(OPE-L) RE: logical order and historical order

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Feb 22 2004 - 09:30:59 EST

Re: (OPE-L) logical order and historical orderHi Jairus.  

Your last paragraph suggests that we start with the way in which 
Hegel conceives of the issue.  I interpret this as meaning that we
should begin with a *critique* of Hegel's conception.  OK, I think 
that's a good idea.

You suggest that in Hegel there is what can be read as an 
isomorphism between logical and historical.  This is not hard to
grasp since from a Hegelian perspective history, science, and 
the Idea are all related to Absolute Spirit.  That is, the reason 
for the identity of history and logic is that both can be seen as a
consequence and expression of  "Providence."   All that 
expresses a necessary relation in Hegel is a reflection of
his Idealist theology and world-view.  

Clearly, this perspective was not shared by Marx: there can not
be an isomorphism between logic and history.  Yet,  I believe that 
Hegelian-Marxists  have *not*  fallen into this Hegelian trap.  E.g. 
there is no simple  isomorphism asserted regarding logical sequence 
and historical  sequence in Tony S's _The Logic of Marx's Capital_  
or  Geert and Michael W's  _Value-Form and the State_. Quite the 

So, if we can agree that there is no isomorphism between logical
progression within a systematic dialectical reconstruction in thought
of  the subject (the CMP) and the order of the historical unfolding of
that subject, then the question must be re-phrased and re-conceived.  

For Marx, the starting point of the commodity is not a "concept" but
is "the simplest concrete economic entity" (from "Marginal Notes on 
Wagner").  This is quite consistent with his claim in the "Preface to
the First Edition" of Volume 1 of  _Capital_ that "the commodity-form 
of the product of labour, or the value-form of the commodity, is the
economic cell form".   This, in turn, is quite consistent with his
comments in the "Introduction" to the _Grundrisse_  where he 
suggests that what is wrong with starting from "the imagined concrete" 
(the population).

For Marx the "point of departure" is a concrete material reality (the
commodity) rather than a "result"  of the "process of thinking, therefore,
as a process of concentration" (_Grundrisse_,  Penguin ed., p. 101).  
The "method of rising from the abstract to the concrete is only the way 
in which thought appropriates the concrete, reproduces it as the 
concrete in the mind.  But this is by no means the process by
which the concrete itself comes into being" (Ibid).  

Marx *concludes*  Section (3) in the "Introduction" to the 
_Grundrisse_ with an ordering which he asserts in the *strongest 
possible way* -- i.e. he writes that the order of the exposition 
(which follows) is  *obvious* and *has to be* ("obviously has to be", 
Penguin ed., p. 108).

The "order obviously has to be":

     "(1) the general, abstract determinations which obtain in more or
           less all forms of society, but in the above-explained sense.
      (2) The categories which make up the inner structure of bourgeois
           society and on which the fundamental classes rest. Capital, 
           wage-labour, landed property.  Their inter-relation. Town and
           country. The three great social classes. Exchange between 
           them.  Circulation. Credit system (private).
      (3) Concentration of bourgeois society in the form of the state.
           Viewed in relation to itself.  The 'unproductive' classes. Taxes.
           State debt.  Public credit.  The population.  The colonies.
      (4) The international relation of production. International division of
           labour.  International exchange.  Export and import. Rate of 
      (5) The world market and crises" (Ibid, p. 108). (*)

Why does the order, from Marx's perspective "obviously has to be" 
the above?  Why did he view this order as so important that he
chose to conclude the section on "The Method of Political Economy"
with the above listing?

In solidarity, Jerry

(*) Also see _Grundrisse_, pp. 227-228; 264.  Note changes.  Also
note the first paragraph in the "Preface" to _A Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy_ where he suggests that the 
"interconnection of the other three headings [the State, foreign trade, 
world market, JL] is self-evident" (International ed., p. 19).

  The most relevant passages from Hegel's introduction are on pp. 29-31 of the English translation of the Lectures. Here Hegel distinguishes two 'kinds of progression' . I quote, 'The one kind of progression which represents the deduction of the forms...is the business of Philosophy', clarifying that by 'Philosophy' here he means the Science of Logic in particular. 'But the other method, which represents the part played by the history of Philosophy, shows the different stages and moments in development in time, in manner of occurrence, in particular places, in particular people or political circumstances...in short, it shows us the empirical form'.  Having drawn a distinction which clearly corresponds to that between the 'logical' and the 'historical', he then asserts that (as far as Philosophy goes) there is an isomorphism between the two kinds of 'sequence'. Thus, 'I maintain that the sequence in the systems of Philosophy in History is similar to the sequence in the logical deduction of the Notion-determinations in the Idea'. '[I]f the fundamental conceptions of the systems appearing in the history of Philosophy be entirely divested of [everything regarding] their outward form, their relation to the particular and the like, the various stages in the determination of the Idea are found (i.e. replicated, JB) in their logical Notion'. (This explains my ref. to constructing 'essential histories'.) 'Conversely, in the logical progression taken for itself, there is, so far as its principal elements are concerned, the progression of historical manifestations', to which Hegel immediately adds, 'but it is necessary to have these pure Notions in order to know what the historical form contains'. He sums up by asserting, 'It may be thought that Philosophy must have another order as to the stages in the Idea than that in which these Notions have gone forth in time; but in the main the order is the same'.  E.g. a purified history of philosophy would start with Parmenides and his conception of Being, just as the Science of Logic begins with (pure) Being. Histories of Greek philosophy which are less than pure, so to speak, will come to Parmenides somewhat later, however, e.g. Guthrie, who first deals with the earliest Presocratics and deals with Parmenides and Zeno only in vol.2 .
  I don't wish to suggest that there is a similar isomorphism between the history of capital and its logical deduction in Marx; far from it. That is precisely where the problem arises, it seems to me, which is why it may help to start with the way Hegel understands the relationship between the two 'sequences' or 'kinds of progression' in his own field. 

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Feb 24 2004 - 00:00:02 EST