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

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Sat Dec 31 2005 - 12:49:18 EST

Hi Jerry,

It is no more dogmatic to declare that there is an objective world
independent of our thoughts of it, in which facts do or do not
pertain, than it is to declare that truth is a social construction as
all knowledge is mediated by consciousness, and hence different
theories are incommensurable.

I'd like to reply to Howard and Antonio when I get the time. But I do
not think you have helped much in this debate between postmodernism
and realism so far. Let me very briefly give some examples that are
causing me concern.

On Nov 1: "Derrida's ghosts" you intimated that my critique and
dismissal of postmodernism "helps to perpetuate acrimony and divisions
within universities -- a situation that often benefits management".

On Dec 7: "Theories and practices" you objected to my use of the
descriptive terms "anti-science" and "anti-Marxist" and associated
their use with "dogmatism", "sectarianism" and "repression".

On Dec 8: Re "scare quotes" you wrote that my use of scare quotes
"border on being an act of the writing police"

Today you react to Howard's defence of the truth or falsity of social
theories by associating the notion of "absolute truth" with dogmatism.

The particular examples are not very important, perhaps the overall
pattern is. My question is: why not engage with the arguments and
their merits, rather than associating some of the arguments with,
undoubtedly politely expressed but nonetheless quite provocative,
ad-hominen slurs? Please correct any wrong impression I may have got.

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

For example, the high end of the income distribution follows a power-law.

Best wishes,


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