File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1997/bhaskar.9708, message 113

Date: Sun, 31 Aug 1997 22:46:26 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: BHA: reply to Ralph

thanks Ralph for your reply.  these points you bring up are quite complex,
and to unpack them on this forum will be difficult.  So i apology if my
response is still too general.

First, i don't think it the case that Marx relied too much on Hegel, as much
as Marx seems to me to be methodological eclectic.  Marx's Hegelianism is
surely a strength in my estimation.  My personal opinion, which i am just
beginning to develop, is that Marx, methodologically was often ingenious, but
he never systematically attempted to understand such strengths ... there were
simply more urgent problems, and science and politically driven science did
not have the thrust it does today on our consciousness and practice.   In
this sense, Bhaskar's project is indeed urgent.

In any event the consequence of this is that there exists many
interpretations of Marx's methodology.  This is important today to unravel,
because one's philosophical and methodological commitments in a great part
determine the knowledge which is produced, so we must understand how Marx
produced his insights, to help us not only understand Marx, but to understand
the production of knowledge and the production ideology.

With respect to the differences in the young Marx and mature Marx, i really
don't believe this to be the forum, but i do plan to write something much
more formal about this, which i would be very happy to have your input (as
usual).  But let me say that the transition in language itself is of great
significance ... for example alienation to commodity fetishism ... which in
turn has to do with Marx becoming a better and more committed
(Hegelian/Feuerbachian) dialectician.

Personally i don't like this (Althusserian) idea that this transition
consistutes a transition from philosophy to science ... this only reveals
Althusser's own empiricist realist commitments.  Marx himself, i think,
transforms his approach, not because he has had it with philosophizing, but
rather because his object itself has changed ... namely, and in short, from
Feuerbachian (theological like) concerns with the essence of human nature and
potentiality, toward human behavior within the social structure of
capitalism.  So, again for example, the issue turns from _alienation_ in
*general*, to  _commodity fetishism_ in *particular*.

All i am suggesting about Althusser is that he was on to something very
important, although the thurst and emphasis may have been missed placed
(again, possiblity do to other political and philosophical commitments, but i
am not expert on Althusser).  it would take just a bit of research on the
specific texts i have in mind, the ideas i have are fresh, but the references
are not ... but of course Reading Capital; For Marx; but also there are a
couple of articles i have in mind ... and again his "The Future Lasts
Forever" reaffirmed many ideas i have about Althusser ... in that his
motivations where not very pure, nor necessarily honest.  But please don't
get me wrong, i do believe Althusser to be of the utmost importance in the
history of both Marxism and philosophy.

Now for quick one-liners to your questions:

(1) Marx's object itself changed, he is propably no more, nor no less

(2) Marx was not Hegelianist, nor metaphysical in a bad sense, nor was Hegel
a bad Hegelianist, although in my opinion most Hegelianism is poor
Hegelianism, not understanding the lessons of Hegel himself!  We course know
this to be the case in Marxian circle also don't we?  in any event, Marx's
(accendential) return to Hegel results into particular strengths, not
weaknesses (imo).

(3) Marx's relation to Engels i have not touched, but i would tend to agree
with you, Engels has been given a very bad rap in poor western defences of
Marxism.  Engels indeed turned Marx onto political economy, but certainly
Marx surpassed him.  Engels political economy strengths where his empirical
investigations and omissive critiques.  But i would certianly not reduce
Engels to a second rate interpreter.  But i do believe that Marx implicitly,
or in practice, tended to be out of phase with much of Engels's philosophical
essays.  But again Engels's own object is entirely different from Marx's.  So
i am not one to critique Engels, at least as what was the fad since at least
the 60's.

(4) Bhaskar it seems to me is not too concerned in his own publications with
the interpretation of Capital.  but certainly if Bhaskar is correct about his
interpretation of Marx, we should be much more generous toward Marx, than say
an empiricist or analytical interpretation of Marx.  There are many places
Bhaskar has such comments, but nothing to extensive.  But i do believe a
critical realist interpretation of  Marx is to Marx's advantage.

It is of course possibility that a critical realist interpretation could
reveal "superior insights" or great "shortcomings" of Capital, but i don't
believe this to be Bhaskar's immediate concern.  And it is not necessarily
mine.  and i don't know of any work .
along these lines, surely there must be some?

In brief, Marx's shortcomings turn out to be his reliance on political
economy, which a full methodological treatise by Marx himself may have
revealed to him.  But then again *Capital* is sub-titled "a critique of
political economy".   In this sense, maybe it is not so much Marx "goofed
up", but rather to understand more specifically his project and


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