[Marxism] Rosa L. replies to RL and LK (@Tom)

Tom Cod tcod at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 7 13:28:06 MDT 2009


hmmm . . . the origins of private property, family and the state by Engels?  Clearly human ideology, including "common sense", has material roots in the evolution of humankind as does the much maligned "pragmatism", a new word for an old way of thinking I think William James characterized it, but worthy nonetheless, like "trial and error" or the "scientific method" more generally, unless we work backwards, like "Ptolemaic" medieval astronomers and creation scientists from conclusions and precepts to cherry pick facts to support our particular shibboleths.  It's good that, to the extent I'm following you at this point, you're not doing that, as I've seen plenty of sectarian ideologues do that over the years.  
Also, to say that scientific theory has material roots, does not mean that it must have a "class character" in some mechanical way, except perhaps in a more broad way that for example, Galileo's ideas were part of the world outlook of the rising bourgois or merchant class in conflict with the ossified feudal world etc.(and which Henry VIII's destruction of the monastaries was, for good or ill, part of)  Otherwise we wind up like TD Lysenko and end up wrecking the independent scientific research and work that is needed to advance society.  Metaphysical assumptions? hey, if you're living in a primitive hunter gatherer society, those suppositions, based on the level of empirical knowledge of the world available to humans at the time and their level of scarcity that did not have surplus enough for specialized division of labor, surely seemed not too irrational and were precisely rooted in those material conditions and level of literacy.  
To give the devil its due, however, certain ideas are metaphysical to this extent, even though they arose in a certain material context, they can be proved as mathematical or geometrical proofs without direct reference to the physical material world, whose relations they are an abstract expression of.  In fact, now that I think about it, all ideas are metaphysical theories to the extent they are human ideas, the question is to what extent do they approximate and accurately reflect reality.  God in Heaven,  well, maybe not; the history of all hitherto society is one of class struggle, the fair approximation which "social science" can aspire to; 2+2=4, a reflection of reality to what we call a "scientific certainty" although nothing is necessarily immutable I guess.

> From: xxxxxxx99 at xxxxxxx.xxx
> Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2009 16:54:02 +0000
> Subject: [Marxism] Rosa L. replies to RL and LK (@Tom)
> To: tcod at hotmail.com
> 
> 
> Calm down Tom, I think you’re jumping in on the discussion a tad late. It's not a question about you or Rosa ‘accepting’, in the abstract, the historical roots of Aristotle's logic. The question Rosa answered, abstractly and only too evasively, by saying “it came from aristotle, so what?”, was “where does logic come from Rosa?”. It wasn't a question of ‘facts’, and I could care less as to how we should label Aristotle, and labeling seems all that Rosa can do. It's about explaining these social material roots by investigating what were the material neccesities which gave rise to the common assumptions and concepts which logic starts from, because otherwise one is bound to get lost in an opinionistic maze of ahistorical abstractions and tautologies. 
> My point was that Rosa's pseudo-Kantian (Kant, “the philosopher of the french revolution”, Marx called him) "quibble" with the metaphysical obscurantism of the dialectic is only done from an abstract ahistorical point of view. To start criticizing metaphysics with pure logic one has to show first that logic pressuposes no metaphysical assumptions (which only unfortunately for the pure formalism of Rosa, it does,) for practical purposes, let's just say these are 'un-provable' assumptions from which logic must start from. Unless you want to say that criticizing ideas for being metaphysical with another metaphysics is reasonacle. These are justified, Rosa claims, by being ‘common-sense’ or ‘clear’ (like Rosa’s paraconsistent and deontic logic, or Ludwig’s tractatus), but this is shibboleth. It’s to start from the purely formal, unconscious, and uncritical standpoint. Where's the historical necessity, where do we see an argument which shows how these assumptions were necessary for the materialization of labor?
> It’s hardly a simple problem I admit, and at no point do I mean that the investigation, which is empirical and scientific, should be dismissed as saying that logic is ‘abstract’ just like that, that's why I referred to the literature, and that involves dealing with the atomism of analytic philosophy. I think a critique of this is well-argued in the beginning of Errol Harris’ “Formal, Transcendental and Dialectical Thinking”.
> As for the common sense assumptions and concepts, I referred to the work of Alfred Sohn-Rethel which argues that the abstrat mode of thinking derives from the real abstraction of exchange (it being abstract because exchange must be separated from use,) leading all the way up to the fetishism of intellectual labor, do you have a better suggestion?
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