DIALECTICS -- FURTHER SOURCES & COMMENTS

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sun Mar 26 11:36:16 MST 1995


I just want to mention a few other works relating to dialectics,
historical materialism, Marxology, and Engels-ology which ought to
be disucussed further.

Someone recommended to me a couple of weeks ago of Bertell
Ollman's DIALECTICAL INVESTIGATIONS.  My belated thanks to this
person.  I omitted this book from my original bibliography only
because it had already been discussed in recent posts, but I
certainly recommend it as well.  Most important is chapter 2,
which I believe was called "Putting dialectics to work".  It was
adapted from a lengthy article in RETHINKING MARXISM which caught
my eye a few years back.  It is important because it views
dialectics in the light of the process of abstraction, a decisive
issue which is customarily neglected.

Recently I also mentioned the work of Jindrich Zeleny and Leslek
Nowak, but I have nothing further to report.

Here is another book I just dug out of storage:

Sayer, Derek.  THE VIOLENCE OF ABSTRACTION: THE ANALYTICAL
FOUNDATIONS OF HISTORICAL MATERIALISM.  Oxford; Cambridge, MA:
Basil Blakcwell, 1989.

I have just read the preface only, so there is little I can say.
But if someone could review this book here, that would be useful.

Beamish, Rob.  MARX. METHOD, AND THE DIVISION OF LABOR.  Urbana;
Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992.  x, 196 pp., [1].

I think I mentioned this one before.  It seems to be an important
innovation in Marxology, because it focuses on Marx's actual
intelelctual work process, and his method of assimilating
empirical material as well as deploying logical frameworks, and
fills an aching void in studies of Marx.  I don't think any
serious Marxologist can afford to neglect this book.

THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO MARX, edited by Terrell Carver.
Camridge University Press, 1992.

I include this collection of essays for a couple of reasons.  One,
it contains an essay by Lawrence Wilde, "Logic: dialectic and
contradiction".  Two, it presents a picture of how a certain
segment of people want to present Marx now.  They take such pains
to dissociate Marx from the picture of Marx bequeathed to us by a
century or more of Marxism, we should see what they have to say.
Of course, one might well be skeptical of this
bending-over-backwards to repudiate what is known as 'Marxism' as
of the "Marxism' thus displaced, but one is bound to learn
something important.

Jones, Gareth Stedman.  "Engels and the end of classical German
philosophy", NEW LEFT REVIEW, no. 79, May-June 1973, p. 17-36.

I am going to review this essay in depth as time permits.  It
crystallizes and concatenates some of the most important issues we
have been considering: Hegel and the dialectic, the Hegel-Engels
relationship, the Marx-Engels relationship, dialectics of nature
and history, and perhaps most important of all, the unfinished
state of historical materialism as Marx and Engels left it.
Regarding this unfinished state, instead of blaming Marx and/or
Engels for what happened later, it seems to me, if blame is the
name of the game, we ought to blame the German Social Democratic
Party to begin with.

In conclusion, I have an impression, from all the literature I
have whizzed through beginning from February on, of a certain
image of Marx and Marxism, of the role of abstraction in
constructing the world-view of historical materialism, of the
admittedly unfinished and also UNDOGMATIC state in which Marx and
Engels left it, and of the partial validity as well as serious
flaws in the various schools of Marxism that have have grown up
justifying themselves round various interpretations of the
dialectic.  I don't have time now to adumbrate my image of Marxism
for you, but someday this information should be consolidated into
a new introductory or summary 'textbook' on Marxism to replace
what is out there, especially the pulp literature published by the
various socialist parties, which in the USA are moribund anyway.



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