My purposes in joining this list

V600A8E6 at V600A8E6 at
Mon Nov 20 07:08:09 MST 1995

On Sun, 19 Nov 1995, Robert Peter Burns wrote:


>        1. that there are serious problems with adopting a dogmatic,
>        physical-reductionist, scientism reminiscent of 19th materialism
>        in today's intellectual and scientific context <see the last of
>        my posts on "vulgarities">;

Peter, thanks for the autobiographical note.  Now, Marx and Engels do
not embody any of the characteristics mentioned in your first point.
They went to great trouble distinguishing between their materialism and
previous materialisms.  And, because their work is thoroughly
dialectical, they always avoided reductionist views.  True, many
contemporary "scholars" misinterpret and misrepresent Marx and Engels.
But this is not news.

>        2. that it would be better to read Marx in a more humanistic/
>        Aristotelian/Hegelian spirit--as many more recent views of Marx
>        suggest we should <and on the basis of Marx's own texts, too>
>        --so that we can handle problems about ethics and the role of
>        reason in history, in logic and mathematics, and in science
>        itself in a more satisfactory way.  You know the kind of thing:
>        we are human beings, not just collections of atoms <humanism>;
>        matter is never without "form" <Aristotle>; we are not just
>        animals, we are rational animals <well, some of us are, I hope>,
>        and our rationality unfolds and develops historically and socially
>        <Aristotle as corrected by Hegel>;

Marx, and Engels in particular, went to great lengths to discuss both the
similarities and differences between animals and humans.  They emphasized
the qualitative differences between animals and humans and they never
viewed human beings as mere collections of atoms.  Also, content and form
were always viewed in dialectical relation to each other.  Again, true,
many contemporary "thinkers" misinterpret and misrepresent Marx and
Engels.  Finally, just as we must not separate Engels from Marx, we must not
presume, as many do, that there were two Marxs, the humanistic and the

P.S.  while our rationality does unfold and develop historically and
socially, so do many irrationalities.

Shawgi Tell
University at Buffalo
Graduate School of Education

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