Re: [OPE-L] Derrida's ghosts

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Thu Nov 03 2005 - 09:35:10 EST

Hi Jerry,

Yes, your post is a good reminder of two things.  One, there are emergent
and intermediate structures (not necessarily contingent) that intervene.
The evolution of a population cannot be reduced to genetics because of other
factors that must be taken into account.  Second, explanation of phenomena
immediately presented to us can require accounting for the intersection of
different underlying mechanisms.

On the other hand, there is a risk here of assuming anyone who appeals to
underlying structure is reductionist, and that just doesn't follow.  If
that's the argument, doesn't it start out by assuming the other is
theoretically inconsistent?  That is, the person is supposed to make one
appeal to deep structure, but then all further explanation attributed to her
is just a matter of additively heaping up determined features.  Why wouldn't
we suppose instead that for complex systems there may be an emergence of
causal structure "all the way up"?



----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Levy" <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 1:39 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Derrida's ghosts

> > The point Ian makes has a theoretical dimension:  insofar as
> > emphasizes the surface connections of things and rejects the idea of
> > causally potent deep structures, often unobservable, then this
> > a thread which can be characterized as dismissive of science.
> Hi Howard:
> It depends on what we're trying to comprehend, doesn't it?   The closer
> one is to a subject on the 'surface', then  the more variables there are
> which impact that subject.  One can't, for instance, assume that all
> concrete surface phenomena are caused by "causally potent deep
> structures" since there are many contingent factors which shape these
> phenomena -- a point generally understood by historians,  bourgeois and
> Marxist.  While not an Althusserian, I think that there is something
> to be said for the concept of over-determination in this context.  (NB:
> I don't think that the concept of over-determination is necessarily at
> odds with Hegelian-Marxist understandings -- once one is examining
> concrete and historically contingent phenomena in specific social
> formations.)
> Surely, you wouldn't claim that an analysis of  (let's say) capitalism in
> the US today can be understood by reference _only_ to class?  Race
> and gender (and other causally important factors, even where their
> concrete specification is tied to the historical circumstances of the
> development of that social formation) are clearly explanatory variables,
> aren't they?
> In solidarity, Jerry

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