[OPE-L:2562] Re: the evolution of the meaning of "critique"

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Sun Mar 19 2000 - 20:04:08 EST

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Re Jerry's questions on 'critique'[OPE-L:2556]:

Below I have reproduced some passages from Paul Mattick's chapter in
Moseley (1993, pp.122-123). I wonder if his interpretation of Hegel is
accurate? Does Marx's inversion of Hegel's ontology (3rd paragraph) raise
questions re the process of *Aufhebung* (1st paragraph)?:

"By designating his writings on economics with the word *Kritik*, Marx
continued Kant's use of the word to denote an inquiry into the limits of
application of a set of concepts in certain spheres of inquiry. The
question of limits arises when the application of a system of concepts in
some area leads to problems unsolvable by means of this system. A critique
in this sense corresponds to what Hegel called *Aufhebung* (translated
hopelessly, but traditionally, as "supercession" or "sublation").
*Aufheben* has a double meaning, as Hegel explains it: "(1) to clear away,
or annul...;(2) to keep or preserve" (Hegel 1892, 180). With respect to
the critique of a conceptual system (or theory), the idea of *Aufhebung*
involves a new system that replaces the prior one but "preserves" it at the
same time, in the sense that it explains both the phenomena that formed the
subject matter of the prior theory and its limitations.

"But more is at stake in Marx's work than a relation between two theories,
even when it is of the sort now commonly described as a scientific
revolution. Since in Marx's conception theories are to be understood as
representations of socially regulated experience, theoretical critique here
echoes Hegel's remark that dialectical consciousness is not 'peculiarly
confined to the philosopher,' so that it 'would be truer to say that
dialectic gives expression to a law which is felt in all other grades of
consciousness, and in general experience' (Hegel 1892, 149-50). In this,
Hegel's formulation of dialectic goes well beyond Kant's. Marx's
represents a further, and distinct, development of the idea, since he
regards his theoretical *Aufhebung*, the critique of political economy, as
a response not to some inherent necessity located in the inadequacy of the
conceptual structure of classical economics but as called for and rendered
possible by the experienced crisis tendency of capitalism and the workers'
movement responding to it. It was experience of the limits of capital that
suggested the limits of political economy.

"Marx's theory of capitalist society is not meant to be a replacement for
political economy. It aims not just to demonstrate the analytic limits of
economic theory but also to explain the hold of that theory over the
inhabitants of the system. Thus the opening chapter of Capital ends with a
discussion, under the heading of the "fetishism of commodities,", of the
way in which the money form obscures the working of the system by
concealing "the social character of private labor and the social relations
between the individual laborers" (Marx 1976a, 168-9). The discussion of
the "Trinity Formula" at the conclusion of Volume 3 aims to demonstrate how
not only "vulgar economics" but even the "best representatives" of
classical theory, by accepting as fundamental categories for social
analysis the representatives of social relations developed within the
system itself, inevitably "fell more or less into inconsistencies,
half-truths and unresolved contradictions" (Marx 1982, 969).

>1) What is the origin of the term "critique", as distinct from
> "criticism" (or a simple attack), in the history of philosophy (and
> science?)?
> Has it always meant something like "An examination or analysis that
> probes for what is incorrect and what is correct in an object of
> study"? If not, then what was the source of the changing meaning of
> "critique"?
>2) What was the role of "critique" in Hegel's theory? He appears not to
> have used the term often despite lengthy critical examinations
> ("critiques"?) of certain subjects, e.g. his _Lectures on the History
> of Philosophy_. Curiously, his followers seemed to use the expression
> "critique" far more than Hegel himself (see below).
>3) The "Young Hegelians" seem to have made "critique" central to their
> method. Thus, publications by Feuerbach ("Towards a Critique of
> Hegelian Philosophy"), Ruge ("A Self-Critique of Liberalism"), and
> Bauer ("The Struggle for Critique with Church and State"), all included
> "critique" in their titles. Critique seems also to have been employed
> Straus and von Criszkowski, among others. How is the understanding of
> the "Young Hegelians" different from that of Hegel and Marx-Engels?
> It should be noted in this connection that Marx and Engels ridiculed
> the notion of "critical critique" and "pure criticism" in their first
> book, _The Holy Family_ (1845) -- a work which was mostly directed
> against Bruno Bauer, one of the "Young Hegelians".
> (many of the articles by Young Hegelians are collected in the volume:
> Lawrence S. Stepelevich ed. _The Young Hegelians: An Anthology_,
> Cambridge University Press, 1983).
>4) Already by 1843, Engels ("Outline of a Critique of Political
> Economy") and Marx ("A Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's
> 'Philosophy of Right'") were using "critique" in the title of their
> publications. In this early period, was their conception of "critique"
> different from the rest of the Young Hegelians? How did Marx's
> understanding of -- and use of -- critique evolve, deepen, and change
> over the years?
> How does "critique" in Marx's understanding transcend simple criticism
> or rejection of previous conceptions? How does this fit in with his
> revolutionary politics and "scientific" world-view? E.g. do other
> "sciences" self-consciously advance by means of critique?
>5) To what extent did "political economy" *also* employ the method of
> critique? E.g. what role did "critique" have in classical political
> economy? How was that role for critique different from the role within
> Marx's theory?
>In solidarity, Jerry

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