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I asked a German literature graduate who speaks fluent English about
"bedingen" and she says "bedingen" may also be used in the sense of
"influencing" or "shaping" or "conditioning".
At 09:12 PM 1/15/00 +0100, you wrote:
>>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
>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.
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