Re: [OPE-L] ad hominem

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Wed Jul 12 2006 - 14:05:09 EDT

Hi Howard;

I had a longer reply but a slip of the finger and I lost it.  So --
more briefly -- I agree basically with your contextualization which
emphasizes the unity of theory and practice.   It also seems to me,
and I think this needs to be said, that the passage is a statement
of Marx's *humanism*.  A humanism, though, which is not merely
one-sidedly theoretical: i.e. a humanism which is expressed in praxis.
So, from that standpoint, whether one is a humanist (or a Marxist-Humanist
or a pluralist et al) has to be judged from one's practice. ["Pluralism
is about ideas, not people" is a claim -- by Alan Freeman -- which very
much runs counter to Marx's -- and genuinely pluralist -- perspectives, I
believe: pluralism is about ideas _and_ people). To say that one is one
of these is not enough.  So, in a sense, ad hominem arguments can be
justified _if_ the practice of the person is in contradiction to one's
stated principles.  In that sense, a criticism 'to the person' based on
that person's behavior can be important indeed: this is a practical issue
that everyone who is involved in political activism confronts: individuals
must be held responsible for their _conduct_.  This is a rather basic
issue of revolutionary socialist morals and ethics.

In solidarity, Jerry

> Therefore, "the criticism of the speculative philosophy of law finds its
> progression not within itself but in tasks which can be solved in one way
> --
> through practice."  Etc.  The theme is developed from the beginning to the
> end of the introduction.
> So in the passage itself, I take the meaning to be that theory is capable
> of
> gripping the masses when it becomes a causal force in actual people -- it
> demonstrates ad hominum when it is an actual hominum doing the hitting in
> a
> hand to hand fight, and with his fist.

>>> "It is clear that the arm of criticism cannot replace the criticism
>> of arms. Material force can only be overthrown by material force; but
>> theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the
>> masses. Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it
>> demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it
>> becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter.
>> But, for man, the root is man himself."
>>   Contribution to the Critique
>>   of Hegel's /Philosophy of Right/

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