Re: [OPE-L] Marx: In Our Time

From: Ian Wright (iwright@GMAIL.COM)
Date: Wed Jul 20 2005 - 20:19:11 EDT

My half-penny:

It was nice to see Marx win the vote. I voted for him. The discussants
failed to mention the intimate link between Marx's ideas and the
construction of social movements. I can't think of any other thinker
whose theory predicts its own appearance and deductively requires its
own continuation and promotion, although Marx shares structural
similarities with Hegel on this score.

It seems to me that Marx started out a materialist philosopher, but
quickly understood that the methodology of science when applied to
philosophy required that philosophers (particularly political
philosophers) necessarily get involved in social movements, as
scientific methodology necessarily includes a practical or engineering
moment. His philosophy, scientific research and his political activity
are therefore entirely united and connected. This contrasts quite
sharply with much social science/political research that occurs in
universities today, which is often merely empirical, i.e. describing
and explaining what is, rather than identifying real possibilities for
change, and then trying to actualize those possibilities.

I think Marx was a philosopher and did deserve to be on Radio 4's
list, not least because his theses on Feurbach redefined the
relationship between philosophy, science and social movements.
Requiring that philosophers change the world is I think a redefinition
of philosophy, an exhortation for it to use scientific methodology,
rather than being a rejection of it. (As Ian (Hunt) suggests, most
good modern philosophy has a strong connection to the appropriate
scientific field, e.g. philosophy of mind connected to cognitive
science, philosophy of science connected to formal learning theory
etc., so Marx's recommendation, when followed, produces good results.)

Last, it seems to me that Marx assumed there was an objective world,
independent of our conception of it, that was a complex unity. Hence,
all fields of knowledge are potentially unifiable, and there is no
ontological reason for the separation of philosophy, science and
practical activity, only transient epistemological reasons due to our
imperfect and incomplete theories. (Contrast to postmodernism.).So my
guess is that he wouldn't be too bothered  whether he were considered
a philosopher, scientist, economist or revolutionary.

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