Re: (OPE-L) Bertell Ollman's Critique of Systematic Dialectics

From: Michael Williams (michaelj.williams@TISCALI.CO.UK)
Date: Wed Mar 24 2004 - 11:35:12 EST

As you intimate I have little disposable time now.

Briefly: The point is that
1. There are 'materialist' elements in Hegel and 'idealist' elements in
Marx. This makes the distinction unhelpful in terms of the critique of Hegel
required in order to ground systematic dialectics.
2. Materialism in this context is inadequately defined: ubiquitous ideas can
be material causes of social reproduction and change.
3. Daniel Dennett* has persuasive arguments that the mental phenomenology
that includes ideas is:
A) explicable materially by brain states
B) yet is intrinsically not subjective: mind (although clearly not brain) is
not adequately confined to the individual subjective domain.

Fascinating issues - but ones that need to be put to one side in defending
the non-viciousness of so-called idealist elements in the new dialectics
within Marxist discourse. That is, bracketed.
* see, e.g. Dennett, D. C. (2003). Freedom Evolves. London, Allen Lane, and
his works leading up to this book.
Michael Williams
26 Glenwood Avenue
SO16 3QA
tel: 02380768641
fax: 0871 242 5819 
mobile: 07906 172655

> -----Original Message-----
> From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of 
> Gerald A. Levy
> Sent: Friday, March 19, 2004 2:59 PM
> Subject: (OPE-L) Bertell Ollman's Critique of Systematic Dialectics
> Hi Michael W.
> >  Just let me say that my present stance would bracket
> > (Husserl) the distinction between idealism and materialism (that is 
> > note it, and try to move on without relying on it) in the guises in 
> > which it appears in Marxist discourse
> I guess my question would be how or whether one can, from
> an ontological _and_ systematic dialectical perspective, 
> "move on" without  evaluating these perspectives.  Is it 
> possible to be 'agnostic' about such a fundamental question 
> without it affecting the _content_ of the dialectical exposition?
> I agree that Marxist discourse on this issue often leaves 
> something  to be desired (with e.g. 'idealist' often being 
> merely a dismissive pejorative term) and hence I can 
> understand the reluctance to engage in that discourse, _but_ 
> I don't really comprehend the _grounds_ from a philosophical 
> perspective with  which one can simply "bracket" the 
> distinction between idealism and materialism.  Maybe I just 
> don't understand Husserl?
> If you don't have time to reply, I fully understand.
> In solidarity, Jerry

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