Re: [xmca] Re: déjatel¹ nost¹

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Wed Oct 01 2008 - 19:53:53 PDT

Great isn't it. These Repulican hold-outs have voted for the
bail-out now that they've got some tax-cuts to go with it!
That shows real understanding of where this is going! Holy


One of the main problems with Hegel was that Hegel really
did not understand the role of nature and culture in the
formation of the *human body*. He thought human beings were
created all at once as per the Old Testament. And while his
ideas about natural science are really important - both he
and Goethe made a vital critique of positivist natural
science - his view was *too* constructivist. He was
exclusively concerned with *the intelligibility of human
practice.* He absolutely denied the Thingness of Nature.
With the rapid development of science and technique since
1831, that idea proved insufficient. I think Marx got it
right in his critique of Hegel though.

Yes, of course, the development of science is an "iterative"
process. And science may be in a constructive phase, rising
from abstract to concrete, but can hit a big snag, and be
thrown back into the continuing genesis of a new starting
point. From Being, there are two distinct phases: What Hegel
calls Essence, which involves the clash of rival approaches,
clash of form and content, appearance and thing, cause and
effect; and The Notion, which builds from the solid base of
a new notion or "unit of analysis." But that crucial turning
point, Essence->Notion, is not absolutely stable, no. But
you have to be aware of it, otherwise you have no compass at

The point is that invariably we learn about a science only
after it has made that crucial new beginning, and we take it
for granted. It gets naturalised.

I have just finished reading a great book on AIDS and the
People With AIDS movement. Although a French virologist
claimed that it was a virus very early on, I think about
1981, even a decade later, some scientists were still
claiming it was LifeStyle, and I read a book by an eminent
epidemiologist only about 7 or 8 years ago who still claimed
it was lifestyle. At the start people didn't know "what it
was." Those who worked on the claim that it was the HIV
virus never managed to convince those who thought it was a
Lifestyle condition. Imagine if that wasn't known and you
worked on the lifestyle hypothesis.


Martin Packer wrote:
> Andy,
> 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
> ancient."
> But I'm not sure that I've caught our point of disagreement.
> Martin
> :) 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)
> Andy
> 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
> described
>> the process of abstraction in capitalism, so the highly abstract character
>> of these "toxic" products would not have surprised him. He did a
> tremendous
>> job of identifying tendencies in this kind of activity (just one of many,
> as
>> 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
> an
>> 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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Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435 
Skype andy.blunden
Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
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Received on Wed Oct 1 19:55 PDT 2008

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