Sartre & God (was Re: the mature Marx?)

Carrol Cox cbcox at SPAMilstu.edu
Tue Dec 26 08:37:46 MST 2000


This and the next two posts were written yesterday but
the ISU server went down for some reason.

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky wrote:

> I don't know if a
> truly working "philosophy of praxis" can be anything but genetic.

I'm thinking of the tendency to explain a 'thing' by its
origin, that if you understand the acorn, you understand
the oak. Marx places the emphasis precisely when he notes
that "The anatomy of man is a key to the anatomy of the
ape" and does *not* add that the anatomy of the ape is the
key to the anatomy of man. The latter would imply an
utterly mechanistic view of evolution. This theme runs
through the *Grundrisse* and *Capital*. It is also Gould's
central argument in *Wonderful Life*. Only because we
*are* homo sapiens, because we *know* the anatomy
(structure) of man can we know that it is implicit in
the ape. But there is no necessary reason that the ape
would have evolved into man; the same ape *also*,
for example, evolved into the Chimpanzee. Under other
conditions (or contingencies) that ape which is the common
ancestor of man and chimpanzee might have evolved into
neither but into primates which (in fact) never existed but
might have as easily as chimp & man.

Similarly, a scholar who had a total knowledge of human
history from the beginning to (say) 1300 but no knowledge
of anything after that time could *never* discover in that
history its future in capitalism: there was no *necessary*
reason that capitalism should have developed. Many
contingencies lie between the acorn and the developed
oak. In the case of idenical twins their position in the womb
has an influence on their development, so that in fact there
is no such thing as "identical twins."

There may, of course, be a purely verbal difference here --
that is, a difference in how we understand or use the
word "genetic."

Note: When Gary's post on Bhaskar & religion appeared,
there was no necessary reason that it should have led to
a discussion between you and me on an alleged "genetic
fallacy."  <g>

Carrol







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