[OPE-L:8266] Re: the 'starting point'

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Thu Jan 02 2003 - 08:13:08 EST

Re Michael E's [8265]:

> By all means, "different horses for different courses", but when you start
> to  notice that one horse has been sired by the other and that everything
> you want to say about the one horse depends somehow on what has
> been said about the other, then you realize there is a dependency.

I suppose one could say that Hegel was sired by Aristotle and that Marx was
sired by Hegel.  That concerns the subject of the history of philosophical
thought (in the 'West').   Regarding the subject matter of capitalism,  for
a starting point   that reveals what it essentially is we must look _beyond_
the historical context  in which it arose, whether it be the material
reality of  pre-capitalist economic formations or the history of thought
in pre-capitalist societies on socio-economic relations (i.e. how those
societies and their representatives came to think of their societies and
themselves).  This does not mean that an interrogation of the influence
of ancient philosophers  on contemporary thought is useless -- indeed,
I find your commentary to be intriguing and challenging.  And, if the
subject of  analysis was primarily Marx rather than capitalism, then I
would agree that Aristotle could form _one of many_  starting points
for understanding aspects of that subject.

> "Starting-point" also has polyvalent meaning. The various meanings of
> _archae_   are explicitly discussed by Aristotle in Book Delta of his
> Metaphysics. In  particular, the historical hold which the Greek beginning
> has over all our Western thinking to the present day _without us being
> aware  of it_ has to be  distinguished from the starting-point adopted
> when trying to think about what capitalism is.

That's what I've been trying to say.

> Of course, thinking about capitalist society requires focusing on the
> phenomena  we are familiar with in modern capitalist society and
> starting with these  phenomena (of, say, generalized commodity
> exchange). But in the attempt to say  what capitalist society, we
> find ourselves using terms such as substance,  magnitude, form,
> essence, appearance, potentiality, actuality, etc. which all
> have a tradition which cannot be simply shaken off. We are tied
> willy-nilly by  the tradition in thinking. If we are not aware of this,
> then we only entangle ourselves in these concepts and fail to see
> the phenomena clearly.

I agree that these concepts have a tradition that extends beyond (before)
Marx.  Indeed, we saw on another thread recently ("'immanent measure'
in Hegel and Marx")  such an instance.  Btw,  is there a specific meaning
to _"immanent measure"_  in philosophical thought that goes back to before
Hegel and influenced his conceptions of magnitude and measure?

> Another aspect of _archae_ is that capitalist society and modern
> technology  never would have emerged without the ground that was
> laid in Greek philosophy.

How do we know that capitalism would "never" have emerged if not for
the influence of Greek philosophy?

> The significance of this? The Greeks inaugurated philosophical thinking in
> a  time when the questions were still in flux and the phenomena were still
> more  simply in view rather than being buried under the dead weight of
> terminology and epigonal regurgitation.

When phenomena are still in flux and have never been crystallized into a
definite form, one can not get the phenomena properly in focus.  We can thus
say much more about the phenomena once it has become essentially what it is
rather than when it is in the state of becoming.

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Jan 04 2003 - 00:00:00 EST