Re: [OPE-L] abstraction and surprise

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Mon Nov 21 2005 - 09:08:54 EST

Hi Howard,

I'm not familiar enough with Chris's argument in this regard to comment on it
now.  I would say, from my perspective, that in moving from one level of 
abstraction to another one is not moving in a sequence from one model to 
another. The reason for this is that the _subject_ one is trying to reconstruct 
in thought is the same.  E.g. in moving from capital to classes to the state to 
foreign trade to the world market and crisis, the presentation is on a single 
subject (capitalism). 

In general, I think that some of the most interesting passages of _Capital_
are ones where  assumptions are made.  This is because the assumptions 
frequently point  the way forward in the presentation.  That is, one often 
sees in them what remains to be developed in theory: they are often a 'hint' 
of things to come. 

I guess you're probably right when you suggest that Hegel was not a 
"surprise!" kind of guy.  But, that doesn't mean that Hegelians can't be
surprised!   If  Hegelians look at historically contingent phenomena then
I have no doubt that they are sometimes surprised in the course of their
_research_.  That is, their world view does not exclude surprise. When a
Hegelian-Marxist examines a specific, historically contingent topic, like 
flexible automation (as Tony S has done),  then I'm quite sure that s/he
undertakes real research and in so doing lays her/himself  open to surprises.

In solidarity, Jerry
  Yes, your point about surprise and levels of abstraction is interesting.  By appealing to the assumptions we make at a level of abstraction, assuming a variable constant, and then moving to a more concrete level, have you strayed onto the "sequence of models" territory critiqued by Chris in his Chapter 2?   And I take his point in appealing to a logic of exposition is exactly to show that if we keep stumbling over surprises, as VFT finds in Capital, ch. 1, then we have a problem.   Or is that just with a logic that is linear?  That is, supposing a presentation that was dialectical, could we find the insufficiency of each stage to comprehend its presuppositions a kind of surprise that drove forward the immanent logic of the argument so that it constituted a move from surprise to surprise, dialectically sublated, so to speak?  Maybe I'm wrong but I don't get the impression Hegel was the kind of guy constantly going, "Wow!".  (I wouldn't be surprised to be wrong!!)
  This also seems not the point you were trying to get at, but the sequence of models problem does seem presented if we make assumptions to deal with layers. <<<

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Nov 22 2005 - 00:00:02 EST