against the
alienating forces of capitalism.  Perhaps I am not correct about
this, but it is something I am working on now.  My premise is that
Marx must be committed to some ontological potentiality to justify
his position.  Maybe this is more metaphysical then I would like to
believe, or maybe it has to do with a interpretation of human nature.
But I think that it is more likely that Marx is committed to some
sort of ontologicial potentiality.

The connection that I see to Hegel is to his external teleology.  As
I have said this need not mean that Marx adopts a historical
interpretation.  My view is that Hegel's external teleology is always
progressive, but Marx's notion or perhaps reformulation of
alienation, developed by way of Feuerbach, allows that Hegel's
"external teleology" need not necessarily be progressive.

I draw an anology from interpretations of evolution to make my
point.  Similarily to Darwinian evolution, many thinkers are
committed to a view of "survival of the fittest."  However, one need
not have such a view to have a theory of evolution.  It can be
completely accidental to, and contingent on, how spieces survive and
evolve.  Similarily, to be committed to an "external teleology" it
need not necessarily be progressive.  In fact Marx's theory of
alienation makes such a view contingent on many social factors
involved, and perhaps accidental.  Fellini has mentioned in pervious
posts, that perhaps the term teleology (external or otherwise) is not
the term to use, I think he is correct about this.  But my intention
is to suggest that it is still adopted and developed from Hegel,
which does not mean that it remains Hegelian.

Finally I would like to say that Smith's book has been extermely
valuable to myself.  It and the non-metaphysical interpretaion of
Hegel have had great influence on my views.  Smith's book should be
on the top of anyone's reading list.  My question to Smith on his
excellent presentation of the epistemological logic of Marx, is what
is the ontological or perhaps metaphysical commitment to justify the
use of systematic categorial dialectic, shouldn't there be such a
ground or justification?

Therefore, my issue with Smith's book is not that he has committed
Marx to any historical dialectics or dialectics of nature but that in
fact he has not done so, this in my opinion leads to many questions
on these issues.  There are many philosophical problems and issues
that remain unresolved.  I don't know that Marx meant to resolve such
issues, but it does seem to me that Bhaskar intends to attempt this
task.


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