Dialectical Materialism again - reply to Mark Lause

David McDonald dbmcdonald at comcast.net
Sun Jul 27 17:56:35 MDT 2003

Engels once commented that the revolutionary core of Hegel was not to be
found in his system, which M&E regarded as reactionary, but in those
occasional flashes of insight which Engels thought pointed to a
revolutionary conclusion missed by Hegel himself. Engels distrusted the
whole apparatus of systematizing, considering it in general plodding work
that usually led to the enthronement of errors.

M&E believed in creating their works from the ground up, literally, taking
as assumptions nothing but the plain facts of mankind and nature, and adding
categories only when justified. Thus Capital begins with the simplest, most
immediately palpable thing and arguable unit of the system--the commodity,
and develops all the other categories by plumbing that original one to the
depths. This is Marx's way of avoiding unwarranted assumptions.

Their experience with world views was not positive.

In general it is easy to see the truth of this in other fields where we are
not committed to any particular orthodoxy. Take psychology. Clearly, the
system-creating of Sigmund Freud is light-years behind those revolutionary
insights into the unconscious workings of our brains for which he will be
forever remembered, long after the last Freudian psychoanalysis patient has
shuffled off the couch.

David McDonald

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-marxism at lists.panix.com
[mailto:owner-marxism at lists.panix.com]On Behalf Of Mark Lause
Sent: Sunday, July 27, 2003 2:00 PM
To: marxism at lists.panix.com
Subject: RE: Dialectical Materialism again - reply to Mark Lause

Actually, I think "historical materialism" was not intended to be a
full-blown world view.  It arguably extended the approach of earlier
writers like Vico.  In contrast, the concept of "dialectical
materialism" represented the entrenched doctrines of the German social
democracy, then the Soviet regime.

I always suspect these high church litanies myself.

Mark L.

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