Re: [xmca] New Polls Are Open: Park your swords at the door

From: Victor (
Date: Wed Nov 09 2005 - 13:01:23 PST

Yo Mike and everybody,


On, fencing* and dirty-Jewish practicality:

I certainly concur with AS on the importance of context in interpreting the
reference to fencing, literary and sword-assisted, and the use of the phrase
"dirty-Jewish" in the sentence of the "Ad Feuerbach" that ends "while
practice is conceived and defined only in its dirty-Jewish form of

 Regarding fencing, the context was more or less dialogue which is a duel of
sorts in which theses are proposed, countered with contradictions and the
contradictions countered with further considerations, the whole process
eventually leading to a product that unites in some fashion the
contradictions incorporated within it. In dialogue as in fencing on this
level the objective is to learn rather than to win.

    It appears to me that the problem here may be a matter of differential
conventions regarding the management of dialogue. Marx and Lenin were sharp
contenders, often using language and tactics in presenting and arguing their
position that are much more aggressive than is commonly accepted among
Anglo-Saxon intellectual circles. On the other hand, they rarely if ever
lost touch with the issues at stake, even when using critique to suggest the
motivations of their co-respondents. Also, neither of them adopted the
general policy of silencing those whose opinions differed from theirs by any
means other than effective argument (examples may be given on request).
Another example, this time ethnographic: here in the Eastern Mediterranean
(the birth-place of the recorded dialogue) argument can be quite passionate,
passion being regarded as an important indicator of just how seriously the
co-respondents are committed to the dialogue. As a general rule of thumb,
as long as the participants in the dialogue continue to address the issue
under discussion and present cogent arguments, the "noise" of style can be
appreciated for what it is and not confused with the object of debate.

     An additional note: I tend to agree with the tenor of the tactic of
Improv (improvisation?) proposed by Lois H's, though I prefer Bakhtin' s
representation of the Socratic method which appears to be a more creative
way of achieving the same end. It is, by the way, also a superior method in

      Marx's use of the term, "dirty Jewish form" is clearly a sarcastic
reference to the sterile, antiseptic materialism of Feuerbach and, perhaps a
snide crack at the then peculiarly German form of intellectual snobbery of
aggressive pride in cultural provinciality. There seems to me no need to
add to Sasha's commentary on this issue.


Society -Societal:

  A discussion on the meaning of the term society and its utility for
practical research is a string of its own.

     As I read Sasha's argument ion the use of the term "societal" in AS's
paper concerns specifically the sentence:

"Exploration into the functioning, contradictions, and transformations
between the societal and individual forms of life, relatively (and
inevitably) neglected in the philosophical and economical analyses..."

Sasha objects to the contention by Anna that there can be contradictions
between the societal and individual forms of life. That the societal and
the individual as forms of life are entirely interdependent and that an
abstraction of either from the other and any contradictions derived from
these abstractions is a purely intellectual construct that fails to
represent actual conditions in the real world. He then concludes that real
contradictions can only be entirely societal or personal, since these are
two entirely different phenomena.

    It appears to me that there is here a complete confusion of categories.
Anna presents society and individual forms of life as in contradiction,
which Sasha quite consistently interprets as forms of society and forms of
individuality (of personality), which are indeed objects that appear to me
also as distinct as the taste of steak and the visually perceived diagonal
of the square. I suggest that instead of discussing society and
individuality as distinct forms of life, we regard them for what they are,
abstract representations of interdependent particularities of the abstract
concept under investigation, whether it be the capitalist mode of
production, the ruled game or the development of science.

     On the other hand, when Sasha argues that the societal and the
individual as forms of life are entirely interdependent and that an
abstraction of either from the other and any contradictions derived from
these abstractions is a purely intellectual construct that fails to
represent actual conditions in the real world he's not discussing the
difference between society and personality, but something quite different.
While I certainly can agree with the idea that the social and the individual
are interdependent particularities within the universal, say of practice, of
logic, or some such-like abstract concept this does not obviate the
existence of contradictions between them. On the contrary it is the very
fact that they are interdependent yet different aspects of practicality, of
logic or whatever, is exactly what makes them contradictory moments of the
dialectic. It is in this regard that we can regard the emergence of say
individual knowledge or interest from out of the socially-communally
determined ideals or objectives as negations of these latter, negations that
incorporate within them the social-communal forms they contradict. To what
extent do these abstractions represent real conditions? No better or worse
than other abstractions such as capitalism, capitalist, and labourer just to
name a few, after all, logic, dialectics and the theory of knowledge are
essentially the same thing, no?



Mike, swords are "put up", not "parked".

Victor Friedlander-Rakocz
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Cole" <>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 0:29
Subject: [xmca] New Polls Are Open: Park your swords at the door

The abstracts of articles from the next issue of XMCA discussion are now
available for you
to check out on the MCA webpage. See what you like and vote for it.

Sasha and Victor -- Please put away your swords! Literary adventures using
these implements,
even used as metaphors, are not likely to deepen our understanding. Never
mind that I shudder whenever
I read Marx's first thesis on Feurbach with its reference to Jews in a
manner I find totally unacceptable,
however much I might be able to work on interpreting it in its historical
context, etc.

Might someone pick up on Joe's earler note to suggest where the current
critical/philosophical around Anna's
article articulates in different practices for thos of who insufficiently
school in the arguments to be able to
figure out how to keep things straight. What difference(s) do these
differences make?

My own ability to engage xmca is going to be increasingly limited over the
next four weeks as I prepare for an
NSF site visit, getting course materials ready for winter quarter in
January, and lectures in Chile.

I suggest that Lois's strategy of "yes and" be adopted as a way of giving
people the opportunity to acknoweldge
and add. If it seems necessary to destroy/undo, be as careful as if your own
life might be the object of that
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