From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 14:55:11 EST
> Jurriaan, I think you did not understand what I was > trying to say. Let's say I claim that "I always lie". > Now if this statement is true then I have obviously > contradicted myself, because I have apparently made a > statement which is not a lie. And if it is not true > then still I have contradicted myself because what I > stated is not true. This is the kind of problem Marx's > (or at least an interpretation of) historical > materialism falls into. If historical materialism is > true then it cannot escape its own historicity and if > it claims to be universally true (as it does) then its > claim to universality stands in contradiction to its > own theoretical claim. One aspect of Marx's writing is > quite prophetic in nature. He seem to sit on a hill > top looking down at ordinary folks in the > valley--commenting on how little they can see given > their circumstances etc. whereas he, of course, sits > on a previledged position from which the vision is > much clearer and complete. Cheers, ajit sinha I think you are choking on an a self-referential feature of Marx's Historical Materialism (HM) that he inherits from his inversion of Hegel. Both thinkers argue that human history is intelligible and law-governed. For Hegel, history is the self-development of Spirit, for Marx its the self-development of social labour. Both Spirit and social labour function in the role of invariants in each respective theory that ultimately explain social change through time. Hegel claims that the Spirit first becomes self-conscious of itself in Hegelian philosophy, whereas Marx argues that social labour first becomes self-conscious of its own historical role in scientific socialism (e.g., "philosophy must be realized in the proletariat"). So HM is a theory of history that explains the necessity of its own appearance at a certain stage of human development (hence the self-referential element). But of course it is not a finished theory (hence the historical contingency). Since science is cumulative the claims of HM are universal without entailing a contradiction: if it is a true theory of history then better and more complete theories in the future will retain its essential insights (c.f. Newtonian mechanics as a special-case of quantum mechanics at large scales). I think your invocation of the liar paradox does not do justice to this theoretical complexity. It's also a typically "analytical" objection that ignores how self-referential paradoxes can get resolved once time is introduced. Implement the liar paradox in Prolog and you'll get an infinite loop not a crash.
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