Fwd: moral philosophy and Marxism? & Diamond

Nemonemini at SPAMaol.com Nemonemini at SPAMaol.com
Wed Jan 17 23:37:52 MST 2001


It is interesting to tie in the Diamond question with the Moral Philosophy
and Marxism question.
Having summoned up Kant and ethics, it is also worth reading From Rousseau to
Lenin by Lucio Colletti, essay, "Rousseau as a critic of Civil Society". Cf.
159 where Colletti discusses Kant's essay on history, Idea for a Universal
history from a Cosmopolitan View". This is closer to the usual view of Kant,
perhaps.
This tiny essay by Kant raises the issue of  'asocial sociability' in that
work, with its controversial ambiguity and suspected influence of Adam Smith,
and this term is almost a code word that conceals it meaning. This is the
reason Kant is often factored out of a Marxist perspective because Kant tends
to be seen or taken as, shall we say, a 'bourgeois apologist'.  This rising
influence of Adam Smith, open or disguised, (cf. Hegel's cunning of reason),
is of course precisely what Marx was the first to note and comment on, he
could see the various ways in which confusion was entering social theory as
ideology, so obvious in Ricardo.  This perspective in Kant is really an
orphan in his system, and has only secondary status, yet it tends to displace
any consideration of the critical starting point before Hegel. Find a short
summary of Kant, and look up his antinomies, especially the Third Antinomy.
This is the key, but the key is a contradiction. This dragon has bedevilled
the whole of social theory as it tries to 'find science'.   
But Kant escapes by the skin of his teeth, although the damage is done,  for
a close reading of his work shows that while he is allowing the idea of
'asocial sociability' to enter (and his views are quite conservative now by
leftist standards), the essay as a whole is really asking a question,
deferring the answer to the future. 'What shall I do with this black sheep,
asocial sociability'? For he can see, or sense, that something is missing or
awry in this injection of the tare called 'asocial sociability' into his
thinking beside his ethical system (debatable questions). So it is a question
of Kant, no doubt, being misunderstood.
This seems recondite, but it is a crucial essay, for Hegel's philosophy of
history is really the first attempt to produce a resolution of Kant's
question.
That's my point about Diamond. I was sorry to criticize his book, unfair no
doubt, but one can ask, what is the basis of his view of history? Darwinian
incoherence? Kant's question, in spite of its apparent teleological cast, is
really asking for some 'accounting of history', say as causality. It sets a
standard, as a question. This point is totally lost on Darwinists, who
propose purely random solutions. One might read Stuart Kauffman's At Home in
the Universe, with its theme of self-organization etc, for the belated
realization that there must be somesuch factor. Exobiologists (Cf. the recent
Here Be Dragons) are also in this category, for they must ask, what is the
source of life, is it cosmological, etc...Same belated realization that the
whole issue is still a question, and one that hasn't been answered. Cf. also
P. Davies, The Fifth Miracle.  But there is a further twist, that Kant
contributes, as we derive causality we encounter the contradiction of
freedom, at least in 'human evolution'.  Thus randomness, causality, free
activity, all are required in a unified theory. And any Darwin influenced
history is likely to fall out of sync with the facts as we see them in world
history, and drive theorists to find random contingencies as the explanation,
which doesn't work...
This question of Kant's essay, is quite topical, it's a small world!!! Cf.
Robert Wright's current book, and the quote at my site.
So, Diamond is ambiguous. If you want to graft sociobiology onto Marxism,
where do you draw the line?  Now consider Robert Wright's quite confused Non
Zero. Please note that he quotes from Kant's essay, to produce a hodgepodege
of sociobiology and Kant, equating asocial sociability, economic competition,
natural selection, and the whole bit about 'ethics and Axelrod's evolution of
cooperation'. That really is a hodgepodge. How he had the nerve to do that I
don't know. But it is a blatant case of the old strategy.  Kant was no
Darwinist. He will convince zillions now otherwise. A clear case of money
producing thought in Darwin groupies. Ideology in action.
Now consider my version, sorry, published just before Wright's (hmm). The
resolution of Kant's challenge is completely different there, and, I think,
allows a solution to the problem. The only solution is to look at history for
some element of 'causality in the large', macroevolution, and relate this to
the freedom theme.
This seems tricky, take it in small doses,  but you can get your bearings by
seeing the interplay of 'freedom and causality' in Marx, as he extricates
himself from Hegel, but with a version of the answer to Kant's challenge. It
is worth noting, also, that even Karl Kautsky has this idea, so it is not an
exclusive issue of Neo-Kantians. But all these themes swirl around in a cloud
of confusion.
Everything seems to start with Rousseau via Kant, and the invisible influence
of his short essay on history, that set a tidal wave in motion.
In a message dated 1/16/2001 10:50:10 PM Eastern Standard Time, Nemonemini
writes:

Recently came across a book called Kantian Ethics and Socialims, by Harry
Van Der Linden, which is interesting. In part because of the confusions of
Neo-Kantianism and the compromise issues created by Bernstein, irrelevant
to this question, and the whole confusion of that era, this lost tribe of
Marxists has been forgotten, but it has an interesting angle on the
relation of Marx and ethics.  The relation of is-ought to historical
theories and the basis of revolution is latent in Kantianism, received in
history at the moment classical liberalism was still revolutionary as
'economic freedom'. Linden brings out this latent relation very nicely.

John Landon
author
World History and the Eonic Effect
nemonemini at aol.com
http://eonix.8m.com


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Recently came across a book called Kantian Ethics and Socialims, by Harry Van
Der Linden, which is interesting. In part because of the confusions of
Neo-Kantianism and the compromise issues created by Bernstein, irrelevant to
this question, and the whole confusion of that era, this lost tribe of
Marxists has been forgotten, but it has an interesting angle on the relation
of Marx and ethics.  The relation of is-ought to historical theories and the
basis of revolution is latent in Kantianism, received in history at the
moment classical liberalism was still revolutionary as 'economic freedom'.
Linden brings out this latent relation very nicely.
A lot of these Kant-Marxists just got wiped out in the rise of the Nazis,
and deserve a moment of silence. A  lost world.
Cf also Goldman's Immanual Kant, for these issues, a cautionary by a Marxist
about NeoKantians, and a fine view of Kant's view of history....
This is to simply remember this corner of Marxism existed, not necessarily to
endorse it.  
Also, consider Philip Kain, Marx and Ethics, and the author's realization
Marx was in some ways closer to Kant.
&
Marxism, Morality and Social Science, by Pfeffer.
John Landon
author
World History and the Eonic Effect
nemonemini at aol.com
http://eonix.8m.com

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