From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Mon Dec 19 2005 - 20:08:30 EST
Hans wrote >A Critical Realist would say that this is an illicit >conflation of the real and the actual. The goal of the >scientist is not primarily to identify the *processes* that >influence other processes but above all to identify the >underlying "generative mechanisms" which both enable and >necessitate the visible phenomena. And even in a totality >in which everything depends on everything and therefore no >process can be seen in isolation, such underlying generative >mechanisms can be isolated, and they have varying degrees of >permanence and urgency. If this is determinism then let's >all be determinists. Yes I agree. E.g., the social relations of simple commodity production are the mechanism of the law of value that generates the surface phenomenon of prices proportional to labour time. This occurs via global feedback mechanisms that constrain local incomes, and is robust even when the local evaluations of commodity prices are random. Here's an example of how the identification of a generative mechanism tells us that some factors are more important than others in explaining surface phenomena, in this case prices under simple commodity production. Subjective evaluations are not the primary cause of the surface phenomena. Marx uses this idea a lot -- that the dynamics of social relations, the social architecture of capitalism, is a more important explanatory factor, than, say, subjectivity. Social being determines consciousness etc. -Ian.
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