Materialism

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sun Feb 18 22:38:51 MST 1996


>Much of what is written of Feuerbach is through the lenses of
>Marxism and Hegelianism, hence Feuerbach is either seen as a
>stepping stone for understanding Marx, or as a minor (mutated)
>neo-Hegelian (respectively).

I don't know much about how Hegelians view Feuerbach, but I think
you are right about Marxists.  Yet I don't think that Marxists
even understand in what sense Feuerbach is a stepping-stone, for
they have conceived the problem of what was wrong with Feuerbach
too narrowly, as they have conceived too narrowly what Marx meant
when he wrote that the point was to change the world, not just
interpret it.

What is enduring in Feuerbach is in urgent need of investigation.
I just acquired Wartofsky's book after protracted searching in
various bookstores in more than one city.  I haven't read it yet.
I am itching to pick it up, but I can't until I have the time to
fully engage it.

>What do you think of the idea that Feuerbach has some sort of
>relational sociology?

I am not competent to answer this question.  I am only an egg.
Therefore, I would like you to explicate this idea.  I can't say I
know what a relational sociology is, either.

>Usually Feuerbach is critiqued for an ahistorical and asocial
>conception of human beings or human nature.

It is in the historical and social nature of Stalinist shits to
mischaracterize the inadequacy of Feuerbach.  I can't remember if
Althusser did this too, but this lying sack of shit proceeded by
the same means that all Stalinists do, by denying the Hegelian
terms in which and only in which it is possible to understand
where Feuerbach went wrong.  The problem is not human nature,
human essence, or species being per se, but rather the relation
between abstract and concrete, and the failure to concretize
general abstract notions so that they could mean something
specific in relation to real social processes and praxis.  Petty
bourgeois Hegelianism was caught in a contradiction.  The Young
Hegelians could not apply their own method to themselves nor to
society beyond the elementary tasks of fighting semi-feudal
theocracy.  They all knew that whatever cannot become concrete
must exist in abstraction, and yet they all practiced abstraction
over concretization.  They could not follow through, because they
were trapped in their own social contradictions.  Marx and Marx
alone broke through.  Yes, Engels broke through also, but on
another front.  In matters of political economy and socialist
thought Engels was in advance of Marx and this is no doubt why
Marx admired him so, but Engels did not have the philosophical
depth of Marx (though he should not be underestimated either), and
did not engage the tradition on his own to the depth that Marx did
in order to overcome it.

Yet Feuerbach inaugurated, even if only as a pale abstraction, a
new era in the realm of philosophy, its meaning, and function, and
the role of intellectuals.  He could not finish what he started.
But to lose what he accomplished, to lose its full dimension, is
also to disappear the full meaning of Marx's transcendence of
Feuerbach, which means not merely to fight the revolution and
revolutionize political economy, but to revolutionize the totality
of relationships among intellectuals, thought, and society and to
attack the crippling effects of the antagonistic divisions in
society on all its members by attacking its foundations in the
division of labor.

I'm so good I can't stand myself.


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