BHASKAR: REDISCOVERY OF REALITY

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Wed Sep 6 08:21:59 MDT 1995


Thanks to the person who forwarded Neville Spencer's review of
_Critical Realism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Roy
Bhaskar_ By Andrew Collier, and the other books.

I had no idea that there was a school around Roy Bhaskar.  I would
first like to know who the other members of this school are.  Has
anybody out there read Collier's book?  I haven't seen it around.

I believe Bhaskar makes a number of important points, summarized
in this review, which ought to be reiterated time and again in
hopes of penetrating the pervasive fog of obscurantism.  However,
I have my doubts about his novelty and originality.

For example:

>Marxists have often found themselves alone defending the idea
>that there do exist laws of the social world which can be
>discovered and understood in a manner similar to that by which
>the natural sciences render the natural world comprehensible.
>Bhaskar points out that those who oppose this view do so because
>their understanding of the nature of the natural sciences is
>incorrect in the first place; their attempt to apply that
>misunderstanding to social sciences servess only to throw their
>original confusion into sharp relief.  It is the acceptance of
>an essentially positivist understanding of science which has led
>to the rejection of science as a means to understand society.

This is true so true, though it is hardly an original contribution
of Bhaskar.  Perhaps if I had published all my polemics on this
subject over the past two decades, I would be considered a new and
original philosopher.  But it is not only a fault of non-Marxists,
but of Marxists and other leftists who have no comprehension of
science save for the usual positivist stereotypes: Habermas,
Marcuse, the anti-Engels crowd, most of "Western Marxism".

>Identifying the commonalities which have been shared from Plato
>to Hume, Kant and Hegel and through to post-structuralism
>demonstrates their common errors rather than their insoluble
>problems.

I should like to know what these are.

>In particular their error is their common lack of conception of
>a type of realism with enough depth to avoid the persistent
>dilemma of philosophy.

I should like to know more about this deep realism.

>The importance of critical realism is vindicated in Plato Etc by
>its ability to deal with such a broad range of issues and to
>bring coherence to such a complex history of ideas.

This I would like to see.  Perhaps Bhaskar seems so original
because philosophy is so reactionary it has obscured possible
perspectives which ought to be obvious to those not spayed in the
course of socialization into the profession.  I don't disagree
with what I have read so far, but it all seems like commonplaces
however uncommonly uttered.


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