Re: [xmca] Re: déjatel¹ nost¹

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at>
Date: Wed Oct 01 2008 - 18:41:40 PDT


I can't find anything in your description of science to disagree with. Very
frustrating! :)

Are you saying that science doesn't look back over time and analyze earlier
forms in terms of later? Surely you wouldn't say that? - what about 'human
anatomy contains the key to the anatomy of the ape'? According to Lukacs,
this is a point of large difference between Marx and Hegel. Hegel never
sufficiently distinguished the process of becoming and the process of
comprehension, and saw the latter as "an ontologically higher form" of the
former. Marx in contrast distinguished between real processes of change and
the epistemological inquiry by which these processes become known, and so
was able to propose that "the bourgois economy thus supplies the key to the

But I'm not sure that I've caught our point of disagreement.


:) Maybe we'll never get over this difficulty Martin. Let me
take a little step back and try though.

How does *any* "rational" science operate? The science
begins with a clear concept of its object, be it
"conditioned reflex" or "commodity" or "right" or whatever.
It then pays close attention to what is actually going on.
Aided by the fact that it's "unit of analysis" is an
empirically observable unit of social life, not some
hypothesis or "force" or "thing-in-itself" or foundation
myth, it is able to observe the changes and transformations
in its object, and comprehend these through the specific
lens given by its unit of analysis. Being a rational
science, it does not proceed empirically, but refuses to
rest until the observed transformations have been made
intelligible in terms of the "germ cell." At every step this
initially abstract conception becomes richer and more
concrete, provided of course that it was wisely chosen in
the beginning. The achievement of making the empirically
observed phenomena rationally intelligible means that the
movement (actually already empirically observed) can be
reconstructed rationally, *as if* not relying on empirical
observation. ANY theoretical science must proceed in this
way, even if at a given moment in its development, there are
some phenomena which remain unintelligible. How otherwise
can we have a theory of the Big Bang? By "observation"??

I find this quote by Hegel in the Introduction to his
"Philosophy of Right" helpful (note that this book cover not
just law (Rechts), but world history, economics, family
relations, ethics, politics, etc., etc.):

"The science of right is a part of philosophy. Hence it must
develop the idea, which is the reason of an object, out of
the conception. It is the same thing to say that it must
regard the peculiar internal development of the thing
itself. Since it is a *part* [of philosophy], it has a
definite beginning, which is the result and truth of what
goes before, and this, that goes before, constitutes its
so-called proof. Hence the origin of the conception of right
falls outside of the science of right." (Introduction to the
Philosophy of Right §2)

but then he adds:

"In philosophic knowledge the necessity of a conception is
the main thing, and the process, by which it, as a result,
has come into being is the proof and deduction. After the
content is seen to be necessary independently, the second
point is to look about for that which corresponds to it in
existing ideas and modes of speech." (Introduction to the
Philosophy of Right §2)

Martin Packer wrote:
> "Much of volumes 2 and 3 of Capital are concerned with
> crises. This particular crisis is certainly to be
> anticipated from his point of view, but after all he died in
> 1883, so it would be nonsense to talk of him "predicting"
> it."
> Andy,
> Yes, Marx emphasized that crises are endemic to capitalist economy. He
> described the ways companies will appeal for government regulation to save
> them from the consequences of their own competitive impulses, so the
> government "bail out" this week is really nothing new. And he also
> the process of abstraction in capitalism, so the highly abstract character
> of these "toxic" products would not have surprised him. He did a
> job of identifying tendencies in this kind of activity (just one of many,
> you note) which continue to this day. My point about prediction was the
> narrower one that in Capital Marx didn't anticipate all this merely from
> analysis of *simple* exchange, as I think that Leontiev claims. He looked
> back on simple exchange from the vantage point of nineteenth century
> capitalism, and reconstructed the course of its history.
> Martin
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> xmca mailing list

Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435
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Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
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Received on Wed Oct 1 18:42 PDT 2008

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