Thanks, Huw. The oppositeness of the Hegelian meaning of a bunch of
words involved here, conceptions which are continued by Marxists even
those like Vygotsky who never read Hegel, is a source of a lot of
confusion. To make sense of what these people say about abstract or
concrete or whatever, you really have to take everything they write in
the context of the totality of their work, and in turn within the
tradition in which they wrote. Otherwise they read like nonsense.|
Indeed, Lenin's aphorism is quite clear and self-contained:
By "universal" Lenin means a principle or concept, i.e., something very concise, which encompasses or describes a vast process such as "modern capitalism" or "the Russian working class." The thing itself is both abstract and concrete, but any immediate expe4rience, or as you say, measurement of it, i.e., something abstracted from it, is abstract but not universal. This particular worker is well-paid, but that is not a universal; another worker may be poorly paid. When the thinker has reproduced the object (e.g. Russian capitalism) in thought (in terms of a huge book on the topic, such as Lenin's 1895 "The Development of Capitalism in Russia," he (accoridng to Marx) begins with a few abstractions, universals, such as "capitalism," "modern industry," etc., and then brings these universals into relation with each other, and the various abstract measurements (wage levels, concentration of capital, foreign ownership data, etc) and recovers an image of the object which is *relatively* concrete. The point of Lenin's aphorism, is that before you even begin to think about writing that book, you have to study life, visit the workers' districts, study the accounts, talk to capitalists, etc., etc., i.e., "empiricism", then you will probably spend a few years (23 in Marx's case) before you are ready to write your Magnum opus.In order to understand it is necessary empirically to begin understanding, study, to rise, from empiricism to the universal. In order to learn to swim it is necessary to get into the water.
Does that make sense?
Huw Lloyd wrote:
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