From: Rakesh Bhandari (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Nov 13 2002 - 14:49:45 EST
I received this statement from Professor Kleinbach. While this summary in no way confirms my hunch of a possible overlap between process philosophy and John's critical theoretical work, it is an interesting filiation of ideas in its own right. Yours, Rakesh Russ Kleinbach. Marx Via Process. University Press of America, 1982 KleinbachR@PhilaU.edu Summary The specific problem of this study is to analyze the category of consciousness as developed in Alfred North Whitehead's philosophy of organism and to explore critically the possible contribution of this category to Marxist theory at the point where Marxist theory deals with the capacity of humans to intervene creatively and consciously in the process of human history. It is important to note that the category "Marxist theory" as used in this study does not refer to a closed or finished theory or system, or to the theory of only Marx and Engels, but rather to the continually developing political, economic and social theory which is rooted in the writings of Marx and Engels. The primary source for Whitehead's contribution to this problem will come from Process and Reality, and not from the books and studies on Whitehead and process philosophy. This is true because to my knowledge neither Whitehead nor his students have developed the implications of efficient causation, i.e., the "materialist" side of his scheme, in balance with his "idealism," as found in final causation and developed in Adventures of Ideas. Most particularly this has not been done with respect to its implications for social-political theory. Most Marxist theorists are determinists up to a point. But most if not all of them give some leeway for humans to interfere consciously with their history though they differ on the degree of freedom and the weighting and function of the other determining factors which influence human history (i.e., geographical-ecological environment, structures of productive and social relations, technology, and culture). In the social production which men carry on they enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material powers of production. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society-the real foundations, on which rise legal and political super-structures and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines the existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness. It is important for radical theorists in the Marxist tradition to clarify the issue(s) of the relationship of consciousness to existence, particularly as we search for an increasingly enabling theoretical understanding of our capacity to intervene consciously and creatively in the process of our own history. What should be helpful to this effort is a developed theoretical statement, which analyzes the potentiality, limits, relations to other determining factors, and timing of conscious intervention, which persons or groups must take into account if they wish to intervene in their own history. Whitehead's analysis may incorporate into the Marxist discussion a conception of the relationship of consciousness to existence that is developed in the tradition of relational thinkers such as Spinoza, Leibniz and Hegel, out of a modern physical science and early twentieth century philosophical tradition, and within an inclusive, holistic, and non-dualistic world view. Whitehead's understanding of consciousness can make a fruitful contribution to Marxist theory because Whitehead incorporates within his understanding of consciousness the time, place and conditions wherein emerges the capacity to make judgments for the future. These judgments use the determinant data of the past and the present, and include an awareness of the relative determinedness of the process of history. The judgments also include an awareness (negative judgments) of what the past and the present are not, and an awareness of the possibilities of what might be. Images of the possibilities of what might be are drawn from the exclusiveness of what is, creative imagination, and knowledge of the nature of reality. This understanding of consciousness provides the possibility of contributing to Marxist theory some theoretical statements that help to clarify how and when persons and groups can intervene and direct the relatively determined historical process of which they are a part. The implication of this study is the possibility that, on this question, Whitehead's developed theory may contribute to Marxist theory in the following ways: (i) by enabling the materialist-idealist and freedom-determinism questions to be answered or by-passed, by accounting for all of the factors in one coherent scheme, (ii) by further developing the Marxist epistemology in a way which affirms a direct human relationship to the real world and also accounts for error in human conceptualization, (iii) by adding the understanding that the quality of subjective experience is the locus of value, and by adding an emphasis on the social nature of reality to the Marxist concern for human development and the overcoming of human alienation, thus clarifying and balancing the implicit normative referent in Marxist theory, (iv) by providing a theoretical scheme which accounts for and makes mutually supportive, the dual affirmation that social existence determines consciousness and that consciously willed action can determine social existence, and (v) by utilizing the notion of compatibility, derived from Whitehead, in conjunction with his more developed theory of causation, to make the "materialistic" focus more holistic.
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