Rhetorical Gestures (was Re: Spivak sez...)

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Fri Oct 15 08:27:17 MDT 1999



Lenin agreed with you on the need to reiterate the history of philosophy in current
study. The efficient basis for this is  Hegel's _Phenomenology of Mind_  , according
to philosopher and Hegel specialist James Lawler, who has an article on this I can dig
up.

Perhaps each modern generation must go through its struggle with neo-Kantians. Lenin
critiqued the neo-Kantians such as Mach ( who inspired Einstein in part) in
_Materialism and Empirio-Criticism_ . I think the critique of today's neo-Kantians (
how many generations of neo-Kantians have there been ?) will go more quickly if we
know the history of critiques of neo-Kantianisms.

So, I agree on not dumping the past and not reinventing the philosophical wheel.

I think some key elements of Kantianism are agnosticism and dualism. This is
replicated in today's postisms that go on and on regarding our only being able to know
our thoughts (languages and mental structures) and not really being able to cognize
any objective reality or things-in-themselves outside of our subjectivities ;  in
other words, interminable, fundamental , critical ,epistemological discussions.
Kantianism , as dualism, flip flops back and forth between idealism and materialism.
Engels terms it shamefaced materialism. As materialism is atheism, this is a form of
agnosticism.

By the way, the flip flopping is also characteristic of Liberalism , so it fits with
Kant being the ultimate philosopher of Liberalism. Liberals were progressive relative
to Feudal conservatives. As Yoshie points out, we'll see whether anti-feudalism has
anything to contribute at the beginning of the 21st Century.

The post-moderns dwelling in Kantianism is ironic also , because Kantianism is sort of
summary modernism, age of reason, enlightenment.

Kant says "Can we know the world ? Can we think validly? Think critically. " Hegel
says "Just do it. Think."



Charles Brown

>>> Dennis R Redmond <dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU> 10/14/99 05:41PM >>>
On Thu, 14 Oct 1999, Charles Brown wrote:

> But isn't a better negative critique of the national-juridical
> foundations of capitalist society found in Marx and Engels than Kant, as
> well as the positive critique ? And it seems strange that the area of
> Kant's weakness, racism/nationalism (see Yoshie's posts on PEN-L on
> this) is what Spivak uses him for.

Hegel transcended Kant, and Marx transcended both, but they didn't do this
by simply dumping the past and starting all over again; you have to think
through that past, acknowledge it, work through it, and then finally act
consciously to change it. Marx sat in the library and read the bourgeois
economists, and that's why he was able to construct a theory of capital.
Similarly, Spivak is trying to read the, shall we say, neo-Kantianisms of
the comprador bourgeoisies around the world in a radical light (whether
she's succeeded or not is another question).

-- Dennis











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