[OPE-L:704] Re: skip Part 1?

Paul Zarembka (ECOPAULZ@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu)
Sun, 10 Dec 1995 13:29:09 -0800

[ show plain text ]

On Sat, 9 Dec 1995, JERRY LEVY wrote:

> Reply to Paul Z. [685]
> In a previous post, Paul Z. asked Andrew whether he thought that there were
> too many "hegelianisms" in Part 1. I found that to be a rather curious
> question for the following reason.
> .....
> There are, of course, many concepts in Althusser which deserve attention
> and evaluation. I am not going to discuss important concepts likee
> "overdetermination" (see _For Marx_, pp. 252-253) and "Generalities I-III"
> here, but will briefly discuss his concept of the *"epistemological
> break"* since that concept is relevant to his reading of Part 1 of
> _Capital_.
> ...
> Where does this epistemological break occur in Marx? In describing
> Althusser's *ANSWERS* to that question, I will suggest some limitations
> with the concept itself as it relates to understanding developments in
> intellectual thought.

[a long summary of Althusser appears next which I delete expect for the
last paragraph which I'll get to. PZ]

I think the above is basically coorect as far as I understand
Althusser except that a more complete statement would include reference
to Essays in Self-Criticism and The Crisis of Marxism where Althusser
returns to the issue of Marx's relation to Hegel. In the
latter, Althusser writes:

"There are also other difficulties in Marx, and also many enigmas. For
example the enigma of philosophy, and in particular of the dialectic, on
which Marx said nothing except to propose a few formulae too schematic to
be taken literally and too equivocal to be thought through. There is the
question of the relation between the dialectic in Marx and in Hegel.
There is a lot at stake in this question, in spite of its very abstract
and philosophical character; it concerns the conception of necessity and
of history, and of the forms of history...,i.e., the conception of the
class struggle and of revolutionary action. Marx's silence...did in
fact--with some exceptions (Lenin, Gramsci)--open the road to positivism
and evolutionism..."

> The main point of this post does *not* concern the evolution of Marx's
> thought. The main point that I have been trying to make, by way of
> illustration, is that the Althusserian conception of changes in social
> thought and history, exemplified by the concept of the epistemological
> break, does not fit in well with the actual development of thought and
> history. IMO, it is too rigid and does not appreciate the dialectics
> of thought and history.

I don't get this conclusion AT ALL. You accurately describe Althusser's
interpretation of Marx's epistemological break, then nothing except these
sentences. There is no basis to react because you don't describe
"the actual development of thought and history" to defend a position
that Althusser's interpretation is "too rigid and does not appreciate the
dialectics of thought and history". Of course, to do that would be a
tall order on you, but, absent it, I just appreciate your concise survey.

Paul Zarembka, State University of New York at Buffalo