Re: [OPE-L] Lawrence Krader on objective and subjective value

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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