(OPE-L) Re: dialectics: 'new', 'systematic' and 'materialist'

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Mar 17 2004 - 09:07:23 EST

Hi Chris.

> I think you conflate two issues here. Dialectically deriving concepts
> would certainly be sine qua non of systematic dialectic but this
> derivation would be exhibited in the exposition of the system. This
> has nothing necessarily to do with any method of inquiry. Personally
> I would strongly distinguish and have some doubt as to whether
> there is any such thing as a  prescriptive method of inquiry. Murray's
> survey of the issues seems judicious.

I'll admit that the previous post was confusing (not, I believe, because I
was conflating issues but rather because I was being cryptic and leaving
out parts of a fuller argument) so I'll try again to explain the point I was
trying to make.

The issue that I wanted to address was: at what stage is there a
identification, dialectical "derivation", and deepening of categories?

While many readers seem to believe that dialectical theoreticians "derive"
categories in the same order as the order of exposition, I believe this to
be mistaken. This is largely because, in the process of _inquiry_
(especially the latter stages of inquiry) one has already identified
concepts and their dialectical inter-relationship  appropriate for
comprehending the subject.  Perhaps part of the confusion is that I
was using "derivation" in a less formal sense of the term than you
might have been thinking of.  The  _reason_  why this forms part of
the process of inquiry is that prior to  the commencement of the
exposition one must _already_ grasp the essentials of the subject
matter and have a comprehension of the categories associated with
understanding that subject in thought. This does not mean that inquiry
ends when exposition begins -- it does not since in  the process of
writing one (typically) deepens one's  analysis as one thinks more about
the subject,  reads further and thereby continues the process of critique,
and examines further empirical data and historical studies.  In _that_
sense the process of inquiry continues until one completes the exposition
(and often even afterwards: hence the writing of subsequent, revised
editions).  But, in the sense I was referring to, the derivation of concepts
(typically) begins before the first word in the exposition has been written.

It was because so much (but not all) of the "derivation" of concepts
were discovered in the period before the exposition was written that
allowed Marx to write _Capital_ out of sequence with the order of
exposition.  Clearly,  for example, one has to comprehend the
concepts adequate for understanding the process of capitalist
circulation before one can then be able to "derive" concepts
associated with the process of capitalist production as a whole.
Yet, Marx wrote most of the drafts for what was eventually
published as Volume III before he wrote most of the drafts for what
was eventually published as Volume II (or expressing it differently, he
was able to articulate in writing the concepts associated with
comprehending the second half of the second 'Book' before he
wrote the first half of the second 'Book' of _Capital_).  This
process of writing out of sequence with (what becomes) the
order of presentation is _only_ possible if one has _already_
developed and dialectically derived  _all_ of  the essential
concepts associated with grasping in thought the character and
dynamics of the subject in its totality.

In solidarity, Jerry

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