Marxism and Morality: Neo-Kantianism

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Tue Jan 23 08:21:06 MST 2001

[ bounced from unsubbed drmachinoff at , AKA John Landon.

John, your Eudora works fine you just need to send posts from your
subscribed address. les]

You approach is an interesting one, and your Aristotelian perspective
escapes my objections. Needless to say not all Marxists adopt that approach
however.  But the question is to reconcile this with the current views of
evolution that bedevil the need, as you point out, to overcome the
confusions of positivism and all that.
Perhaps enough on Kant for the moment, except as a caution to be wary of
his seminal efforts. He tends to get dismissed as a bourgeois thinker when
his gesture is  fundamental to what follows in the nineteenth century.
The issue of his Third Antinomy provides a bell whether for most theories
of history. Like shark fins circling in the water around the theorist the
thesis and antithesis pretty well skewer most efforts to produce a
consistent historical thesis that is to claim science and/or square with a
theory of evolution.
I might note in passing that Karl Popper used a variant of this antinomy to
attack Marxism, along with the historical inevitability arguments of Isaiah
Berlin. No use dismissing it as bourgeois, better to fight back with the
same weapons. And such arguments are all Kant in disguise. I was always
frustrated Marxists didn't simply turn around and use those arguments on
economic theory!  Most just froze, because the Kant perspective was
factored out. Don't concede Kant to the bourgeoisie! I say that not because
I am a Kantian but because the nineteenth century derelicts of Hegelianism
haunt Marxism endlessly and at that point the Kantian source is worth
keeping in mind.
As to noumena and phenomena, the distinction gets abstracted from its
source and soon we are debating dualism. At that point the issue has been
lost. Noumena will be rejected as metaphysical, then we are debating
Nietzsche's Will to Power (via Schopenhauer's 'noumenal'  Will) without
batting an eyelash. So it goes on.
Socialism needs something better than endless rehashs of garbled
But I have made my point, enough on Kant for a moment.
I was looking at Bhaskar's Plato Etc, and noted that it begins on this
issue, and is trying to find the way out. Note that everyone is trying to
find the way out of the same problem.
Kant's Third Antinomy is an Ariadne's thread through the maze so to speak.
You can spot where the problems will arise at once on this point.
But if you are an Aristotelian evolutionary emergentist then I suppose
indeed you escape.....

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