File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2001/bhaskar.0106, message 28


Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 22:44:48 +0100
Subject: Re: BHA: Bhaskar, Marx and self-consciousness


Dear Nick, Hans, Gary,

Many thanks for your stimulating comments.

>This higher level critique ends up 
>as the critique of 'absolute categorial structure' and it therefore 
>carries on to become the critique of the concept of 'god' at the heart 
>of the book. 

This indeed goes to the heart of the matter.

At the 'Ethics' seminar, Bhaskar asked:

'within the continuum of being, is there really such a huge difference
between realism about God and realism about any other being  for
instance a galaxy which is beyond the expanse of our current most
powerful microscopes?' (Alethia 3:1, 15).

I myself am agnostic, but fail to see why, for those who've had a
religious experience, there can't be a realist (as distinct from
irrealist) concept of God. The Bhaskarian God of FEW as far as I can see
adds little to what was already in the DCR system. There were (very
likely) ultimate causal powers or dispositions before, though unknowable
to science, and there was order and boundedness in the cosmos, ultimate
categorial structures (now termed the binding force of unconditional
love...). 

God or no God, I would say that the thing about love is that it is
unconditional or it is not love - for atheists and agnostics as well as
religious folk (see all the great poetry and painting and music of
love). Perhaps we should just talk about love - unconditional love seems
a pleonasm. It seems to me, too, that love is just as much integral to
the thinking of the mature as of the early Marx - that people
pervasively love and trust each other is entailed for example in the
concept of a society in which the 'free development of each is the
condition of the free devolopment of all'. I agree entirely with Hans'
comments re the 'break' - there is a great deal of continuity as well as
discontinuity. Does the mature Marx, for example, ever forsake the Eden/
Fall (class society)/ Eudaimonia dialectic that the early Marx patently
shares with the major world religions? 'No, no, never can it be! Never,
never can it be!' Both the mature and the early Marx are saying, with
the later Bhaskar, that class society and capitalism are both a warp on,
or distortion of, our essentially communal destiny and historically
necessary for us to achieve it in full self-consciousness. (This can be
argued out scientifically.) And how about this from the early Marx as a
slogan for post-FEW critical realists? - 

'consistent naturalism or humanism differs both from idealism and
materialism and is at the same time their unifying truth.' (EPMS: Early
Writings 389).

Which is not to say, Gary, that there are no politically regressive
elements in FEW. I have named them as above all the regressive strand in
New Age.

Love,

Mervyn


Nick Hostettler <nh8-AT-soas.ac.uk> writes
>Dear Gary, 
>
>Good to hear from you. 
>
>You said: 
>
>> There may well be political problems emanating From East to 
>West but
>> these are not due to the mysticism in the book.  If anything the
>> difficulty is with the concept of unconditional love.
>> 
>> regards
>> 
>> Gary
>
>I share your humanist sentiments and orientiations completely. And 
>I agree with everything you say about the depths at which the 
>present crises are developing. I'd even go on to extend the idea, with 
>crises developing within the depths of social being, within our selves 
>(body and mind) as well as within the ecosystem. I also agree that 
>part of the intention of FEW is to find a single language with which 
>to disclose this multiplicity of interrelated impending crises. 
>
>However ... 
>
>The positive aspects of Roy's development of DCR pave the way for 
>the radical incoporation into Marx's mature work of a critque of the 
>ecological consequences of capitalist modernity. Indeed, it paves 
>the way for a much more general Marxian theory of modernity. FEW 
>though is deeply ambiguous. It develops this possibility of 
>humanism in an irrealist, mystifying, manner. It ends up producing 
>the very thing you, we, are looking for but in a distorted fashion. 
>
>This kind of humanism, simultaneously intimated and obscured by 
>FEW, is properly expansive, allowing us to encompass our 
>responsibilities towards our planet within our sense of ourselves and 
>our being in the world. To develop that humanism, however, we need 
>not to go down the road opened by FEW. That road is only hinted at 
>by 'unconditional love'. The problems go much more deeply into the 
>structure of its concepts, so they are irreducible to unconditional 
>love or any other single concept. Rather, concepts like 
>'unconditional love' all belong to the new range of 'absolute' 
>categories introduced by FEW. These kinds of concepts are the 
>problem, so 'uncoditional love' is just one symptom of the deeper 
>problem of the new irrealism. 
>
>Here's the alternative path to FEW: The critique of 'unconditional 
>love' must develop from the the particular concept into a critique of 
>the general kind of concept it is. This higher level critique ends up 
>as the critique of 'absolute categorial structure' and it therefore 
>carries on to become the critique of the concept of 'god' at the heart 
>of the book. The critique of an irrealist concept 'god', in turn, takes 
>us back to the best of DCR. That, finally, takes us back to a 
>substantive and realist historical sociology of capitalist modernity 
>which encompasses all of kinds of crises emerging from within it. 
>
>Very best wishes, 
>
>Nick. 
>
>> 
>> 
>> >Well I will enter a note of dissent. That will not surprise either
>> >Nick or Mervyn.
>> 
>> Nick, bless him, writes as if From East to West is letting down the
>> side politically.  Mervyn is not free from that criticism either.  
>> But if we take the question say of the ecological criiss then a
>> different picture emerges. It is precisely the depth of the crisis
>> that has partly produced 
>>  From East to West.
>> 
>> 
>> It must be said that Roy was criticised for his Apocalypse now view on
>> the environment at Lancaster and on my way home I picked up the papere
>> and there it was on the front page - the ice cap at the North Pole had
>> melted for the first time in quite a few millenia. So if we think of
>> the eco-system, my argument is that here we have an element that is
>> absolutely essential to any contemporary politics and where East to
>> West is *NOT* a hindrance.
>> 
>> 
>> There may well be political problems emanating From East to West but
>> these are not due to the mysticism in the book.  If anything the
>> difficulty is with the concept of unconditional love.
>> 
>> regards
>> 
>> Gary
>> 
>
>
>
>---------------------------------
>Nick Hostettler,
>Department of Political Studies,
>SOAS (University of London),
>Thornaugh Street,
>Russell Square,
>London WC1H 0XG
>---------------------------------
>
>
>     --- from list bhaskar-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu ---

-- 
Mervyn Hartwig
13 Spenser Road
Herne Hill
London SE24 ONS
United Kingdom
Tel: 020 7 737 2892
Email: mh-AT-jaspere.demon.co.uk


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