[Marxism] Partisanship and Objectivity in Theoretical Work
cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Thu Mar 16 14:25:43 MST 2006
Charles, My problem with this line of thinking is that it systematically
confuses objectivity with neutrality. One can take sides and be
CB: I'm not clear on what line of thinking you are referring to. Cornforth
takes the same position that you do: One can take sides and be objective. In
fact, Cornforth's position is that one _must_ take sides to be objective.
So, I assume you mean the line of thinking that Cornforth is criticizing
"systematically confuses objectivity with neutrality ?
Neutrality, in contrast, is ideology. Instead of yielding
objectivity, neutrality hides distortions of knowledge. The ideologue
distorts theory to bring about or deny a process or outcome. The scientist
employs theory for many purposes, but does so in an objective fashion. Too
many so-called scientists are of course ideologues. But that is not what
science should be (and ought concerns do not make one an ideologue). I
don't believe that the meaning of the term ideology has changed among
CB: Well, Cornforth is a Marxist , and he is using it differently than Marx
and Engels used it in _The German Ideology_, for example.
Putting all this another way, if one means
by ideology "interested knowledge" then I understand the argument, but
believe that is to misuse the term ideology, at least as I understand
Marxists to use it. I consider myself to be a partisan and a scientist.
I do not consider myself to be an ideologue. Nor do I consider my work
to be ideological. Others may disagree, of course. Andrew
CB: I have no problem with your retaining the classical usage for
"ideology". I think that Cornforth's usage clearly is intended to be
different than that classical usage. With that in mind, his whole essay is
very good stuff. His important point is that a scientific work must be
partisan to be objective, the opposite of the standard bourgeois idea on
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