The Dialectic, was Judging and Not Reading

Chris Matthew Sciabarra cms10 at
Mon Aug 30 09:56:17 MDT 1999

Just a few comments on Doyle Saylor's post.  Doyle claims that Marxists
"are realists, and the libertarians depend upon a basic otherness of the
mind, a non-reality partition of liberty from the world itself."

While I think some libertarians do succumb to the idealist strand, it may
be surprising to learn that several do in fact endorse a full-bodied
ontological and epistemological realism.  Menger was a realist in the
Aristotelian tradition, as was Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard.  Rand, in
fact, shares much with the Marxist philosophical anthropology insofar as it
begins with the primacy of existence (and the radical dependency of
consciousness on existence).

Doyle also comments:
>    The Libertarian that I have most closely paid attention to has been Noam
>Chomsky.  Secondarily, Paul Feyerabend.  From Feyerabend I absorbed the idea
>of "incommensurate Intelligences" which term resembles the comment Chris

Interestingly, Rand praised Chomsky for his critique of the behaviorists,
and while she was savage in her criticism of Feyerabend, HE actually quite
liked aspects of her work.  A forthcoming book on Feyerabend discusses his
attitudes toward Rand.  He once said that Rand "is much better than most
academics," praising her ability to express philosophy in "juicy tales full
of sex, industrial espionage, murder, mystery, and at the climax introduces
her beloved Aristotle (ATLAS SHRUGGED -- a story I read with considerable
pleasure).  And Aristotle, as far as I can see, by far exceeds all existing
'thinkers' in versatilityand depth. I prefer her to Derrida and Foucault
any time."

Doyle is correct that "there is much about the gay rights movement that is
libertarian."  I find it very interesting that Doyle roots this in "a
historical connection to theories of consciousness like the Aristotle
discussion of the dialectic."  But the charm of Aristotle's defense is that
it is a realist-grounded attack on Plato's idealism.  Terence Irwin has
written quite nicely on how Aristotle was one of the few philosophers to
have effected a genuine synthesis of realism and dialectic -- a synthesis,
by the way, that very much influenced Marx and Menger.

Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Visiting Scholar
NYU Department of Politics
715 Broadway
New York, New York  10003-6806
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