Re: [OPE-L] Absolutes in Marxian Theory?

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Dec 31 2005 - 09:14:23 EST

> But how is this difference to be resolved?  Resnick and Wolff write in
> Knowledge and Class (p.32), "It is not sensible in and for Marxist theory,
> to imagine or seek after any absolute criteria of an absolute truth.
> Truths are intra-theoretic rather than intertheoretic; they are in a very
> particular sense, relative to the theories in which they are constructed."
> If I read this right this means there isn't any argument at all because
> we're just talking past one another.  They have their truth and I have
> mine and that's that.  But that can't be right.  I agree truth claims are
> relative to the theories in which they are constructed, but their truth
> depends on the way the world is, not the theories.

Howard, Antonio and others,

Part of Marx's critique of Hegel, I believe, was directed against
the idea that there are absolutes.  In the Hegelian system, of course,
pride of place is given to the conception of "Absolute Mind".
It was the concern of Marx (and Engels) to show that rather than
being natural, eternal, or absolute, history is social, contingent,
and relative. They _also_ wanted to reveal underlying social
structures, but it is very rare when either use the word 'absolute'
approvingly.  In cautioning against search for "absolute truth",
aren't Resnick and Wolff  cautioning against dogmatism?  (Recall,
of course, that Hegel's conception of absolute was a consequence
of his religious dogmatism).  When we reject the idea that there
is "absolute truth" then we begin to comprehend the social
world as a more complex and multi-sided reality.  There is also
an anti-authoritarian consequence:  when we reject the conception
that a deity, caste, emperor,  priest, scholar, etc. has revealed the
"absolute truth" then we begin the process of "ruthless critique"
of _all_ that is.

Can you (or anyone else on the list) make a theoretical claim
about capitalism which is 'absolutely' true?

In solidarity, Jerry

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