[OPE-L:2164] Re: Fw: Re: echt Deutsch

From: Jurriaan Bendien (djjb99@worldonline.nl)
Date: Sat Jan 15 2000 - 15:12:56 EST

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>The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of
>social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men
>that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines
>their consciousness.

Yes, "bedingen" does mean, in modern German at least, to cause, to require,
to stipulate in the sense of a necessity, a necessary condition or
necessary relation, or a prerequisite. "Bestimmen" means to determine or
define, but various kinds of determination could be intended. Thus e.g.
"bestimmen" could mean "set limits upon" or "delimits" or "defines the
boundaries". A single object or event might be "bestimmt" by numerous
different determinations or definitions.

Needless to say, Marx is talking in the sense of a sociological
generalisation, in an overall, historical sense, in reaction to the
Hegelian idealist philosophers. Obviously the consciousness of human beings
does determine their social existence to a great extent at the level of
individuals and groups. Otherwise social change would become a mystery.
Marx is seeking to explain how ideas and conceptual systems spring from the
production of material life, become detached from it, and react back on it,
and what determines this historical movement.

For some interesting remarks on this topic, see Ernest Mandel, "Die
Dialektik von Produktivkraften, Produktionsverhaltenissen und Klassenkampf
neben Kategorien der Latenz und des Parametrische Determinismus in der
materialistischen Geschichtsauffassung" (Presentation in Bochum, 29
October, 1987). In: Die versteinerten Verhaltenisse zum tanzen bringen.
Beitrage zur Marxistischen Theorie heute. Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1991. pp.

Mandel writes, "Um die materialistische Geschichtsauffassung
materialistisch zu verstehen, muss man davon ausgehen, dass man die Welt
nicht bewusst veranderen kann, wenn mann sie nicht richtig interpretiert"
(p. 100). That is, "to understand the materialist conception of history
materialistically, our point of departure has to be that one cannot change
the world consciously, if one doesn't interpret it correctly". That would
seem to be the end of all wisdom.

In solidarity


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